July 4th…“SHARE WITH US HOW INDEPENDENCE DAY WAS SPECIAL ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA.”
On Independence Day that year, I thought for sure I heard one of our Holstein cows call out, “Red, White and MOOOOOOO”!!!! Well, o.k., so my little boy imagination was running overtime on that one……hehehe 😉 It was STILL so exciting to be celebrating our nation’s birthday once again!! Part of the fun of that special day had to do with the small community of Bricelyn, Minnesota that lay to the west of our farm by a few miles. Later in the day, our farm family would be driving over there so we could take part in the grand finale fireworks that night. That village came alive each Independence Day with many events that were put on for families to enjoy throughout the day that culminated in the giant fireworks show that evening.
Little as the two of us were, sister Candice and myself were still made keenly aware of this patriotic holiday from our parents and teachers sharing stories about America’s history. We also were influenced by the wide variety of television and Hollywood movie historical dramas of how our nation came to be free from British rule. Thanks to our elder siblings, Lowell and Rosemary, we were also personally introduced to the medium of how we could loudly celebrate this special day of freedom………..FIREWORKS!!!
We were in awe as big brother brought home a supply of firecrackers known by the brand of “Black Cat”. This was going to be a good week of fun leading up to July 4th when it arrived on the calendar. Since the milking of our dairy herd, and other chores, were done for the evening, we gathered with Lowell in the center of our expansive, graveled farm yard for the explosively good time he was about to show us. In those remaining golden hours of daylight, brother was going to demonstrate to us how to create our own home-made rocket ship out of a tin can. Boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!
One of my grandchildren might ask, “You mean, a tin can that held corn or peas?” Yup, one in the same. In order to launch our home-made rocket, we had to create a launching pad. To accomplish that goal, Big Brother found a five gallon bucket and put about two or three inches of water in the bottom of that bucket…..now we had a launching pad. If you’re scratching your head on that “pad” idea, you’ll see why it makes sense in a minute. One end of the tin can was already open, from when our mother had emptied out the vegetables for one of our family meals. The open end of the tin can was placed down on the ground, exposing the closed end of the can upward. Brother then took a nail and, with a hammer, punctured a hole in the can with that nail, dead center. He could now take a firecracker and wedge it tightly into that small hole with the wick of the firecracker’s fuse pointing up into the air. Now he took the “rocket” and gently settled the tin can into the water at the bottom of that five gallon bucket. If needed, he’d tilt the tin can a bit to the side so that trapped air bubbles could escape, thereby allowing the can to sit flat on the bucket’s bottom. Now it was time to “clear the launching pad” as Lowell gave us command to get WAYYY BACK at a distance of safety, which we obediently did, of course. With a fun “countdown”, our “Mission Commander” would light a match and slowly lowered the flame into the bucket to light the fuse of that firecracker. As the gunpowder-laced fuse ignited, Lowell made a made dash of speed over to where we were standing. As the firecracker EXPLODED, the concussion between the interior of the tin can, and the water below it, caused pressure that forced that tin can up, up, UP and HIGH INTO THE SKY!!!! That little metal “rocket ship” would “fly” as high as 20 feet…..sometimes even 30 feet into that Minnesota sky. We little ones were THRILLED!!! 😉 That noisy time with our elder brother was so much fun!!!
To culminate this red hot Holiday, it was now time to climb into our red n white 1956 Chevrolet and roll along the gravel road with our family as we’d head west towards the town of Bricelyn and those majestic aerial fireworks that night.
That July 4th summer sunset was bidding us to follow it to the horizon. Dad brought our handsome Chevy engine to life and we cruised out of the farm’s banking driveway and followed those gravel roads to the west and the destination of where those fiery “blossoms” in the sky would end this day of celebrating our life of living in a free country! With all the windows rolled down, the cropland fragrances of a lovely Minnesota evening wafted in and through the car as Dad gently cruised those classic country gravel roads. The heat of that July 4th day had produced the emanation of a wonderful “green perfume” from the field corn and soybean crops. The aroma seemed to lend a pleasant joy of being a little farmer boy who relished living in a free nation with loving parents who could provide for us in spiritual and material ways that were to bless us all in the years to come.
Upon arrival at our neighboring hamlet of Bricelyn, Dad pulled our family chariot over to the side of the highway and right across from the football field where the super dooper fireworks extravaganza was about to commence. Like any child, sister and myself wanted to have the best possible view into the sky above us for the upcoming fiery gala. During everyday life on our farm, we were forbidden to climb onto our car’s hood, roof or trunk (our weight could possible cause dents or damage), but tonight was special. With our parents gracious permission, we removed our shoes, and were given Dad & Mom’s blessings to tenderly climb onto the wide hood of our Chevrolet Bel Air. In our stocking feet, we gingerly crawled across that metal hood to the windshield where we leaned back so that we were perfectly situated at an angle to gaze up into the starry Minnesota sky and wait for the first brilliant bursts of colorful, dazzling fireworks to light above us. The magic hour arrived…… KAHWHUMP!!! KAHPOWWW!! WHIZZZZBANG!! What a joyous, loud and colorful way it was to say, “Happy Birthday, America!!!” for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!!