Wednesday, October 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Randall: Learning to love our country’s birthday party

By
From page B7 | July 07, 2014 |

Birthday celebrations are not always sparkling affairs.

The day I turned 6, I raised my hand to announce to my fellow first-graders: “You are all invited to my grandmother’s house today at 4 o’clock to celebrate my birthday. She lives down the road from Smith’s Grocery. You can bring a present if you want, or not.”

Then I ran home after school to tell my grandmother.

“You did what?” she said.

“I invited everybody. Plus my teacher. And the principal.”

“Well, why didn’t you just invite the whole dang school?”

“I wanted to,” I said, “but I feared it might get out of hand.”

Her eyes got big. “Lord help us! How many are coming?”

“I don’t know. It’s pretty short notice. Maybe not everybody.”

She muttered a word I won’t repeat and ran to the kitchen to try to scrounge up a cake.

I combed my hair and waited. Only two guests showed up: A boy who gave me a Hershey Bar. And a girl who ate it.

They left when they saw the cake. My grandmother forgot the baking soda and it looked rather like a lopsided short stack of pancakes.

For lack of a candle, she lit a match. I had to laugh. Not at the match. At the light in her eyes. I wish you could’ve seen it.

“Make a wish,” she said.

I closed my eyes and wished I never had to go back to school. Then I blew out the match, she sang “Happy Birthday” and we each had two pieces of cake.

As parties go, it wasn’t bad. But I had no desire for another one. Not even for my country.

That’s what they called it: “A Birthday Party for our Great Country.” It was a Fourth of July picnic hosted by the mill where my stepfather worked.

Like any other red-blooded, God-fearing, 6-year-old Southerner, I’d been raised to feel blessed to live in the land of the free. I would never take that freedom for granted. I didn’t feel special about much, but I felt special to be an American. I loved my country. I just didn’t want to go to that picnic.

“Too bad,” said my mother.

I went. It was hot. Yes, hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July in a feather bed in hell.

I wore a dress that made me look like Orphan Annie and sweated like I’d just been baptized.

Old people sat in the shade fanning themselves as if it helped. Babies lay on blankets, too hot to cry. Toddlers staggered off and got lost. Boys my age tried to kill each other. Girls my age stayed home.

The millhands stood around smoking and joking, while their wives set food on the picnic tables, whirling their arms like human windmills swatting flies.

Cold food was hot. Hot food was cold. And the iced tea tasted like last week’s dishwater.

Then the sun went down, the night came up, the air cooled off, the stars came out and the mosquitoes nearly ate us alive.

I was hiding under a table when the fireworks began. I thought we’d been bombed. Then I looked up and saw all those colors exploding in the sky. And suddenly, everything bad turned to good and all things ugly became beautiful.

The old people stopped fanning and picked up the babies. The toddlers came back and the boys stopped fighting and the millhands crushed out their cigarettes to hoist their children up on their shoulders and pull their wives close to their sides.

And there for a few blessed moments we all stood as one on equal ground – no fighting, no arguing, no differences, all the same – to smile up at Heaven, alive and free, oohing and ahhing and feeling special.

I fell in love that night with fireworks. Not just on the Fourth of July. I can find them anywhere – in sunsets and city lights, in fireflies and campfires, in hopes and dreams and the gift of freedom and, most of all, in the eyes of people I love.

I bet you can find them, too.

Look. Did you see that flash?

Reach Sharon Randall at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

Sharon Randall

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Middle school students put school candidates on the hot seat

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun City candidates get lively in 2nd council forum

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano focuses on rail safety

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
 
Booz and Brewz benefit for the Blue Star Moms

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Police search for missing man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Blessing of the animals slated Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Travis airman killed in motorcycle accident

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

Caltrans cancels nighttime Highway 37 closures

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Salvation Army gears up for annual Red Kettle campaign

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Theaters primed for bevy of new movies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Fairfield police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

Third Annual Ride to Defeat Diabetes is Sunday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
4-H Achievement Night honors county members

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

Measure A committee plans weekend precinct walk

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

 
FBI announces reward for Vacaville bank robber

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A10

 
American Legion seeks Korean War veterans for award

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Forest areas reopen after huge fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hong Kong leader refuses to meet with protesters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Secret Service chief on hot seat for WH breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Afghan pact signed amid questions on Iraq pullout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Luck, instinct determined fates of volcano hikers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Government confirms first case of Ebola in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Mayor of suburban Los Angeles city killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Crash, suspicious device lead to 101 closure in LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Gov. Brown governor vetoes ethics bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 6 Comments

 
Police on manhunt find pipe bombs in woods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Oklahoma man charged with murder in beheading

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
California becomes first state to ban plastic bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 6 Comments

Bay Area looks to expand overnight transit options

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Gov. Jerry Brown signs California gun restriction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 13 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
The flavor of fall – pumpkin pie in a cinnamon bun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

One simple slicing trick to bake a beautiful tart

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Morgan: ‘Can’t believe’ Walmart blaming him

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Royals beat A’s 9-8 in 12 in AL wild-card thriller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Rodriguez volleyball team downs Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Pirates’ Volquez looks to continue revival against Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach after firing Allen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL says Abdullah should not have been penalized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL has laundry list of verboten celebrations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Government: NFL TV ‘blackout’ rule unsportsmanlike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Olympian Michael Phelps apologizes for DUI arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gravely injured Giants fan sues Dodgers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Ex 49ers RB James agrees to terms with Dolphins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FCC will consider petition to ban ‘Redskins’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Training camp essential for NBA’s new head coaches like Warriors’ Kerr

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

No. 14 Stanford trying to jolt stagnant offense

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NC State coach apologizes for fake injury remarks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers’ Wilhoite filling the injury void at linebacker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Business

EU says Apple gets illegal tax benefits in Ireland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Could a merger follow the PayPal-eBay split?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Obituaries

David Earl Butenhoff-Forristall

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Marte Abad Lubag

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Clara May Clift Triplett

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

.

Breast Cancer Awareness 2014

Breast cancer in younger women

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA2

Talking with your doctor

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA3

Breast cancer myths

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA4

Diet linked to cancer

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA9

Giving emotional support

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA10

After the treatment

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA12

Join the fight: Get involved

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA15