Friday we celebrate one of my favorite days of the year. THE FOURTH OF JULY. When I was growing up in Greenwood the night of the third was almost as long as Christmas Eve because I knew that soon after we were up on the fourth and Mama had cooked our breakfast Daddy would disappear and return with a whole case of red soda pop. Later when the ice man came Mama bought an extra twenty-five pounds of ice. That meant later in the day there would be homemade ice cream. If we were real lucky it would be banana. Each of us would take our turn of turning the ice cream freezer. One would turn while one would sit on the top of the freezer. I do not know the reason for that except we all got to play a part in the making of the ice cream. When it got too hard for one of us to turn the crank Daddy would take over. The wait for the ice cream to harden seemed like hours. Mama would pack extra ice around the cream can, put an old blanket on top and the wait began. The freezer was set in a number three wash tub so the salty water from it would not run out on the porch, the favorite place to turn the freezer. Nehi strawberry soda pop, was there anything better to drink? Daddy probably saved for a week or two in order to buy us a whole case of it.
Then came the hard part of the day, waiting for dusky dark to come so that we could go to the Fourth of July Picnic located where Pink Bud now stands. I think the name of picnic came from the fact that people used to come from miles around for dinner on the ground. It was a time when friends and relatives would get together to eat and visit. Later as I was growing up it was more of a carnival than a picnic. People still came from miles around to visit with friends they had not seen since the last fourth of July. It was also time for the politicians to get together to make their speeches. It was the days when there was no dirty back biting politics. The candidate would get up on a platform, tell why he was best for the job, step off the platform, shake hands with the other candidates, then meet them somewhere to visit. Why, oh, why can’t it be that way now???
For weeks before the fourth the kids of the town picked blackberries to sell or had some other way of making money to spend at the picnic. Frank said the Hughart Boys used to catch bull frogs to sell. Their best two customers were the late Dr. C. W. Hall and the late Bub Richards. They sold the frogs for ten cents a piece. Now if you order frog legs at a restaurant they cost a small fortune.
I guess Mama and Daddy sacrificed to let us ride a few rides and to have a shaved ice. The kind that came in a flimsy paper cone. The cone was so thin the syrup was running out the bottom when you got it. By the time you got through eating it was running all down your chin, your arm and onto your clothes. Who cared?? It was too good to worry about a little thing like dripping syrup.
I loved the thrill of riding the Merry- Mix- Up, the swings that would take you high and way out. The special of the evening riding the Merry -Go-Round. How I envied the people who traveled with the carnival. There were no fancy house trailers as you see today. Most were small homemade trailers. I didn’t worry how they lived, just the thought that they got to ride all the time. I laugh to myself when I think by the time I was thirteen that I didn’t try to join the carnival. I am ashamed to admit it but by the time I was thirteen I thought a life with the carnival traveling all over the country would be a wonder care free life. Thank goodness I was afraid I would miss my family.
HAVE A SAFE AND WONDERFUL FOURTH OF JULY! And be thankful for the group of men who were brave enough to sign the Declaration of Independence.