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ebrate 50 years of delightfully happy marriage—98% of the time.) About five years ago my wife Shirley and I flew to Calgary, Canada, rented a car, drove to the almost unbelievably beautiful town of Banff, and checked into a hotel for few days in late June, not realizing that July 1 was Canada Day. Our room was on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the street where the parade would pass. On a delightful day we sat on the balcony and saw all the bands, the horses and riders in full regalia, and cheered and applauded as if it were our first parade experience. That night we saw a modest but fun fireworks exhibition. Back in Calgary for a few days prior to returning home, we discovered that the Calgary Stampede was being celebrated. We walked down a street, saw a large group of people, asked what was happening, joined the folks on the sidewalk, and saw a parade several times larger than the one we enjoyed in Banff. Two surprises neither of us will forget. Perhaps the best and least expected July thrill of all, however, happened right here in the good old U.S. of A. when we attended an Elder hostel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We also visited Taos, Madrid, Albuquerque, and then went south to Carlsbad to explore the caverns and to watch the jillions of bats fly out at dusk to get some supper—not a good time to be an insect. While in the town of Carlsbad, someone told us of a July 4th celebration near the Pecos River just a few miles away. Sitting in bleachers with about 150 to 200 other people, we city slickers wore casual clothes, (casual for Walnut Creek or Lafayette). Most everyone else wore bib overalls with usual “accessories.” Nothing much happened until dusk, which in July and that far south arrives fairly late. We chatted with the large man sitting behind us. He dressed in the “uniform” of overalls, boots, and beat up Western hat and seemed like a “good ole boy” probably named “Bubba.” We discovered that he was in the oil discovery business and probably worth 114 times what retired professors and counselors had in the bank. He was absolutely a gentleman and well educated, crushing our stereotypes, and his little daughter stole our hearts. The parade consisted of no marching bands, but a series of small boats decorated tastefully in red, white, and blue flowers, bunting, and pictures, while patriotic music played over a loud speaker. Afterward a fireworks display over the river dazzled us. It certainly paled in size compared to Bastille Day or the Calgary Stampede, but it filled both of us with patriotism that bordered on fervor. We have seen fireworks and parades in Venice, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and a several other places, but the Independence Day along the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the one we remember most fondly because it represented our country and an America which still exists, at least to some extent, the way it has for decades. So, happy 1st to our Canadian friends; happy 14th to the French; but most of all, happy July 4th to all of us proud nieces and nephews of our Uncle Sam. j u l y 2 0 1 6 A L I V E E A S T B A Y 27


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