On the fourth of July

These were the faces of my summers, 18 people of all shapes, sizes, and ages, parents and brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and the dog on the left whose head's been chopped off by the photographer. (The dog's name was Ben.) I count four hats and six pairs of glasses. Note the hairstyling theme that crisscrosses traditional gender lines—hair across America, the age of the bowl cut. For some reason nobody flashed the peace sign. And look at Kyle! He looks pensive and slightly homeless, a skinny, long-necked wastrel straight out of Dickens in the guise of a Little League All-Star. One time he took the rowboat out alone and got stuck in the weeds. When we finally found him he was crying a little and cursing up a storm, but could you blame him for trying to flee? There were way too many people!

We were wild here together, though; there was an allowance for oddballs and noise, and the girls were never left out. We floated on innertubes and swam and fished in the lake and ate breakfast at Wimbledon, we watched Saturday Night Live and played The Gong Show, ran with sparklers and drank Jolly Good soda till our eyes popped out of our heads, and we washed the sand from our feet at a spigot outside the back door. We burned through those days, baby, sweet and bright and clear.