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My Blog

The Fourth of July

Well God Bless America, and all of us today who live here in this country  and for all the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  We salute our flag, remember the 13 colonies and the all the additions since.  We thank the men and women who since the American Revolution who have fought, died and gave us freedom.   That's right, there were women who fought in the Revolutionary war!  We take this day to remind  our country , our money, and our hearts "To trust in God", for we are "One Nation Under God".  And we should all be Proud to be an American!
Now onto my story which of course is about the fourth of July.  Years and years ago, growing up in Chicago,  as a young girl I couldn't wait until the fourth of July.  It was such a special time.  I got up, washed and dress, quickly ate my breakfast and off to the outdoors I went, carrying my bag of fun, a tin pie pan and a box of matches.  I was thinking back on how odd  it was, that I was allowed matches at such an early age, but back then we only had the matchsticks that were in the long box and I was taught prior how to use then.  I can remember as far back as being 5 when I started.  When I think about that today, there would never be a way that I would give that to a kid, but as I have stated in previous bogs...we were a different breed back then.  Anyway, Grandma or my mom always brought out a metal bowl of water to set down next to me filled with water for the matches.  I was allowed to go to the back of the yard with my 4th of July treasures.  One of my favorites to play with were the snakes.  that was what the tin pie pan was for...Grandma didn't want a charcoaled hole on the sidewalk, although I never quite understood that, since the snakes grew and traveled all over and of course, once it was done, I stomped all over it and then went back to repeat the process. Oh, how amazed and enchanted I was with that little round disc, and how adding that fire from the match made it come to life and grow like it did.  We were quite easily amused back then I think!  Then it was onto the gun with caps...only I was never fond of the gun part....I usually would go back into the house and ask for a hammer.  The gun seemed to be like too much work, it would jam and it would miss some of the caps and so the hammer seemed to work better...for me it was all bout the noise anyway...boy I guess you wouldn't hear me say that today.  Then there were the punks...Oh the punks.  Those things made you seem grown up and elegant.  We used to light them and pretend we were smoking those cigarettes that were in those long cigarette holders that you would see fancy women on the movies use.  Today I would never advocate that, but you emulate what you see as a child. 
That would usually occupy most of the morning into the early afternoon...that was when the company started coming. 
Now we always had a huge crowd of family and friends over for the fourth of July for a BBQ...Now, when I looked back at it... am not really sure why they called it a BBQ because we never grilled anything.  I remember that Grandma prepared all the food in the house.  The party was always in the garden, all the table and umbrellas were set up, the picnic table was covered with a summer print oilcloth and all the folding chairs were scattered about with these long pokes in the ground near all of them.  Some were to hold your glasses  of drinks and the others were for cigarette ashes and butts.  No one would ever dare to throw down a butt on the ground and mess up Grandma's garden.   When it was time for the food to come out, Grandma would open the screen in the window, and begin to hand out the food to the women who where on the outside waiting at the bottom of that window to take it from her and place it on the table.  First there was fried chicken, then Polish Sausage, there was Grandma's homemade potato salad and coleslaw...oh, they were the absolute best!  There were her homemade potato dumpling slathered in a creamed sauce with bacon and onions, corn on the cob with gobs of butter.  She had hamburgers that she made that were filled with stuffing, It was a feast.  All the food was placed on the table that was set up special for the food and then the party really began.  When were done eating, the process started all over again, only this time  in reverse.  Once the table was empty, one more time of handing food out through the window. It was the Desserts. There always a fruit boat .  The watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydews were all in these little tiny ball shapes, there were strawberries and blueberries and pineapple as well.  Then there was Gram's best Chocolate fudge cake, Coconut Cake, apple slices, lemon bars, Grandma's special peanut butter cookies  and always my favorite....A broken glass jello mold.  