Me (and my forehead) with Cookie Owens in our softball truck during the parade.

I find myself a wee bit nostalgic today. My hometown of Ashville, Ohio has held a large Fourth of July celebration since 1929 and I’ve been watching many classmates, family, and friends post pictures of the parades and the famous fish fry these past few days. It’s making me incredibly homesick and nostalgic to the point I went through my box of pictures tonight.

I came across a lovely picture of my great Aunt Rosie who passed away April of last year. She was in the very first Miss Ashville Fourth of July pageant in 1951, placing as the first attendant. I saw the pictures of my mom in the ’70s on the hood of a car in her bathing suit with her bouffant on her way to the pageant. I found the picture of my grandmother being driven through the parade a few short years before her death in 2002, being honored by the women’s civic group as a “Distinguished Citizen.” I found the picture when I entered my daughter Taylor into the baby pageant, of which, she sadly didn’t place even though she was the cutest thing there but, of course, I’m biased.

I laughed at the picture my best friend Kecia snapped of me in the flag corps while marching through the parade and I made a rotten face at her when she yelled my name. I became sad at the picture of my dad coming to pluck me off of a float at the end of the parade route – which I didn’t place here because I placed it back in the box as it made me quite sad. (My dad, if you’ve been reading along the past few years might remember, had a couple of strokes and he just isn’t the same as he used to be, so this picture made me think of him in his younger, more vibrant years.) I grinned at the picture of me in the back of a pickup truck with my coach Cookie Owens, who I always remembered because I thought her name was just the coolest EVER, and we tossed out candy to the kids along the parade route. In that same picture of me at about age 6, I saw my grandbaby Mia’s face there within my own, and I saw, quite clearly, that she had, indeed, inherited my unfortunate high forehead.

I can even remember the parade route we marched in high school, starting at the elementary school – we’d muster there and get ready to roll out. We’d get lined up, the flag girls in front of the band, casually twirling our poles as we chatted and waiting for the signal to go. Once it was time to roll out, we’d cut through a side street before heading down Main Street towards my grandparent’s home, winding throughout town like a big old noisy snake, heralded by screaming firetruck sirens, before ending up on the backside of the Ashville Park where the carnival rides whirled in the background and the scent of hot Elephant Ears and greasy fries smacked you in the face.

There were pictures of me on The Citizens Bank float (where my grandma Clara worked for eons) and that made me think about how practically every Fourth of July, we’d gather at her house on Main Street before the parade, setting up our fold-out chairs along the street, jockeying with our cousins to get a better spot to catch the most candy as the parade went by. After the parade, everyone in the family gathered inside to fill plates with potato salad, deviled eggs, and the likes. I remember grandpa Archie’s cherry pie won an award once during the fair and I was always glad to see it appear on the kitchen table. I happily recalled my grandparents “bobby socking” on the kitchen floor in their socks with my uncle Joe and his wife to some Big Band sounding music from long ago.

I remember going through the fish fry line and seeing my grandpa there with his friends and volunteers, dropping boatloads of white filets and thick french fries into huge, hot vats of oil where they’d bubble and crisp up to make the most delicious sandwiches. I laughed thinking about the front porch swing that broke multiple times under people’s weight and how you’d feel right awful if you were the one that brought it down. (And I was, once.)

I just miss “home” in all its forms and this time of the year always make me yearn to be there for a few days to recapture some of my fond past. Sure, it wouldn’t be the same since my grandparents and Aunt Rosie isn’t there any longer, and their house has since passed to another family, but still… I’d like to go back sometime and see how many fish sandwiches my husband would pummel through and to watch my granddaughter “ooh and ahh” at the firework display. I guess photos will have to do, for now.

Fourth of July Nostalgia
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