DAILY PROMPT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

esplanade-boston-fireworks-2013Favorite holiday?

Not Christmas though I’ve had some fine Christmases and enjoyed them as only someone who wasn’t brought up with Christmas can. I had to marry Christmas so I could make it merry. I love it dearly. From the brightly wrapped gifts to the decorated tree to the carols piped through every shop and mall in America — I love it — though I’m always aware I’m borrowing it. Maybe that makes me appreciate it more — because I remember when it wasn’t part of my world.

I also remember some totally fabulous Passover seders with roasted lamb and all the ritual trimmings. Ceremonies, wine and song. Those were great too.

But I have to cast my vote for Independence Day. The 4th of July, America’s big, booming birthday bash. What’s not to like? Burning meat on the barbecue? Hot dogs, hamburgers. Potato salad I make myself with a side of slaw. Ketchup and mustard to douse the flavor of scorching. Everyone wearing shirts with flags and finally, watching the best fireworks. What is more satisfying than explosions in the sky?

I’ve seen fantastic fireworks at the Boston Navy Yard, along the Charles. In the sky over Nantucket Sound and old Uxbridge High School’s football field. I love fireworks.  Bang, boom and the yummy smell of cordite in the air.

I remember a long time ago … the mid 1970s … a friend and I walked all the way from the house in Hempstead to Eisenhower Park. A few miles. Traffic was terrible on the fourth and there wasn’t any place to park when you got there, so … we walked. Then we lay flat on our backs on the grass and watched the sky explode.

When Garry and I were first together and lived in Charles River Park, we stood on the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge and watched the sky light up, listened to the Pops play the 1812 overture, with cannons. I later saw the celebration from the Hatch Shell, though it was less fun because Garry was working and had no one with whom to go “ooh” and “aah.”

boston fireworks 2011

I don’t know about the rest of you. There are lots of excellent holidays and always plenty of good reasons to love them. Holidays are great and we should take every opportunity to celebrate. Life is short and sometimes grim, so party hearty when you can. On principle. As for me, let’s send up some skyrockets and start a bonfire. My kind of holiday.

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THE NOT-SO-HALCYON DAYS OF YORE – PURE TRASH, BETTE A. STEVENS

There are so many television shows and movies, not to mention sappy posts on Facebook and other social media sites about “the good old days” … kind of makes me a trifle queasy. As someone who grew up in those good old days, I can attest to their not being all that great. There were good things about them, but it was by no means all roses.

Good is a relative term, after all. If you were white, Christian and middle class … preferably male and not (for example) a woman with professional ambitions … the world was something resembling your oyster. A family could live on one salary. If you were “regular folk” and didn’t stand out in any particular way, life could be gentle and sweet.

The thing is, an awful lot of people aren’t and weren’t people who could blend in. If you were poor, anything but white or Christian, or a woman who wanted to be more than a mother and homemaker, the world was a far rougher place.

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Pure Trash: The Story: Shawn Daniels in a Poor Boy’s Adventure: 1950s Rural New England is set in rural New England in the mid 1950s. It’s a sharp reminder how brutal our society could be to those deemed different or inferior. Not only was bullying common, it wasn’t considered wrong. I remember how badly the poor kids in my class were treated when I was going through elementary school. How the teachers took every opportunity to humiliate kids whose clothing was tattered and whose shoes were worn. I remember feeling awful for those little girls and boys. Not merely bullied by their classmates (who oddly, didn’t much notice the differences until the teachers pointed them out), but tormented by those who were supposed to care for and protect them. Bad enough for me and the handful of Jewish kids as Christmas rolled around. For them, it was the wrong time of year all year round.

In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels set off one Saturday in search of whatever they can find that they can turn into money. One man’s trash can be a poor child’s treasure. Bottles that people throw away could be collected and turned into ice cream and soda pop. Shawn is excited. It’s going to be a terrific day. Until the real world intrudes and Shawn is sharply and painfully reminded that he’s different … and not in a good way.

The story is about bullying, but more important, it’s about being different and being judged without compassion, without understanding or love.

It’s a very fast read. Only 21 pages, the story flies by. I was left wanting more. I want to know how the boys grow up. I want them to become CEOs of big corporations so they can thumb their noses at their whole miserable society. An excellent short story leaving plenty of room for thought.

Though set in 1955, the story is entirely relevant today. Despite much-touted progress, we still judge each other harshly based on appearance and assumptions. Everything changes … but maybe not so much.

For lots more information about the book and its author, stop by the authors’ website: 4 Writers and Readers. Pure Trash is available on Kindle and as a paperback from Amazon.

A NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMAS POSTER

All dressed up for the holidays, Uxbridge Common is lovely at night with a frosting of snow. Designed as a poster. What do you think?

Uxb Common Christmas Poster

A Hit for Christmas – Richard Paschall

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

Reblog From SUNDAY NIGHT BLOG – Richard Paschall

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December 15, 2013

by Rich Paschall

 – – –

I need a hit for Christmas

To turn the season green.

A snappy little holiday tune

Is really what I mean.

If I could just find somewhere

In my memory tonight

A verse, a phrase, some words of joy

To the world I would write.

 – – –

“What is my theme?” I wonder

As I wander here and there.

Christmas songs make lots of cash

And why should I not share

In monies green and silver

But oh what shall I say?

After all I’m thinking now,

“What’s not been said of Christmas Day?”

 – – –

I’ll write a Christmas Jingle.

Bells of joy will sound –

A song about Kris Kringle

Or snow upon the ground.

I’ll make a little silver.

Bells of joys will play –

A check, a smile, a royalty

With every Christmas Day.

 – – –

As each and every memory

Was sailing past tonight,

I had to grab the good ones

And to add the music right.

I’m dreaming of best sellers

That every year will rock

Around the Christmas tree

And down every single block.

 – – –

We then need the musicians

For piano and for bass.

We’ll add a little drummer.

Boy, we’ll really rock the place.

The perfect words and music?

I ask what do you hear.

What I hear are record deals

If we can sound sincere.

 – – –

I’ll write a Christmas Jingle.

Bells play all the way.

A tune that you will download –

On CD’s that you will play.

I’ll have a greener season

And know just what to say –

“A check, a smile, a royalty

With every Christmas Day.”

 – – –

Copyright Richard Paschall