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45 Star Flag 1901

Article from the Los Angeles Times, July 5th, 1901

“This is the last time,” said the street-car conductor, savagely jamming his punch through a bundle of green transfers, “that we will have Fourth of July this year — thank the Lord.”

It wasn’t that he had no artistic soul for the appreciation of high-priced fireworks on the water. He had been up and on duty since 5 a.m., and it was within an hour of midnight.

He had been carrying loads of people out to Westlake Park [now MacArthur Park] all evening. The cars were crowded as early as 7 o’clock, and the lawns were black with acres of people at early dark.

By some special providence there were idiots enough to go round. Fourth of July night and the circus are the two occasions when the idiot is an indispensable adjunct.

Over on the west lawns, quite a bunch of them had drifted together and clung. They were so flat you couldn’t help laughing.

They first made their presence felt in the little hush that comes when something is going to happen.

A squeaky treble shrilled out, “Maggie, Mag-gie, hold the horse; they’re going to shoot a firecracker.”

Maggie had plenty of calls. The voice shrieked again, “Mag-gie, Oh Maggie, don’t look that horse in the face; he’s got gold teeth.”

Once a flash of red light on the lake shore showed various interesting tableauxs [sic] on the lawns, and the voice screeched again, “Mag-gie, put your head on the other shoulder; this one’s all powder.”

And when the crowd began to giggle and say to each other, “Listen to those chumps,” the voice called out again, “Mag-gie, I don’t believe there’s one of them sober or else they wouldn’t be listening to me.”

There was a slight variation in the “Oh-Ah” chorus. A little boy with no visible parents stumbled over the reclining crowd, shouting at the top of his voice, “Beautiful, beautiful.”

Well, it was.

The rockets were about the same old rockets and the set pieces beginning with the Stars and Stripes and winding up with “Home, Sweet Home” in one of the periods when there is a hot time in progress, were about the same story. Also the pin wheels and the spark falls. But it was pretty.

It was the lights on the lake shore that turned it into an artist’s dream of beauty. No transformation scene at a theater could be one-half so beautiful.

The heavy blackness of the night would fade and melt away as though it were a rising curtain, and the trees by the water’s edge would stand out weird in a ghostly luminance with the black Rembrandtish shadows circling as though to strangle and devour them.

It seemed like the fairy camps, or any other political old thing according to your state of sobriety and digestion.

When the fireworks had gone out, hundreds of people gathered in front of the band stand to hear the music. Every boat on the lake was taken.

Two great barges were filled with Japs, who ripped around the lake as though it were a ’varsity boat race with a penalty imposed if any two rowers took a stroke together.

Every time they ran into anybody, they said, “ ’Scuse me,” with great politeness.

And the light came dancing in a ribbon of silver across the dark mysterious waters.

Source: Los Angeles in the 1900's

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