Here it is, the 4th of July. This is my favorite holiday. It always has been ever since I was a kid. This was where a boy could truly be a boy. It’s a man’s holiday; BBQ, brew, fireworks, loud brass instruments.
As a kid growing up in Slidell, Louisiana, I remember my Dad firing up the Sousa and grill for either something special or his infamous “Daddy burgers.” Fireworks (the real ones that leave the ground and explode) were legal, and we always had a few, especially Roman candles. Our family was infamous for the Roman candle wars, where each kid would light off a Roman candle and do his best to hit another brother.
My grandfather usually had a get-together on his farm on the 4th or a weekend around it. It was a must-attend event if you were invited. He would go all out on the fireworks, but the hill topper was the BBQ and watermelon. The watermelon would sit in an ice maker over shaved ice all day. It was better than the BBQ and the fireworks to me as a kid. I can still envision him slicing up cold watermelon on an old wooden picnic table out behind the house under a grand ole oak tree.
Sure, Christmas was always nice for the presents and I can remember some good years on Christmas, but for me, I can’t remember any bad 4th of July’s. As a child of divorced parents, Christmas always had to be shared, or one parent was always absent. Independence Day was never like that. It was never “mandated.” So I have no negative memories of the 4th of July, and I guess that’s why it remains my favorite today.
One of my fondest memories of July 4th was back in ’91 or ’92. My brother Dwan came down to my grandparent’s farm in Alabama from Virginia. Jayme, another brother, was also there. My grandmother had been ill for several years at that point, and my grandparents, especially my grandfather, couldn’t have been prouder to have us there.
Dwan shot a movie of us on the four-wheeler. On the way back to the house, Jayme appeared on a bicycle, throwing firecrackers at us. While Dwan rolled tape, I pretended I would run over Jayme, but at the last minute, I had too much speed and couldn’t turn quickly enough. I actually did run him over!
He was as mad as a hornet and chased us everywhere. Dwan caught it all on tape. After dinner, we had one more Roman candle war just for old times’ sake. That was the last 4th of July with Dwan, as he passed away in ’93.
Today we don’t have grandiose plans with the exception of the meal. Of course, it will take me all day to prepare the meal. It’s not very much different from Memorial Day:
- 8.5lb Boston Butt on a 24-hr rub (looks like the butcher trimmed more fat than he should have, though – keep your fingers crossed).
- Collard greens, as previously noted on the Memorial Day post.
- Fresh roasted corn. I like to do mine in the husk over hot coals because the corn cooks itself.
- Fried okra in honor of my grandmother, but I plan on soaking mine in buttermilk before dredging in cornmeal.
- Watermelon in honor of my grandfather (it’s not on ice but has been in the fridge overnight, Poo).
- Bourbon. Although I don’t have a barn to hide it in, my glass will be raised to all those who made and kept America free.
Happy 4th of July, wherever you may be today! It’s America’s Independence Day – another day for families. Fire up The Liberty Bell and make some good memories, but please, if you get burned by the Roman candles, don’t tell ‘em you got the idea from me.