July 4th was always a lazy day as I was growing up in on a mid Michigan farm. We would do the morning chores of milking the cows then taking them to the day pasture. We would empty the stock tank and refill it with fresh water cold from the well then put a watermelon in it that dad had bought the day before from a produce stand. With that finished we would dress in out Sunday go to meeting duds and go to town to see the parade, back then WWI and WWII and Korean vets would march with the VFW of American Legion group. If there was a election in the near future there would be many local candidate’s riding in the back of a Convertible provided by a local dealer ship. Of course there would be boy scouts girl scouts and all the little ones like cubs and brownies. They were kids on decorated bikes and farm equipment dealers parading some of the equipment they sold. After the parade we would go to the fairgrounds where there were a lot of farm community activity’s going on, horse shoe pitching contest was a pretty big one with many teams entered. My dad used to pitch some with his brother; they normally would end up somewhere in the top 10 but both had a horse shoe pit at home they practices a lot at. We also would find a empty picnic table and have a feed made up by my mom and aunt of fried chicken potato salad and other summer foods topped off with that ice cold melon from the stock tank and wrapped in burlap. Just about 3:00 PM dad would head off to the grandstands with us boys in tow to watch the horse pulls. Back when I was a boy many farmers still kept a team even though everyone had a tractor or two. We would rush home after the horse pulls and do the evening milking then rush back to town to see the fire works.
I got drafted in 1966 and was sent to Viet Nam, sort of lost my patriotic side as I saw how the leaders of our country was running the war almost like it was a way to control the male population of our country. Still got a lump in the throat when the flag went by during a parade and the anthem still means some to me but I know longer have the pride I once did and stopped doing the normal July 4th stuff we did as kids.
I got a job in the cities when I got out of the service. We got the 4th of July off if it was during the work week. I worked with a guy who's brother worked for Stroths Beer Company who always got a bunch of tickets to tiger games in the summer. He would give some to the guy I worked for who would give me a pair for the 4th. I would have my dad come down and go to the game with my friend Ernie and I, They always managed to lose too but it was time with dad who enjoyed the game just as if they would have one.
Then about mid 1970’s we would get the rest of the week off if the 4th fell on a week day. We stopped going to the tiger games and went camping in the UP and fished for the long week end., did that till I got married in 1985.
When the Kids were little we would make the hour one way drive to Bay City at least once to see the fireworks. I have always felt that the Bay City fireworks are the best I have ever seen. They have did 3 days’ worth since I can remember. But today the kids are gone and the grand kids live in another state so the 4th of July has just become another day of the week.
I admit I do miss the old home town type celebration and the ice cold watermelon from the stock tank
Have a happy safe 4th