Thursday, July 03, 2008





Alas I miss the hometown parade and picnic of my hometown in Monte Nido, CA, where as a kid I decorated my stingray bicycle with crepe paper and streamers on those years when I had to give up the honors of riding the family horse, a black and & white pinto named Misty to my sister Tammy.

We are not traveling this 4th of July - a victim of the horrendous prices of fuel.




In later years, my Dad was the self appointed director of the Monte Nido Property Owners BAND - and hustled all his instrument-playing friends, family and neighbors to participate. I was always recruited, and after a few ragtag rehearsals we would all clamber precariously aboard the flatbed Dad had rented, and would sit on hay bales while being towed by his trusty truck-of-the-month. Playing "It's A Grand Old Flag" and "This Land Is Your Land" as well as "Yankee Doodle" among other favorites on my accordion was hilarious as we struggled to keep our seats amidst the jerking and steep angles of the flatbed along the parade route. Bystanders lined the little crooked roads, and waved, clapped & cheered, singing along as we drove by. It was completely glorious.



After the parade, complete with the huge firetruck, nearby high school marching band, local news station hero, as well as every family's parade entry designed around a theme, we would gather at the huge estate of a neighbor under the oaks. The games commenced - watermelon-seed spitting contest, tug of war, sack races, wheel barrow races... and of course the monumental raffle. My Mother always bought hundreds of tickets - hoping to win a night out to dinner at the famous rustic "Saddle Peak Lodge" just over the hill. One year she did.


We sat on a blanket cast over the sticker leaves and foxtails, eating our carefully prepared fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, brownies and drippy juicy watermelon. After the hot lazy afternoon waned away, most made their way home to take a short nap, while the kids waited impatiently for the evening fireworks. We'd pile into the truck, armed with sparklers, Smokey Joes and roman candles to light off at Santa Monica beach, where we would sit on the sand watching the huge fireworks display over the pier. Sometimes it was fogged completely out, and we could only see a few pale shades of light spots through the grey. After it was over we would sit in traffic for an hour, along with everybody else as we made our way back home.


It is a most treasured memory to me now, to look back to when my family was intact, loved ones were smiling, and life was incredible wonderful on the 4th of July.


21 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh my i am first to comment--is it not a blogging honor??--happy july 4 sweetie--a toast to beer hotdogs and a noon baseball game--hey my watermelon tastes like vodka----xxx

yellowdog granny said...

happy fourth of july my friend..and your fourth of july sounds a lot like our labor day parade before westfest...i think with the exception of the distance, there isn't much difference between your little town and mine..

Dr.John said...

The good old days. The fourth must be part of almost everybody's memories. Thank you for sharing yours.

javajazz said...

very happy independance day! xo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, it was FUN!

Tom & Icy said...

Holidays always do seem to stir up a lot of memories.

Ariel the Thief said...

Sounds those were wonderful days really. Glad your Mom won a night out to "Saddle Peak Lodge" finally, did she like it?

actonbell said...

Such warm memories! An invaluable thing to have:) Hope this 4th was a happy one.

photowannabe said...

Cherished memories. Hubby and I have tried to build those into our sons lives and now that they are married I see then doing the same with their kids. Precious family memories.

Northern musings said...

Memories, who would we be without them. They shape our past and the way that we look at the present. Good memories should always be treasured and shared... thanks for sharing yours!!

Sherri said...

awww... that sounds like so much fun!! Happy 4th!!

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McRaven said...

Change sometimes really sucks. This was a great post and I loved the photos!

Doug said...

I would very much like to see your home town parade. There goes Malibu. There's Conejo Valley. There goes Seattle...

Kelly said...

Ah yes! The Monte Nido Valley 4th of July Parade and Picnic!!!!! I was thinking about it myself on the 4th, picturing packing the fried chicken and potato salad, hurrying to get to the parade lineup before it started (but always still having to wait because it always started late), the watermelon seed contest, the raffles,all the sack races and dust and yellow jackets.....the stuff life used to be made of! Now things seem to be so much more sophisticated (or technical), but I think the good clean fun is one of the best things people can do for their kids these days.
I covet that photo with Mom in it!!! I printed it off right away! Wonderful! Great shot of very happy times!!!!

tsduff said...

Anonymous - I loved our hotdogs at Ikea.

Yellowdog Granny -Small towns are the best. I miss living in one. How's that job of yours doing these days?

Dr. John - They truly WERE the good old days, weren't they? Young'uns are making "new" good old days all the time.

Javajazz - Thanks. Holidays are always nice to have. I forgot to wish you Happy Canada Day. Did you enjoy your art materials?

Anonymous - Glad you enjoyed my walk down nostalgia lane too. :)

Tom & Icy - I'm sorry this was your first 4th of July without your Dusty Doggie.

Ariel the Thief: My Mom was thrilled to eat there... it is a hugely expensive famous place sometimes frequented by Hollywood stars... set out in the country with only brush and oak trees around it.

Actonbell - It was a great bunch of memories to share - and even better because I found the pictures to post of everything. I have them in my head, but nothing says it better than a picture.

Photowannabe - I was lucky enough to have had a great time growing up as a kid with a loving family. Reliving those memories now brings me great pleasure. It is good to see your children creating their own new traditions to pass down to their kids.

Northern Musings, without our memories life would be dull indeed. I wasn't planning on sharing that entire story about the old 4th of July parades and picnics of the past, but as I began to write, a whole bunch more just came out. Thanks for reading along.

Hey Sherri - I hope you had a great holiday along with your kiddos too.

McRaven - I am not a creature who embraces change easily. Old memories and habits die hard. That's why photos come in so handy.

Doug, my actual real hometown, the one I was born to is Santa Monica, CA. But those others made good stomping grounds later along the way.

Kelly, When I saw the picture with Mom and Dad in it I was teared up with the memories that flooded my head. What a good time of life that was. How many of those parades did we ride/walk/play/watch anyway? A golden handful of memories.

SOe said...

Thanks for sharing your memories and the pictures. I hope, you had a great 4th July even without traveling home.

Fred said...

Thanks for posting all the great pictures. Nothing like a hometown patriotic parade to make you proud of the USA!

sister celtic said...

Thanks Terry we lived the dream didn't we... thanks for shareing these your all I have for the Monte Nido connection w/ photo's I mean I have a few and in touch with some but you have the glorious photo's how deluxe.

sister celtic said...

Hey Terry what year were these taken and anyone we know in the photo's other than your family?

tsduff said...

SOe - I did - quiet and uneventful though it was. :)

Fred - can't go wrong with such a great parade now can you? :)

Sister Celtic: I tell you, I couldn't name any of those kids in the parade other than all the band members... I've been away from that neighborhood too long. Bernard took those pictures in 2003 while I rode on the band float. Once you get to the picnic you see a bunch of familiar faces, but not along the parade route. Mom died that Christmas.