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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Things don't change when celebrating Fourth of July

Sunday, July 4, 2004

SIKESTON -- Fireworks. Family. Barbecue. Some things never change when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July.

"It was a family affair -- and I guess it still is," said Margaret Evans, who will turn 90 on July 10. "We usually had big picnics at my home in Cloverport, Ky., and our families would get together."

Evans said when she thinks of the holiday, she thinks of fireworks and something good to eat.

For Pauline Lyons, 73, celebrating Independence Day meant grown ups playing with the kids and a huge barbecue on her parents' 80-acre farm.

Today most people go to the lake and celebrate, Lyons said, adding her family let the celebration come to them. "I was born in the 1930s and there wasn't really many fireworks back then like there are today," Lyons recalled. "Usually all the people would come by our house and the grown ups would play with the kids. They'd even jump rope."

Lyons pointed out there were no TVs back then, but there were radios.

"We had a lot of fun," Lyons said.

Eighty-eight-year-old Nellie Ann Lambert said it's her children's July 4 memories that have turned into her favorite recollections of the patriotic holiday.

"My children loved it. They had Roman candles," laughed the mother of six -- three boys and three girls. "We lived out in Blodgett, and they would light them and run away so fast.

She continued: "Those kids would light so many of those little firecrackers -- I hated those things," Lambert recalled, adding that she probably set a few off herself. "You never forget those days."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 293 million U.S. residents will celebrate this July 4 compared to the 2.5 million people living in the colonies in July 1776.

On Friday Evans, Lyons and Lambert celebrated the Fourth of July a little early and attended a party at Clearview Nursing Center, where they are currently residents. Tables in the reception hall were decorated with flags and sparklers and patriotic music was played and ice cream eaten.

"They all had parties like this when they were younger, probably with barbecues and watermelon," said activity director Claudia Neal. "We try to recreate some of the things they had in the past but it also gives them new memories."

Neal predicted a good portion of the residents will stay at Clearview for the holiday, but some will have family members who will come and get them for the day.

Although the parties for the Fourth of July have changed slightly for the women over the years, their sentiments about the holiday remain the same.

"I'm thankful for our country and all of us are blessed to be Americans," Evans said.

Evans also noted she thinks about the flag and what it means to be an American.

"It's a wonderful day," Lyons said about Independence Day. "It make me think about our country and all good things here. I love America."