By Bill Deverell
Thermometer at a brisk 103 degrees. Lots of water time today. The good people of St. George have their community pool and slide open today, so that made up part of the day. “No line for the slide!” my boy shouts, as we opened the place at 11:00 this morning. Then a couple of hours at the wonderful Fourth of July festival in the park. It’s a local carnival. Lots of booths, cotton candy, bean bag toss. A Ferris Wheel this year – that’s new, I think – and the great outdoor climbing wall that my son loves. He and it took one another’s measure for several ascensions: fun to watch.
St. George is predominantly LDS – I’d guess three of four people, but that’s only a hunch. The ratio is probably dropping. This year, I noticed other churches: Baptist, Episcopalian, a tiny Christian Science outfit that I think is a reading room. I saw more Latino faces at the fair, though it is just as likely, I’d think, that they were Mormon as Catholic or otherwise. Pacific Islanders were noticeable at the fair, probably LDS, I’d guess. The number of African Americans seemed, as it always does, small, but maybe growing? Mostly I notice the young LDS families – at the park, at the pool, in town. One year, we saw a family in very traditional dress out for Mexican food; whom I assumed to be USMB – U.S. Mennonite Brethren. I think, like most places, that the diversity of belief, faith, and acts even in a city like St. George is probably more complex and varied than we might otherwise first imagine.
Fireworks tonight. We are perched up here on a hill overlooking the northeastern side of town: we’ll get a great view of the fireworks in the park. We bought our own, too. My son has endured two (ok, three) lectures about the danger of an unignited firework. We have sparklers, naturally, and a smoke grenade. Some floral fireworks that shoot up and out. As a kid, I stomped on a firework ember, forgetting that I had placed it on the nail I pounded up from the bottom of the wooden stand I build for it. I still have that scar, as well as the memory of knowing, in an instant, that I had done something which was about to really hurt.
Tomorrow we hit the road for Grand Junction, the Colorado River, and the mineral baths of that great Colorado town. On the way out of St. George, we’ll pass by some of the tough little homes that the LDS pioneers built 150 years ago, as well as a well-preserved Civilian Conservation Camp that we always stop to see. The workers carved their names in the walls and doorframes, and looking at them gives me a professor’s chance to talk to my son about the Great Depression.
Lots of American flags today, naturally. But, try as I might, I heard little overtly political talk. People were happy to be at the carnival with one another, and their attention (and mine) was mostly aimed at the kids and watching them having so much fun.