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Previous Entry Americana Jul. 4th, 2006 @ 11:31 pm Next Entry
Thank God that even in the big cities of this country we still celebrate Independence Day the old-fashioned way, as John Adams would have liked. As I sit here writing this, Keith Lockhart is conducting the Boston Pops with the Stars and Stripes Forever and the fireworks are soon to enrapture and delight.

But it is the quaint and wonderful customs of small-town America that thrill me the most.  Yesterday we spent the day and evening at my sister Dale's camp on Caroga Lake where her porch and dock have a clear view of the antique Sherman's Amusement Park with its ferris wheel and carousel and ice cream booth and dance hall. The festivities began with the annual parade of boats around the small southern Adirondacks lake.

This is no big corporate-sponsored event.  It's just families with their simple watercraft all duded up creatively for the occasion.  I'm not sure that there was an announced theme this year as there sometimes is, at least not one that I could discern.  We had, for example, a boat carrying what purported to be the "Caroga Lake Symphony Orchestra" which consisted of about five people with apparently borrowed instruments, pretending to be playing.

Then there was the S.S. Minnow with the entire family decked out as the Gilligan's Island crew.  In keeping with au courant culture, there followed a boat whose passengers were all dressed in Superman face masks and costumes, while a bald-headed Lex Luthor circled them in his Sea-Do attempting to toss green light sticks (aka Kryptonite) at them.

A cabin cruiser followed converted to a conestoga wagon, complete with a hobby horse precariously attached to the prow.  In tow, a dinghy had become an Indian village, tepee and all.

As night fell, another long tradition: every camp around the lake placed and lit an emergency flare or two, forming a neat red circle.  Unofficial, and perhaps somewhat illegal (God Bless North Carolina!),  fireworks ensued, and at the appointed time, following a live rendition of God Bless America by a band at Sherman's, the official firworks commenced and lasted a full half hour.  Each bomb bursting in air caused a low echoing rumble to roll across the still waters, bathed in moonlight. 

I loved every minute of it.


Dale inherited the Garage Sale gene from our mother, and the camp, which she rents out most of the summer, is filled with delightful eclecticisms.  But I was little prepared for the surprise 4th of July present she had snarfed up for me in a shop in Northville.  It was a framed copy of the sheetmusic for our great-great uncle William Going's patriotic march, Flag of My Country.

I had only ever seen one copy of it, owned by a distant relative who lives out of town.  Dale had actually bought it last summer, not even knowing Will Going was of our family.  It hasn't even been three weeks since I resurrected this very song  from oblivion in a Flag Day address, which I have written about in this blog.

I had quoted the text from memory, and did a pretty good job, as it turns out.  (I have corrected one minor error.)  The music is pleasant and very singable, and the lyrics, I think, far above average.  I suspect the 1916 copyright has expired, but in any event, as an heir-at-law of my bachelor g-g-uncle, I actually own a piece of this, so I here and now share it with you:

Flag of my country,
A greeting 'ere I pass thee,
Child of a people who dared to be free;
Born with the birthright of Freedom eternal,
Sponsor of peace, love and true Liberty:

Long may you wave,
Flag of the brave,
Wave over land and sea.
Long may you wave, flag of the brave!
Wave on eternally!

From thy white stars shown the first rays of freedom,
Thrilling, exalting the hearts of the brave.
All hearts turn to thee; oh, all voices hail thee!
Pride of the free man, the hope of the slave.


Long may thy folds bathe in God's holy sunshine,
Ever reflecting the joys of the free.
Long may the songs of thy children ascending
Blend with thy colors in sweet harmony!


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Date:July 5th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)

Independence Day

On this past Monday evening, my wife [aunt rozann] and I were in your fair state, albeit in a bastard step-child of a city [they seem to have fallen out of the graces of the folks in Albany in the recent past couple of years] on the shores of eastern Lake Erie [on Bison Bay], and experienced a wonderful triple-A baseball game, at the end of which a team of 4 sky-divers arrived at second base from a plane high above the stadium with each of them carrying the colors, then followed by a patriotic concert by the city's philharmonic orchestra on a bandstand in right field with appropriate recognition of all veterans in the crowd and a color-guard from the 5 major branches of the armed forces, followed by a rousing fireworks display ... and it left this midwesterner a little misty-eyed from it all. Nice to see paritotism surfaces above the political fray for this great celebration of our freedom. The old-timer [and i'm in my earlier 60's] in the seat next to me commented he wasn't even a baseball fan, but came for the orchestral and colorful sky-born salute to our country ... and a great time was had by all.
uncle jim
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Date:July 5th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)

Re: Independence Day

Is that the stadium where they filmed The Natural or is it a new park?
Date:July 5th, 2006 11:00 pm (UTC)

old or new?

NEW stadium ... very very nice ... and I've been to the new stadiums in Toledo, Indianapolis [both AAA], and Dayton [A or AA, not AAA] and find the Bison Bay site very well suited to the game, indeed.
uncle jim
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Date:July 6th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)

Re: old or new?

The Buffalo area has always supported baseball and would be a good spot to consider an expansion or moved team. Rochester has a AAA Orioles franchise, I believe, and is only an hour away. Maybe a little too close to Toronto, but then that would be the perfect franchise to move there since they don't really appreciate baseball in Canadia.
Date:July 6th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)

Re: old or new?

I like the idea. Buffalo would have a natural rivalry with Toronto and the Yanks in the AL East, joining BOS and BLT. Basically, hauling Tampa's team upward would do the trick, since they're already in the division.

Failing that, I'd move the Rockies there in a cold minute (no pun intended), rename them the Alleghanies, and let them play. Baseball really doesn't belong in Colorado - the air is too much of a permanent asset to offense and detriment to pitching. Every year you get a Vinnie Castilla sort that can't hit for snot on the road. It totally screws up the game.

The Rockie relocation would require a radical realignment. Why yes, I do happen to have a proposal, Mr. Selig:

The NL West would drop to four teams (SF, LA, SD, ARZ).
The NL Central would become the NL South: (ATL, HOU, StL, KC, TXS).
The NL East would regain some old friends (NYM, PHL, Cubs, Pitt, Cincy).
I'd send the Expos/Nationals to Portland OR. They would join the AL West: (OAK, SEA, the Angels, and POR).
The AL Central would have MIL rejoining CLV, DET, Minny, and the Chisox.
The East, you've already seen.

Viola, 28 teams. I'd disband the Rays and Marlins and let their good players escape to happier situations.
Date:July 6th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)

Re: old or new?

PS - the "viola" was a Frank Viola pun. I'm ashamed.
PPS - it's Nightfly talking, which was already obvious!
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Date:July 7th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)

Re: old or new?

Remarkably, it WAS obvious! And I like the plan.
Date:July 7th, 2006 02:24 am (UTC)

old & new

wow! why didn't i think of that?

actually, back to the earlier comment from rg re rochester, the game i witnessed on mon eve in buffalo was against rochester ... whom i had just seen play the previous tues eve in indianapolis - rochester won in indy and lost in buffalo ... and, no, i do not follow around after rochester; it was just a coincidence that i happened to see them 2 imes inside of 6 days almost 600 miles apart - the only team i'd claim to travel to follow is in that winter league called the nhl and they're called the red wings!

uncle jim
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