Oklahoma July 4th Memory

An Oklahoma July 4th Family Reunion

In 1967 when I was 9 years old, we went to my aunt’s house for a family reunion on July 4th. My aunt lived on a farm where they raised milk cows, beef cows, pigs, horses, and grew wheat. It was a great place to visit.

My extended family included aunts, uncles, their spouses, children and grandchildren, about 75 people total. There was plenty of food as each family brought a covered dish. There were also activities. All of the cousins brought their sporting equipment — baseballs, bats, gloves, footballs, Frisbees and badminton sets. Since it was Independence Day we all brought firecrackers.

After lunch, my cousin Randy and I decided to go into the pasture to catch one of the horses. After chasing the horses around the pasture for a considerable period of time, we realized how far we were from the house and decided to walk back, full of disappointment and without a horse. As we walked back, we suddenly heard heard a rattling noise in the grass. We looked down and saw a diamondback rattlesnake. We were literally petrified with fear. Although we could have easily walked around the snake, we were too terrified to move.

We stood there for what seemed like hours, neither of us with the courage to go further. As we contemplated our predicament, we began to smell smoke. Looking toward the house, we saw fire between us and the house. We then heard a scream from one of our cousins. As the screams grew louder and the flames got higher, Randy and I forgot our fear of the snake and began running toward the house.

Our family members came running to put out the fire with wet gunny sacks. Since we were first on the scene, we became the prime suspects for starting the blaze. After the fire was extinguished, our parents and family lectured us on being more careful with fireworks. We tried to plead our case and argued that we were not responsible for the fire, but to no avail. It was only later that our cousin Troy ‘fessed up that he had started the fire.

An hour later all was forgiven, forgotten, and the family went back to doing what we enjoyed most — telling stories from reunions past, playing catch, and of course, eating.