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Story ID:9858
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Syracuse New York USA
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MEMORIES OF THE 4th of july
By Fred Wickert

My earliest memories of the 4th of July are from my childhood in the late 1930ís and early 1940ís as a boy on the farm outside of Syracuse, New York. I remember the 4th of July was always the day our family had its first watermelon of the year. We had a 1935 Chevy pickup truck. On the 4th, we were hustled to get chores done early.

When all was done, we all piled in to the truck. Mom and Dad sat in the cab, and I and my three sisters sat in the back of the truck. We had our picnic basket and a box of things with us, and we had the long watermelon. There were a table cloth and a couple of blankets with us, and there was always a pair of folding canvas chairs.

We rode in the truck for an hour or more until we came to a park with manicured lawns, large trees, picnic tables and stone fire places, a big outhouse with men on one side and ladies on the other and a pipe outside sticking up out of the ground with a water faucet on it.

Through the trees could be seen the shores of Onondaga Lake. The watermelon was taken to the lake and submerged in the water to keep it cool. We played games, sometimes pitched horse shoes, waded in the lake and other things while Mom and Dad sat and talked. Sometimes Mom and Dad met other adults and conversed with them. After a while Mom called my oldest sister Helen to help and they spread the table cloth on the picnic table and laid out the foods they had brought with them. Hot dogs and marshmallows were toasted in the stone fire place over coals from a fire Dad had built earlier with wood we brought with us.

After we all ate, the blankets were spread on the ground and some of us took naps. Then as the sun began lowering in the sky and the watermelon was finished off, we packed up our stuff. We all got back in the truck and headed home.

After getting home evening chores were tended to. The cows were brought in from pasture and milked. Then they were returned to pasture for the night. We had a light supper followed by sitting out in the front lawn. After dark, we could see fireworks in the distant sky somewhere in the city of Syracuse. Mom passed out sparklers to us kids. We set those off, having great fun with them. When they were gone we chased and caught fire flies or lightning bugs. We put them in a pint fruit jar. If we could get enough in the jar at once it was useable as a light. The trick was putting more in the jar without letting any escape from the jar.

Finally, after a pleasant and enjoyable evening in the front lawn it was time for a tired but happy family to go in the house and go to bed. The lightning bug jar was left on the front porch with the lid removed so they could escape. Chores had to be done beginning in the morning before day break. Sleep came instantly with head hitting the pillow. The 4th of July was over until the next year.

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