In the summer of 1976 I was 4 years old…. well, 4 and 3/4. It was my last summer before I started Kindergarten, and to be honest, I have very few actual memories of that time period, so most likely my love of 76 has been created from a longing for a simpler time and general love of my childhood. In my mind, 1976 represents a lot of things…. the bicentennial birthday of our country’s freedom… lightning bugs and jar flies… cold watermelon with the juice dripping from my chin as I try to spit the seeds as far as possible… grandparents’ yards filled with cousins, all running around while we wait for homemade peach ice cream to finish. All things that make me smile. It was a time before we were all connected 24 hours a day. A time when you could leave the house without worrying whether or not you have your cell phone in your pocket. A time when it required a dime to call home from town.
As an adult I wonder if my children will have a time period that they remember with such fondness. I wonder if I do my job as “dad” and allow them to have the childhood that will make them smile as they approach 40?
Last Saturday we joined several other families in a yard. A yard with a slip-n-slide that seemingly went on for miles. Kids ran around in their bathing suits getting wet… with grass clinging to their bare feet. The adults stood around in small groups, talking about everything, and at the same time, talking about nothing. Mostly, just enjoying the company of one another. The air was filled with the haze and smell of burned fireworks. A smell that always makes me happy.
A speaker hidden somewhere behind a curtain played a continual loop of patriotic music that served as a perfect auditory backdrop for the evening.
A concession area kept the kids well hydrated with sugary sodas and kept their stomachs full with fresh, cold watermelon.
All in all, it was a perfect evening.
Now, I own more photography equipment than I care to describe, but this evening I left it all at home. I wasn’t a photographer, I was a dad…. I was a friend…. and for a few moments I was 4 years old and it was 1976 all over again. The only images I took were with my cell phone (as ironic as that is) and most of them are just for me. I’m only posting two of them…. and the rest are a special gift to myself. A gift that serves to remind me that a simpler life is right here…. just aching for each of us to participate. To not answer that phone call…. to just enjoy the company of our families and friends… face to face.
The fireworks were truly spectacular. The show was beyond anything I had anticipated to see while sitting in a lawn chair in a friend’s yard. What made it even more special, was that I got to share it with my wife and all of my kids.
This weekend as we celebrate our country’s independence, I hope each of you take the time to search for your 1976… or at least for that particular year that means so much to you. Have fun, stay safe and take the time to keep a few photos just for yourself.