The Fourth of July

TALKING TO MYSELF: 4 July, 2014 - According to an NPR story, (http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/325496891/no-ants-were-h...) the heyday of the American picnic was the 1950s. Maybe that’s why most of my memories of July 4th celebrations don’t include parades – didn’t have any in rural Owen County that I know of – or even fireworks which were expensive and mostly illegal. No, we celebrated the Fourth of July (as we always called it) with a cookout either on our lawn at the farm or at Aunt Helen’s backyard in Frankfort. Our menu didn’t vary. Hamburgers were the stars of the show, patted out by hand, and grilled to a burnt crisp on the charcoal grill we’d gotten by redeeming Top Value Stamps. Blackened hot dogs kept the burgers company, and both were served on buttered buns toasted at the last moment over the gray embers. Baked beans, deviled eggs and potato chips completed the feast. Oh, and we always had some kind of dessert, usually a bar cookie and vanilla ice cream smothered in strawberries. 

In my opinion, universal air conditioning ruined the American picnic. Today when I try to persuade my clan to eat alfresco on the deck – a lovely venue full of flowers and leafy shade – they complain that it’s too hot. Even my husband, who spent the August days of his youth on the top tier of a tobacco barn housing burley, will only consent to eat a hamburger outside if the temperature falls in some narrowly defined perfect range which occurs only two times each season. 


So Happy Fourth of July. I’ll eat a hamburger or a hot dog somewhere today for old times sake, but I’ll probably be wrapped in a blanket shivering in air conditioned bliss unless – unless – oh, maybe – today’s weather turns out to be PERFECT. 


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