Every Day’s the Fourth of July

My beautiful pictureThe entire summer of 1979 is just one scant page in the journal, with only three unenlightening entries:

Monday, June 4 “And they end up wounded, and not even dead, down in Jungleland…” Springsteen … the heady rivalry of would-be friends …

July 24 Bought Going For The One back

August 3, Friday Talked with Mr. Fordahl concerning insurance bill…

The page opposite, an entry for Wednesday, May 30, isn’t helpful either. Seems spring quarter at the university had turned my brain to jelly. “—I am still alive. After a terribly stark weekend; what is living if it is practiced in groove with one’s peers?” Some doodles wrap it up, and a weather report: “—To-day is extremely hot & humid out. I cannot bear the abandon—solicitude…”

Google reveals the temperature that week did hit 82°F with a dew point of 66, but that Wednesday only topped out at 75°F. Let’s chalk that up to more spring-fever Jello-brain activity.

Furthermore, in a fit of frustration, I’d walked off the job at Augsburg, leaving my jacket in the bailer room locker. Later I had to come claim it with my final check.

May meltdown, indeed.

After August’s “Gosh-we-mustn’t-ever-forget-an-insurance-bill” entry, we jump straight to autumn—Tues., Sept. 11 to be exact. But that’s fodder for a later post.


Right now I’m more interested in writing about summer—as much as can be recalled during the years 1971–1979—since by the summer of 1980 the Family Project bids goodbye to its Little Renovated Summer Cottage, forever.

So, here’s a good place to start: Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” (recorded in July 1971, released the following summer).

I know, I know. Everyone hates the song.

Nonetheless I did a recent (unofficial) poll (see official one, below), and the sampling came back with only a margin of grumpy 60-year olds giving it a big thumbs up.

I’ll confess to really liking it when it first hit the airwaves because of two—well, make that three—things: a slammin’-great piano opening, intriguing, socially significant lyrics, and a strong resemblance to The Beatles’ “Penny Lane.”

The Fab Four influence isn’t hard to peg: complex musical arrangements, paradoxical lyrics and sweetly synced backing vocals. There’s the song’s bridge, totally echoing “Penny Lane”: “Slow motion riders, fly the colors of the day/A bronze man, still can tell stories his own way/Listen, children, all is not lost, all is not lost, oh no, no…”

I mean, what exactly is “a bronze man” who “still can tell stories his own way?” Some statue in said park that suddenly comes to life?

When you’re a 1970s preteen, all that matters is some crazy metal dude gets to do things the way he wants to do them. And that means a lot when one’s dark teenage years lie brewing on the horizon.

That summer of ’79 I was probably lurching backward to all the previous summers on the lake.

Dad had started searching for a new house; he wanted to become a country-farmer-gentleman, owning acres of land and raising a mess of animals.

Lakeshore life was great and all, but it wasn’t in the Family Project’s long-range plans. By summer 1980, my brother would graduate high school.SaturdayPark2

Sure, it’s easy to paint a rosy picture of the past. And “Saturday in the Park” is the antithesis of total memory recall. No, people weren’t always smiling, singing, dancing, or speaking untranslatable faux-Italian.

But can you help them change the world?

Well, hey. Maybe I can.

See, I’ve always been inspired by talk of collaboration.

Any old day, another competitive day, a random day, isn’t the same as every day in this park where people reach out, connect and really do touch one another. Right on the counterculture’s heels, we were being tossed tidbits of utopia.

Through the eyes of a post-’60s kid, it’s easy to guess his reaction: “Hells yeah, the hippies got to free things up, but when do we get a shot at it?!” That promise fulfilled would be “a real celebration, waiting for us all.”

And yes we’d been waiting. Yeah we wanted it, really wanted it. What would it take to realize it?

It was nearly our last summer on the lake. I loved that old house. Here, in 2014, I’m staring at an old journal page with three meager entries.

But my imagination still brims with everything that came before and, strangely enough, followed.

Can you dig it?

Yes I can.

~ by completelyinthedark on January 31, 2014.

One Response to “Every Day’s the Fourth of July”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    First published late winter of 2014, reblogged late July 2016. Seems like light years. Enjoy.


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