Do you remember when I wrote about the Fourth of July, the one where Alan and I burned down Skeeter O’Neal’s garage? How could you forget something like that? We never did.

All who heard the firecrackers go off that year are gone now.

I miss them, and the stories they told, even the whispered ones they thought I didn’t hear.

But I did. And had brothers, smoking and drinking cold beer nearby, who were more than happy to explain them to me.

But the garage fun came and went, like the railroad flares my brakeman Uncle John brought over, that lit up our purple nights with crimson fire.

Well, if it ain’t the 4th again, and here sits the writer staring at the empty screen, hoping to write something funny and uplifting about this holiday.


But hasn’t this been a year for the books? The war in Ukraine, for example; the price elevator going up; COVID hospitalizations going down … for now.

And then just as we are lighting the grill and opening a beer, here comes “Don” Alito, the Godfather of the Supreme Court (who, by the way, looks like he may be old Sister John Bosco’s grandson) declaring war on America’s women, as though he were mimicking a line from “The Godfather.”

“Leave the decision; take the cannoli.”

This is the Catholic “Don,” telling the Jewish girl in St. Louis that new rules apply and she had better behave.

This is the new Supreme Court shocking all the pregnant women in America, from Red Little Rock and Tupelo, to Blue Chicago who had made their July appointments with their local health care doctors to terminate their pregnancies.

That’s not like cancelling a dental appointment or putting off a beauty parlor date, you know what I’m saying? That’s expensive and secret.


Imagine their surprise. Not just the innocent victims of incest or rape, but the MAGA wives of West Virginia and Mississippi, who woke up this week and said, “Surely not me.”

I could give you stories of women of the silver screen, who have had it done in Paris, just before a dinner date, or in Beverly Hills, with the casualness of a Saturday at Gelson’s Market.

Of course, their “people” did the shopping — the little Mexican women who rode the bus up from the barrios. I knew them too.

Some women I knew on a casual basis, like wrapping their gifts in a bookstore, or just overhearing a conversation in the next booth at Nate and Al’s Deli.

Some were my friends, daughters of very famous stars. I’ve forgotten their names and their stories. Of course I have — haven’t I?

As a small part working actor at NBC in Burbank, I sat in corners and eavesdropped on chats while nails were being done, or in the makeup room at Warner Bros. or in the cafeteria at Universal Studios.

The ladies of the moment never paid any attention to the young actor sitting nearby, waiting for an audition, studying his lines. How would they know that I was listening, or that I would one day be writing about them, long in the future and far, far away.

Most of them are under slabs at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery now. And here I am; I have no cards in this game. But you do.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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