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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Unexpected Tradition

I didn't know I was creating a tradition.  What I wanted to do was make Fourth of July as patriotic as possible considering I lived in southern California where we don't have the Boston Pops or the Washington Monument.  When I was very young, my brothers and sisters piled into the back of the station wagon and my dad drove practically non-stop from California to Indiana for a few weeks every few summers.  One day we were visiting relatives in the small Indiana town of Jasonville where my dad grew up.  In no time at all, a horse and wagon was hitched up; children mounted their horses, and we paraded down Main Street in our own personal small town parade.  Those were the days you didn't need a permit, a holiday, or any reason for a parade except we'd come to town and it would be fun. 

The only way to recreate the small town parade while living in southern California was to put together a Fourth of July neighborhood street parade.  We made homemade invitations and the children passed them out door-to-door.  They encouraged people to participate even if they just wanted to clap as the parade went by.  After all, a parade needs spectators to wave and cheer. 

At 10 a.m. on the Fourth, children on decorated tricycles and bikes, parents pulling flag festooned wagons, and everyone wearing their red, white, and blue. Every year I made patriotic tee shirts and one year I made sashes that said "America", "Freedom", and "Liberty".  These were very simply made.  I cut out fabric letters and sewed them on muslin.  I didn't bother with perfection because I was going for the country casual look.   

Our parade had a boom box playing patriotic music instead of a marching band.  My dad, a former F.B.I. agent was put in charge of security.  He walked on ahead and made sure to stop any cars and that the route was safe.  People would get out of their cars and enjoy the parade.  At the end of the parade, everyone gathered in our driveway for lemonade and flag cookies. 

Later that day we always had old fashioned hand cranked ice cream.  If you didn't take your turn cranking and filling the oak barrel with salt and ice, you didn't eat ice cream.  There were a few years when I wasn't sure my nephew, Jason, was going to get any ice cream, but eventually he'd  take his turn.  

As it was getting dark, the kids would be anxious to go to the top of the hill in Portola Hills and watch fireworks from El Toro Marine Base, Laguna Beach, and other coastal cities.   A perfect ending of a day that turned into a holiday tradition. 

Nancy Nemitz, owner of Create the Space Professional Organizing LLC, works with busy families, professional athletes, small businesses, and moms to create an organized space for them to live and work.  She's been featured on this year's Season Finale of TLC's Hoarding:Buried Alive, "It's A Freakin War Zone".  Nancy has four grown children and has been married for 35 years.  

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Anonymous SarahBee said...

Thank you for sharing this story! It is the basis of many happy childhood memories for me. I still talk about it sometimes in meetings when discussing the importance of traditions. You always encouraged us to get out there and invite the whole neighborhood. Although I was nervous going door to door, I always felt a sense of great accomplishment when people showed up, even if it was to sit on their sidewalk and wave as we marched past. It was the only time of year people really got out of their houses and did something together. I still feel a little twinge in the brain when I think of our homemade ice cream. The flavor is unmatched even though I've made homemade ice cream every year since then and it was so tempting to try to drink the whole bowl down while it was still freshly soft.
Thank you, Mom.
Love, SarahBee

June 21, 2011 at 9:48 AM  

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