Reborn on the Fourth of July

Written By: Donna Weinheim

Reborn on the fourth of July

If you’ve seen one parade you’ve seen them all.

The people that come to the Southampton parade have managed to dig out any semblance of red, white and blue clothing they own. One older man has one red knee sock and one bright blue knee sock.

Why did he feel compelled to look like he picked out the wrong socks? Is tradition this important?

The people in the parade look the same as the people watching. I alway wondered what gave them the right to parade by when they were ordinary moms and dads, teenagers, and young women pushing baby strollers.

There are always cub scout and boy scout troops.

How many of these does one need to see?

There are marching bands and farmers in trucks waving frantically.

I’m bored.

There are motorcycle gangs revving up they’re engines.

Did I mention every fire truck from every town proudly drifting by, hitting horns and pulling sirens.

I’ve got my fingers in my ears; my mouth a grim line.

Someone should tell the crowd that they look silly with an American flag poking out of their baseball cap or bun.

It’s usually hot, sticky and crowded with no where to run, no where to hide and certainly not a bathroom to be had.

A group marches by representing the Shinnecock Indian tribe. Some wave, and some are doing the traditional dance of their forefathers hundreds of years ago.

The music is haunting and their movements touch a part of me deep inside.

They are celebrating the history of the true Hamptons and I can picture a time long ago when this very street we are standing on was theirs. Yet they are proud to be part of this parade and represent their heritage. I close my eyes picturing how it was long ago and far away, my heart in sync with the drumbeat.

And then it hit me .

The World War two vets come by in a convertible. They are so old and fragile, yet they sit on the top of the car waving. Please don’t fall. Be careful because we are grateful and we love you.

There are less and less of them every year. I start to get a lump in my throat and suddenly I am glad to be here and happy to see everyone. I am proud to be part of this tradition. Happens every time.

I have decided to have a small barbecue. I am not really into it. My friend told me not to make as big a spread as usual.

“Everyone will be happy with hamburgers, potato salad, and corn on the cob.”

I used to have my best friend Gilda at every Fourth of July barbecue. She was Persian and would make Iranian corn on the cob, which is simply the corn laid out roasting on the grill naked.I doubted it but it we great and became our traditional barbecue.

I used to always have my friend Jacqueline who is French and her husband who is Italian at every Fourth of July as well. We had Mozzarella with fresh basil and tomato and lobster linguini. We also had Gilda’s lamb kebabs with fresh mint and garlic and assorted French cheeses, pate, French bread and lamb sausage.

Oh yes, and lots of rose wine.

That was my traditional Fourth and those were the perennial friends I celebrated with.

Gilda died over a year ago, and Giovani became very ill and he and Jacqueline moved back to Europe.

I have mostly new friends coming over. One woman I invited I hardly know.

I don’t care. I like them all, but they are not part of my tradition.

For the first time I will only make hamburgers, corn boiled in a pot, and potato salad.That’s what they want so that’s what they’ll get. Easier for me, but boring. I decide to make the potato salad the night before. Please do not laugh. I have never made potato salad. Unchartered territory.

It can’t be that difficult. I should have just bought it already made. I don’t care. This is laborious. I have never peeled six pounds of potatoes in my life.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Hellman’s mayonnaise and plenty of it. Fresh dill. Black pepper, chopped red onion, hard boiled eggs.

I’m getting into it.

My newest friend arrives early. She explains she may need to eat early. I put a big bowl of fried chicken in front of her.

Everyone else starts drifting in. Smiling flushed faces.

“Want a beer?”

Would you like a glass of wine?”

Everyone is happy to be here and I am happy to see these sweet faces, laughing talking, animated and lively.

“Let me know when you are hungry and I will start the hamburgers.”

“Oh, we are fine. Don’t worry.”

When I see they are gravitating to the chicken and potato salad I realize they are too polite to tell me to start grilling.

I jump on the grill Jack offers to grill the burgers.

I relax, I look around at the new faces and I get choked up. How wonderful these people are; each and everyone.

They embrace each other even though they also are meeting new friends.

They are open and loving and kind.

I start to get a lump in my throat and suddenly I am glad to be here and happy to see everyone. I am proud to be part of this tradition. Happens every time.