4th of July

I have wonderful Fourth of July memories going back to being eight or nine years old when my family began going to what became a yearly party at a house with a kidney shaped pool and a view up the Peninsula to San Francisco. Here’s what I remember about those parties: The grownups drank beer and gin fizzes. Boy-catcher salad made with fruit and marshmallows and coconut. Staying in the pool three hours straight. No sun screen. Boys doing belly flops. Girls counting how many times we could do backward somersaults and pointing our toes like ballerinas. Scorched skins and stinging eyes.

As the world turns and turns, I pay more attention to the actual history of the day and the men and a few women, probably more than we know — who made this country happen. I have my heroes, chiefly the irascible John Adams who, when given the choice between making a nation and compromising one of his most deeply felt beliefs, chose the nation—though with deep misgivings.

I get irritable when our politicians talk about compromise as if it were akin to selling a soul on the black market. Without compromise there would not have been unanimous approval of the Resolution for Independence. July 4th would be just another hot summer day.

Every Fourth of July, Art and I re-watch the movie “1776”, which came out originally around the time of the Bicentennial, and by now we have seen it so many times that we know all the songs and can quote whole passages of dialog. Later today we’ll celebrate this afternoon and gather with our extended family at my sister’s, a traditional holiday meal of hot dogs, potato salad and so on.

As it happens, July 4th is my older granddaughter’s birthday. Isabelle is five today and will start school in the fall. If there are any schools.

Justice Holmes once said, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” Well, here in the Golden State we don’t care about civilization. We prefer to cheat our school children out of an education, let the poor go hungry, close the parks and let the highways go to ruin rather than raise taxes a few dollars.

Where is John Adams when we need him?

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