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Fourth of July Comes and Never Goes

Classroom of Life
by Laurie Lechlitner

Published: Friday, June 26, 2020

I've lived in the same neighborhood all of my life. I guess that's why I'm used to the many pitfalls and inconveniences. But in our neighborhood, the Fourth of July comes early and hangs around the whole summer.

"Can I come over for a hotdog when your friends get here?" Caleb asked, shifting from one foot to the other.

"Yes," I told him. "But you'll have to be on your best behavior."

It was Memorial Day weekend and we were having some church friends over. Caleb's mother is a single parent and doesn't have the money to feed all six kids. I've always been taught to love my neighbors. It's a little hard at times.

"Can I bring my brother and sisters?"

I looked at my husband Brian. Did we have enough hamburgers and hotdogs for that brood?

"I suppose so," I answered.

"Can we bring fireworks?"

"How did you get fireworks?" Your mother hardly has enough to feed you, I wanted to add.

"Cousin Willy brought them from Tennessee."

"No, we can't have fireworks. They scare the dogs. And besides, our friends have young children."

To tell the truth, Caleb himself was only 10. But he was a master at lighting dangerous fireworks. He doesn't deal in sparklers and other children's amusements. He lights cherry bombs and throws them in other people's yards. So, it's really advantageous to stay on his good side.

A week later, our other neighbors were shooting fireworks into the sky. The calendar had just turned to June and it was still a little nippy out.

"I can't believe they're shooting those bottle rockets off on a weekday," Brian remarked.

"Well, if I remember right, Charley lost his job again. He can sleep in tomorrow morning."

The weekends are almost unbearable. Stockcar buddies come from miles around to visit our neighborhood. Our neighbors host bonfires and watch the fireworks.

"Where do you suppose the neighbors get all those skids to burn?" I wondered.

"I don't know." Brian answered. "The backdoor neighbors were burning some old kitchen chairs. I wonder if the stain is harmful. They were roasting hotdogs over them."

Freddy's Fireworks is not very far away from us. He sells them to the public and is always shooting off skyrockets to advertise.

"Come on Bailee," I coaxed my shih-tzu. "Go potty."

All of a sudden, a pop that sounded like a gunshot exploded into the air. Bailee was in midstream. He ran to the house lickety-split, dribbling as he went.

"The fireworks are scaring the dogs!"

"You could call the police," Brian said.

"Not in this neighborhood. I have to live here."

All through June, July and August, fireworks light the sky. And then there's the occasional cherry bomb we have to dodge when we're riding our bikes down the street.

Our little black shih-tzu Ebony is not as nervous when she hears explosions that sound like gunshots. She has learned to tune them out.

Bailee, on the other hand, is in a state of panic after 7 p.m. Over the weekends, often our Tennesseans don't stop shooting off fireworks until after midnight.

It's not that I'm unpatriotic, but I've grown to hate the Fourth of July. Maybe it's because our holiday lasts for three long months.

Laurie Lechlitner can be contacted by email at Lauriel

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