I have always loved the 4th of July. As I was growing up it was as exciting as Christmas and Easter rolled into one. We were up early in anticipation for what the evening would bring. Daddy would slip off then return with a whole case of Red Soda Pop. The kind that fizzled all the way up your nose. To a kid, who seldom got a soda pop, having a whole case was like having Santa Claus come. The ice man would leave extra ice so Mama could make banana ice cream. When the ice cream was ready to freeze we all took our turn turning the handle on the freezer. I don’t know why but one of us kids sat on the freezer while another turned the handle. When we could no longer turn it Daddy took his turn.
When evening came we were like a bunch of ducks going down the highway. (The old highway seventy one known now as South Coker Street.) with Daddy leading the way and Mama bringing up the rear. We were going to the 4th of July Picnic located where the Pink Bud is now located. It was not really a picnic but a BIG Carnival. A small carnival by today’s standards. To me as a child it was BIG. The 4th of July Picnic was one of the most important days of the year for Greenwood. People came from far and wide to meet and greet old friends. It was a time of joy for old and young, a time of visiting. If it was an election year there would be a political rally. None of the bashing other candidates as we see and hear today. The picnic ground was “Brightly” lighted with a few lights around the grounds strung from tree to tree. Often there was a dance floor and a band. The different churches in town made a fuss about it. To me it was fun to watch the people dance. As we neared the picnic ground we could hear the music of the Merry-go-round. (Carousel) The excitement was really building up. To this day I love the music of a carousel. I still like to ride a Merry-go-round. In fact the last time I went to the Tulsa Zoo with Brook and family I rode one. The operator encouraged me to ride and she even lowered one of the animals so I could get on. I think I rode an Ostrich. I laughed so hard I had tears so did everyone watching.
A treat at the picnic was a flimsy paper cone filled with shaved ice and a little bit of flavored syrup. As the ice melted the juice ran out the bottom of the paper cone. Everyone could tell what flavor you had by what color was on your clothes or that had run down you arm. For weeks many of the kids in town picked blackberries to sell to get money to spend at the picnic. The Hughart boys would hunt bullfrogs to sell. The late Dr. Hall and Bub Richards bought all they could catch. The boys got 10 cents a piece for them. Think what a pair of frog legs cost today. The late Kermit McNabb told me when he was a boy at the picnic one of the Vendors asked him if his Mother had a rain barrel. When he said yes the man told him if he would bring him the barrel full of water from the creek he would give him all the lemonade he could drink. It seems as if the man used a few lemons and a whole lot of ascorbic acid to make a barrel of lemonade. Mr. Mac said that after watching that man he didn’t drink any then, nor had he drank a glass of lemonade since.
After the Picnic Grounds sold the local VFW sponsored the Picnic in the area in front of the old Court House. I can tell you it just wasn’t the same. Today Greenwood has the Freedom Fest with lots of fire works. It, too is not the same. Could it be my age?
Remember say a prayer for all who have fought in order that we can enjoy our Freedom. Freedom to come and go as we please, worship as we please. We have so many freedoms that other countries do not have. Fly your flag. Thank a Veteran, shake the hand of a military person. Enjoy your Independence Day. Many, many things have changed since July 4th, 1776.