Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy 233rd Birthday, USA !

Plus Hometown 4th of July Memories

This star is a smaller version of the “star-from-edging” pattern featured on my February 27 post,
based on Edging No. 12, Ann Orr’s Classic Tatting Patterns.

It actually may be the first star I ever tatted (back in 1990), since it’s size 50 thread.
I seemed to tat with size 50 thread a lot back then. It usually hangs on my Christmas tree, with a crystal snowflake in the center.

Here, I have attached the star to the candle with gold-bead metallic pins, which I cut to a much shorter length with wire cutters. The flag is a lapel pin. The lovely doily is the same one I displayed in my April 1 post, which I purchased at a boutique shop. (Someday I might try to copy it! But don’t hold your breath!)

Declaration of Independence - 1776
This is the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence here in the United States. What an amazing document! Of course, we didn’t win our independence from England until seven years later in 1783.
The Fourth of July is a time to contemplate all that has happened (good and bad), in this incredible country and especially to feel a connection to the Colonists who signed that important document. It was an amazing time!

200+ Years Later
Little did the Colonists realize how we would be living only 200 amazingly short years in the future.
They never imagined trains, automobiles, jet planes, not to mention radio, television, computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, and space travel! I hesitate to even mention the changes in fashion! I think they’d faint dead away if they saw how we dress (or don’t dress) today! :-)

A true fact to contemplate: Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, exactly on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence! Jefferson was an amazing 83 years old and Adams was an even more amazing 90! And this was in a time when very few made it past 40!

Memories of My Hometown 4th of July Celebrations -
Parades, Picnics and Fireworks in the 1950s

The Fourth of July evokes many wonderful “Norman Rockwell type” childhood memories for me (1949-1961), as my small hometown (across the river from where we live now) always had a big celebration, starting with a parade in the morning, activities in the park all day, backyard picnics, and big fireworks at night at the high school field.

The town was incorporated in 1904, and I was 10 during its week-long Golden Jubilee celebration in 1954, centered around the 4th of July. The movie “Picnic” (although it’s set in a larger town which had a “lake’) was filmed in 1955, and, for me, that movie really captures the ‘atmosphere’ of the Jubilee celebration. We even had a “Queen” for the Jubilee, who happened to be my girlfriend’s older sister, whom I admired.
Happily, the town still retains its pleasant ambiance, and few changes have been made. It was and still is an ideal place to grow up.
These days their celebration is smaller, but almost annually (like a swallow returning to Capistrano), I make a nostalgic visit on the 4th, where I walk around town and recall warm memories of my parents and their friends and neighbors during those “Happy Days” of the 1950s and my wonderful childhood.

The Park and Playground
The park grounds were part of a former estate belonging to the family who first settled in the town in 1826. In 1948, my mother was among the petitioners who sought to turn the area into a permanent park/playground (with the usual swings, sliding board, jungle gym, etc.) – a wise move on the town’s part, as it is a lovely ‘green oasis’ and is the center of many activities.

I also learned many crafts there during the summer months, from our school’s art teacher.
I especially made a lot of bracelets, lanyards. and keychains out of what is now called 'plastic lace'. It was kind of like ‘macrame’ and, of course, it appealed to me as a handcraft.
My Parade Experiences
I was in every Fourth of July parade in my hometown from 1949 to 1960, starting at age 5, when I rode my decorated tricycle, then graduated to a bicycle by age 6.

The next year I pulled a wagon filled with the new (and unexpected!) Border Collie puppies from our dog “Pal” (a stray, who had wandered into our hearts around 1949). The puppies, of course, kept jumping out of the wagon, much to the delight of the crowd! I believe I won a ribbon for my

Then I marched as a Brownie, and then as a Girl Scout, where I had the honor of carrying the flag.
In junior high school I began marching with our small High School band (50 members) where I played the clarinet.

During ninth grade, I learned how to twirl a baton and tried out for majorette the following summer (1958). I was 14 years old and was thrilled when I was chosen for the only open spot (in a five-majorette squad). HUGE moment in my life! I LOVED being a majorette (starting in my sophomore year) and marching and doing dance routines during half-time at the football games and parades.

During my junior and senior years, three of us shared Head Majorette duty, and I got to lead the July 4th parade in 1960, which was my final hometown parade, as I would be graduating the next year in 1961. It was an emotional experience for me!

My husband-to-be (whom I met in August of 1960, and who had just graduated from another school)) was disappointed the next May that I wasn’t leading my final Memorial Day parade (in another town). However, he recorded part of that parade on his parents’ 8mm color movie camera. Not many people were taking movies back then! What a treasure! We’ve transferred it to videotape, but now must transfer it to a DVD!)

Then after I graduated, it was strange to all of a sudden be a ‘spectator’ at the
Fourth of July parade in 1961 after all those years of being part of it!

However, on a few occasions many years later, my husband and rode in our GTO in the parade.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing another trip down Memory Lane.
Hope those of you in the USA enjoy the fireworks and other festivities this weekend!!


TattingChic said...

What a pretty piece of candle decor. It sure makes for a very pretty picture! Yout tatting is lovely as always!
That is really neat that you used to be a majorette! :)

Happy 4th of July to you and yours! :)

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

Kathy, I really enjoyed this post. Your descriptions are so lively that I feel as if I were there too. Will you "ride" the GTO in future parades? You must find a way to keep the memories going....

and congrats on majorette, that is super cool.

Kathy Niklewicz said...

Hi TattingChic and Sherry – Thanks for the comments!

I love the digital cameras which make taking photos SO much easier today. These cameras are what I have been waiting for. I never understood F-stops and shutter settings. And now we have instant results! No film processing (more on this aspect in a future blog.) Young folks take all this for granted now, but I sure don’t. It’s like a miracle. Also, I can take an ‘average’ photo, and with the computer, make it look good!

As to being a majorette, it was so much fun! I loved every minute of it! I even choreographed some of our routines. I also did fairly well with the clarinet, attending District and State Bands for two years, which were also awesome (200 musicians!) I have LP recordings of those! In future posts I’ll mention my love for dancing, and how lucky I was to get a husband who can dance!

The last sentence should have read “my husband and I” rode in the GTO. We’ve been in many parades – even in downtown Pittsburgh – but a major problem today is the cost of gasoline. Lot’s of idling in a parade, plus the engine can get overheated on a hot day (as can we!) – so we have cut back a bit on riding in parades. Nothing more embarrassing than having to push a muscle car off the road – although, fortunately, we’ve never had to do that!

TattingChic said...

Kathy, thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog today. I don't want to play favorites because I love and appreciate EVERY comment that I get, I really do. That said, I have to say that I really appreciate the time you take to comment whenever you visit my blog. I really look forward to your visits. Your comments are so generous and make me feel like I just got a big hug from someone...a kindred spirit, yes! I think that is one of the beautiful things about blogging; we find each other in this big world who inspire us and relate to us in ways that are not possible in our 3-D lives! It's such a lovely thing and I feel so fortunate to have "met" so many lovely souls such as yourself! Thank you! Have a wonderful 4th, yourself!
(Yes, I had heard of Jan Stawasz recent hospitalization. I have kept him in my prayers. I left a comment on Meme's blog, but I don't know if it is showing up yet.)

Nancy in Dallas said...

Just a note to say I am enjoying view your blog...came across this and just had to tell you I love your work!