Sunday, July 4, 2010

An old-time Fourth of July

I don't know of any holiday that makes me as nostalgic for "the old days" as Independence Day--the Fourth of July.

When I was young, the Fourth was always a day for family get-togethers. It typically would be hotter than blazes out "in the country" in Kansas where we lived on our two acres. My mother, aunt and grandma would be busy preparing the food all day--fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans, fresh vegetables...the whole spread. If we didn't have chicken we might grill out hamburgers and hot dogs, and that was done after a long day of setting off firecracker after firecracker.

We'd all settle down around 6:00 p.m. or so for our dinner. It always seemed that we'd eat outside--on picnic tables, on blankets spread out on the grass, or in lawn chairs. The whole family would be there, except for one--my grandfather.

My father's father owned a small business--the American Ice Company. It was a business which made ice, back when families needed that precious commodity for their iceboxes. (And, yes, there is an art to making large blocks of ice.) Later, as the refrigerator became a common household item in the kitchen, my grandfather's business sold bags of ice, soda pop and beer, all out of a huge walk-in cooler and dock. And, during the summer, my grandfather sold the coldest, and best, watermelon in town.

So, as we all prepped for the Fourth of July evening fireworks to come and ate our dinner, my grandfather would be closing up shop in town. He'd arrive, always late after his very full day of work, and with a huge watermelon under each arm. He'd grin from ear-to-ear as he walked up to greet us--the celebration could then really begin.

I hope you and yours have a safe, and perhaps "old time," Independence Day celebration.

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