In honor of the Fourth of July, I decided to share some memories of Fourths past.
As most of you know, I grew up in a resort town. Every Fourth of July, when I was a kid, we would head to the beach (a full 10 miles from the house - what a voyage) for the night. This meant fighting traffic and hunting for a parking space.
We would usually go down early in the afternoon and hit the boardwalk. My brother and I would ride the rides and play games and buy souvenirs and just be tourists for the day. We would play skee ball and try to get prizes from the old claw machines. It was so much fun.
Eventually we would find our way to one of the pizza places and eat some greasy boardwalk pizza. When it got closer to dusk, we would head for the sand. We would lay on the sand and watch the fireworks over the ocean. It was always one of my favorite family times. My brother and I all snuggled up with Mom and Dad. Oohing and Aahing as the displays got louder and bigger.
It truly was a great place to grow up.
As I got older, I started working on the boardwalk. I pretty much worked every Fourth of July from then on. During the fireworks, we would take turns going out back or up on the roof to watch them. It was never the same, but it was still pretty cool.
One particular Fourth of July, I was working and it was especially hot and humid. There was just a very sticky feeling everywhere. We were all hot and miserable. The customers were grouchy. It was super busy. It was just an all around icky kind of night.
Just before the fireworks started, there was a mad rush for ice cream and then a bit of a lull while everyone headed for the beach. During this lull, we were all standing around behind the counter, stocking up and getting ready for the post fireworks rush.
I had my back turned to the counter, but I heard a woman calling out for help. I turned around and found a frantic woman, stroller in front of her and 4 or 5 kids around her. She is saying something about her baby and that she needs help. She's crying and hysterical.
My boss goes out to her and finds the baby in the stroller unconscious. Apparently, the lady had put a bunch of bags on top of the stroller. They had fallen on top of the baby, smothering him.
A coworker immediately called 911 and my boss tried desperately to calm the lady, who was now holding the lifeless tiny infant. We were all frozen, eyes glued to that tiny, still body.
Somewhere in the crowd, there was an EMT who had seen what was going on. He came over right away, grabbed the baby and told us to clear the counter. My coworker and I put the milkshake machines on the floor and stood, holding each other tightly while the EMT put that tiny lifeless body on the counter and began CPR.
I can't describe to you how quiet the air became in those moments. It was as if everything had stopped. Everything except the motion of his fingers on that tiny infant's chest. As he slowly breathed air into it's lungs, we were all breathless.
We were lost in the movement of his fingers on that tiny chest. Two fingers. Up and down. Up and down. His mouth on that tiny infant's mouth. A breath. Nothing. Another breath. Still nothing. Up and down. Another breath.
Then, suddenly...a cry. A tiny cry in the stillness.
That tiny, lifeless infant was crying! He was crying! I've never enjoyed the sound of a baby crying more than I have at that moment.
It was the most amazing sound. You can't imagine how beautiful it was to hear that tiny cry.
We were all crying. We were all now lost in the moment of pure joy at life being breathed into that tiny infant's once lifeless body. It was truly amazing.
That little infant was whisked away in the ambulance and we were all forced to return to the chaos of serving ice cream to disgruntled tourists. We were wiping tears from our eyes and trying to comprehend what we had just experienced as customers started lining up, demanding soft serve.
Of course, the EMT and his family got ice cream on us that night. It was the least we could do.
That Fourth of July will remain in my memory forever. It was the most emotional night of ice cream scooping ever.
I wonder what ever happened to that tiny infant. I hope he has never taken a moment for granted.
Happy Independence Day everyone!
What's your most memorable Fourth?
Have you ever been witness to such an event? Please share.