Thursday, July 3, 2008

Road Trip: Passamaquoddy

I do enjoy the drives that Mrs. Doc and I take. They allow us to slow down the usual hectic pace of life and share in some wonderful conversations. They are worth the high price of gas to have these hours to reconnect. Because, let’s face it, life can be busy, making these “little wonders” so important.

We recently had one of these occasions during our drive up to Passamaquoddy for the 4th of July Cookout. Mrs. Doc asked, “What is your favorite Fourth of July memory?”

Wow! What a question. As I thought about it, I began to realize that I don’t have that quintessential 4th of July memory. So after agreeing that I have lived a sheltered life, at least where the 4th of July is concerned, I began to think about what memories I do have of the Fourth. There aren’t many that stand out.

Yes, I remember running around as a child with the different colored sparklers and watching “snakes” grow on the pavement. I thought smoke bombs were neat. It always seemed that my friends in my hometown in southeast Missouri had a supply of these on hand (Fourth of July or not), whenever I would go there to visit as a child. We would come home from the Saturday matinees and re-enact the latest James Bond film or pretend we were The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Yes, I know, I am dating myself with that one. And I digress. The point is that smoke bombs were neat.

As a teenager I remember having bottle rocket battles. That was kind of cool because as every one knows, when you are a teenager you’re “20 feet tall and bullet-proof!” No firecracker on a stick could possibly hurt you.

Once during a Fourth of July break in production of a play I was in, we all convened to a fellow cast member’s house to an afternoon pool party. It turned out that no one wanted to brave the enormous crowds that gather on the riverfront in Nashville for the city’s annual celebration. So, we held our own improvised celebration, firing roman candles across the pool, while humming Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

The Overture! Viola! That is my memory. I remember the 1812 Overture!

My mom tells the story of how as a child I could hum the entire 1812 Overture! I suppose there were nursery rhymes and children’s songs sprinkled in here and there. But I could go practically note-for-note on Tchaikovsky’s commemorative opus. I remember I would lie in front of the family console stereo. It had a blonde wood finish and an amber colored light that indicated the power was on. At the age of four I thought the people who made the sounds lived in the stereo and if I looked close enough through the light I could see them. I would stay there for hours listening to the light phrases of the first section and the celebration as the cannonade fired with every downbeat of the finale.

As the years went by that piece of music stayed with me. I remember watching Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra on television once performing the Overture at the Hatch Shell in Boston.

And then one time in 1989 some friends and I changed our minds about going to Breckenridge for a ski weekend and instead drove to Walt Disney World. It was the first time that I witnessed Illuminations. There at the end of Act III, was the Overture serving as the Finale. All my memories associated with the music came flooding back. It was magic to me.

So, my wife is right. Perhaps my Fourths have been sheltered in terms of creating that one special memory. But I have that piece of symphonic splendor that I have carried since childhood. It is a work that I associate with the annual Independence Day celebrations. I know that on Friday night, down on the banks of the Cumberland River, the Nashville Symphony will be performing this celebratory masterpiece while shells burst overhead and a waterfall of fireworks cascade over the side of the Victory Memorial Bridge.

I won’t be there. Mrs. Doc and I will be found setting on a blanket near the band shell, listening to the Passamaquoddy Philharmonic. I only hope they play the Overture.

Well, there you go. I have a memory now.

As we neared the outskirts of P-quoddy our conversation drifted from the upcoming holiday to herring whips and crab burgers. Oh, and my strategies for increasing my score in Buoy Store Minnow Mania. The key, I think, is to jump start your overall score by doing well in the Frat House room. I don’t know, but am going to test my theory during the long weekend.

Happy 4th of July everyone!


caballerofan said...

Hi Doc. Great piece. Happy 4th!

Well Behaved Krissy said...

Awesome writing. :)

Oh I hope yall are having lots of fun. Sorry, I've totally been on the fritz with VBS and then my first week back to teaching summer classes. I'm around now though. :)