Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July From a Late Bloomer

This post I did in July of 2010 has always been at the top of my most viewed posts (over 4,000 views!), a fact that I find kind of funny. I've kept it just as I originally wrote it, in my early blogging days, complete with a mistake pointed out to me in the comments at some point.

I thought my family might enjoy reading it again, and some of my blogging buddies too.

Do you ever get comments on old posts?  I do every so often.  Go check your stats and see how many views your posts receive.  What's you most popular one?

For the first 15 years of my life I never celebrated the 4th of July.  Isn't that strange?  I was born in Montreal, Canada and lived there for the first three years of my life.  My family moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada where I lived for the next twelve years. (See?  That's me at about age 14, nothing says "cool" better than knee socks)

I was the only Canadian in my family.  My parents were both born in New Jersey.  My two older brothers were born in West Virginia.  My father's job took the family to Montreal, where I made my appearance.

We moved to Toronto in 1962 and that's where I spent my youth up until high school age.  When I started in elementary school ( public school as it was called in Canada) the Canadian flag looked like this:

We started the day reciting The Lord's Prayer and then singing "God Save the Queen" (which I still remember most of the words to!).  Then a change came about, not sure exactly when, but think it was about 1967. Our Centennial. Suddenly our flag changed, I always liked it:

And we sang "O Canada". But the Queen's pictured remained in the classroom.

My dad retired in 1974.  I remember watching Richard Nixon's resignation speech amongst boxes in our basement in Toronto.  We moved to Dunedin, Florida and my life changed drastically.

I was the new kid in school and even the newer kid in the high school marching band.  I had no idea what a marching band was, had no experience as my American counterparts did, so I was given a job in the colorguard.  Carrying the Canadian flag.  Oh my.  How funny.

Why the Canadian flag?  Well our high school was a bit different.  Dunedin's sister city was Sterling, Scotland and the high school reflected that relationship by having it's band dress as Highlanders.  Yes, we were the Dunedin Highlanders.  Kilts. A bagpipe section. For some reason the band director felt that along with the American flag and the Scottish flag, the Canadian flag should also be part of the colorguard, and who better to wield that flag than the "Canadian", even though I really wasn't since I was born to American parents.  A technicality.

I carried "my" flag with dignity and fear.  The colorguard was always at the front or back of the band doing pivots and marching in a straight line.  Except for me, the new girl.  I always seemed to get the flag blown in my face by the wind and would end up out of line during our march.  We were not allowed to turn our heads and see where we were or move the flag from our faces.  That's how I ended up doing a solo march with the Canadian flag at the Orange Bowl in Miami where we had been invited to perform at the half-time show of the game between The NY Jets and, of course, The Miami Dolphins. There were only about 80,000 people in attendance and then the national TV audience, so I don't think anyone really noticed.  Except for our especially crazed band director who yelled at me after the show.  Welcome to America. But I did get to see this guy up close:

But I have digressed.  It was in high school that I learned all the American "stuff".  The first few weeks were spent moving my lips and trying to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance.  During football games I learned the words to The Star Spangled Banner (as well as Scotland the Brave).  During History and Geography classes I finally learned the specifics about American History, state capitols, and how our government worked.  I also learned that I pronounced words funny and that erasers were to be referred to as such, not rubbers as I had grown up calling them.  You can imagine the embarrassment a shy 15 year old suffered with that gaffe! I switched the "re" around in the word "theatre" and stopped spelling "colour" with a "u".  I also was chided for pronouncing the word "again" improperly.  The "gain" part for me was pronounced just like the word "gain". Try it, you can hear the difference. The hardest thing to drop was the "eh?" at the end of every sentence.  That's right, we actually did say that, it wasn't a made up joke. And since I was living in the south I started saying "y'all" and dropping the "g"s from words like "goin'".

My parents loved to travel and I was lucky enough to spend my summers with them in various locales around the globe so I was not in the states for those first 4th of Julys.  But I distinctly remember the first time I puffed out my chest and felt proud to be an American on the 4th of July.  My parents let me invite a friend along on a trip to Spain and we were in a small seaside resort for July 4th , 1976.  Not many Americans around, but my friend and I made banners to hang on our apartment balcony and bought horns to blow.  I felt that I was an authentic American celebrating my country's bi-centennial and was so proud. Or were we just trying to impress the cute guys who had the apartment across the way? Perhaps.

