On July 4, 1976 is the one Independence Day I can guarantee I’ll never forget. The reason is that my Mom took me and my brother down to the National Mall early in the day so that we could get some seats in a prime location right by the Reflecting Pool. Unfortunately we ran out of drinks some time in the middle of the afternoon so Mom ended up shuttling us back and forth to a water fountain that felt like it was a million miles away. Since it was just the three of us one of us would have to stay behind to guard our spot and make sure no one took our space or our stuff, and as you can see from the picture to the left the entire Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial was a sea of humanity. Mom still talks about how scared she was, but I was too young to really know how hinky the situation was.
Other strong memories include:
- Being absolutely amazed that people would wade and play frisbee in the reflecting pool. Even a 9 year old boy thought it looked nasty and I was particularly off-put by the hippy who openly peed right in the middle of the thing some time in the afternoon.
- To beat the crowd we started to walk out before the conclusion of the fireworks. Unfortunately on the way out I kicked over some drunk’s beer and he threatened all kinds of bodily harm to me and my mother. Mom gave it right back to him which I think shocked and amazed him; I know it did me.
- Hippies smelled bad, real bad, and being outside for 12 hours on a July day in Washington, D.C. didn’t help them any. Multiply that B.O. by 500,000 and you get a true stink-a-thon.
- I told myself I would never go to the National Mall again for July 4. I ended up going to a few in H.S. and college because I had discovered beer which made the experience a little more tolerable. You wouldn’t catch me dead there now.
- Finally, I remember thinking that my Mom was one tough lady. Nothing’s changed.