Barbecue and Stuffed Animals

It’s hot.

That’s an understatement. It’s incredibly, paint-peeling, baking cookies in the car, asphalt melting hot.
It’s also July and, for me, that brings back a lot of memories. July 4th has always been a big day, not only for the country, but for my family as well. My grandmother was born on the 4th (Happy Birthday Memaw!).

Recently, I’ve been working Independence Day. My DJ side-job usually takes me to big fireworks shows or neighborhood gatherings that require background music and corny announcements.
There was one July 4th I spent on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Despite some of my friend’s insistence, there were no outward fireworks in Greece. The fireworks were inside my head. Seeing that part of that world, in person, was an amazing thing.

Growing up, though, the best memories are from the giant block parties. Our neighbors down the street would invite everyone over. Barbecue and hot dogs to eat, a pool to swim in, then at dark-thirty (that magic hour) would begin our own firework show.

The fireworks were always bought the day before or that day. We all saved, or begged our parents for money. The important thing was to bargain shop. You had to buy enough to set off on the 4th and enough left over to get you to New Year’s.

Before we got too big and everyone moved off, those parties were the biggest night of the summer. As kids, we would try and stay out trouble. One year, we decided that pulling each behind our bikes while wearing roller blades would be fun. I have scars to prove it was. Another we decided to play field surgeon with our old, torn stuffed animals.

Those stuffed animals not deemed fit to donate, were kept for a special mission. To be loaded with fireworks and destroyed in spectacular fashion. Parent supervision was present. After all, how do you think we got the string and needle to sew the toys back together?

Much like Sid from Toy Story, a few toys were tortured at the expense of childhood curiosity. We thanked each of them for their time and service, then lit the fuse and took cover.

The sight of stuffing raining down on the street meant a successful job. A few years later everyone was in high school or moving off to college, so the street party dwindled, but not my memory. Every Fourth of July I can remember Barbecue and stuffed animals.

I’m blogging for my job at KBTX.com. This article is posted there. I would ask that if you have any comments, you please leave them there. Thanks!

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