When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait for the Fourth of July.
Even though there weren’t any presents, it was almost as good as Christmas.
For one thing, Dad had a rare day off and while he’d sometimes try to sneak in a round of golf at Poquoy Brook, we knew he’d be home in plenty of time to fire up the grill. It was never Mom’s thing. But she made the potato salad, always with her mother’s recipe, always with eggs.
The menu wasn’t anything exotic, just your standard burgers and hot dogs, both served on Sunbeam rolls. I almost always opted for the burgers. Even as a kid I wasn’t crazy about franks.
But every so often Dad would persuade me to have one. Because, he said, everything tastes better on the grill.
After we ate, usually late afternoon, we pretty much just hung around, waiting for nightfall and the Main Event: the fireworks. For us, the place to go was Battis Field in Middleboro, behind the police station and Peirce Playground complex.
You had to go early because the crowds were huge. Despite our best efforts, we were typically on the late side, so we often had to park nearly a mile away.
That’s because a lot of people started gathering hours before the fireworks for a host of games and contests at the playground. One involved eating something as fast as you could … Was it watermelon? Was it pie? Who knows? It was over long before we arrived.
Sometimes, though, we managed to get there in time to catch the Greasy Pole Contest. While I’m guessing other places had them, Middleboro was the only one I knew of. The challenge was to climb as high as you could… up a greased pole. I never tried it — honestly, it looked kind of icky — but it sure was fun to watch.
When it was finally time for the pyrotechnics, launched high into the sky from the field behind the town pool, you could barely move. Thousands of spectators were crammed into the playground, all of us craning our necks (and some of us blocking our ears!) to see one of the best fireworks displays around.
From what I hear, it still is — and people still flock to Battis Field to see it. Plus, if they get there early enough, they can still catch the Greasy Pole. Because that crazy event remains a tradition.
Kind of like my grandmother's potato salad — it's the recipe I use — and cookouts of burgers and hot dogs. I'm still not crazy about them but my Dad was right. Franks do taste better on the grill.
Yet as we navigate these uncertain times, too often marked by anger and division, I think the very best thing about the Fourth is the simplest thing:
Its enduring power to bring us together.