I do like to be beside the seaside … John A. Glover-Kind
Dear friends and readers,
Today Bob Lapides, a long time member of Trollope19thCStudies send along 52 (!) photos of Victorians at the beach, from which here are two:
Prompting me to share a modest holiday moment me, a friend and Izzy experienced this past Saturday evening.
Vivian, me and Yvette dared the traffic and puzzling instructions as to where we were allowed to park and where the Oronoco Park was (we bought our Pro-Quest maps and plugged in garmin), but found the place with no trouble. Law-abiding Yvette almost drove us from parking across the street in a private garage under a tall apartment house, but it was one (Vivian kept saying) that on the site it said was donated for the night, and before I succumbed to Yvette’s pressure, I jumped out of my car and ran over to a pedestrian and asked. Yes she said, she had just parked there.
So a less than five minute walk carrying light weight wooden chairs, a bag of chips and soda took us to a park not teaming with people to the point of a mob seen, but crowded enough to have blankets and chairs spread far and wide. Tents offering birthday cupcakes, the usual hotdog and ice-cream snacks, and in the front an open band stand. After the invocation (kept mercifully short), we had a not-bad poem read aloud by a native Alexandrian remembering her life until now, the up for singing the Star Spangled Banner (many did sing along, no matter how softly, and then an hour of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra playing many movie scores, some of which I recognized. Yvette could name each and every composer and the movie from which it came as we went along. I got a kick out of the Pirates of the Carribean and could imagine the tongue-in-check presentation of the stealth ship; We heard a suite of beautiful music from the Lord of the Rings; the theme motif for Harry Potter was so lovely, sweet.
When the darkness started to gloom and the air turned purple-y and the water a turquoise, I saw the barges and tugboats with their flashing lights begin to line up. They are there in case of a fire really erupting, and then the 1812 overture egan, a cannon kept just for this purpose began to fire and pound away (big noise) and the fireworks show began. I like these — there is something child-like pathetic about them, like balloons. I had a bad moment for a second like I have had at the beach as it crossed my mind how terrible it is for Jim no longer to exist, to experience these things, but I was able to bring this under control. I felt Izzy noticing my sudden dive and understanding. It went on for quite a while as the crowd had been patient. Lots more music. Now classical — Aaron Copeland, music for the common man. Then the final crashing display as the orchestra moved to John Philip Sousa and everyone began to clap.
This was the first fireworks display I’ve actually been at since 1976 when Jim and I dared to go down to the bowery and found ourselves in an area so crowded with people, it was scary. My parents had insisted we wrap belts around our chests and to one another and I realized they had been right. The Anthem sung by so many created a sense of some larger entity than ourselves and I could see how dangerous such a sense of overriding emotions could be. This one remained benign. We had Handel’s music for Fireworks I recall, and then dispersed to the subway, hurried along by the people we were with. And then before that one more enjoyable happy memory: Jim and I were 24 and 27, staying in my father’s country house-shack on Long Island; an aunt (my father’s sister) invited the whole family who were around (most now dead or scattered) to her house for a barbecue on a large lawn and then we all retired to a small nunnery near by, Little Flower it was called, where a very modest fireworks display proceeded. Very pretty. Quiet, relaxed, serene under the stars.
Our ride home from the Potomac took over an hour, but no one accident, people patient.
Later the next morninng Yvette tweeted her photo of the sky:
We had had a mysterious power outage for several hours before or Yvette might not have come with us. Vivian and I were sure glad she did.
In the last few years Jim had not been willing to go to any fireworks or sit under the sun for hours and hours (me neither on the last) but to see them from far on the top hill of the Masonic temple (where a band is provided) is just not the same as being inside that friendly crowd. The people next to Vivian, me and Izzy shared their cookies with us, we talked with them, I took photos of them as a group so no one would be left out. Part of what the expeirience is about. I did feel the people who took their dogs along were wrong, the animals were not happy and some did take the dogs home early. No cat would tolerate this sort of nonsense. What? sitting there for over an hour and a half (for us it was two hours to get a good space and yet not be there when it was super-hot). This is a human phenomenon.
On July 11, 1921 my father was born. So it was his birthday too. He would have been 94.