The 4th of July is the holy grail of holidays for my older brothers. I woke up the morning of the 4th wondering if I would live to see the 5th. My dear brothers, especially Ed, looked forward to this day with relish, saving their money, working at the Boy Scout fireworks stand, with ode to punk clouding their senses like Mary Jane did a few years later. The punk was righteous. Black cats were too. Ant dens were lined with firecrackers and blown to bits as was any plastic toy no longer fit for service. The three boys played terrorizing games of lighting the fuse and then egging each other on for that last…possible..moment to pitch it before it exploded under the fleshy leg of a fellow 4th of July addict. Nothing was safe especially not the little sister. When I was five, I hung onto the porch on our house on Main and played my innocent games of lighting black snakes until they burnt into coils leaving permanent black marks on the cement landing. I would gather the courage by nightfall to light sparklers and run around the front yard writing my name in the night air. My brothers on the other hand were re – enacting World War II, launching bottle rockets off the bow of the house from old Coke bottles and lighting an arsenal of firecracker packets time and time again. I finally grew weary of all of the noise, noise, noise, noise and escaped to my bedroom after watching the final Roman candle racing across the night sky.
Ed loved the 4th so much because his birthday fell on the 6th so it was like the 4th of July was his own private birthday celebration. One year I spoiled his birthday bash. I loved to run through the sprinklers in my bathing suit especially after all of the fireworks were depleted. Cathy and I set up the sprinkler system (she was three years older than me and could do everything). We changed into our bathing suits and we were pretending to be gazelles or more likely Bambi leaping over the sprinkler in fine ballet form, stretching our legs out and pointing our toes. After an especially high leap, the next thing I remember is being carried inside and the contrasting sight of the color of my blood against a white porcelain tub. A chunk of broken glass was imbedded in the arch of my foot — made possible by a broken Coke bottle fractured by a bottle rocket left in the yard after WW II. After a frantic trip to Dr. Ball’s office, stitches and the rest (a lot of pain I might add for my brothers reading this blog), I was able to come home with a foot bandaged that impressed all the neighbor kids. Ed got a talking to, felt bad, and bought me a hard back book of fairy tales that I treasured so much that I routinely brought out every 4th to read to remind me that my brothers did love me even though they often nearly killed me with their well-intentioned escapades of fun.