Fourth of July at Bon Jellico
Written by Velma Pemberton Decker
July 4, 2003

   July 4th was a great holiday at Bon and very exciting for everyone. Mom and Dad went all out.  So did everyone in the mining camp. Mom fried a lot of chicken early in the morning before it got too hot and baked extra biscuits. This is what we had to eat on all day. With all the other goodies, it was a real picnic on our back porch. Dad had a washtub with a big block of ice and filled it with all flavors of Nehi pop and Coco Cola. Another tub had the ice broken up into chunks with watermelon and enough water to cover the melons. The tubs were covered with canvases to keep the ice from melting too fast. Then the good part: the ice cream freezer! Mom made the mixture with milk that had a lot of cream in it. Her recipe was the best. We all took turns turning the crank and Dad would keep the small chunks of ice packed around the ice cream container in the freezer and sprinkled salt around to keep the ice melting just right.

    The older boys had firecrackers and only they could light them. At that time there was only about two sizes of firecrackers, and most families had a few roman candles. Later at night after the celebration was winding down, we would hear these big blasts and we knew Red and his buddies had gotten into the powder house where all the explosives were kept. They would take the empty carbide cans, put drops of water in them, put the cover back on with a lighted match inside and throw it. When the gas built up from the carbide, it would really blow. Dad pretended he was wondering where those blasts were coming from but he knew Red and the boys were celebrating "Big Time". We didn't have the media then but we didn't need the news to let us know that it was a wonderful day to appreciate the independence of our country. The flags were waving then as they do now.

   Oh, and I can't forget to mention Mom's lemonade. She had a gallon glass jug that looked like a barrel. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and slices of lemon were used. It looked so good sititng on a small table that Dad had made. This was all prepared from scratch. With no tin foil, paper towels, saran wrap or Tupperware - none of the things to make life easier. If all these modern conveniences make life easier, why don't we have time to sit and visit with our families after a day's work? Sometimes I feel so ashamed when I think of how my folks did so much without the modern things we have now and I still can't accomplish what they did in a day and have the feeling of satisfaction that I know they felt.

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