Cookouts, fireworks go together

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Christmas is my favorite day.

July 4th ranks a close second.

Dad pulled out the grill, lit the charcoal, stood back while he threw a match on the charcoal and waited for the fire to die down.

Mom prepared either steak, hotdogs or patted out fresh hamburgers.

We had all the trimmings — chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, pickles, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, buns and/or barbecue bread depending on what we ate.

And we’d wash it down with the “house wine of the South” — good, ‘ole sweet tea. Our cookouts usually occurred in the early afternoon.

That gave mom plenty of time to wash the dishes. My brother and I dried them because we knew the sooner we’d finish, the quicker we’d get done.

Dad would pull out his brush, stick the grill underneath the outdoor water spicket and he’d scrub it clean.

Once all of that was done, we’d pile into the car.

Mom had a black Chrysler with a red leather interior that reminded me of the 1960s Batmobile. We’d roll down the windows, not only to feel a fresh breeze but to cool down the back seat.

We’d head to Parkhill Mall in Tarboro for the fireworks.

Though the parking lot was spacious, you had to get there early to find that perfect spot. Dad always kept lawn chairs in the trunk.

We’d usually run into a relative or two and sit by them.

On occasion, mom might sneak into the K-Mart to see if there were any sales going on. She allowed me to tag along, while my brother usually stayed with my dad.

Sometimes my brother and I would play either Battleship or Monopoly. We had a spirited rivalry when it came to board games, and more often than not, he’d beat me every time.

Once the sun started to set and the temperature cooled, we’d settle into our chairs.

Soon the air would be full of bright, colorful fireworks that lit up the night sky. The show would last about 30 minutes or so and end with a big display so loud that it made your ears ring.

We’d all climb back into the car, while dad packed the chairs in the trunk. We’d hear the lid slam shut and talk about the fireworks all the way home.

Happy July 4th, everyone.

Be safe and have fun.

Rudy Coggins is assistant editor of the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at rcoggins@mountolivetribune.com.

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