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Abraham Hatfield Muses on the "Leftover Firecracker"

July 05, 2018

Abraham Hatfield Muses on the "Leftover Firecracker"

When I ponder the history and significance of Independence Day, July 4th, my mind considers the importance of July 5th too. Perhaps it is not as meaningful on a national level, but it is in my personal history. My Grandad was born on July 5th, and because he was expected to arrive about the same time as the fireworks of July 4th, his mother (my Great-Grandma) always called him her "leftover firecracker." 

My Grandad was born Robert Charles, but friends and family always called him RC, as it was shorter and to the point. The only time I ever heard him called Robert Charles was if my Grandma was a tad perturbed over something he did, or did not do, and that was a rare occasion indeed. RC and July 4th went together well as he liked parades, patriotic music, good food and family time. Having a birthday the following day just allowed the celebration to continue. 

No one makes a pitcher of fresh squeezed lemonade like my Grandad. I watched him, and it appeared simple enough. Just cut the lemons, roll them around between the palms, then squeeze them between your fingers and let the fresh juices flow into a pitcher of ice cold water. Lastly, place the lemons into the pitcher. My attempts to replicate his easy recipe are feeble ones. Must have been some magic in the oils of his palm and fingers that did not pass on to me. 

And potato salad...what is it about potato salad that makes my mouth water at the very mention of its name? There are many versions, and I have enjoyed a wide variety at pot lucks, church suppers, and neighborhood gatherings but none compare to my Grandma's. Grandad was always in the kitchen, hoping to be the "taster" throughout the process. And, there was always a big enough batch to get us through the 5th. I often thought, an additional day in the refrigerator made it even tastier and always looked forward to it being part of Grandad's birthday meal.

And Brats on the grill...what Grandad could do with Brats on the grill...enough said.

And strawberries...it is not a summer celebration without strawberries. Strawberries and ice cream, strawberry shortcake, strawberry meringues (that was a real treat Grandma made, weather permitting). Yes, we always had strawberries on the 4th AND the 5th. And, do not even get me going on corn on the cob!

And music...my Grandad loved music of all kinds. Brass bands, Irish pipe bands, Gilbert & Sullivan, Sons of the Pioneers, and Lawrence Welk were favorites. On July 4th our wake up call was the 1812 Overture at full volume. Oh, the magnificence of it played loudly for all the neighbors to hear! Fireworks and the 1812 Overture are ideal partners, I was reminded of that while enjoying PBS "Capitol Fourth" last night. Whenever I hear that piece of music memories of my Grandad are near at hand.

Holidays spark memories. The first July 4th and July 5th that passed without him were difficult. The parade, good eats and drinks, and music were still there but he was absent. Today, I still miss him like I do everyday, but I am filled with the glow of his big, warm, loving spirit as I write these memories. He is right here, beside me, just as he always was.

Happy Birthday, to my "leftover firecracker," Grandad RC!

ABRAHAM HATFIELD writes for the OutWest Scout, the blog of OutWest Shop. Follow him!
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