Fourth of July

Posted by Ellen

There was free coffee for all at the Fourth of July picnic in Vale, Oregon, in 1941. The people of Vale were mostly newcomers to eastern Oregon, lured there in the 1930s by the Vale-Owhyee irrigation project. Most of the new residents were farm people from the Dust Bowl region, and over the span of just a few years they changed the culture of what had previously been a ranching community.

In 1941 for the first time the Vale Fourth of July festivities did not include a rodeo. Instead, there was a parade, a baseball game, a tug of war, a greased pig race, a motorcycle show, and, of course, fireworks. It was quite a full day of activities, and even the free coffee was not enough to keep everybody awake.

Posted by Ellen

At the Fourth of July festivities in 1957 or thereabouts, probably out in back of Takoma Park Junior High School, my friend Edie and I hold hands with long tall Uncle Sam, while my sister Carol waves our  balloons on high. Uncle Sam's hat, which may be an Indian headdress, appears to say "Bozell" on it. I have no idea why.

Posted by Ellen

When I imagine a perfect Fourth, there would be water splashing in the afternoon, then hot dogs, watermelon, blueberry shortcake–or maybe boiled crabs, potato salad, corn on the cob–and finally sparklers and fireworks. In the air, at some point, there could be  band music and lightning bugs and American flags.

And a little bocce would be very, very nice. I don't know the people in this picture, who claim that they went up and down the coast of California playing bocce all along the way; this scene is from their stop in Sonoma County. A whole road trip of bocce is excessive–there's something way too over-the-top-West-Coast about it–and the guy on the right does appear to be wearing his beer can on top of his hat.

But the guy on the left has perfect form: bocce ball in one hand, beer in the other. Happy Birthday, America!