Pipi’s Pasture: July 4 back then

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture
Pipi's Pasture

The Fourth of July is nearly here, and suddenly over fifty years of family memories about the Fourth have come flooding back to me. There are those memories of years past when I was a kid growing up on the ranch and then of the years later when Lyle and I were raising our boys. They grew up and, in what seemed to be just a blink of the eye, their children grew up, too, and now there are great-grandchildren.

Today I’m thinking about some of the past memories of July 4.

When I was a kid growing up on the ranch we celebrated the Fourth but not with the usual parade and fireworks. That’s because it was a work day. Summer was a busy time on the ranch. Dad worked in the hayfield when the weather was good because, believe it or not, in those days it was usual to have a wet spell about the middle of July which delayed haying. Hay had to dry after being cut so if that was the case, Dad saddled up the horse and went up to the national forest where the cows spent the summer and checked on them.

Most Fourths, Dad was in the hayfield so we girls and Mom worked in the great big garden, hoeing weeds and sometimes irrigating. We knocked off early to gather up the cow for milking and to feed our 4-H steers. Then Mom cooked up a special supper of fried chicken and the trimmings, and we made homemade ice cream that was served up with strawberries picked from the little patch by the house. That was our celebration. Sometimes we lit a few sparklers, but other than that we didn’t have any fireworks.

Time passed, and soon Lyle and I were raising our boys. Some wonderful memories were made during the years that we lived at Severance, Colorado where we took advantage of the Fourth of July events in neighboring Greeley and Fort Collins. The celebration actually started shortly before the Fourth when Jody and Jamie gathered up their own money, and we took them to one of the big fireworks tents in the area with big displays of fireworks to buy. Because I never got the opportunity to buy fireworks as a child, it was a unique experience for me, too.

The boys spent what seemed like hours poring over the ground-type fireworks. Lyle bought some, too. From then until close to the Fourth, Jody and Jamie took the fireworks out of their bags, laid them out, and studied them. Then one evening before the Fourth, our family gathered at the back steps and had a fireworks show.

With their Dad’s help, the boys took turns lighting the fireworks. There were “snakes,” little and fountains, “flowers” that spun around, sparklers, and special items, such as a tank that spewed sparks. I can remember that Jody’s dog Benji stood as close to me as possible, shivering at the sparks and noise.

Our Fourth of July began when we attended the Greeley Stampede Parade in Greeley. Later we drove to Fort Collins to have supper with Grandma Downs, the boys’ adopted grandma. At dusk we gathered up blankets and went to the Fort Collins Park to watch the fireworks that were set off over the lake.

Wonderful memories of the Fourth of July back then.

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