21 Jan

A Writing By Mary Who Has Passed Away

Posted by The McGlynn

Kansas 4th of July, Memories

There are many memories I have of various 4ths of July of my life. There are the wonderful ones shared with the McGlynns and the fireworks of Plymouth; the ones where Walt and I would drive to a street close to our house, put the children on the hood of the car, and watch the fireworks display of a neighboring city; and the many ones where we would walk with Diana and Dan and Jessica and Allison to the Clawson firework display at their city park. One year Marta and I made a cake that looked a little like the flag and invited our neighbors over for cake and ice cream, another year we invited any of the McGlynns and McGlinns who could come for a back yard picnic welcoming Marta back from Chicago and baby Joseph to our Royal Oak world.

The older I get, the 4ths that tug at my heart so much are the 4ths of July in Kansas. I would wake up in the early morning full of anticipation. The 4th was like no other day in the year. I would always be wondering what would happen this day, this year. The sound of firecrackers and other noise makers would fill the day. My brother, Dick, would, at some point, start shooting off firecrackers, sometimes putting them in containers that would sail into the air. Even I, as I became a little older, had little firecrackers called Lady Fingers that I would light and run “for my life.”


It was in the evening that the day became the most magical. Mom and Dad and my brothers (early on Dick, later, Bobby) and I would walk to Fort Leavenworth to see their fireworks display. We would walk up 7th Street, block after block, past Wilcox Drug Store, where my brother, Dick, would buy his firecrackers and my Grandpa O’Leary would take his afternoon drink, past the apartment house where Uncle Francis and Aunt Edna Mae lived, past St. John’s Hospital (where, later, I would work in admittance the summer of my Junior year in high school and admit my Aunt Tete when she had a miscarriage), block after block until we reached the entrance to the Fort and, then, on to Merritt Lake, where we would spread out on the lawn and wait impatiently for the show. When we were walking up the dear streets of my town in those evening hours, I was in heaven; it was so wonderful to see my Mom and Dad so happy, doing something just for fun, enjoying themselves, their children, the evening. I would run ahead just so I could look back at them and then join them again, grabbing my Dad’s hand. The fireworks over the lake were beautiful and when they were over we all clapped and, I think, we sang the National Anthem, but, maybe, I am misremembering; maybe I was just singing it to myself. Walking back to our house, I would be thinking of the wonderful treat that awaited us.


We always ended our Kansas 4th of July with a feast of ice-cold, sweet watermelon. It was the only day in the year we had it. Mom and Dad would buy a big, beautiful watermelon, put it in our ice box on the back porch, and after walking home from the Fort, we would all gather around the kitchen table (even Mom would be sitting wth us , usually she was standing serving all of us our meals). Dad would cut big, thick slices of this special treat and we would proceed to devour the entire melon. I think my other brother or two must have joined us; surely we didn’t eat the whole thing by ourselves!

After having, probably, too much of this delicious treat, I would reluctantly begin to get ready for bed. I would climb the stairs to my bedroom at the front of our house and put on my summer pajamas. I would sit on my bed, looking out the window right next to my bed. I would look down at our dear street, Ottawa. I would look at the houses, with lights still on in living rooms and porches and think of
the persons I knew who lived in them. I would look up at the star spangled sky. I would smell the sweet, earthy scent of a hot, July night in Kansas with just the whisper of a breeze. Finally, I would lay down on top of the sheets of my bed and go to sleep thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world.

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