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Norwood - Local Town Pages

A Little Off The Top Hits & Myths: The third-dimensional Fourth

By Stuart Green
This year, the Fourth of July falls on July 4. Few know, but there was a Fourth of July before 1776 – it fell on July 4, 1775. That year, the Fourth actually occurred on July 4, but there was no Declaration, or fireworks, or parade, or cookouts. Well, maybe a cookout, but that was just known as “dinner” that year.
In the time of the Revolution, Norwood didn’t exist. Well, it did exist. There, we’ve covered both ends of that argument, so let’s move on.
The area then known as South Dedham got caught up with the whole Concord and Lexington thing, and its sons answered the first shots within moments – or at least a minute, man. Famously, Aaron Guild rushed off to the front, leaving behind two bewildered cows, stopping only long enough to pose for a town seal – just in case South Dedham continued the Revolutionary spirit and broke off from Dedham proper. Someday.
A little to the north of the colony, Paul Revere galloped his way into the night – and history. He was accompanied by a couple of other riders who had the misfortune of not having their names rhyme with “Listen my children and you shall hear…”
They could have been written into poetic annals:
“Hey, kids, stop and pause,
And pay tribute to William Dawes.
And we owe our fortunate lot,
To the courage of Sam Prescott.”
The trio never did make it down south to South Dedham, what with the constant British patrols, the five-shilling turnpike charge, and the horse-traffic on the Pony Express-way.
Be that what it may – or maybe not – the British stubbornly stayed in the port of Boston for a while, until being driven out by George Washington, patriotic zeal, and the high cost of housing. Their parting words on leaving, echoing through the ages, were, “We shall return – when you bring back rent control.”
With Washington’s foresight, he got out of Dodge, years before the expression, or vehicle, was invented. He figured he’d beat the brutal, harsh winters of the north and headed to the warmer climates and a tropical paradise – like Valley Forge. He would have considered spending the winter in Florida, but it still was in Spanish hands and, try as he might, he couldn’t get a hotel reservation in the Fontainebleau.
Meanwhile, as the second Fourth of July celebration was fast approaching, Continental Congress knew it had to take decisive action – and immediately voted to make the Fourth a Monday holiday.
And Massachusetts celebrated as well, defying the Minutemen border patrol and smuggling fireworks across state lines from New Hampshire.
Over the years, the Fourth has stayed as traditional as ever, fighting off a move during the late 19th century industrial moguls’ campaign of making everything American bigger and better, and moving the Fourth to the Fifth, Sixth, or even Thirty-First.
But the Fourth is where it’s stayed, taking its place as an interlude that Americans throughout time truly can cherish – a day off from work.