Happy 4th of July!

Here is my Uncle Steve with my niece Anita

Here is my Uncle Steve with my niece Anita

July 4th always meant family. All through my childhood, there was a big shindig on the 4th with all the relatives. When they were going on and I was young and stupid (wanting to be older), I didn’t really appreciate them. Now I would love to relive one of those picnics (preferably one when it didn’t rain!). Here is a post I wrote about Uncle Steve’s picnics.

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 ever!

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. There was good food too if I could find the time to fit it in!

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 food. Every family brought their own food and 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 (and a few country tunes too) blaring with kids screaming and laughing. There was a pond and a stream where a watermelon or two were cooling off. I could hold my own in the seed spitting contest!

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 and to all my United States readers!

Another old family picnic

Another old family picnic — this one was before I was born.

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Happy 4th of July!

  1. What a great time! Love the pictures- thanks for digging them out.
    We had big farm July 4ths, too. It was so relaxed and you could be loud, messy, and get clothes dirty and no one cared. Then, like you, the 70’s – and everyone is spread so widely now. The old ones got too old to travel, farms got sole. Lost an 88 yr old July 3 and a 102 one in hospital now. I need to dig out the pictures.
    Enjoyed the celebrations’ memories with you

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  2. I never went to a large family 4th of July party. Must have been fun, but sounds impossible now– what with everyone living all over the country as they do. Love the b&w photo. Talk about a different place and time, eh?

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  3. Your family July 4th picnics sound like heaven. That’s something I would have loved to have done, hung out with all of my cousins on a picnic – except they lived about 250 miles away (nearly 4 hours).

    We had a quiet celebration this year with our eldest daughter, her husband, their two children, and their dog, Riley. We sat out on our lanai in the dark and watched the fireworks. Apparently some neighbor invested his life savings into this extravaganza. 😉 I’m just glad the neighborhood wasn’t burned to the ground and no one was hurt. They were amazing and fun to watch from a safe distance.

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    • We all lived within a hour or closer to everyone so it was easy. Now kids are all over and we’re lucky to see them once or twice a year. There were a ton of fireworks around here. Unfortunately our terrain is hilly with tall trees so although there is a really good one about half mile away we can’t see them from home. Sometime we go to the park to watch but we didn’t this year. The older I get the less interested I am in lugging chairs and stuff to watch fireworks. Sounds like you had a great deal there. At home all comfy and no damage!

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  4. This was wonderful and I smiled the whole way through it. Those experiences you enjoyed are absolute treasures.

    Now that I read your words, I realize that Hubbs and I are “that couple” – when we first moved to MI we were the ones getting everyone together – we held Christmas parties for 10 years and summer parties for 8- both have been passed on to “the younger set” but I’m glad we did the work and got it going again.

    And Root Beer on tap? Mmm … yummy!

    MJ

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    • Farms are a great place for kids to run around! My poor aunt was always concerned a rooster would peck us or Smokey the sheep would butt us or we would drown in the pond. As a kid, none of that was scary. Well, maybe Smokey. He was big!

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  5. Memories are like fine jewels…precious ones! Family times are especially wonderful; what would we do without them? Aah…I’d be sad. I come from a huge family; full of double cousins too. Wow, what fun times we had. You’ve written so beautifully about yours…thanks! Happy 4th to you, Kate.

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