July 03, 2009



by Deeanne Gist

I love the Fourth of July. It is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Everyone is always in such a good mood and ready to celebrate, BBQ and watch the firework show.

Since two of my books have included 4th of July celebrations, I had a glimpse into how the holiday has changed—and stayed the same—over the years.

In the late 1800s, entire towns would put on their finery and gather at the city park where dances were held in wooden pavilions. They’d waltz, polka, do the gavotte and the Virginia reel. Mule-drawn streetcars—which were a luxury and a delight—would take folks to and from the celebration for a nickel.

I read about one fellow, though, who wanted to make an impression on a particular young lady and her well-to-do family. The mule-drawn streetcar just wouldn’t do. So he made a deal with the owner of the livery. If the proprietor would furnish him with the best rig he had for that 4th of July and every Sunday afternoon following, then he’d woo and win the lady.

If he won her, he’d pay the proprietor double the amount of rent. If he didn’t, the proprietor would get nothing. Ended up the guy got his girl and it was the first two-for-one deal in that county.

I read of celebrations where folks raced horses, had parades, flew kites, shot marbles, rolled hoops and played mumblety-peg. They had box-supper auctions, kissing booths, and picnics. Politicians gave speeches and, of course, the evening would culminate with a firework display.

So what about you? What’s your favorite part of the holiday?


1 comment:

Karen Witemeyer said...

I love how in times past whole communities got together to celebrate our nation's independence.

I ran across an interesting tidbit as I was researching a few years back about pioneer pyrotechnics. Apparently there is a tradition known as anvil firing. For communities without the money to buy fancy firecrackers, they would simply pack the hole in the base of a balcksmith's anvil with gunpowder, light it, and watch the heavy thing fly into the air with a bang. Or at least the crowd would watch. The poor guy who lit the fuse would be running for his life to make sure an anvil didn't fall on his head.

Gotta love American ingenuity.