Thursday, July 2, 2009
As a child, I spent summers and school holidays with my father. For three years during the mid 1970s, we spent summers driving cross-country in a tricked-out Dodge van, complete with wood paneling and an apartment piano in the back. My dad would pick a place to stop, we'd open the back doors and perform The Steven and Julie Show, singing the songs I grew up with: Fun, Fun, Fun by The Beach Boys, The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace, Runaway by Del Shannon, and so many more. "Safe adventure," my dad liked to call it.
The only Fourth of July that stands out in my memory was from one of those vanning trips. I have no idea where we were — Kansas, maybe. We had made some new group of friends for the day or the week, and I remember sitting on the sidewalk lighting sparklers and those strange, snake-like things that just grew along the ground when you lit them. I do remember that we'd made sure to be in a state that allowed you to pick up fireworks at a stand along the road for the Fourth, since you couldn't do that everywhere.
The Fourth meant a lot to my dad. He was an unlikely patriot, in a way. A hippie musician, but also a civil-liberties lawyer who once explained to me that he would defend a Nazi's right to march (we are Jews) rather than see a person's civil rights taken away. He was mortified by what was happening to this country during the last years of the Bush Administration.
And then, in a way that seems oddly fitting, my dad died on the Fourth of July, 2007.
So during this holiday weekend, when everyone is celebrating and enjoying being with family, I am thinking of him.
I love you, Dad. I hope somewhere you're riding along in a tricked out van with a piano. And that this time you get to be the one who wrote Runaway.