Fourth of July Memories – circa 1970

Posted 07.02.2010

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. The root of that goes back to my childhood on Midvale Drive. Fireworks weren’t legal in West Virginia but they were in South Carolina. When we went to Myrtle Beach on vacation my dad would buy what seemed like a ginormous amount of bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, spinners, the incredibly loud M-80’s and a bunch of other low grade explosives which would promptly go to the top shelf of the closet in my parents’ bedroom. (I figure the statute of limitations has run out at this point and that I’m not putting my dad at any legal risk with this post.)

Eblin-fireworks All of that firepower would sit there for weeks, months and sometimes for almost a year before the 4th of July would roll around. My little brother and I would get almost crazy with anticipation. We could not wait for all of that stuff to get set off on the big night.

The ritual on the day of was prepping the homemade ice cream. My mom would make the cream and then my brother and I and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood would have to hand crank that ice cream maker until our arms about fell off. It was the price we had to pay to get to the main event.

It seemed like it took forever for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to start. As dusk approached, all of the kids would pick the prime viewing spots on the hillside front yard of our across the street neighbors, the Mansours. Mr. Mansour was a grocer and he must have had some great contacts because he always had at least as many projectiles as my dad did. The two of them would pool their resources in the middle of the street and spend the next 30 minutes lighting fuses. This would always drive my mom crazy because my dad was a dentist and she was more than a little concerned about him blowing off a couple of fingers with an M-80. (Fortunately, that never happened.) My grandmother would monitor the police radio to provide an early warning in case the cops were on the way. I remember one year they actually drove up to Midvale. Everything was put away before they got there but there wasn’t much that could be done about the smoke and haze the cruiser slowly drove through. All of us kids were scared witless on that one.

I know all of this sounds terribly illicit but it was a heck of lot of fun. It’s the kind of thing you remember vividly forty years later. And that’s really my point. If you’re a leader in your organization, you are likely incredibly busy with all of the day to day pressures of the job. This holiday weekend put all of that aside for awhile and allow yourself the time and space to create some memories for your family, your friends and yourself. Who knows, maybe someone will be blogging about what you did 30 or 40 years from now.