4th of July Bright's Pond Style
I had a hankering for the simpler life this week so I headed on up the Pennsylvania Turnpike to celebrate the 4th of July in Bright's Pond. There is no better place on earth to recharge my batteries and reconnect with what is truly important in life—mosquito repellant, smiles, hand churned peach ice cream and slow moving traffic.
And I am happy to report that once again, the Bright's Pond Fourth of July celebration was a resounding success. The weather was perfect. Crystal clear cerulean skies with the occasional fluffy white cloud was a welcome guest after all the rain they've been getting. There were only a couple of incidents this year, not the least of which was Ivy Slocum's dog getting loose during the parade. He chased Babette Sturgis in her Lady Liberty costume clear down Filbert Street, passed The Full Moon Café and finally cornered her on the steps of the library. Nobody got hurt in the chase but Babette's torch was broken and her crown got smashed under Nate Kincaid's tractor. Of course, that nasty Eugene Shrapnel got some ugly delight in watching this and he took the opportunity to hurl insults at Ivy. Ivy, being the pillar of strength that she is got off a few volleys of her own giving new meaning to the phrase, "bombs bursting in air."
The Dixie Land Band from Shoops marched in full dress uniform playing Stars and Stripes Forever as best they could considering poor old Cluster Carmichael passed out as they rounded Filbert from blowing into his tuba too hard and too long. Doc Flaherty revived Cluster and made him sit out for the rest of the route. I last saw him sitting on the curb with his wife Collette fanning him with a church bulletin she excavated from her massive handbag—honestly it's the size of a bed pillow.
And speaking of church, Pastor Speedwell, his wife Darcy and their boys rode in an antique hay wagon pulled by four of Farmer Higgins' prized studs. Darcy seemed scared and kept yanking young John back inside the wagon. Pastor waved like a five and dime store mechanical Santa as the other boys tossed penny candies to the children lining the parade route.
After them, came Prudence Parsnipple, this year's Corn Queen. My, my but she looked so pretty in her bright yellow dress with a green lace collar and buttons and delightful green and yellow bonnet. She rode on a new, cherry red 1973 Ford Mustang Convertible advertising Barsons Ford Dealership in Shoops on the side. Rumor has it that she stuffed her bodice with socks to fill out the dress but no one has had the nerve to try and prove it, although several of the high school boys have volunteered their services. She waved with a wave worthy of Queen Elizabeth with her nose in the air and her breasts at attention and saluting every flag that went by.
The Bright's Pond junior and senior high school marching band came down the street playing their version of Anchors Away. They looked sharp and spit polished in brand new maroon and white uniforms with brass epaulets and buttons—a gift from Mrs. Liola Snipwhistle. Once again, The Society of Angelic Philanthropy was the talk of the community with this year's float entry—Betsy Ross and America's First Flag. They looked so proud in their hand-made period costumes, waving their little Stars and Stripes. The other float entry of note was titled Amber Waves of Grain. It was a beautiful stage depicting the wheat harvest with purple mountains majesty painted on cardboard as a backdrop. Town council members Studebaker Kowalski, Boris Lender, Bill Tompkins and Jasper York (Bright's Pond's oldest veteran) rode. I heard Eugene Shrapnel say, "Here comes the jackass float," as it passed by. Eugene does not harbor fondness for the town council.
And of course, no 4th of July celebration is complete without a proper picnic. We all gathered at the pond behind The Sparrow Funeral House for the barbecue. It was a fine time with traditional picnic food, fun and games. There were burgers and dogs on the grill. The grill team was headed up by Studebaker Kowalski. They got a corn boil going in a large cauldron over an open fire. Beans, pre-baked by the Society of Angelic Philanthropy, rested in large ceramic bowls with large spoons tucked deep inside, and my oh my, the pies lining the dessert table about took my breath away. But the highlight was of course the pie and jam competitions. Zeb Zewickey took first place, yet again, for his Full Moon Pie—a luscious lemon meringue. But in an upset at the jelly and jam table, Hazel Flatbush took the blue ribbon (all ribbons donated by the Scranton Ribbon and Trophy Company) with her Backwoods Blackberry Delight unseating five-time winner Ruth Knickerbocker.
Punctuating the day was, of course, the fireworks display. Everyone walked together down to the schoolyard carrying punks, sparklers and flashlights, blankets and beach towels. It was quite a pretty sight, I must say, all those people joyfully making their way down Filbert Street with many points of light dotting the way. At one point Janeen Sturgis burst into an impromptu rendition of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. She was quickly joined by other melodious voices.
The fireworks went off without a hitch, except for that one ground display that had a mind of its own and Doc Flaherty was once again called upon to treat Ruth Knickerbocker for a second-degree burn on her left cheek, um, the one she sits on. That's right she moved suddenly and then sat down on some flaming fall-out. Ruth was not having a good day.
The show ended with an amazing grand finale display that lasted a whole six minutes featuring parachutes, chrysanthemums, cones, glitters and jumping jacks that lit up the night and brought cheers from everyone there. I took that as my signal to head on home with the sounds of the locals, "oohs and ahhs," ringing in my happy ears.