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Hartselle Enquirer

A Fourth from the past 

By Clif Knight  

 The Fourth of July was a holiday set aside from all the others when I was a teenage farm boy in the 1940s. 

Above all else, a red line was made that separated growing a crop from harvesting a crop. Our goal as a farm family was to have all of the work in our cotton and corn crops finished by the Fourth of July; thus, we could devote one day solely to rest and relaxation, playing fun games and eating the best food rural living could offer. 

The holiday actually began the day before, when three of my five male siblings and me piled into the back of the pickup truck for a trip to the ice plant in Lineville, five miles away. It was our job to bring home a 100-pound. block of ice for the next day’s activities.  

We were treated to slivers of ice that lay on the dock’s floor and cooled off by taking turns sitting on the ice as we returned home. 

The ice was immediately taken to the barn and placed deep inside a bin of cottonseed to be preserved overnight. It was used the next morning to cool off a washtub of hand-squeezed lemonade and make a freezer of vanilla ice cream.  

Under the shade of two giant oak trees in the front yard, us six kids enjoyed playing games of horseshoes, marbles and hopscotch and swinging in a rubber tire suspended from a tree limb. 

At lunchtime, we shared in a special meal prepared by our mom. It featured fried chicken with extra pieces of white meat and included cream style field corn, fried okra, green beans and sliced tomatoes. Topping off the meal were dried fruit pies and a layered chocolate cake.  

A fun time resumed under the old oak trees after lunch. Ice cream was made and served around midafternoon. It was followed by the cutting of the season’s first ripe watermelon.  

A special family day was spent wisely and enjoyed by everyone. There was no TV, no flag flying, no fireworks display. Not a whimper was heard when the call was made to feed the hens, gather the eggs, feed the mules, slop the hogs and milk the cows.