Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Best Ever Fourth of July

My best ever Fourth of July was the summer after the reality show billed as “Gulf War I”. It wasn’t known as “Gulf War I” then – we had no inkling that some SOB (son of a bush) would insist upon producing a sequel for some damn personal vendetta.

Read no bitterness from me here! Not only has “Gulf War II” grossed more in money, outrages and loss of life than “Gulf War I”, it has been successfully serialized into a long-running soap – true, one might quibble and say that something as dirty as "Gulf War II" cannot be called “soap”…

Anyway, that July Fourth we all piled into Ruth’s auto-camper and drove from Jacksonville to the parking lot of the Orange Park Mall where there was to be a humongous fireworks display. (“Humongous” was then the “one size fits all” adjective later replaced by “awesome”)

Jax promotes itself as the “largest city in the world”. Some years ago, the entire Duval County was incorporated into the city of Jacksonville and then proclaimed to be the biggest city in the world.

That claim probably isn’t any more true or real than the new super ingredient PDQ86 in your soap powder or toothpaste or what I learned as kid that the St. John’s River is the only river in the world that flows north. Actually, the latter is true if you consider the United States to be the entire world, which a lot of Americans do seem to think. Fact is, there are several rivers in what was then the USSR which not only flow north, but one is larger than the St. John’s – I think it is the Ob.

As far as the largest city though, that may very well be true – if you include Orange Park, which used to be a sleepy little place with old trees and greybeard Spanish moss giving shade from the hot Florida sun.

Today Orange Park is part of the extended urban sprawl from Jax and Orange Park Mall is the largest mall in the area next after The Regency in Jax. The two lane black top I rode to school every morning when I was a teenager is now a six and sometimes eight lane highway.

Fireworks were never really that big a thing in the Jax of my childhood – the crackers mostly did their fireworks on New Year’s. Never knew why exactly, but my dad said it was because they were still a bit sour about losing the Civil War. We had picnic stuff with us in the camper and lawn chairs, so we just settled in. It really was a tremendous display of fireworks with a lot of “ooh”s and “ahh”s coming from the thousands of people watching.

That Fourth of July was also a sort of victory celebration – the country was still in a state of euphoria after our rulers had demonstrated with their reality show that America had redeemed itself from the shame of Vietnam. There would be a bit of blowback later, with returning vets sick from “depleted” uranium dust and other minor details – but hey, we were the Champions of the World and could stomp anybody’s ass!

One thing America hates is Dictators in Oil Rich States
We shoot them with rockets and bullets and bombs
And get to see it all on color tele-vi-sion…

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