Screamin' Mimi

We all have fond memories of fireworks, I'm sure . . . I see and hear them every year on the fourth because, like all owls, I am a night owl! My friend Karen tells us about a memory that comes through loud and clear . . . .

A memory can creep up on you as quiet as a mouse, but once it’s there, it’s a – well, it’s a Screaming Mimi:  Loud and clear and no stopping it.  Have you ever heard the expression?  It’s a term for a kind of German World War II rocket artillery, but it’s also the name of a loud, whistling firework, pppssszzzfffffffttttttttttttttt!

When I was a girl, every Fourth of July, my father – a World War II veteran - would awaken me with a Screaming Mimi set off under my second story window.  (The fireworks kind, not the German artillery kind.) The thing would whiz by my window with a scream, bolting me out of bed.  Yikes!  Wha?!  It was a shocking way to awaken, but it made me laugh every one of my 21 summers there.  (Wait.  I take that back.  Not 21 summers, presumably he didn’t do that when I was a baby.  But he did it for as far back as I can remember, and although it was predictable, it was a surprise, and a laugh, every single time.)

What is it about Fourth of July that brings up childhood memories?  It must be the fireworks.  Everyone in my hometown in Connecticut gathers in a local park for a spectacular fireworks display on the Fourth, and it always makes me remember going to see a similar display by the Merrimack River near where I grew up in Massachusetts.  We used to pile into our 1964 Chevy Impala convertible in our pajamas (not my parents, they wore their clothes) and go and park by the river at sunset to settle in for the show.  If charred black bits of fireworks drifted out of the sky and on to us well that was just a bonus as far as my brother and I were concerned.  We got dinner from across the street, a bizarre concoction that I have yet to encounter again called “Broasted Chicken” – It was chicken, and potatoes, that were partially broiled and partially roasted, and it was hot and greasy and perfect.

My father also always used to advise on this day every year:  “Don’t come forth with a fifth on the fourth or you may not come forth on the fifth.”  Which made absolutely no sense to me until I was about 18, and then I thought it was hysterically funny, corny as it may sound now.  I still think it’s funny, come to think of it.

Anyway.  Back to Screaming Mimi memories.  This memory creeps up on me every single year at this time, and then it becomes as loud as a firework, reminding  me how much I loved my Dad.  I almost expect to see him standing below my bedroom window with a grin when I gaze out on these Fourth of July mornings. He’s gone now, and I miss him every day, but the memories still come screaming into my brain providing me with a jolt of happiness, every single Fourth, where I will not come forth with a fifth.

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