Pat Shingleton: "Independence..."
Buried in today's column are five nouns depicting events related to the Fourth of July. On July 4, 1856, E Meriam, writing for the New York Times, noted that over 67 consecutive years, rain had fallen on thirteen Independence Days. As noted in yesterday's column, it was 102 degrees on July 4, 1860 and if Madison and Monroe had been in Charleston, South Carolina, they may have learned that eight people died of sunstroke, including two German Fusiliers. A tornado hit Washington, D.C. ripping off roofs for blocks on July 4, 1874. Thomas Jefferson once thought that smoke from fireworks and other explosives could activate rain. On July 4, 1806, an earthquake occurred in Schenectady, New York, along with the rumble of distant thunder. In years-gone-by, I remember the weather being just about perfect for the Fourth of July. There was always a large picnic in the backyard. Two or three wash tubs were stocked with drinks, kept cold from the blocks of ice from the local ice house. On the grill, foot-long hot dogs and burgers were sizzlin' as relatives delivered their special recipes of potato salad, baked beans and casseroles. My grandfather made sure there was a chilled watermelon in the basement. After participating in a baseball game or marching in a local parade, the backyard was large enough for wiffle-ball games, volleyball or touch football. At dusk we'd walk a hundred yards and from Longview Drive on Wiley Hill in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, we would look out over a valley as fireworks blasted skyward from the Conquenessing Country Club below. Other displays were viewed from the Blue Sky and Spotlight 88 Drive-In Theatres. The day ended with a trek to J and T Frozen Custard Stand. Our forecast for the Baton Rouge area changes after a two-day dry-out, showers pop this afternoon, expecting a wrap-up by early evening. Home delivery of Pat's column is available at: www.PatShingleton.com.