I’ve written about my extended family’s 4th of July picnics before. They were epic (especially to a kid). Even though they ended in the 70s, I get nostalgic every year. Here is a slightly adjusted story from the past.
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 I didn’t really appreciate them. Now I would love to relive one of those picnics (preferably one when it didn’t rain!). They were always at my Uncle Steve’s farm.
Root beer on tap! Food on the grill! Smokey the sheep! Chickens to befriend (and secretly name because you were afraid they may end up fried)! 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 (you know…music records — 78s and 33-1/3 for those of you who remember what they were). 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! Mostly. Until some weird cousin spit one on me! Gross!
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 wore matching shorts sets with coordinating nail polish and lipstick smeared all over my lips. (Some was in the lines!) 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!