Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!


I had the honor of being in Philadelphia – at Independence Hall – on July Fourth this year. It was a moving experience. We had an enthusiastic National Park Service guide who gave us all the salient historical details and then threw in some interesting tidbits, like the fact that the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence was 26 and the oldest – acclaimed kite-flyer Ben Franklin – was 70. The guide also reminded us of Franklin’s stirring comment as he added his signature and anticipated all the Fourth of July barbecues to come, “Give me good potato salad or give me death!”

OK, I made that last part up. Franklin actually reminded his fellow signers that the cantankerous King George III would not be happy with their declaration.

"We must all hang together,” Franklin famously said “or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Good old Ben, always throwing a wet blanket on the festivities.

Our guide described the turmoil swirling around Philadelphia in July of 1776 as the Continental Congress debated the Declaration. Standing in the hallowed room where that document and the United States Constitution were signed, I kept thinking about a boy who’d been on our flight into Philadelphia the day before.

He was about 8 years old and dressed in patriotic garb. He carried a small American flag and wore a plastic derby hat festooned with stars and stripes. Before we even boarded the flight, everyone was aware of this child because he was loud and boisterous, pointing excitedly at the airplanes, waving his flag and shouting every sentence.

I was tired that day and feeling about as cranky as the king, so I was royally perturbed when this young firecracker sat directly behind me on the plane. Sure enough, shortly into the flight, he exploded.

“Turbulence!” he yelled happily, making everyone jump in their seats. His tired-looking mother tried to shush him, but a few minutes later, he did it again.


I turned around and gave him my most severe maternal look, which he ignored just like my own children do. After several more outbursts, the flight attendant came by and admonished him. He grinned appealingly at her and nodded as if he would comply, but as she walked away, he made his own little declaration of independence.


After touring Independence Hall, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride around historic Philadelphia. Our horse was named Spot, and our driver was Ben. Spot had a bag placed strategically below his business end, and Ben pointed out this innovation was not in use in Revolutionary times. I suppose that’s why the founding fathers wore those high boots and why the founding mothers insisted the boots be removed before entering the founding houses. Anyway, Ben the driver regaled us with the exploits of Ben Franklin, who even in old age was apparently quite a firecracker himself.

As we ended our ride and got out of the carriage, who should arrive for the next ride but the brash boy from the flight, still wearing his hat and waving the flag. Naturally, there was only one thing to say as we passed him.


Franklin would probably have loved that kid.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
© 2009, All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2009, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]

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