Growing up my Uncle Gene and Aunt Lenore would always host a picnic on the Fourth of July. There would be a softball game at the park followed by a pot luck dinner. After dinner would come the games. Races for the kids, grouped by ages. My brother Michael had an intense rivalry with Mary Beth Vennewitz. Shoe kicking, grouped by men, women and children. My kicks usually went straight up and down with no distance. Watermelon seed spitting. They'd put an old shower curtain down for us to spit at. Pete McKenna usually won. Although I know that at least a couple times my seed went past the shower curtain and wasn't counted, so I should have won. And through the day my brother Kevin and cousin Matt and I would be lighting off snakes and caps.
At the end of the party we'd stay and help clean up then head out for fireworks. We went to several different spots for fireworks over the years. Two of the shows after the end of the Twin's game at Met Stadium were my best memories. Fireworks that didn't go off when they should have and fireworks that went off when they shouldn't have.
One year as we were watching we saw something drifting down from the sky. It was a small parachute with some fireworks that hadn't ignited. Kevin grabbed it. We lit them off later and they burned in color.
Another year we were on the roof of the convention center in Bloomington (this building later became the Carlton Celebrity Room) over by the stadium. The fireworks show started. One rocket went up then came back down. Suddenly there was a fantastic display of fireworks going off right on the ground. "Wow," we said, "that's a pretty good start. How's the Grand Finale going to top that?" Then the fire engines came. The whole show had been set off on the ground.
Several years ago I started hosting a Fourth of July picnic for my family. We have games, potluck and go to a fireworks show. I still don't win the shoe kick. I've also lost the knack of spitting watermelon seeds for distance. But, rather than having someone else cheated out of the longest spit I've made them put the contest in my driveway where all the seeds will be seen.
So if while you're out celebrating the birth of our freedom you see a bunch of people standing at the end of a driveway spitting seeds don't think it's just a bunch of weirdo's. It's just my family making memories for the next generation.
Have a great Fourth of July everybody!
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.