Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Fireworks Surprise

The sun streaming through my window welcomed me to a hot, sunny 4th of July. Started off the day with stories from Colliers Harvest of Holidays. Laura and Mary Ingalls attend their town's big 4th of July celebration with their Pa, including the horse races, in a segment from Little House On the Prairie. The remaining material was mostly hymns and poetry, including Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

Tossed in two extra short stories. The final chapter of Kirsten Saves the Day recounts the first 4th of July for Swedish pioneer Kirsten and her family in their new home in Minnesota. Ben and Me from the Disney anthology Storybookland gives us another tale of Ben Franklin, from the point of view of a church mouse who supposedly helped create some of his most famous inventions.

Ran Yankee Doodle Cricket while eating breakfast. Ben's not the only mouse who claims to have taken part in significant events in American history. Tucker the Mouse also insists that his ancestor was a major player in the creation of, among other defining moments, the creation of the Declaration of Independence, and that the ancestor of Chester the Cricket wrote the folk tune "Yankee Doodle."

Today was my first of two early work shifts this week. It did get busy around 11 when people started to come out of the parades, and later at 1 when I was leaving as they were buying last-minute items for parties and barbecues. Otherwise, it was steady almost the entire morning, and never as bad as it got yesterday. I had more help, too. A college boy took over doing carts for the second half of my shift. I bagged and gathered baskets.

When I got home, I changed, then had a quick yogurt and cherries lunch. I bought two tubs of the Acme's generic Cool Whip on sale. I was originally going to re-frost the Summer Berry Icebox Cake, but the syrupy heavy cream center had finally solidified and glued the graham crackers together...and actually, it tasted pretty good. I just topped the "cake" with tons of Cool Whip, then made a flag on the top with strawberries and blueberries.

Put on a couple of cartoons while I worked. "Patriotic Popeye" is trying to discourage two of his nephews from playing with fireworks on the 4th. They finally learn their lesson when they almost burn down his house. Tom wishes Jerry would learn the same when they carry their running feud into a bunker loaded with explosives in "The Yankee Doodle Mouse." Donald Duck tries to set up a night time picnic to watch the fireworks in "Donald's Failed Fourth," but the chairs and blanket won't cooperate.

Did a little bit of writing for an hour after I finished with the cake. The group arrives at Nabarrie Palace, the glittering rococo showplace of the kingdom. Cedric is nervous at first, until he starts to get more into his role.

Rode over to Dad and Jodie's around quarter of 4 for their 4th of July barbecue. It wasn't nearly as huge as the last couple of parties they've had, just the two of them, me, Jesse and Dana, TJ, Jessa and Joe, Craig and Khai later when they got back from visiting Rose and the new baby in the hospital, and a couple of neighbors and their families. Dana grilled cheeseburgers and hot dogs. Craig contributed teriyaki salmon. One of the neighbors brought a tasty pasta and summer vegetable salad. Jodie made more traditional mayo-based macaroni salad, a fruit tray, Caesar salad with sliced cheese, beans and weenies, and her vinegary cucumber salad. My cake was the only dessert there. I had a little of everything but the cucumber salad - Jodie uses way too much vinegar - and the beans and weenies. (I figured two hot dogs were enough.)

I spent most of the afternoon in the pool with the kids. Ahhh. That felt sooo nice. It was extra-warm for this time of year, probably in the 80's. I had a great time, chasing them around and listening to their chatter about vacations and swimming and school.

Menacing black clouds started moving in as early as 5. By quarter after 6, it was getting much darker. Not to mention, I was full to bursting. I gave my leave and headed home. I timed it right. I was changing into dry clothes when it started to rain at a pretty good clip.

Rested while watching a few more shorts. Bugs is a "Bunker Hill Bunny" when he pits his Yankee wit and cleverness against hot-tempered Hessian Sam. Walter Lanz and his artists showcase "Hysterical Highspots In American History," from the natives trading Manhattan to the settlers to the Great Depression. The Pink Panther is "Pinky Doodle," who delivers papers on the coming war to the people of Philadelphia on the back of an English horse. Needless to say, the loyalist equine tries his hardest to get him off his back...literally and figuratively. Ruby and Louise have everything they need to see the big fireworks display, but Ruby's brother is more interested in "Max's Fireflies."

Finally headed out around quarter after 8. Though it wasn't raining then, heavy clouds still menaced the area. I briefly parked under what had been the roof of the drive-through at the former PNC Bank on the White Horse Pike to check the weather on my phone. Managed to make it the two blocks to Dollar General as it began to shower again.

I was standing in the vestibule, waiting for the rain to stop, when I heard a loud noise. The cashier and stock girl dashed out, yelling that that they saw fireworks. I was surprised. It was only 8:46, and the fireworks weren't scheduled until 9:15. Yes, there were fireworks, beautiful professional ones, lighting up the sky despite the ongoing shower. While the stock girl took pictures, I headed down the White Horse Pike to figure out what was going on.

Everyone was watching when I arrived. Yes, they did seem to be the Collingswood fireworks, likely set off early due to the rain. Ironically, the rain was slowing down as I made it to Newton Lake Park. It ended in time for a noisy, glittering finale.

It took me forever to get home. At first, I thought there would be more fireworks, at the right time. When I gave up on that idea, I couldn't get across the street. The traffic was insane, bumper-to bumper all the way to Camden. A cop helped me and a couple of other people cross at the Oaklyn City Hall.

At least it was a pleasant walk home once I got into Oaklyn. With the rain gone, I was free to concentrate on a night that, despite the occasional amateur fireworks display, was lovely and peaceful. Everyone had taken their families to bed or were at the Shore or still stuck in traffic. Walking home after the fireworks is one of my favorite parts of the holiday. The fireworks are replaced by the soft yellow glow of the fireflies Max loved so much; the only noise is the humming of air conditioners and the occasional squawk from someone's TV.

Jumped in the shower as soon as I got home, then put on  "Yankee Doodle Bugs" as I got organized. This is a lot like "Hysterical Highspots," with Bugs relating the historical spoofs as his attempts to teach his little nephew Clyde about the Revolutionary War.

Finished out the night online while watching Yankee Doodle Dandy. James Cagney won an Oscar playing George M. Cohan, a turn of the century theatrical protege who grew up in the vaudeville act of his father (Walter Huston) and mother (Rosemary DeCamp). By the early 1900's, he was the biggest sensation on Broadway, writing, directing, producing, and starring in patriotic-flavored musicals and comedies peppered with hits like "Give My Regards to Broadway," "You're a Grand Old Flag," and the title song. When Cohan is told he's too old to join the Armed Services during World War I, he writes the march "Over There" and plays it at Army camps. Though Cohan and his corny shows are eventually left behind, he returns for one final triumph, ironically on the eve of an even more damaging war.

While this isn't really much of a biography (starting with Joan Leslie playing a composite of Cohan's two wives), it does beautifully document the style of performances from this era and what the shows themselves were like. This is especially apparent with the Little Johnny Jones segment, which is so well-done, I feel like you really are watching a show from 1902. (The "Off the Record" recreation was apparently spot-on as well.) If you love Cagney, Cohan, or musical biographies, this is one of the best non-Busby Berkley Warner musicals and gets a major recommendation from me.

And I hope you had an equally fun Independence Day (and that our neighbors to the north in Canada enjoyed celebrating their 150th anniversary on Saturday).

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