West Tisbury: Fireworks


By the time you are reading this, the Fourth of July festivities will have come and gone. Picnics, parades, fireworks, houseguests. I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend holiday. The weather is expected to be sunny and hot, summer weather to be sure.

When Mike and I came in for lunch earlier today, I was clicking through the Comcast guide and found “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, with James Cagney starring as George M. Cohan, full of familiar music and dancing and all-American patriotism — in other words, typical of my childhood in the early 1950s. Watching it brought back memories of watching it over and over again on “Million Dollar Movies” with my Nana (it was her favorite movie, as she was born on the Fourth of July), my brother Mark and I seated on the floor in our living room. Watching it again didn’t disappoint. James Cagney dancing down the White House stairs never disappoints. They don’t make movies like that anymore.

I am finding myself feeling nostalgic this Fourth of July, for my parents and brother who are dead, for the rituals of our holidays. My father loved fireworks. They were often staggered over different nights and times in different towns around Ridgefield, so Daddy drove us around to as many as he could. We kids were little then, dressed in shortie summer pajamas, blankets and pillows spread across the way-back of our two-toned green Chevy station wagon. Fireflies flitted in the sky as we waited in a field filled with other cars and families for the fireworks to begin. We always had ice cream.

I have never understood little children being scared of fireworks. To me it was always safe, a special time, out with my parents, the anticipation palpable. The booming sounds and bright, colored, sparkling explosions sounded exciting. It felt physical and totally joyous. Everyone in all the cars clapped and yelled “Hooray” when it was over.

By the time we were teenagers, Ridgefield’s fireworks had been moved to Veteran’s Park in the center of town, a short walk from our house on Main Street. That was even better, to be able to walk into town and sit on the grass, looking up as the booming flares launched skyward into colored pinwheels and disappeared in a trail of disintegrating sparks.

I have never outgrown my love of fireworks or parades, of holidays and celebrations, of the specialness of such occasions. My parents gave us those times as part of our childhood. I can still cry with happiness watching “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Many happy memories, as childhoods should all be. I miss my daddy and his boyish enthusiasm for spectacles, for holidays and movies and music and baseball. Maybe one of those firefly or fireworks sparks in the sky is the tip of his Cueto cigar, twinkling in the night sky, reminding me of his love and how lucky I was.

Marjory Potts stopped by earlier with a loaf of her homebaked bread, still warm, although she said it was from being in the car in the sun. She told me about having recently returned from attending her eldest grandson’s high school graduation. Oliver Aitken Potts Jr. was one of 500-plus graduates from Washington and Lee High School in Arlington, Va., on June 23. The ceremony was held in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., “two blocks from the White House,” as Marjory said. She described it as a joyous occasion, and noted the diversity of the graduating class, “kids from every country on the planet.” She commented on how wonderfully “normal” it felt that despite the anti-immigration sentiment we hear about on the nightly news, here were families of all nationalities and backgrounds happily together watching beloved children and honoring their accomplishments. It was “a moment of extraordinary harmony,” said Marjory.

A reminder from Charlie Kernick that the dedication ceremony for the Mill Pond plaque will be this Sunday, July 9, at 11:30 am. Charlie and a group of neighbors came up with the idea, raised the money, and had the plaque made. It is quite interesting to read, giving a history of the Mill Pond and of its importance to West Tisbury. Thanks to the committee, and to the Historical District Committee, the selectmen, and other town committees that helped make this happen. Join the Friends of the Mill Pond as the plaque is unveiled on the eastern shore of the pond.

At the West Tisbury library this week:

Mac pro Paul Levy is back for the summer, and will resume his biweekly drop-in consulting sessions this Friday, 10 am to noon. He will also be there on Tuesdays, same time.

Friday at 7 pm, Trinlay Rimpoche of Bodhi Path will lead a discussion, “Buddhism: Advice for Modern Times.”

Saturday, July 8, there will be an artist’s reception for landscape painter Nancy Purnell from 3 to 5 pm.

Monday, July 10, Mathea Morais begins a weeklong writing workshop for kids ages 9 to 14. It will meet daily from 10:30 am to noon. Materials and snacks will be provided. The class is limited to 10 kids, so preregister at the library. Monday Night Movies for families and teens/tweens begin at 6:30 pm. Movies and popcorn are free.

After-Beach Yoga classes for kids, led by One Love Yoga instructor and library assistant Emily Histen, will be held afternoons at 3:30 pm on the following days: Tuesdays for ages 4 to 6; Wednesdays for ages 7 to 10; Thursdays for ages 11 to 17. Please preregister at the library.

Thursday, July 13, 5 to 6 pm, come to an Outdoor Rock Concert for Kids with Jellybone Rivers and the Maniacs of the Heart.