Quintessentially American

by Lorin Michel Monday, July 4, 2016 10:49 PM

Hot and sunny. That's the only definition that works for this Independence Day. All across the country I imagine people are readying the pool, breaking out the sunscreen. There are parades, certainly in the smaller towns. Years ago, when I lived in New England and our town had its annual 4th of July parade, my dad participated. In addition to veterans and farmers and local boys and girls scout troops, there was an old car contingent driven by old guys.

In 1965 my parents bought a new mustang, right off the assembly line. It was canary yellow with a black rag top, three speed on the floor, 289 engine. Before too long, they had it painted British Racing Green. The car moved with us from Pennsylvania to New York to Maryland and finally to New England. Somewhere a long the way, it became undrivable due to undercarriage rust. When I was in college, my parents had it fully restored. The undercarriage was replaced, the springs that had rusted up into the trunk were also replaced. The color went back to canary yellow, they put a new rag top on. And on a 4th of July that remains, for me, without a date but rather lives only in my memory, my dad drove the "horse" in the town parade, top down, with little American flags attached to the front and the back. He grinned and waved the whole time.

Years later, in 2004, we were there with Justin. My dad had been gone for two years. We went to the parade, and as is also a New England tradition in an election year, many of the presidential candidates marched, waving to the crowds, giving out buttons and bumper stickers. Vote for me. Vote for change. Again.


New England is quintessential America. It was where America began, the home of Uncle Sam - a real person - and the original tea party. New Englanders take their role in America seriously, New Hampshire perhaps most of all. All presidential candidates spend a ridiculous amount of time there, given the relatively small number of electoral votes.

This year, there will be no candidates marching. The candidates have already been chosen; no need to pander.

I don't think my family goes to the parade anymore. The kids are too old to care, the crowds too big. By big, of course, I mean for Amherst. Today, my family of New Englanders will instead journey an hour and a half north to South Berwick, Maine, to watch fireworks over the river and dine on lobster while celebrating my mother's birthday.

As for us, we're going to climb on the motorcycle and travel up the mountain to Summerhaven at the base of Mt. Lemmon. We'll have breakfast at the Iron Door, or maybe lunch, depending on what time we get there. They have a parade up there, too. They’ll also have their annual pancake breakfast for the residents. There are only about 40 official residents so it's not as big as it sounds.

Tonight we'll throw some bratwurst in the grill, along with some veggies. I'm going to make some potato salad. Potato salad is the number one go-along for 4th of July celebrations. Second is corn on the cob.

We'll sit on the deck and watch as the sky darkens and then alights with fireworks. We don't have to travel, we don't have find a place to park. It might not be the typical way to view the celebration of our country's independence – the original Amexit? - but it is our way of being quintessentially American and living it out loud.

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live out loud

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