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Happy Fourth of July
When I think of the Fourth of July I think about my Aunt Edith and Uncle Howard. They lived on a farm up above Jasper in the Saragossa Community. Aunt Edith was my mother’s sister and we spent almost every Fourth of July at their house.
We’d start out about mid-morning to get there in time for the food and fun. Their house sat on a dirt and gravel road and when the weather was dry, the car would send up a rooster tail of dust that took a while to settle.
Aunt Edith had three sons and a daughter. Two of the sons were near my age and I spent many a summer break at their house working in the fields and fishing in their huge farm ponds. It’s where I fell in love with barns.
When we’d arrive, the yard would be full of the cars of all our kinfolks. All my cousins were usually there because it was THE party of the summer. We’d get up a game of baseball, kick-the-can, or red rover before you could say Ben Franklin.
As with most other gatherings on the Fourth of July, there would always be fireworks. In fact, the yard would be full of hair brained firecracker toting cousins that would just as soon put a bottle rocket down you pants as look at you. One lapse of attention and ZIP POW! Believe me, I've seen it happen more than once.
Aunt Edith always had a corps of kids turning hand cranked ice cream freezers full of peach, butter pecan, black walnut, strawberry, and of course vanilla ice cream. She even did lime sherbet and a pineapple ice cream with coconut.
If you ate it too fast, you'd get brain freeze and stand there dazed.....if you were immobilized for too long....you guessed it.....you'd get a bottle rocket down your pants. So I was always mindful even when I ate ice cream there.
As a kid, the Fourth of July was definitely one of my most favorite holidays.
Aunt Edith grew frail several years ago and she spent the last part of her life in a nursing home. The last time I saw her she didn't recognize me.
She loved to hear my wife Jilda and I play and sing. Many years ago, Jilda and I were asked to play at an event in the parking lot of Walker Regional Hospital in Jasper. For the life of me I don’t recall why we were asked to play but it was in August and hotter than the Devil’s skillet. The stage was a flatbed truck so we were under a canopy that fluttered gently in the breeze, but when we looked out in the audience, Aunt Edith had a lawn chair pull up right up front of the stage and was there cheering us on.
She had asked us to come and play for her friends at the nursing home but for one reason or another we could never work it out. I regret that now.
Aunt Edith passed away this January and I’m saddened because that chapter of my life is now closed. But every Fourth of July I always think about Aunt Edith and all the fun we had at her house.


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