Monday, June 22, 2015

May the Fourth Be With You! --with Kathy Damp

Here in the United States, July Fourth approaches with varying degrees of heat.

It will be a long weekend of camping, cooking out, and friends and family. Some time also, I hope, spent in reflecting on the freedoms we have and the people who died to give them to us. Since Waiting for Sparks is set around July Fourth and tells how the town celebrates with its Jamboree, my small town doings are fresh in my mind.

When I was growing up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, our village had a Memorial Day parade,  and as a younger kid, I rode my bike in the parade. Anyone else ever do that?

The day before, my sisters and friends would decorate our bikes in red, white, and blue crepe paper woven into the spokes, fluttering off the handlebars, off the seat, and anywhere else we could find room. Those with advanced technical skill used clothespins to attach playing cards or baseball cards on the spokes for that special sound effect.
  
Other years, I danced my way with the Florence LaPoint School of Dance or marched with my 4-H club in the green and white uniform and hat . (One year, I rode the float!) I found a photo the other day while repurposing my office. Hooray—just in time for this post.


We had marching bands in wool uniforms, a high-stepping drum majorette, melting mascara from the high school girls in the parade, old cars and waving dignitaries, and veterans marching in their respective military branch uniforms. Yes, many of them still fit into them! 

The parade began at one end of town (or behind the school that was grades Kindergarten through 12th grade) and travelled up through Hudson Street, past the bunting-hung white bandstand where later in the summer, band concerts would be held, and end up at the town cemetery on the outskirts. A short ceremony on our freedoms and how we got them and then taps. One student on the trumpet would play taps and another would be be hidden back in the trees to play the echo. Haunting, reflective. I'll never forget it.


So, regardless of the country you live in, I want to take a trip with you to YOUR favorite celebrations. Let’s bring the Harlequin Heartwarming flavor to the posts below. Ready, set, GO!

~Kathy Damp

24 comments:

  1. LOVE your new Heartwarming cover, Kathy, and LOVE your memories of the 4th! Can't wait to read the book! Wishing you and yours a happy, safe, and healthy celebration! :-) (Signed, Loree, who claims to hate exclamation points!) LOL

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    1. Thanks, Loree. I've been delighted with the cover. Reviews are starting to come in. "Belly laughs amid the secrets" one reader wrote.

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  2. Kathy, looking forward to your book. I do remember those small town parades we had when I lived in Oregon and again for my kids when they grew up in Washington state. I decorated my bike, and we also attached wagons where our pets got dressed up and we pulled them. Once in a while one would hop out and stopped the whole parade. Some kids rode horses. We always had a barbecue in the city park after the parade. When my kids were in our local parade, our neighbor had a vintage pickup. Their kids and ours dressed in red, white and blue and waved flags. Somewhere I have early home movies of them.

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    1. Pets on parade! I love it. I'll bet they added the Unknown Element for sure. Your post made me see a small town parade. In my mind, the weather is nice and cool. Not always the case when I was growing up.

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  3. Kathy, you brought back so many memories! And your memories evoke a beautiful picture of that time and place. I grew up in New Bedford, MA., 50 miles south of Boston, so our heroic heritage was deeply ingrained in us, too. I remember the parade and men in uniform. In the afternoon we had clambakes on the beach and sang together way past sunset, all snuggled up in our towels and blankets. Wow. Long time ago.

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    1. How amazing. I would love to read something like that in a scene from a book. We camped as a family when I was growing up and I recall many blazing campfires and lots of singing, s'mores, and shifting around the fire as the wind shifted the smoke. "Smoke follows beauty" was the catchphrase.

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  4. Back in Connecticut, I lived next to a cemetery and every Memorial Day and Fourth of July, I’d wake to gunfire 50 feet from my bedroom followed by taps. In New Jersey, my family participated in all the parades. Wonderful memories. I look forward to reliving those memories in your book.

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    1. Since I'm from New York State, I can imagine the villages and towns with their New England white houses. I always flinched for the 21-gun salute.

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  5. Sounds like great fun. I've never been in a parade. As a child, I think maybe I attended one. I've taken my son :) He almost got to walk in one, but his cub master decided to participate in "Clean the School Yard" instead. Not sure why. Wouldn't have been my choice. I mean, you can clean the school yard the following week; you can't change the day of a parade.

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    1. Being in a parade was a bigger-than-life thing for me. For one thing, we were walking, marching, dancing up the middle of the street and that wasn't something allowed any other time. A big thumbs down to the cub master for cleaning the school yard. I mean, really.

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  6. Love your cover! My memories of the 4th included being jealous of my sister. It was her birthday, you see and I thought everyone was celebrating her birthday...no one ever even remembered mine--too close to Christmas. About the 2nd year this happened, my mother jerked a knot in me and wanted to know what was wrong with me. I know she had a hard time not laughing when I told her. Personally, I still think they are all still celebrating her birthday.

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    1. I'm laughing, Patricia. Surely, that will end up in a book some day...

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  7. Love that photo. (I was a bicycling fiend as a kid.) I always wanted to be in a parade. When I was a kid we were usually visiting family on the fourth of July--family that lived in the middle of nowhere. We would get the boxed set of fireworks from the fireworks stand. We'd all gather around while our older brother set off the roman candles, pinwheels, and piccolo pete's. Good memories!

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    1. Okay, Carol, so you made me search for piccolo pete's fireworks. We had sparklers at our house and I remember writing my name in the air with them. We attended a nearby town fireworks display. The booms vibrating my lungs I will never forget. That and laying on the green army blanket and staring up at the color lit sky...great times

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  8. Your book sounds wonderful! I love the Fourth of July. When I was in high school, I wore a "Statue of Liberty" costume on the parade float. I was supposed to look dignified and solemn, but I've always had a hard time with that.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your Fourth of July memories, Kathy! Best wishes with your new release.

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  10. Love the Fourth (except the fireworks which scare my doggie.) God bless America!

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    1. Our current border collie (who the dog in Waiting for Sparks is modeled after) intensely dislikes fireworks. We put him in his Thundershirt at first pop.

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  11. Growing up I remember watching the Macy's Day Parade on television. It is a big extravaganza. They probably still do it. I've enjoyed watching a fireworks show at Disney World, and went to a fireworks show in Chicago years back that was beautiful. Neither was on a holiday though, just a regular night-time show. It was very memorable though with all those colors bursting overhead. Love the cover of your book. ( :

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    1. There's something about fireworks, isn't there, Laurie?!

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  12. Kathy, all these memories! Sigh. I get really choked up around the 4th of July. I was just putting up my 4th decorations and with each bunting I hung and all the little flags in my red geranium filled pots, I feel that sense of pride in our independent nation and all those generations of men and women and children who fought for us to be free. I have a wood and metal "sculpture" on my dining table that reads: "God Bless America. The Land of the Free Because of the Brave." There they go...I have chills again. By the way, YOURS is the BEST July cover ever!! Love the title can't wait to read it.

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    1. Hope you enjoy the book and glad you appreciate the freedoms we have.

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