Now back in the 50's and even the 60's everyone made jello molds...it was not a complete meal without one....I still include them in my meals today, the broken glass jello mold was really something special. If you have never had one...There in NO BROKEN GLASS in it, so don't be alarmed or try that...It is different types of jello that was made in cake pans and then when jelled, got cut into small squares.  Then a lemon and whipped cream mixture would get prepared and then the cubes of color where added and then chilled again.  It was molded in a cheesecake pan and when cut, it looked like a piece of a stained glass window.  Oh, how I loved that dessert.  I recently had a fused glass making event with my red hatters and had someone make that for the event.  I was surprised on how many people never had it or even heard of it for that matter.  I guess we all grow up very differently.  Now, after the food was on the table again, I made sure that I was first in line for my favorites...before everyone else swallowed the best desserts up. Grandma would come out with this huge blue metal, speckled enamel coffee pot and set in down on some potholders and everyone was happy. 
Tummies were all content.  Then the food would find it's way back up through the window and the table was cleared.  The men started getting the tables ready for the poker game...that was after every meal in our house.  some of the women would play that or they would play Rummy. My cousins and I would go out in the front and play games and such, and when the night started to approach, Grandma would prepare for each of us a mason jar with some screen she had cut and put over it with a heavy, thick rubber band.  We would run around and catch those fireflies and put them in our jars.  We made it like a contest, trying to see how many we could get.  I remember how in awe I was with the way that they used to light.  After I had caught enough, I used to sit and count the seconds between each glow on a bug.  I  guess I always had that questioning mind as to the how and what of things. 
Back then there was really no place to go for fireworks.  We were content with that and when night fell, we would have flares lit and there would be sparklers...Now this is where the story turns.  My mother came out in front by us kids, we were all told to perch ourselves down on the front steps of the porch and wait. She had a tin coffee can there filled halfway up with sand....this would be for the finished sparkers...we were instructed not to throw them on the ground.  There was a tin pie plate that had a whole cut out in the middle where mom inserted the flare.  The tin was so anything that melted down or sparked down would have a place to go.  The flare was used to light the sparkers.  Now, the real fun began!  we were each given sparklers to light and twirl around in our hands. This as the most interesting, exciting thing to see ...you could twirl the sparkler, and even after the sparkler was gone from where you twirled it...it was if it left its mark there.  Either it had some sort of magic, or it was an optical illusion.  Which ever it was..it was just plain beautiful.  Then my mother had this idea in her head.  She made us all sit back down on the stairs and she put on a firework show for us.  She would take the lit sparker, sometimes 2 at a time and throw them up into the air.  They where twirled as she threw them up into the night sky and they were our own private little firework show.  It was so awesome to see.  Then she left us to go back into the yard with the older folks to chat and we were left with the rest of the sparklers to finish.  Well....the artist and entertainer in me, decided we should put on a firework show for everyone in the back yard.  My cousins were not as creative as me, so I went alone. I lit, my sparklers, one in each hand and ran to the yard to show everyone what mom had showed us.  I threw them up into the air, twirling them the best I could and then down they came, and one landed right on top of my Aunt Priscilla's head.  Now you talk about fireworks...well, I had them now....all the yelling and screaming that went on...my poor Aunt Priscilla got her head doused with water...luckily, nothing happened and her hair was not burned...but me...well I was sent into the house to remain there for the rest of the evening as punishment.  Now, I went, but I didn't think it was fair, since it was an accident, and after all...it was my mother that showed us how to do it.  I sat in the kitchen and cried...I wasn't even allowed to turn on the TV.  After about 15 minutes, my Aunt came in the house....she was feeling really sorry for me...bless her sweet heart...She didn't want me sitting alone in the house, she told me she knew it was just an accident and that I was forgiven.  We started for some reason doing exercises in the house, laughing away and before long, my mother had joined us.  It was an interesting evening, to say the least.  I learned that freedom to do what you want, comes with a price!    I also learned that fireworks....should be left up to the professionals!

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