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A Stone's throw: A fine faux Fourth


Betty Stone



I am a sucker for celebrations. Whenever a holiday approaches, I start thinking, "There ought to be a way of making this a Real Occasion." So, now, here comes another Fourth of July, and I am at a loss to know how to make it special. For me that need seems especially true for Independence Day. Both my father and one of our daughters were born on the Fourth of July. Sadly, my father died when he was 45, before I was even married, so he and Terrell never got to celebrate at the same time. 


Sometimes it just does not work out that you can do justice to the holiday at just the right time. I recall one year when our garden club, Four Seasons, succeeded in having a fantastic Fourth of July. Only it was not exactly on the real Fourth. We celebrated it anyway. 


We had rented Camp Henry Pratt for the day. The membership arrived early in the morning to get everything cleaned and decorated. Husbands and guests would join us that afternoon. We must have had some kind of light lunch, but I don't remember that. 


I think the first entertainment was a swim at the camp pool. Most of our children were then at the right age to enjoy the pool, but we had gone one step further. We had talked one willing adult into performing some comic dives wearing an old 1920's style swim suit. Dr. Richard George obliged us with a performance. There was no real ice to break, but his antics served the purpose figuratively. 


I think we had watermelon after swimming, followed by an old-fashioned field day. The late Bill Brumley, who had a sports store, officiated. He had organized sack races, three-legged races, tugs-of-war, relay races with eggs transferred to spoons carried in the mouth and using no hands. You know the kinds of things involved. Guests and members, adults and children participated. There was, of course, predictable hilarity. 


Several children of the members were at the stage when they were in bands, so they had been enlisted to have a make-shift parade. Some twirled batons, and I think we had some kind of march music and crepe paper streamers. 


The big event was a barbecue supper. It seems to me that we had a lot more barbecues in those days, but maybe the truth is that I just don't get to go to as many now. In retrospect, however, it seems that every summer every service club or organization hosted one barbecue, because were certainly seemed to go to a lot of them. 


We had engaged a barbershop quartet, costumed in striped shirts and straw hats, to sing during supper. I do not remember who all of them were, but I recall Eric Loftis was one of them. 


Darkness fell shortly after supper. Then we had our fireworks display over the open field in front of the semicircle of rustic cabins. Looking back on it, I am relieved we had no fires out there in the country. 


I recall our family riding home from our big faux Fourth of July party still basking in its glory. And, of course, what do you always do riding home from camp? You sing. We may not have sounded great, but, a la the family Griswold, we went through the whole repertoire of patriotic songs: "God Bless America," "Over There," "America," "America, the Beautiful," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," yes, and even "Dixie." It provides indeed a warm, fuzzy feeling to celebrate a sense of place. 


I find myself wishing I could celebrate another Fourth of July like that. I hope you can. Have a happy holiday!


Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.


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