Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 3, 2000

4th of July years ago

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

Fifty or more years ago, the fourth of July was celebrated quite differently than it is celebrated now.

My grandpa lived on a farm.Shortly before Independence Day, his brother would bring fireworks to the farm from North Dakota. Then, the preparations for the big celebration would begin.

Everyone in the neighborhood was involved in the planning. There would be a big meal, with everyone bringing food to share. The men put in a long row of posts that they tied the firecrackers to get them ready to be set off. The firecrackers only came in green or red in those days, not all of the colors that they come in now.

The people would roast a big pig in a rock pit for the meal. One of the boys would cut off the tail from the pig and tie it to the first firecracker in the row. When it was time to set off the fireworks, someone would light the pig's tail and it would burn down to where it would make contact and set off the firecracker. Then, the show would begin.

The party took place out in a big field. All of the farmers hurried to finish their milking and the whole neighborhood was there to celebrate. A hayrack was brought out to the field and the ladies covered it with a tablecloth. All of the food would be placed there. There were paper bags filled with dirt and the ladies brough large candles to place in each bag for decoration, as well as to provide light.

There would be about 75 people there, all having a good time. Grandpa played the violin and the neighbor played the concertina. People were dancing and enjoying homemade beer.

As it got darker outside and the kids got more tired, the decision was made to light the firecrackers. Someone would light the pig's tail mounted on the post and the show would begin.

One year, the firecrackers all started burning at once and the sky lit up like a warfield. The grass on the ground started to burn, and everybody had to hurry to put out the fire. Some farmers ran to get milk cans full of water and poured it on the burning field. Others threw rocks and dirt on the fire. Finally, all the fire was out.

It was then that they discovered that the firecracker that the pig's tail was attached to didn't even burn, the fire just went all around it.

After all the excitement, it was decided that this was the best fourth of July of them all.


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