Monday, July 5, 2010


No, I'm not at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade. I can't imagine how hot it is there today (temperature-wise). But I did pass back & forth through Bristol twice in the past few days on my way to Grandma Betty's house. (Big news, I know — woo woo!!) I always emerge, for a second anyway, from whatever thought process or depressing news feature or song on the radio is occupying my brain when I see those lines in the middle of the road switch from yellow to red-white-and-blue.

But they're so tired and faded!! That's what I was thinking about the lines on Thursday (unless it was Friday), as I drove past all the well-tended architecture and history in Bristol ... slightly sleepier than Newport in that wonderfully genuinely unmistakably Bristol-ish way.

Today, however — and I say this with certainty, without even being there, based upon past experience — Bristol is not sleepy. When I drove through the second time, on Saturday, stages were being set-up in front yards. Campers were parking in church parking lots. Flags of every size and variety were being raised and hung and poked everywhere. Bristol was getting ready. At this very moment, it's packed. And hot ...

Which brings me to yesterday in Newport: the Fourth of July festivities included a comparatively modest (very modest) parade, The People's Parade. A group resurrected the parade route of 1810 and invited anyone/everyone to retrace those steps. So I walked from Long Wharf to Washington Square behind what looked to be a single (i.e. one) high-school age drummer followed by a trio of pirates then a hundred-or-so walkers with a couple of scooters bringing up the rear. Oddly enough, the woman on the scooter reminded me of another woman on a scooter I'd seen a week or two ago; click here and scroll down to see what I mean (hint: look at her left leg).

There was much more to the day — including a walk (a hot one) to the Farewell Street Cemetery wherein lies buried a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a reading of the Declaration in the very spot on the steps of the Colony House where it was read way-back-when, a deafening firing of cannons (at least one of which was forged by Paul Revere) by the Newport Artillery Company. Maybe I'll talk about all that tomorrow ... or not, as it's important to move on to today, being the start of the Campbell's Hall-of-Fame tennis tournament, kind of a big deal, as it's the only professional grass-court tournament in North America, or something like that.

At the very least, I'll say (about yesterday): there were so many stripes!! But none more striking than those of the little boy leaning over the water at Long Wharf — to see what?? — while his dad paid no attention whatsoever and I was tempted to reach over and pull those striped drawers back to safety myself. Or maybe the little girl marching along a very faded yellow line in the middle of the street waving her own little flag.

Speaking of which, on my second trip back through Bristol, the day before The Big Parade, I learned something I didn't know, or had failed to notice 'til now, and it's important: every year, they refresh the stripes ...