Faith Fourth of July 2015: Mack Williams remembers

Published 11:43 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I grew up with many catch phrases being presented to the public on the national scene during the 1950s, such as “A little dab’ll do yah!” (for Brylcream Hair Dressing, essentially oil minus the vinegar), but the catchiest was the alliterative advertisement for a local celebration of our nation’s birthday: “Faith Fourth” (not to be confused with Scotland’s “The Firth of Fourth”).

Although the much more famous “three little words” have sometimes failed to live up to their promise, those two little words: “Faith Fourth” always deliver.

That two-word subject, without verb or accompanying modifiers rates every bit the exclamation point following it!

Nowadays, if I’m outside in July’s heat and humidity, I can’t wait for the air around me to be “conditioned” again; but when I was young, standing in line next to Faith’s Main Street, my anticipation of that parade outweighed any “atmospheric” discomfort.

The signal for the parade’s start was the buzzing of Faith by jets, a celebratory “buzzing” different than the recent antagonistic buzzing offered by Vladimir Putin’s planes in different parts of the world.

The floats of the Faith Fourth parade have become a patriotic blur in my mind now, like clouds floating past on a hot summer day. Figures of Minutemen, Uncle Sam, and George Washington do stand out here and there (as well they should).

I remember the comedy of a clown troupe driving mini-motorcycles, while others met the town’s asphalt with great “floppy feet.”

I can’t recall the particular faces of car- driven beauties, but do recall that the “surname” following their “Miss” was more often the name of a Legion or VFW Post (in 1999, we had our East Rowan Class of ‘69 thirtieth anniversary in Faith’s American Legion Hut).

To me, the fireworks stand was always a definite draw, but the assemblage was “amateur” compared to the professional explosive sparks above the baseball field.

Of course, the barbecue sold at the Faith Fourth was great, not much difference between it and that sold at Wink’s and Blackwelder’s. For many years now, my brother Joe and sister-in-law Sheila have worked one of the celebration’s tents, selling hamburgers and hot dogs. It would not do for me to be there working in one of the barbecue tents, for after a while, a great discrepancy would be discovered (not with money, but with barbecue).

The “old-timey” entertainments of sack racing, greased pole climb (I don’t think there was a greased pig), and three-legged race, all held at the Faith ball field were fun to watch, but I never participated. The three-legged race looked interesting, but based on my “recess prowess” at Granite Quarry School, I was well aware that it was difficult enough for me to co-ordinate one brain with two legs, much less two brains with three!

While in high school at East, I often bought Faith barbecue to take home, a kind of “Faith to go.” Later on, sitting at the dining room table, I bit into my sandwich while listening to the chirping of the birds of my “woodland home” through open windows (we didn’t have air conditioning).

Back at the Faith, the sounds of happy people and the rides drowned out any sounds the birds were making there.

But with each bite of Faith barbecue, my taste buds reactivated my “memory buds,” with the concurrent return of happy sounds of games and rides (in my mind), increasing to the level where the birds outside my window were completely drowned out.

Like that Faith Fourth day (but only figuratively), upon moving away in 1974 I took me some “Rowan to go,” in fact, a nice-sized helping.

Lacking an expiration date, it nourishes still.

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