Tuesday, July 03, 2007


The Fourth of July is a big celebration in Red River. It is a major weekend for tourist. The little town fills up to overflowing as people come from everywhere to see the parade and participate in the activities. The parade has always been the main event with most of the businesses putting in some sort of entry. I have probably been in on building and riding on more than my share of floats. In later years, Toby, the kids and I rode our horses in the parade as part of the RR Riding Club. I have more stories about the 4th of July in Red River than I could tell on this blog, but I will share a few.

1966 was my first year to participate in the RR parade. We owned the Green Mountain Lodge at that time and built a float with our neighbors at the River View Café. The float was suppose to look like a Southern belle’s dress with hundreds of tissue paper flowers covering the float. We made flowers until we could do it in our sleep. Mom had ladies in her beauty shop making flowers as they sat under the dryers. I was suppose to stand up in a trashcan at the top of the float holding a parasol decorated with more flowers. In other words, I was the Southern Belle and the float was my skirt. It was an awesome float by RR’s standards. We built it in the garage at the Rio Colorado Lodge. On the morning of the 4th we were about to pull the float out of the garage and to the parade route when the adults began to fret about how they were going to get me onto the float without crushing the flowers. Not a problem - I scurried up into the rafters of the barn (in my dress and gloves - my hair all curled and wearing makeup), shimmied down the rafter and dropped into my trashcan. Everyone got a big laugh out of my ladylike behavior. We won “Best Float”. I won “Little Miss Red River”. My brother won “Best Cowboy” - he rode a pony from White Horse Stables. My summer sister, Shelia, won “Miss Red River” - she was riding on the car that pulled my float. We swept the awards ceremony - What a parade!

Then there was the year that Craig won the “Watermelon seed spitting contest”. Many of the jeep drivers, employed to take people on tours in the mountains, entered the contest which was all done in fun. The guys were hamming it up and being pretty silly, but only spitting seeds a few feet or so. Some guy in the crowd had been coaching Craig. When he got up to take his turn, he was very dramatic (remember my wedding). Then he hauled off and spit the seed that went flying about 15 feet out into the crowd. Everyone was awed. Then the crowd parted and there was the seed on the ground and cheers went up as if he had done something great. Once again, those of us who knew Craig were doubled over in laughter. We all knew he was full of hot air.

Then there was the year that Mom and I were busy finishing up our clown costumes on the 3rd of July to wear the next day in the parade. We were busy sewing when we heard the sirens go off signaling a fire somewhere in town and for all available men to come help. In a small mountain town where everything is built out of wood, fire is a serious subject. Mom looked up from her sewing and said, “I just hate it when the sirens go off. I always worry that your dad will be in danger.” Later when Dad came home, he was soaking wet and his eyebrows were singed off. Not only had he been in danger, he had started the fire. He and some other guys (Billie Addison and Steve Smith) were putting the finishing touches on the Addison’s café trying to get it open by the 4th of July. Someone smelled gas. So, the three stooges went out to find the gas leak. My Dad lit the match, and Billie held it to the gas meter on the outside of the café wall. Flames shot up over their heads sending them falling over each other backwards. Then they jumped up and started grabbing anything they could find to fill up with water and throw on the fire. Dad was carrying a bucket of water when he tripped and threw it on himself. It was actually pretty serious, but the building only had minor damage and the café opened the next day. But when all was said and done, it was the cause of much laughter. We should have made the clown costumes for them.

Then there were the famous tug-o-war contests across the creek. I was on the Texas Red’s team - none of us were very big and strong, but we all looked good in our TR T-shirts. These pictures were taken in about 1980. My Dad and several of his high school buddies pulled in the contest that year. They were all about 50 years old and they beat a much younger team. You know, 50 years old doesn’t seem so old anymore. That is my Uncle Gene, Dad with the beard, and Poochie Washburn pulling. The next picture is of the TR's team - that is me on the far right holding Bo. The last picture is of the TR's team pulling with me in the front.

PS. In the bottom picture - that is Nancigail on the far right, Kim Hall pulling behind me, Becky Allen bent over on the left - along with many others some of you will recognize.


Catherine MacDermott said...

Dang...shudda known..when I bought that seedless watermelon yesterday, something told me to go to my old standby neighborhood store instead of the upty, sprout-eating, tree-hugging store I went to where they sold ONLY seedless melons. Nothing wrong with sprout-eating and tree-hugging, mind you...I proudly do both! But heck-fire, I think Craig and I should have a seed-spitting contest tomorrow!

Loved the stories, Lou. As always you brought a sweet light to my morning!

Happy 4th! Let's break out those ol clown outfits!

Bag Blog said...

What do tree-huggers have against seeds? We all have to start somewhere.

I have this picture in my head of you two wearing clown costumes and spitting seeds...

Buck Pennington said...

Great stories, Lou, and super photos! There's something quite magical about having a day like the one where all y'all "swept the parade." That story will be handed down for generations.

Becky said...

Great stories, Lou. I also wondered what tree-huggers have against seeds.

My town doesn't do anything for the 4th because we have the big festival in June. Cody bought us some t-bone steaks to eat, and we'll watch some movies. But that's about it.