Growing up- 4th of July

When I was growing up, the 4th of July was always the same. We went to the all day/all night picnic party at the Carden’s. There was more food than could be eaten and more fireworks than we could fire off. During the day it was things like sparklers and black snakes and lots and lots of fire crackers for the kids (me included) and after dark one of the adults would set off the big fireworks for all of us.

Looking back, I wonder how we got away with it. The Carden’s house was not quite in the middle of Nashville but it was certainly inside the city limits and I know fireworks were illegal, even back then. Nobody lost a hand or even a finger and I don’t remember any of us kids getting burned… at least, not much.

The Carden’s house was a huge victorian mansion with a wrap around front porch that they had painted red, white and blue and for most of the day there was music over the loud speakers on the porch from a crank victrola in the dining room. The music stopped for awhile in the middle of the afternoon when Mr and Mrs Carden made their annual speeches. Mr Carden’s was about freedom and America in general… I learned as much about American history from those speeches as I ever did in a classroom… and Mrs Carden’s was a story.

Her father, Papa Augustine, emigrated to America (I think from Germany). Every year, he celebrated the 4th of July by going to the corner store and buying a bucket of beer and a bucket of firecrackers and then sitting on the curb and drinking beer and shooting off firecrackers. Whenever he would run out in one bucket, he would go back and refill both.

If I could get a bucket of beer and a bucket of firecrackers, I think that would be how I would celebrate today too. Everybody have a happy (and safe) Independence Day!

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