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Posts Tagged ‘july 4th’

July 4th, 2007, looking out over the pier in San Clemente, California towards Dana Point, as the sun begins to go down.

 

 

July 4th is our biggest day in San Clemente and it’s only a week away.  I know it’s the biggest day because it’s the only day that the parked cars for the beach actually reach and go past our house.  No other day comes close.  I remember that we would gauge a 4th of July by how soon in the morning the cars would get to the house.  I don’t know what time that happens now, but now I gauge the day by amount of “crap”(as my Dad used to say) is hauled past our house to the beach.

 

“…After a few moments the only thing that is left behind to remind me of their passing is the summery sweet smell of lavishly applied suntan oil…”

 

Squeally wheeled strollers, the gritty drag of a plastic raft pulled over the asphalt and the fast gallop of children’s flip-flops, running after the long strides of their parents.  The solid humm of a fully loaded ice chest on rollers plays a low melody alongside Mom calling to her husband and asking if he locked the car, or if he brought the video camera and if it’s charged up or not.  Her pause in the middle of the street does not stop the children from gaining ground, switching oily hands from keeping the hat on their head, the sunglasses on, or the towel wrapped tightly around the neck. 

 view from the pier on July 4th, 2007

 

Their trot to the beach is held back only by Mom’s caution of getting too far ahead.  Dad, soon catches up, with car keys jingling in his cargo shorts pocket; his hands are full.  He glances back one last time in an effort to memorize the location of the car.  A cell phone goes off signaling something forgotten by friends they will soon meet.  After a few moments the only thing that is left behind to remind me of their passing is the summery sweet smell of lavishly applied suntan oil.

 

“…Behind big wrap around sunglasses, sideways trucker hats and the same t-shirt, everyone is young again…”

 OC Sheriff Bomb Squad check out the firework preparation on the San Clemente Pier for the firework show.

Mid-morning gives way to lunch and the hurried accelerations of souped up trucks on their way back to the house for lunch, more beer and a ride for a friend.  The three way stop out front blends the blaring tunes of Reggae, country and pop all together.  Friends shout to each other their hellos along with a directional beach code of where they are sitting so they can meet up.  Behind big wrap around sunglasses, sideways trucker hats and the same t-shirt, everyone is young again.  The return to the beach after lunch is slower and lingers into the afternoon.

 

Around 5 or so there is a renewed frenzy as cars and people make their way back to the house for dinner and reorganization for the evening fireworks off the pier.  The diehards remain; the lineup at Riviera thins a little bit and most just talk over the tips of their boards.  I think we’ll take a little walk down to the beach around this time this year. 

 

 

Under the San Clemente Pier.

 

 

Usually a sort of neighborhood anarchy has taken hold where some of the lower streets are rebelliously blocked off with trash cans and everyone is in the street talking, laughing or watching the latest feat of skate and bike action the 6 to 9 year olds have been perfecting all day. 

 4th of July spirit on the San Clemente Pier.

Traditionally the fireworks at the pier go off around 9 or so.  Whether the show can be seen from your house or not, it doesn’t compare with the being on the sand among all the neighbors.  Its dark of course and not much can be seen except from the glow coming from the fire pits.  Shadows crisscross, revealing the end of a day at the beach.  Like Bedouin, family and friends sit clustered together, waiting for the show to begin.  You can hear more than you can see and you listen to conversations about what Bob did on his vacation, why Becca didn’t get married…again, or children explaining why they want one video game as opposed to another for their birthday.  It always seems to me, like an invisible witness, I am in America’s living room; all of the living rooms, put together and at the same time.

 

“…Like Bedouin, family and friends sit clustered together, waiting for the show to begin…”

 

Patience is about to give out just as the first firework is shot skyward over the water from the pier and a few moments later, its sound reaches you like an expensive, chilled dessert; cold, sharp and surprisingly satisfying. Usually the firework show at Dana Harbor can be seen and it always seems to start before ours and lasts longer.  Its explosions are always more impressive with better color and presentation.  I don’t know where or how we have this experience or knowledge but it gets said every year. 

 

The show goes on and several times when you think its over it isn’t and when you think it will go on, it’s over.  Everyone sits for a bit and when it’s really over, en masse, the herd moves slowly to the tunnel and up onto the street and home.  I remember one year in the tunnel, someone began with a typical cow moo, long, waning and frustrated; it wasn’t long before the sounds of a stockyard came from everywhere in a chorus of understanding.

 

“…It always seems to me, like an invisible witness, I am in America’s living room; all of the living rooms, put together and at the same time…”

 

After 15 minutes, or the time it takes to walk the 5 blocks back to the house, I am standing on the driveway as what I witnessed in the morning is played in reverse but without the bursting enthusiasm.  Like Napoleon’s army fleeing back to France from Moscow, they pass, dragging their feet and rubbing their eyes.  The smell of ocean, campfire and fireworks is strong in our clothes, noses, throats and thoughts.  Sandy feet and damp clothes capitalize the feeling.

 

The firework show at the San Clemente Pier.When I was 7 to 10 years old, I’d be up at 5:30 or 6 the next morning and down at the beach to look for the lost flotsam of Independence Day; Firecrackers, sodas, sunglasses and towels.  We would finish with a slow walk up “Beach Hill”, eyes glued to the gutter and asphalt, looking for the bills that came out of pockets with the car keys.  We never found less than $50.00 and I think we hit 100.00 a couple of times. 

 

It was all gone in a few days, spent on slurpees, army men, necca wafers and lemon drops or candy cigarettes.  Our first purchase was tea at the counter of Landel’s diner up on El Camino Real; we were big spenders and we wanted everyone to know it (50 cents with tip).

 

For me, it was true independence not to have to rely on a 35 cent per week allowance.

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The traditional June gloom in San ClementeIt seems to me that when I was a kid and the end of the school year was at hand, the only thing to fear was the brutal 10 days or so of June Gloom.  Yes, I said 10 days…only.  June gloom as of recent times almost seems to start in April and doesn’t give up until the end of July.

 

Think back and you’ll agree.  The last few July 4th’s we’ve had have barely let the sun through.  Now its true they all mix together somewhat with age and everything going on but then, its no excuse to hand over a grey, dull summer.

 

Two weeks ago, the rain had me worried and I confess that at the house we’ve even had the heater on.  This is definitely not something I want the relatives in the Pacific Northwest, back east, Chile and Norway to find out about.  After all, we’ll see them all here at some point this summer and I prefer it if they are as envious as I can make them.

 

This week it seems to be clearing up by late morning but then mother nature, is full of surprises.  She’d like nothing more than that we get our hopes up and then dash them on the rocks.  I for one will wish for an easy entry into summer but nothing more; otherwise, we’ll be asking for trouble.  I know that no sooner than I have written these words and it will be labor day.  Shorter days will bring shorter memories. 

 

We had burgers on Sunday for dinner.  Even June gloom can’t hold down that rich smell of a neighbor’s bar-b-que, reminding us that no matter what the weather is, summer is almost here.  The dread of traffic and crowded beaches comes later.  First things first; our gas bar-b-que has had it and so I’ll be off to get a new one this weekend.  Like my dad used to say “…I wonder what the poor folks are doing?…”   

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