I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, the home of important historical places, events and literary notables, such as; the start of the Revolutionary War, home of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and his Walden Pond. Growing up in Concord meant we learned all these things, and we even had the privilege of taking swimming lessons at Walden Pond. However, Walden Pond’s notoriety was too much for most town residents and was often very crowded with visitors. So many ‘townies’ opted to swim in a lesser known, smaller, but just as beautiful, pond called White’s Pond.
To swim at Whites Pond you needed a membership for the Whites Pond Association which cost about $15.00 for the season. Our family had a membership and it was a lifesaver on many hot, humid summer days. On holidays like the 4th of July, we would spend hours at the pond. All the kids would go with my older sister supervising a troop of 7 or 8 kids. We all knew the rules and my sister was always willing to bend the rules a bit. It was a great time. Eventually, later in the afternoon, the adults will come along with possibly another couple of kids who came late, and for the next hour or so we played and swam with the adults before going home for our cookout.
Our cookouts were huge affairs, with lots of friends, family, and food. There was the usual cookout staples; hot dogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob, along with a wide array of salads, fruits, desserts, and watermelon! There was, or so it seemed, enough to feed and army. It’s funny, years later when looking through family photos, the only photos of my Father were of him cooking at our cookouts, and he was always smiling and happy!
To go to the fireworks on the 4th of July we needed to leave town. For whatever reason, the town fathers of Concord never permitted fireworks, no matter what occasion. So after our fabulous cookout was all over and cleaned up, the gang all piled into various cars, and headed to the fireworks in neighboring towns.
I can remember the anticipation I felt, along the excitement and happiness I experienced during throughout day. A long tired satisfaction I had as my Dad carried me up the stairs and put me into bed having fallen asleep on the ride home from the fireworks.
These special days and events left vivid, loving, and lasting memories, which now cause me to smile and wipe away a happy tear or two for the good times long ago.