Fourth of July

My Dearest Grandchild,

I want to share with you a great story about fireworks on the Fourth of July.  I have many memories of the Fourth of July but this one is really special.  It involves lots of family, a beautiful lake and beautiful colors painted in the sky by fireworks.

While your Dad was growing up, we always planned a yearly trip to see your Great Uncle Russ and his family.  He had a house right on the lake in a small town called Eagle River, Wisconsin. It was about a ten hour trip from home, so we drove two long days to get there.  Arriving late on a Friday evening, we all went out and dined on the famous Wisconsin fish-fry, tumbling into bed with full stomachs and tired bodies.

But the next day, we were up and ready to prepare for “The Fireworks Show.”  With a twinkle in his eye, your great uncle accompanied us to the barn where he uncovered two boxes wrapped in brown paper and marked — fireworks_on_the_lakeCaution!  Your grandfather and he winked at each other, secretly planning a real show later that night.

After boat rides, a hot dog roast, a trip to the craft show and a few cold beers, the preparations began.  We all excitedly took our seats at dusk and waited to be entertained.  A huge bonfire raged in front of us, lawn chairs were distributed well away from the fireworks activity and great aunt Gail and I opened up an excellent  bottle of wine.

As the sun sank in the west, the first round of fun started with water rockets on the tops of small whitecaps in the bay.  Next, mini barges of paper were launched and lit and then we cheered as they spewed the colored ash from their smoke stacks. Then everyone took a break, probably partaking in one of the delicious desserts Gail had baked.  Polishing it off with coffee, we again sat down and waited.

Cherry bombs, sparklers and mini pops exploded and burned around us.  All was safe and fun.  Then the big stuff started to happen.  Each firework was delicately lit and enjoyed by the audience.  Then at the climax of all the noise, the final, big one was launched displaying a mini American flag for a brief moment.  Then, like all the others, it disappeared with only the scent of expended fireworks left permeating the air.

Suddenly it was very quiet.  Kind of like at the end of Christmas Day. We all felt disappointed that it was over.  But for ten years, we all celebrated together and shared wonderful family memories.  Papa H passed away when your Dad was twenty-two.  When we could, we retold many of these celebration stories and they gave us much joy.  Then when your second cousin, Becky, got married, it was on the Fourth of July.  Again, the explosion of fireworks, the beauty in the sky and the color rained down on our family.  I really do believe that Papa Hartzell was there orchestrating this display from heaven.

This is the fond thought that I now share with you.  Always enjoy the Fourth of July, knowing that it not only celebrates our country’s birthday, but also lots of happy family memories.

Love you always,