A Fourth of July memory

To the editor:

Fireworks rain from the sky, burgers and dogs sizzle on the grill, gunpowder coats the air with smokey familiarity, and families gather in the sun to retell hilarious stories.

When I think about the Fourth of July, these images along with the words “youth” and “innocence” come to mind.

Steubenville was the perfect place to be a young, innocent boy.

I remember my summers with never-ending days would peak with the Steubenville Country Club cookout and long drive contest.

My friends and I would swim all day while our parents worked, played tennis or played golf.

We scampered to the mall along our secret trail behind the synagogue on Lovers Lane.

With wet shorts and hungry bellies, we returned right before the cookout.

When it came time for the driving contest, we would confidently step up to the tee box and unleash a few wormburners and maybe hit that one magical drive that would elicit a “whoa” from our proud parents.

After the trophies were awarded, all the families would sit together while we would voraciously eat our meals so we could run around the clubhouse searching for mischief.

The sycamore trees that lined the entrance of SCC always beckoned us to run and hide among their trunks and branches.

And we boys would demonstrate some made-up karate moves to impress the cute girls who were oblivious to our “coolness.”

We played until evening peered on the horizon with purple-orange brush strokes.

Fireflies dotted the scenery with green luminescence as the evening breeze rolled in to kiss our skin with sweet summer warmth.

When dusk settled around us it was time for the mosquitoes to have their feast. Our shadowy outlines were animated by continuous whacks to our arms and legs. I was stricken with a sudden thirst accompanied by the first inkling of exhaustion.

We could have played until dawn, but the inevitable happened. Moms and Dads, who were giddy on Budweisers and white wine, found us among the trees and fireflies.

Each car would exit creating a caravan of lights that danced on the sycamores. One or two stragglers were still playing before their parents came to break up the party.

I sighed as we pulled out into the night for home.

The funny thing is I am sighing again for these days that have disappeared with each passing moment as smoke does from fireworks.

The memory of youth has an eternity to it, and my days grow shorter as I grow older.

Michael Isla

Pompano Beach, Fla.