Fourth of July Quilt

I love to celebrate the birthday of our country, the United States of America, without a doubt the most wonderful place in all the world to live! Whether grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, playing yard games, cutting a watermelon, churning ice cream or, of course, watching fireworks after sundown, we are in a celebratory mode. We celebrate differently at various stages of life. No more lawn games for me, but I can enjoy watching! At one time putting up flags early in the morning was part of our day. Now we have a handsome two-flag flagpole furling always the U.S. flag on top and under it one of either the Georgia flag, the Georgia Bulldog flag, or the Christian flag. If we don’t have a crowd of youngsters we don’t drag out the ice cream churn. But, whatever chapter of life we’re in we always celebrate, even if we only hear fireworks from afar.

This year, the Fourth being on Sunday, we worshipped our great God of all freedom with friends at Cairo First Baptist Church. In the afternoon we oven-roasted a London broil cut of beef, cooked green beans and Charles’s whole crop of Irish potatoes (one small bucket of cute little brown potatoes), and baked a blueberry pie with blueberries from our own trees. Did I say we took a nice nap? Of course at this mature chapter that’s a pleasant activity. But in between all this I was making a Fourth of July crazy quilt. No, not sewing one. I was writing it. Well, I almost finished it but became caught up in the televised “Capitol Fourth,” wonderful celebration with singers and bands on the Mall and from around the country. Then we sat on our porch and watched fireworks explode over the tops of our bamboo hedge, numerous neighborhood displays. I didn’t quite finish the quilt. So please help me out here! You add your own words or phrases as we write our quilt blocks.

My blocks for the quilt will be made up of things pertaining to life in the U.S. There will be a block of famous heroes and heroines. We will make another list of those heroes and heroines who never get any particular notice, see their names in the headlines, or carry home any interesting trophies. One block will be American foods, just brief descriptions or mentions. Another block will be covered with names of places, some of which you will know, some you may not. Remember to add your own favorites! And another could be musicians and their compositions. You get the idea. Thing about it is, I’m not going to do significant research. Everything will be “sewn” in place quickly like notes in a journal, higgledy piggledy, if you know what I mean. This is a crazy quilt, after all!

My American heroes include George Washington, John Adams, Lewis and Clark, Abraham Lincoln, Eli Whitney, George Washington Carver, Henry W. Grady, Rosa Parks, James Habersham, Billy Graham, Susan B. Anthony, General/President Eisenhower, Wright Brothers, Louisa May Alcott, John Philip Sousa, and Margaret Mitchell.

You’ll notice statesmen, generals, innovators, authors, musicians, and others. All these are famous people, part of the very fabric of our dear country along with many, many others.

Then here’s my list for the block on non-famous people. (I’m not doing a block on infamous people, though Al Capone comes to mind.) I’m thinking of First Responders, men and women in blue, veterans (especially brothers, brother-in-law, nephews and uncles), grocery store clerks, children who have worn masks to school all year, teachers who pour themselves into their students, every honest upstanding citizen doing their job, the pioneers in their soddies, all settlers trying to build a life in strange and scary places, railroad builders, ever vigilant airline employees, sellers at fruit stands, farmers who watch the skies anxiously but never give up, keepers of the home fires everywhere, those who lovingly tuck their chidren in at night and urge them awake the next morning. Could I add here particularly my “fairy godmother” who helped me through college, the lady who picked me up every Wednesday night to take me to choir practice in her business’s hearse, and my artist friend who would not let me give up on my dream to write a book?

American foods–hot apple pie (of course!), Chicago pizza, hamburgers slurpy with lettuce and tomato, Coney Island hot dogs, Louisiana gumbo, Alabama barbecue, Maine lobster at one of their quaint lobster pound shacks, fresh Alaskan salmon bake, baby back ribs at a small restaurant tucked on the back street of a little town, church “dinner on the grounds,” turkey leg so big it could walk off with the boy gnawing it at the country fair, big succulent shrimp straight from the Gulf, fried okra, black eyed peas, and cornbread–to name a few!

Don’t you love to collect names of towns, rivers, roads, if not on paper, at least in your head? Well, these days, if it’s not written down I may not remember it, and if it is written down I’m certainly not going to know where. But, like popcorn popping, here come a few. Old Egg Road (I’ve always wondered whether the road is old or the egg is old since I’ve never seen a New Egg Road), there’s Stove Creek, Little Tired Creek, Hard Labor Camp Ground (who wants to go there?), Triumph, a very nice tiny Louisiana town on the Mississippi River. Speaking of rivers, the Colorado and Columbia come to mind and closer by the Coosa, the Cahaba and, known to all Georgians, the Chattahoochee made famous by Sidney Lanier. I’m thinking of Three Rivers Park on the Florida Panhandle, Coon Bottom, and a town just over the Tennessee line, I think, from Georgia named Cherry Log. I went with a friend at Young Harris for a weekend at her home there. Some places bring up an image just by their name: Murder Creek, Black Snake Road, Moose Jaw, or maybe Six Mile or Climax. Then there are cozy sounding places like Good Hope, Homewood, and Apple Pie Ridge.

Historical dates? Let’s just smatter on a few dates and let people guess their significance: 1620, 1776, 1860-1865, 1898, 1918, 1929, 1941, 1945, 1963, 1968, 1969,1976, 1990-1991, 2001, 2008, 2020.

Some names of musicians I’d want to remember using maybe two or three blocks since it’s hard for me to narrow down my list: George Gershwin and his “Rhapsody in Blue,” Johnny Cash singing “I Walk the Line,” “A Rhinestone Cowboy” sung by Glen Campbell, a favorite of our little five year old daughter Julie when we adopted her. Also, any marches by John Philip Sousa which always remind me of our son William’s high school and college band career. I’d add Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the U.S.A.,” Carrie Underwood or George Beverly Shea singing “How Great Thou Art,” Francis Scott Key and his “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung by Marian Anderson in the 1960’s. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” would have to be included and that’s not to mention the beautiful musicals like “Oklahoma,” “Annie,” and “South Pacific.” I’d have to include, too, the crooning voices of Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis as well as The Beach Boys and the signature sweet light music of Hawaii.

Well, I think we’ve done it, finished writing our crazy July Fourth quilt. Let’s put it together with lots of red, white, and blue with flags around the border. Happy Fourth on the Fifth!

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