Books -- reading and writing.
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And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Write What You Know?

When dreaming up a big July 4th parade and celebration scene, all I had to do was shut my eyes and visualize the town I've lived in and out of for a long time.

And it is way north of the Mason Dixon line.

Although the fiction I write takes place in the South, this little 'burg is in New Jersey. Sometimes living here felt like a throwback to the 1950s, a place kids safely walked to town and parents sat on front steps or back decks gossiping and laughing. My friend Kay and I walked our dogs all over, on every side street and leafy playground. I worked in the public library on Main Street where I met all the quirky residents and observed their reading habits (but my lips are still sealed).

I knew what my town looked like.

The string of small boroughs on the Midtown Direct train line to NYC melt into each other so that you can drive from Summit to Chatham to Madison to Morristown and find great restaurants with good bread, an overly-sufficient number of banks and nail salons, and enough quaintness to go around. Flags always fly and flowers fill the tasteful pots outside storefronts. Just a great place to imagine any number of characters drifting through the neighborhoods.

So when I needed an Independence Day parade, even though the setting might be 1964 Mississippi, yesterday's annual Fireman's Parade and Fireworks Display in Chatham, New Jersey filled the bill quite nicely.

Preparation starts on the day before the parade, with the reserving of seats... And nobody bothers them.

Float-building begins early.
Since Washington probably slept here (not on this particular float, but in our town), the Chatham Historical Society recreated the scene nicely:

I have more pictures of the fireman on their trucks, the Scouts, the swim teams, the marching bands. But I'll leave that to your imagination. Hope you are celebrating wherever you are reading this. July 4th is a great holiday, filled with possibility, hot dogs, flags, swimming parties, birthday cakes decorated with blueberries and strawberries. Happy Birthday USA!

Related post:
A Beautiful September Day


kate said...

First, I like the new background.. second, what a perfect "chatham" memory... not a thing has changed! not even the minisink float!
next time, Mississippi in 1964 please... let's see how different the towns are!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I love it when I drive through a town and see the lawn chairs lining the streets in expectation of a parade. I think maybe this is a northern phenomenon. Not something I see around here. What do you think? Honestly, I don't go to lots of parades so I might be wrong.

I had a quiet 4th with summer garden foods, big family gathering, and a modest fireworks display. Just what I needed!

Augusta Scattergood said...

Maybe there aren't July 4th parades in the South, but we used to have them. Fireworks everywhere! And we had football parades every Friday after school, leading up to the big Pep Rally and game. Now there's a memory!

I think I have more to say on the subject. Stay tuned!