On July 4th, our nation celebrated its 241st birthday and like any holiday, many celebrations were held all across the country. Here in Stephenville, sidewalks from Tarleton to the Senior Citizens Center were lined with people enjoying a parade so spectacular, Macy's would be jealous, this was followed by a big get-together at the City Park throughout the day, which included a Texstar Summer Concert and of course, the night's finale, the fireworks display.
As I think of the 4th of July, I can't help but go back and remember all the celebrations we had at my grandparents' farm southwest of Cisco. It would all start on July 3rd, when my grandfather, who we called G-Daddy would take me and my brother Travis into town and we'd go out on the Rising Star Highway to the fireworks stand, operated by our neighbors Buffy and Gary. It was like Christmas Eve all over again as we looked through the wide variety of fireworks that ranged anywhere from Black Cat firecrackers to sparklers to whistle chasers, etc. G-Daddy would let us pick out what we wanted, we'd purchase them, then go back to the farm to get ready for the next day.
4th of July would start out early in the morning, we'd all head into town and cheer on my cousin Stormi as she competed in the Little Miss Cisco pageant, then we'd head to the City Park to enjoy a bit of their festivities, which included Splash Day at the pool, live music, and food but at the later part of the afternoon, it was time to head back to the farm.
The fun didn't end when we left town because while we were waiting on my cousins Matt, Jeremy, and Stormi to show up, there was plenty for me and Travis to do such as strolling around the yard on our Big Wheel ride-on toys and playing a game on the basketball court but when everyone else finally showed up, it was time for what would be an unforgettable night.
Things would start with G-Daddy getting the ice cream maker out and preparing for us all to have a special treat, then the bigger kids would light firecrackers until the sun went down (the smaller kids had "Pop-Pops", which were little white pieces of paper you threw on the ground and they'd pop). We'd all shriek with delight as we heard the loud bangs coming from the firecrackers and G-Daddy saw that we were having so much fun, he even got in on it by gathering old tin cans for us. When we'd get ready to light a firecracker, we'd put a can on top of it, light the fuse, and watch the can go up in the air as the firecracker exploded.
As the sun went down, some of our rural neighbors such as our Aunt Goldie (G-Daddy's sister-in-law) would come over, we'd eat some homemade ice cream, then it was time for us kids to get out the bigger fireworks such as the whistle chasers (which did just as the name said when you lit the fuse, we'd all try to get chased by one), Roman candles, and bottle rockets. For the rockets, G-Daddy would get in on the fun once again by standing an old piece of tin upright, setting a rocket on top, lighting the fuse, and watching it take off into the Texas night sky, this was followed by all of us waving sparklers to conclude the night.
The family celebrations at the farm ceased in 2003 simply due to time, we'd all grown up and wanted to move on to other things but for those few years, 4th of July was a magical time because we had each other, we interacted, if we got hurt, we dusted ourselves off and kept right on going, we enjoyed our time together because we didn't have phones to stare at, no internet or video games, and only 3 channels on the TV (no cable or satellite and besides, nothing was on half the time anyway), it was simple back then. Recent years have given birth to new traditions and we've had good times partaking in them but nothing will compare to all those years when we celebrated 4th of July at the farm.
Tim Turnbeaugh is a musician who was born and reared in Eastland County but currently resides in Stephenville. Tim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.