Independence Day

Elfreth s AlleyI was wondering when folks started calling this day the Fourth of July rather than Independence Day, and it turns out it was always thus:

When 18th-century state legislatures planned the first July 4 observances, they didn’t bother to give the day a proper name.

Meanwhile, Mark Evanier has a good story about a song that was dropped from one of his favorite movies, 1776 (mine, too!):

In rehearsal and tryouts, there was indeed a scene in New Brunswick with an actress named Carol Prandis playing one of the local “working girls.” To her, Franklin — who came across more like an aging pervert at this stage of the production — sang a song about how more fornication would lead to more births and therefore more people to populate their new country.

It was called “Increase and Multiply” or maybe “Encrease and Multiply.” I’ve seen it both ways. 

As Mark reminds us, today is a good excuse to revisit that movie.

Or pay a visit to Elfreth’s Alley, which may not be the nation’s oldest residential street, but apparently it’s a lot of fun to live there:

On one of oldest continuously residential streets in the nation, residents can be drawn into the past without even trying. 

Take Rob and Susan Kettell, who moved onto the block in 1975, and have lived there longer than any other resident. They found an actual spinning wheel in their three-story home — and have no idea how it got there. 

Susan Poulton is one of the newer residents. Since 2020, she has lived on the little alley behind the alley, Blanton Court, which features four Tudor-style homes. While searching her attic one day, she found a pair of shoes that she believes dates back to the 1850s.

That would be a century and a half after people began living on the street, a date historians peg to 1702. It was named for resident Jeremiah Elsreth (know how those old s’s looked like f’s?), a blacksmith who purchased several homes on the block, which he rented out. Being close to the Delaware River, sailors and workers with jobs related to shipping resided there.

For something completely different, R.A. Absalom dishes up another one of the Bible’s contradictions:

Did the fig tree wither immediately?

Happy Independence Day! Or the Fourth of July. Whichever.

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