July 4th memories

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!

Another old family picnic

An old family picnic — this one was before I was born. Uncle Steve was second on the left. My Dad was the man facing the camera on the right with my brother next to him. My mom was the standing woman on the right. Oh how young they all were.

 

40 thoughts on “July 4th memories

  1. I can understand why you would get teary-eyed thinking of those times. They sound amazing, especially for a child. It’s unfortunate no one else kept it going but sometimes things, like people, fade away. How bittersweet but what great memories!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Near the end there were close to 100 people who were coming. As kids married and had kids, it got very large. Families would start to have their own individual picnics but it’s not the same as having one on a wide open farm.

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  2. Love this old photo… reminds me when our family all gathered at my Granddad’s farm. The memories you shared brought back special memories for me… thank you. I remember the sparklers and we used to put firecrackers under a coffee can and blow the heck out of it! I hope you had a nice 4th. It was pretty quiet in our neck of the woods and we stayed home. Burgers and baked beans for us with a few green beans from CH’s little garden.

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  3. Such special memories, Kate. Your family is much larger than mine, but we always gathered and had such fabulous extended times with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents! I miss those times and can get a little teary, too! This was delightful to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would have loved a family Fourth of July shindig like yours when I was young. I have no first cousins. I was rewarded in later years by living in the same town as John’s family. My children had six first cousins there. We had large suburban parties on holidays, and they were marvelous. We had those gatherings down pat. If it was Thanksgiving, I took the pies. For summer picnics, I prepared five pounds of potato salad from the recipe of John’s godfather. Today we had our neighbors over for a cookout, and I fixed about a pound of potato salad. They are not used to NY deli salads, so John got his wish of having lots of leftovers. Happy 4th!

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  5. We used to have “picnics on the hill” every summer when we visited my dad’s parents in Vermont ~ his parents, my aunt & uncle, 3 cousins, my parents, the 4 of us, a few great aunts & uncles. FUN STUFF!

    Today, we’re having a pool party on the street, followed up by fireworks on the beach. And we have a “preferred parking pass” in a friend’s driveway. YAY!

    Happy Fourth, Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We had large gatherings on the 4th too, although it was in our front yard, not a farm. All the neighbors would come down and sit in front of our house to watch the fireworks display they had up on the hill. Then they built freeways and the fireworks moved so we stopped getting together. It was great fun as a kid though. Thanks for sharing your memories. Too bad about not having many pictures. I am that way with my dad’s side. Not too many pictures of him or his relatives. Happy 4th Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was a kid people congregated on front porches after supper. (It was supper then not dinner.) It was great fun. We lived in half of a double for my younger years so there was a big porch and two swings. Sadly where I live now we all huddle in our backyards by ourselves and never see each other. Sorry about the pictures and hope your day is great.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What wonderful memories! I’ve never experienced a family get together like that (my family is small and there were no farms anywhere near where I grew up), but you’ve described an iconic –
    and idyllic – American 4th of July celebration. I can completely relate to your fashion queen description, though. Unfortunately, there were some photos of my numerous fashion fails… but they have been destroyed so my dignity has been preserved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I had a few pictures of my epic fashion mistakes. Sadly as a family we didn’t take pictures often. I have very few of my parents or even myself as a child. I have two of my brothers when they were small but quite a few once they got to high school age.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We had Fourth of July picnics when I worked for the bank. It was always a great day out, with a bouncy castle where the adults threw the kids off for half an hour of their own fun, a bucking bronco, and BBQ to die for (Calories R Us eat your heart out!).
    Today is Other Brother’s 75th birthday. Can’t see him on a bouncy castle or a bronco actually.

    Liked by 2 people

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