July 4 celebration sparks memories
Published: Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Hey, does Custer know how to celebrate the Fourth in style, or what? From the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Old Fashioned Fourth with four days of activities to the Custer Volunteer Fire Department’s fireworks display, nobody does it like we do!
I don’t think any community in the Black Hills could have come even close to the way Custer celebrated our nation’s birth.
Seeing the hundreds of cars parked alongside the roads leading into Custer all the way back to Sidney Park Road and up to the school, and every street in Custer that had visibility of Pageant Hill — not to mention Pageant Hill itself —reminded me of seeing the fireworks in Washington, D.C., on our nation’s 200th anniversary.
The choreographed music and fireworks display Thursday evening, also reminded me of that long-ago occasion that Charley and I were fortunate enough to be a part of in our nation’s capital.
In 1976, Charley and I were living in Hot Springs, where Charley was working as a Jack-of-all-trades at the Hot Springs Star and was the commander in the local unit of the South Dakota Army National Guard.
Because that unit was part of an engineering company, and not infantry, he had to take engineering courses, so he decided to take four weeks of classes at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia.
In order for the entire family (which at that time consisted of me and our two oldest sons) to go along with Charley, we purchased a camper to live in for the four weeks.
I remember taking a wrong turn and having to drive through downdown Chicago with our little camper in tow, something I swore I would never do again! However, those two sons now live in the Chicago area, so we have driven that route again on numerous occasions. In fact, our oldest son works on the 17th floor of the Sears Tower there.
But I digress.
While Charley attended classes that memorable summer, the boys and I swam and biked the trails at our campground on the Potomic River.
It just so happened that Charley’s classes coincided with our nation’s 200th anniversary, so we (along with several million other people) drove into the capital to watch the fireworks.
I remember vehicles parked along both sides of the road into Washington, D.C. We found a spot at an off-ramp to the Treasury Department building and the boys and I climbed onto the top of the car to get a better view.
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