Remembering Uncle Steve and the 4th of July

Here is my Uncle Steve with my niece Anita

Here is my Uncle Steve with my niece Anita (It’s an old picture so the quality isn’t great.)

Root beer on tap! Food on the grill! Smokey the sheep! Chickens to befriend! Aunts and uncles and cousins everywhere!

Those are my memories of the 4th of July.

I can get all teary-eyed thinking about it. They were the best picnics!

My Uncle Steve had a farm of 60 some acres. There was a big barn with a loft and fields to run in. It was a child’s idea of heaven. I loved going there. Good food too!

My mother’s brother married my father’s sister. Both came from large families so the 4th of July bash at Uncle Steve’s was truly a family reunion for me with both sides of the family. There were a lot of big families. I had 50 cousins.

On the morning of the 4th, my Mom would be cooking and putting together the food. Every family chipped in for kegs of beer and soda.

My cousin Evelyn, who lived next door and was much older, would go early in the morning to help set up. She would take my niece Anita along and I would be so envious. (Ok, I was downright jealous!) We didn’t go until after lunch! Half the day was over! That’s a long time for a kid.

People brought records so there was 50s music blaring with kids screaming and laughing. There was a pond and a stream so there always was a watermelon or two cooling off for later on.

There were baseball games and activities for the kids. Sparklers and fireworks!

I just couldn’t wait for this picnic. Afterward it seemed like summer was over.

As I got older I remember wearing my new shorts sets with matching nail polish and lipstick smeared all over my lips. I thought I was the fashion queen! Teased hair up the wazoo! Primping and strutting my stuff! Yeah! Cool! (Thank God there are no pictures!)

Sometime in the 1970s the picnics stopped altogether. My aunt and uncle were older and it was a lot of work preparing and cleaning up even with all the help they got. My uncle got sick and died. A few years later my aunt got Alzheimer’s. It was the end of an era.

Every year on the 4th of July I remember them both. They never had children of their own but they knew how make it fun for the rest of us.

Happy 4th to my extended family!

32 thoughts on “Remembering Uncle Steve and the 4th of July

  1. Thank you for sharing your family memories on July 4th, Kate. I miss those times together with my folks, grandparents and cousins.

    We feel so lucky that we got to share that time with half our family on Thursday.

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  2. Thank you. I’m so grateful to have traveled to Uncle Steve’s with you. Your writing was so clear and unvarnished I swore I could smell the food and the land — all in the same deep inhale. Really special stuff still living inside you to this moment. Dan

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  3. We always had big family gatherings on a farm for July 4th (Christmas was too busy and everyone was rushing too many places and it was too crazy, so a truce was called designating the 4th as official family party) We often had deer burgers from hunter’s freezers – and all the fresh produce you could eat. And watermelons were so cheap (6+ for a dollar and I road most of the way with cool watermelons under bare feet in the car). Each kid got their own water melon sometimes – seed spitting contests. (but no eating them after dinner – didn’t want to have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night…long walk to the outhouse out back.
    Perfect post

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  4. I loved this trip back in time with you. That’s how I remember family picnics, too — oodles of cousins to play with (28), shared Grandparents to fuss over us, lots of Aunties & Uncles who juked and jived to Hank Williams or Elvis on the turntable; cards being played, being sent outside to eat our ice cream or watermelon, and kicking off our shoes to play “kick the can” at twilight.

    Memories are made of this! And this is one that all couples would get up and dance to:

    MJ

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    • OMG! Yes, yes, yes! You have me all teary-eyed again. This song (wasn’t he a hottie!) was indeed the era that was played along with Hank Williams and Elvis (when the adults weren’t looking) and maybe a some Little Richard! Thanks for enhancing my post with your memories.

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      • Oh Dean was a definite hottie, yes indeedy-do! Those records playing, smoke circling the heads/shoulders of the card players, buckets of Tang and slices of pie. Mosquito spray and lawn chairs with the woven seats, the kind where the fabric scratches your sunburnt skin 🙂

        MJ

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        • Tang? My crowd was definitely a beer/root beer group. I remember those damn lawn chairs. Still have some (they are easy to carry to concerts). Don’t forget catching fireflies (and of course releasing them!)

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  5. That’s so cool that 2 siblings married 2 siblings. And what a fantastic gathering of the clan.

    I only had 3 cousins since mom was an only child and dad had just one sister. But it was great when we gathered together in Vermont for picnics with extended family ~ grandparents, both families, a few assorted great aunts and uncles. Such fun.

    Thanks for sharing some fun memories with us . . . I just wish you had a few more photos of you “styling it.” 😉

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    • Only 3 cousins? Wow! There are good things and bad things about big extended families and as people get older the ties loosen up. I rarely see any of my cousins now except for funerals. In fact, because I was one of the youngest many of them are gone.

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  6. I entered a comment but it disappeared. Just wanted to tell you how fantastic it is that you have these super memories of an all American 4th of July. You paint a beautiful picture of the way it should be even if it is an era long gone by.

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  7. You had the perfect all American family 4th of July! What a fantastic gift from your aunt and uncle as if they knew you would never forget them or those days gone by. It’s so sad to watch an era disappear and all that simple pleasure, but it’s your memories that mean the most.

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    • Considering how large it was, our family was close. I saw my aunts and uncles frequently. Uncle Steve was a really fun guy and a favorite of everyone. Aunt Rose was more quiet but very kind and a great cook.

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  8. July 4th was a family reunion time for us as well. We were always up north visiting the “yankee” part of the family (a complex and convoluted family tree as well).

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  9. What amazing memories! I also have great 4th of July memories from childhood, although the suburbs were as far as we ventured into the wild. A cul-de-sac was ideal for kids with sparklers. I think it’s something about summertime when we were kids-nothing to do but go to the pool and ride bikes and lie on the grass in deep thought. Of course nowadays you couldn’t pay me to put my head down on the grass. All those bugs and things. 🙂

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