Saturday, July 3, 2010

Of 3rds and 4ths

Today is the 3rd of July.  That means tomorrow is the 4th of July, my 3rd favorite holiday!  (After Easter and Palm Sunday.) So, seeing as it is the 3rd before the 4th that is my 3rd, it seems like a good day to reminisce about some of my favorite 4th of July memories.


Growing up, the 4th of July meant hot, sunny days and warm nights, parades and swimming and fireworks.  Mommy and Daddy would sit on lawnchairs on the wide grassy part between the sidewalk and the street (something they don’t really have in the Bay Area).  My sisters and I would sit on the cement curb in front of them, perfectly poised to jump up and snatch some tootsie rolls when the candy-throwers came by.


Wendy in parade cropped As we grew older, we did less watching and started actually being in the parades.  First it was Alfred, who joined the baton twirling corps in 1st grade.  After watching her in a few parades, I wanted to be in them, too.  So I became a banner carrier for the twirling corps.  And eventually I started to twirl as well.  I was terrible.

[Alfred marching with the Senior twirlers.]

I remember my first parade as a twirler.  Not because there was anything especially memorable – I chased my rolling baton to the curb as much as any other parade -, but because there’s a video somewhere taken by my aunt from Daly City who was out visiting us.  I approach the waiting family, including this favorite aunt we don’t get to see enough, and instead of running to give her a hug or asking for water or anything nice, I, in all my early-teenage glory stomp my feet, whip my baton through the air and yell “I’m never doing that again!” Right as one of the military guards marches past and fires their rifles, so it comes out more as “I’m Me 1997 Beginner Miss Spring croppednever doing – BOOM *flinch* – again! *baton swing*.” 

But of course, I did do it again, many, many more parades and competitions and parents shows.  I wasn’t particularly good at twirling.   I usually won just because there weren’t any other 16 year-olds still in the Beginner category.  But it was fun, and I do love me some pretty outfits. ;)

[Beginner Miss Spring 1997; me in pretty outfit.]


The best 4th of July parade I was ever in was the one I ran myself.  In Zambia.  On like July 10th or something. 

I was living in in Cheelo, about 2.5 hours outside of Monze.  It was my first Fourth of July outside of America.  And I was sick.  Really sick.  I spent the entire day lying on my foam mattress on the dirt floor, under my mosquito net in my small two-room hut.  It was not fun.

So I celebrated the Fourth of July when I was better a few days later.  Since I was the only American for miles, it hardly mattered that I was a few days late.  I didn’t have my special American Holiday shoes (described here) in Zambia at that point, so I had to come up with a new special outfit for this occasion.

Using my treadle sewing machine, some fabric left-over from making dresses for Side of my 4th of July outfit 2006Peppino and Ngandu and some old bicycle spokes from when Ba Lenix repaired his bicycle, I made my first home-made corset and a matching skirt.  July is the middle of cold season in Zambia (much like the Bay), so I wore a long-sleeved leotard under my outfit.

[Me in 4th of July corset.]

I looked more like a Bavarian sheep herder than anything else, but whatever, it was still special!

[Below: The banner.]

4th of July banner 2006Our Parade

Then we had our parade.  We lined up in front of my hut door, “Happy 4th of July” scrawled on my skirt pattern pieces clinging to the rough wood.  John Phillip Sousa marches warbled out of the small plastic speakers set at the hut’s base.  Bana (children), Ba Lenix, a few other grown-up men from the village and me in a line, we set off marching around the compound, waving American flags, blowing whistles, banging nsima spoons on pots, slamming pan lids together, smiling and laughing.  It was fabulous!

10th of July 2006 parade

[Our 4th of July / 10th of July parade. Ba Lenix is the one in the camouflage shirt.]

After our exhausting parade, we popped some popcorn over the open fire and enjoyed some more of that warbley Sousa music.   What a perfect non-holiday Holiday.

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