Friday, July 6, 2012
Week 27 of 2012 – Independence Day
Independence Day, the 4th of July was all about time spent with family. We almost always had a picnic in our back yard and sometimes a croquet match in the side yard. Holidays were busy for my Dad. He would get up early and drive to Detroit to retrieve his parents for the day. They lived in a retirement home for Methodist ministers called West Grand Boulevard.
Holidays were an escape for Grandma and Grandpa Smith, an escape from the ordinary, the routine, from the retirement home and the "city". Grandpa had MS and was confined to a wheel chair. He lived on one of the nursing room floors(3rd floor) and Grandma had her own apartment on the 5th floor. (I think) My Dad would drive the van down to the city and hoped for a good parking spot so he could load Grandpa and Grandma in the van for a day trip to Romeo. These were in the days long before handicapped parking and lift gates on vans. Sometimes we would need to circle the block a few times waiting for a parking spot to open up. Dad could usually find a retirement home employee or two who could help him get Grandpa loaded. Sometime he took an adult friend with him just in case.
They would usually arrive by mid-morning about the time Mom finished making the potato salad! We would have usual summer food; potato salad, deviled eggs, chicken, hamburgers or hotdogs and water melon! Sometimes my mother's Dad, Grandpa Anderson would come too.
Dad had built a barbeque pit / fireplace out of used brick which he got free from an old building torn down in Romeo or Rochester. I cannot remember where it was. I remember the pile in the side yard and I remember him working at stripping the old mortar of the bricks before he neatly piled the bricks along the lot line. I believe it was the brick which was used for the fireplace when the family room was added on. The outdoor fireplace was where we roasted hotdogs and anything else we cooked out doors. He also made a side table which we put the serving dishes on and a bench. Here is a pretty good picture of it taken in 1964 or 1965 but I see a photo of it with snow over it in early 1963 photo. This photo is of a picnic with the Randall family. Wonder if it is still there all these years later.
Our day would be spent in the back yard around a picnic table eating. In the summer when we had water melon we were allowed to spit the seeds out in the yard! We would see who could spit the seeds the furthest and Grandpa Smith would be coaxing us on.
In the evening, Dad would get the help of the some of the men in our neighborhood and load Grandpa and Grandma back into the van for a return trip back to Detroit. Due to his MS, there was no way for him to spent the night away from the retirement home. It was usually after dark when he returned home and we would be waiting impatiently for him.
We could finally light our sparklers when he got home. When I was 8 years old, I had an accident with a sparkler which could have been life changing. I had been told over and over again not to run when we were playing with sparkler but the excited 8 year old that I was, forgot! I ran over to my sister Pam to get my sparkler lite off of her sparkler, just as she moved her sparkler and I walked right into it, face first. I received a good burn down the left side of my face and really near my eye. Part of the scar remains today. The Dr said that it was a fraction of an inch away from my eye which would have likely meant the lose of vision in my left eye. I still am not very fond of sparklers today.
So there you have it. Independence Day...the 4th of July, through the eyes of a kid...
So until the next shared memory...