My globe-trotting summers ended when I graduated from college, married Mr. Tennis and was employed.  It was then that the traditions of July 4th really started to sink in for me.  Picnics, fairs, crowds, fireworks, and lots of flags.  Of course I married into a military family and their pride in their country and our armed forces rubbed right off onto me. 

I'm glad my kids got to grow up with the wonderful traditions that come with living in this great country of ours.  I certainly don't regret my childhood in Canada.  It gave me a unique perspective and will always be a part of me. My parents also made sure I learned about the States when we lived in Canada.  We travelled a lot to visit relatives, went to Williamsburg and Washington DC, both which gave me great insight into how our country developed and thrived. My dad and I flew from Toronto to Los Angeles in his little plane and that allowed me to understand how vast this country is and how diverse it is from one region to another. I had that same feeling of awe while driving this summer with The Maven.  What a beautiful country we have and so many different and unique people and cultures that make us what we are. 

Although we still have problems in this country and everyone doesn't always agree or get along, I still feel that I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Happy 4th of July!


Orlando Grandma said...

HAPPY FORTH OF JULY to a couple and a family that makes America proud .
Enjoyed your post, Have a good weekend.I know the Bostons will keep you busy.

Alan said...

The fourth of July is a great time to appreciate our country and all the possibilities it offers those of us fortunate enough to call her home.

Jake of Florida said...

I enjoyed reading your autobio!! So you're not too far from us -- we're just west of Fort Lauderdale. Our daughter lives in Orlando and teaches elementary school science lab. Plus we have a doggie pal in Dunedin.

So lots in common in addition to the fur kids.

Joan of the Barkalots

Rob said...

Hate to tell ya but that was NOT the Canadian flag in 1962 ... the flag you have pictured was the one used from 1868–1921 (Red Ensign with the arms of the four original provinces of Canada) ... In 1962 the flag of Canada was Red Ensign with the Royal Arms of Canada. The maple leaves at the bottom of the shield are red. This flag was in use from 1957 until 1965 when the maple leaf flag was first flown.

The Boston Lady said...

Thank you Rob, I stand corrected - I guess my memory of the flag was not as vivid as I thought. I appreciate your attention to detail. Ann

Mr. Connor said...

Happy 4th of July to ALL. WE did try for many years to make very sure WE were all on vacation the first week of July to celebrate both holidays. ( July 1 is Canada Day )

Debby@Just Breathe said...

That is really strange on page views. How could one post get over 4,000 views with only 39 comments? Mine was one of Adam's birthdays....weird!
Wow, I love your story. I think it is pretty different about the flag at your school in Dunedin especially when you were born in Canada. (That's where we get the amazing pizza when I'm at my dad's)LOL at the rubbers! Thank you for sharing this post. It's a great wonder it's been viewed so many times. Happy 4th of July. Debby

centerofgravity said...

Geez, Bestie, you make me feel so old to think that you were a freshman in high school when Nixon resigned and I was finishing up undergrad. But, I did love reading your post once again. have a Happy Fourth of July. CG

Edilma Weissmueller said...

I love reading it again

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I missed this one, so it was all new to me...and I loved reading it! Such a fun life story!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this very much. Fun to see you in those snazzy knee socks too!

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

I'm glad to read this post, as I haven't read it in the past.
I of course relate to the Canadian speech, and spelling, and as well the prayer, and God save the Queen, at school.
And I'm glad you like the maple leaf flag.
Your story of carrying the Canadian flag "solo", for a part of the football show, is sweet, and wow, getting to see Joe Nameth must have been worth it.
I had a lovely friend from the states in my 20's and enjoyed her Yo'all, as well she said "huh" where we in Canada do indeed say "eh?"
This was so much fun to read and follow along memories with you.
Sorry I didn't get here to wish you a "Happy 4th", at the time.