They Told Yankee Doodle a Thing or Two

Reflections on July 4, 1976 & Rebellion

The big day finally arrived – Randolph, New Jersey was ready to celebrate America’s bi-centennial. We studied the Revolutionary War at my beloved Fernbrook School that year and finished off the school year with the idea that America’s 200th birthday was a very big deal indeed.

Bad-asses, Randolph Style
We sat in front of the A&P waiting for the Independence Day parade to roll by. Before the road was closed to traffic, a pair of boys in a convertible drove by hooting and hollering. “Yankee Fucking Doodle can kiss my ass,” the scrappier of the two shouted. This got a big laugh out of his buddy.

The moms looked at one another in disgust but didn’t say a word. Ignore it and the young children won’t start asking questions I imagine must have been their line of thinking. I pretended not to notice but secretly I was in awe of these young men who were so ready to mock what we were taught was a big deal and go against the prevailing sentimentality.

I don’t really remember much about boys or the car. Over the years I have reconstructed the incident in my mind and always come up with the same image. I picture a bad-ass looking black convertible, the boys old enough to drive but not old enough to drink. They had a case of crap beer in the trunk and were off to Hedden Park to sit around and mock the status quo until the Randolph cops shoed them away. Shaggy hair, torn jeans or cut-off shorts, a leather vest but no shirt underneath, maybe a few tattoos. A 1970s image of youthful rebellion.

To this day the incident has stuck in my mind as it was my first conscious memory of the idea that not everyone thinks the same way or shares the same beliefs. This was my first taste of rebellion.