Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CELEBRATING THE 4TH by Marion Ekholm


Our town, Mahwah, New Jersey, was one of those chosen for a two year celebration of the Bicentennial, and a special parade was planned for July 4th, 1974. The churches were asked to participate. My husband was going to a church meeting and told me he didn’t want us to work on it. He’d been asked to be in charge and had said no. I was warned under no circumstance was I to volunteer. Fine. I wouldn’t volunteer.


While he was off to the meeting the phone rang. It was from a friend who was also at the meeting, and she had talked to my husband about doing the float. All she needed was my approval. I thought my husband must have reconsidered, so I said sure.

OMG!
World War III started when my husband came home. Why had I agreed, especially when he told me we shouldn’t get involved? Fine, he said, “If you want to do it, you can very well do it without my help!” My reaction – fine, “I’ll do it by myself,” because I didn’t want to let the congregation down (although I was ready to k… my friend for tricking me into this). World War III continued during the following weeks.

I contacted a friend about borrowing a trailer for the float. Since this was for the Lutheran Church, I visualized a cross with a Martin Luther flower which was prominent in so many stain glass windows. My husband did come around to lift the heavy cross made from railroad ties, but he offered little encouragement. I constructed the chicken wire form for the flower under the leaning cross. Numerous volunteers arrived the night before the parade to assemble the float – in the pouring rain. We kept the crepe paper and tissue paper roses covering the chicken wire dry under a tent. Fortunately, our garage was clean enough to back the float under cover. 

The next day the sun shown. Our children marched in the parade, and I drove the vehicle that pulled the trailer. The place where we parked the floats was only a quarter of a mile from my house so I walked home with a migraine. I told my mother-in-law I had a headache and no one should disturb me. I stayed in bed, even when someone came to the door to say our float won first prize for the churches.

Two years later, on another sunny day our town celebrated the Bicentennial, one of my most wonderful memories (so different from the one two years before.) Just down our street the area was closed off for all the events scheduled.

My family walked there in the Colonial clothing I made, and we were photographed by everyone with a camera. That cast on my son’s arm was for real. He broke it three days before and won a special medal for best boy's costume.

Special medals were made at the foundry. A limited number of brass ones were made as prizes (one my son is wearing) and the silver colored ones we could buy. An eagle representing the bicentennial was on one side and the railway museum on the other. My daughter won a cake on the cakewalk; my husband shot his black powder rifle out over the pond along with another man in costume; we danced on the tennis courts and watched fireworks later in the evening. Wonderful time.

Have you had a memorable Fourth of July? Or maybe a memorable headache?

 

25 comments:

  1. I love the outfits! My extended family has always had a big 4th celebration. I think my sweetest memory was 1976. We came home from the family party in time to see the national bicentennial fireworks on TV, and we woke the kids (2,4, & 6) to watch them with us. I don't think they remember--but we do.

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  2. Marion, I love that your second experience was so much better. And love those costumes. You outdid yourself. In my growing up the big thing over the 4th weekend was going to the rodeo or the timber carnival. I have many fond memories. I still like fireworks, but the last few years I like watching them on TV.

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    1. I didn't watch the fire works because I had a woman from Laos cowering in the back seat of my car. It reminded her too much of the war she had left.

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  3. Marion, you're a woman of so many talents! You made the cross, arranged the flowers on it and kept it all dry in a storm. And you sewed all those beautiful costumes. I think that's what our forefathers - and mothers - were all about - dealing with King George (your own personal one, it sounds like) and forging forward to make a better day. Good going.

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    1. I loved that outfit and actually wore it several times without the apron. Still have it hanging in my closet.

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  4. Blogger ate my first comment. :-/
    Great outfits. You are an excellent seamstress! And so glad for the good experience that time.

    My sister was born on the Fourth and on her first birthday I thought everyone was celebrating because it was HER birthday. Kinda hurt my feelings (I was 5) because my birthday is in January and no one ever paid any attention to it--We'd just had Christmas and there wasn't much money to celebrate. When I complained to my mother she had a great time laughing before she explained we were celebrating our country's freedom, not my sister's birthday.

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    1. You were at the right age - young enough to not know about the actual reason for the celebration and old enough to think it had something to do with that new little girl everyone was fawning over. Great story.

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  5. Marion, I'm so sorry about your first experience, but not at all surprised you managed to pull it off. And first place no less! You are so talented. Love the second story. I love big fireworks shows, but generally stay home on the 4th these days. (Since I've become a dog owner and they get so scared.)

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    1. It was something I never truly appreciated - too many bad memories.

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  6. I love your post, Marion. I was married on July 5th, so I would say that year was a pretty memorable 4th of July! It was unseasonable cool on the 4th and so the church had shut off the air conditioning but the 5th was normal July weather in Chicago. Needless to say, my husband was sweating bullets in his tuxedo. Luckily, I had given him a handkerchief and he used it to wipe his forehead during the ceremony. At the reception, his aunt came up to me and said it was so, so sweet how Jerry was crying during the ceremony and all I could do was laugh! He wasn't crying, he was sweating like crazy!!

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    1. I started laughing at that. Wonderful story.

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  7. I have to admit, the Fourth of July is my least favorite holiday...not because of what it stands for, but because of the way most of us celebrate it. Instead of being a time to remember the founding of our country, it's become an excuse for barbecues and fireworks. And it's the fireworks going off all the week before and all the week after, usually after I've tried to go to bed, that I hate. I always lose sleep because of the noise, because I can't sleep in even if I want to!

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    1. I'm with you. Only recently Arizona has allowed fireworks to be sold. I can't understand why when we have such terrible fire concerns. I no longer care to watch them anymore and the idiots who are tossing them around before and after the 4th are so careless.

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  8. What wonderful costumes! I have to admit, I love fireworks, especially the ones that burst into giant mums of different colors. This year, we're having a party for my mother's 90th birthday as part of the 4th of July celebration, so it should be a good one.

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    1. 90 years! What a wonderful celebration.

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  9. Loved both of your stories, Marion! And agree, those costumes were terrific! My most memorable 4th was in NY for the bicentennial. From my in laws' terrace in Fort Lee, NJ, we watched the tall ships parade up the Hudson River--the most magnificent sight. We had quite the party that day. Now, each year I can see fireworks from my deck overlooking the valley so I don't have to go anywhere. The displays will be everywhere this weekend.

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    1. I was so involved with the Bicentennial in my area so I never knew what else was going on.

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  10. What is it with husbands? Mine has also warned me not to volunteer myself for various causes over the years. Love the costumes you made! My memorable July 4th parade was 1986, the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. I dressed as Lady Liberty and rode the parade float with my torch held high.

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    1. It took me years before I learned to say no.

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  11. Thanks for sharing the experiences, Marion. Like everyone else, I love the costumes!

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    1. I got so much use out of that dress and still have my son's costume. Haven't had any boys in the family I could give it to.

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  12. I enjoyed to walk down "Memory Lane," and the photo!

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  13. Your first story is such a typical married people thing to happen. LOL! And I love the costumes from your "better" 4th of July. So creative!

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