There is just something about the 4th of July that makes me feel quite nostalgic and brings favorite summer memories to the surface.
The small town that was near our farm always “put on the dog” (as my Grandma used to say) for the 4th of July. They didn’t get overly excited for any other holiday, but the 4th of July was when they pulled out all the stops and visitors would actually come to town to join in the festivities.
The fun usual began on July 1 and ended the 4th of July – depending on what day the holiday fell during the week. But we could count on four days of excitement every summer.
There were events in the park, a rodeo every night, a suicide race, and a parade.
Members of y family participated in the suicide race (which would terrorize my mother) and the parade.
That’s my Dad’s turquoise 1959 Chevy Bel Air in the photo above. He used to have such a good time driving it in parades. He and my brother both belonged to a vintage car club and had a many memorable experiences participating in parades. We had fun cheering them on from the sidelines. One year my brother wanted to play old-time music from his Ford Model A while driving it along the parade route. Way back then, just shortly after dinosaurs disappeared, you couldn’t download any song you wanted in less than 60 seconds. So I played “In the Good Ol’ Summertime” on the piano about a gazillion times and recorded it (because you couldn’t set music on a loop then either). I made a costume with my mom’s help and rode along with him, boom box blasting out that song the whole parade route.
In the early years of my career, I worked for the local newspaper. I used to walk the entire parade route before it started, snapping photos of everything, then Captain Cavedweller and I would stand at the end of the parade and wait for Dad to drive by.
The rodeo was another highlight of my 4th of July memories. The first one I remember going to was when I was maybe 5 or 6. Dad took me to the local saddle shop, which also sold all sorts of wonderful western things like boots, hats and belts. That is where I first learned to appreciate the smell of leather. I remember getting a belt with a shiny silver buckle. A tiny little gold saddle was in the middle of the buckle. I loved that thing. I felt like a genuine cowgirl whenever I put it on. I also remember having a little purple suede purse and some brown cowboy boots. Boy, it was awesome!
When I worked for the newspaper, I’d go to the rodeo every night and take oodles of photos. Taking the photos meant we always had great seats and were up close to the action. Because it was open seating, we’d usually save a few seats around us for the rest of the family. We really had some fun times there.
We always had a barbecue on the 4th – usually at the home of one of my aunts. We’d all eat until we were stuffed then hurry off to the parade followed by the rodeo. There were fireworks shows to be watched after the rodeo, but we most often went home and created our own display of fireworks that mostly involved poppers, sparklers, ground flowers, and bottle rockets.
The 4th of July was never complete unless we had a bunch of Idaho Spud bars, chilled in the fridge to snack on between barbecue feasts.
What good memories do you have of the 4th of July? Family traditions?
I know celebrations this year will be far, far different than in the past, but I hope whatever you do brings you joy.
Happy 4th of July!