Things to help keep your chin up!

Water fights on the 4th

Growing up in the All American City of Park Forest IL, 4th of July was the best! We started the day with the Kiwana’s pancake breakfast with the maple syrup smell so stong! Then off to the parade with the family. After that we gathered at the fire station for cold Nehi soda’s from ice filled aluminum tubs. Dad was one of the first EMT’s, although back then they were the Rescue Squad. Later we would watch the water fights with the firemen. Eventually they used hollow jugs on suspended cable, high in the air. But when I was 13, Dad let me participate when they still pushed those drums about on the street.

I wasn’t first, second or third in the line on the hose but it didn’t matter when in the intensity of the moment I got nailed in the chest with blasting water from the other teams water hose. My saving grace was that I never let go of the hose! Dad was proud!
Then we spent the afternoon at the Aqua Center trying to keep boys from tossing us in the pool!
The best part of the day was at night, when we trouped up to the bog hill, laid out blankets and ate homemade caramel corn with Mom, Dad and the sibs while watching the fireworks. It is still my favorite holiday and every year I expect some thing magical to happen on the 4th of July! It was such a magical time as a kid.
It is memories like this that help me get through the bumpy spots in life. What are yours?
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2 Responses to Things to help keep your chin up!

  1. Laurel says:

    I grew up in Park Forest too from 65-77. I hadn’t been back in a lot of years but I attended a funeral there in 2001. They were bulldozing the Plaza! There were no more restaurants open except up by what we always called the “new” mall, the one that put the good old Park Forest Plaza out of business. We had to hold my mother’s funeral at a bar. She was a nearly teatotaler schoolteacher. She would not have attended a funeral at that place. Chicago Heights looked like a haunted place. Houses were abandoned. Dogs were feral and ran in packs. The Salvation Army was surrounded by barbed wire. Park Forest in now, almost exclusively, an African American city.

    In happier times, I remember spending all day at the Aquacenter then riding our bikes home in the firefly twilight. Ordering a thin crusted I.C. Pizza which is still the best pizza I’d ever tasted. Going out for those amazing Italian beef sandwiches on fresh Italian rolls with roasted peppers. My mouth waters. Tooling around with girlfriends in our cars, driving over to Indiana or up to Michigan for fun. Ditching school at Rich Central and hopping the I.C. to hang out in Oldtown in Chicago ala Ferris Buller.

    My mom taught 6th grade at Talala Elementary. I still remember with fondness the day when the Scholastic Book orders would come in and the teacher would open the box and call your name and you’d get a Brand New Book that no one had ever even opened before you. I credit that memory for my being a writer today.

    It was a good place to grow up. I’m glad I have those memories.

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