Fourth of July in 1916

A parade, Civil War veterans, Rough Riders, and drum and bugle corps made up the Fourth of July celebration on Muddy Creek

| July 1999

Editor's Note: Following the death of Farm Collector columnist Perry Piper on May 12, his family enthusiastically agreed to our request to continue publishing his column each month. This and future installments are reprinted from his memoirs, "Growing Up On Muddy Creek." 

Celebrating the Fourth of July in our early days was a true event. In those days, people knew what we were celebrating, and why. 

My city cousins fretted about the delay in being able to buy firecrackers and other fireworks, but every merchant observed an unwritten law that no fireworks would be sold before July 1, and none after the Fourth. How we saved our pennies, and lined up to spend them at Carter's or Gafftner's.

The celebration in Paris would be repeated in every county seat throughout the land. Always a great parade, and a guest speaker, probably one of the politicians holding or seeking office. One of the most sought-after speakers was the silver-tongued orator from Salem, William Jennings Bryan, who although twice defeated in his bids for the presidency, remained a great spokesman for sound monetary practices for the nation. Perhaps we should have paid him more of a mind.

Every boy loves a parade. For several weeks, the city band would be tuning up for the big event. The tubas and brass horns would be polished 'til they shone like the midday sun. The bass drums were tested out. In summer, Harry King beat the drum with several of the boys vying for the right to help tote it in the parade. This was a brass band. Most of the instruments were designed for noise, and noise they made.

The parade would form down by the high school, with the band following close behind the massed flags. There were still several Civil War veterans able to march. Fellows like Heddie Jennings and old Uncle Jack Piper would put on their Union garb with all the GAR medals and their slouch hats, square up their shoulders and march to a drum beat that only they could hear. The Stars and Stripes and Stars and Bars would fly side-by-side as Americans all marched together.