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July 4 Memories: Iowa, Revisited

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I wish I had had the foresight to ask my parents and grandparents to relate memories of their early lives--about the holidays they celebrated, and what they did. But I was too busy making memories of my own, although I didn't realize it at the time.

 

During my early years, I lived with or very near my mother's family, and celebrated holidays with her parents, and with her numerous aunts, uncles, cousins--even some of her grandparents, though I was too young to realize that.

 

Major holidays for getting together were Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Winter weather was too uncertain for getting together, when driving twenty miles was a big deal.

 

July 4 sticks in my mind as being memorable, because someone would have sparklers and a few fireworks. These were very tame, in light of what we have today, but to  us-all under age eleven-they were dazzling.

 

The really memorable part of the day, however, was the food. The main menu was pretty set: fried chicken, my aunt's special potato salad, green beans, cole slaw, wilted lettuce made from my grandmother's garden-fresh greens dressed with her home-made hot bacon, egg, sugar and vinegar dressing.

 

Other family, and often a neighbor or two, brought a variety of sides: fresh-baked rolls, vegetables, pickles, pies, cakes, and more fried chicken.  We washed it down with iced tea or my aunt's World's Best lemonade. (She was 97 July 1 and remembers how we enjoyed it. ) And we ended with a couple of freezers of home-made ice cream. If we children were good (a little psychology on the part of the adults), we could help crush the ice in the burlap bag, and turn the crank on the ice cream until our arms ached, although none of us would admit to that. As a reward, we got to lick the ladle. Oh, memories!