Fourth of July memoriesPublished 3:32pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.
I am reminded that on July 4, 1776, the founding fathers of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence declaring that the 13 colonies were an independent nation free from control by the British Government.
Great courage, much sacrifice and clear vision were required to create a new nation founded on the foundation of freedom for all. Many brave Americans, generation after generation, have followed in that tradition, answering the call to military service in order to sustain that freedom and preserve our way of life. To them we are indebted and grateful or their service and sacrifice.
I am reminded of the great fun we had celebrating the holiday when I was a kid growing up on a farm in the 1930s and 1940s.
It was the one day that was circled on our calendar and meant to be a day when no field work was done. That alone was enough reason for us to celebrate.
We observed the holiday as a family day filled with rest, fun and good food, which included homemade ice cream and hand-squeezed lemonade.
The day before, we prepared for the ice cream and lemonade by making a trip to town to buy lemons from the grocery store and ice from the ice plant.
A 100-lb. block of ice and two dozen lemons were required.
The ice was placed in a large tow sack and covered with several others to prevent it from melting on the way home. It was then buried in a cottonseed bin until needed the next day.
Since we had no store-bought freezer, we had to use what was available, a 10-qt. feed bucket and a one-gal. syrup can to make the ice cream. The syrup can was filled with ice cream mix and placed inside the feed bucket. Crushed ice, layered with meat box salt, was packed around the syrup can. The handle on the can was twisted back and forth causing the contents to freeze. Every few minutes the can was opened and the ice cream that had formed on the inside of the can was scraped off, and the process was repeated until the ice cream was made. It was then covered and allowed to harden more before eating.
Lemonade was iced down in a washtub and kept cold for self-serving throughout the day.
For entertainment, we devoted a good part of the day to playing games such as horseshoes, washers, hopscotch, jacks, hide-and-seek and marbles.
Fried chicken and chocolate-filled teacakes added a special touch to a traditional summertime dinner of fresh creamed corn, fried okra, field peas, sliced tomatoes and cornbread
By today’s standards, that wasn’t a bad way for a family to say “happy birthday, America!”