Breland: Remembering past summers for July 4th event

Published 11:47 am Friday, July 1, 2022

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Big plans are being made this week for the traditional July 4th celebration to observe this date when America became a free country, cutting loose from England by winning a big war called the American Revolution.

Celebrations include cookouts and special parades to bring home the importance of this national date, which also celebrates the beginning of the city of Bogalusa. It is an important part of summertime.

I don’t remember us having big July 4th celebrations during my growing up years, but in later time we joined everybody else with the backyard barbecue and family gathering.

Little things like this make me think back to my early years of summertime, when lots of things made the days special, including fun trips to the creek to swim and eat watermelon. My, that creek was cold, even in July!

I am reminded of the peddlers who came around selling produce this time of year. About now, they would bring bushels and bushels of peaches, grown no doubt in Georgia or some other far-away place.

We were always thrilled to see the “peach man” making his rounds because it surely meant something really good to eat.

I never eat a peach that I don’t think about Mother’s peach tarts. She cooked the peaches with sugar and then rolled out thin pie dough, placing some of the peach mixture in the center. Then crimping the edges, she actually cooked them slowly in butter in a large skillet.

We ate the warm tarts with good fresh cream that came daily from our family cow, Reddy. Mother would pour the fresh cow’s milk through a very clean white cloth, always referred to as “the strainer”, which was always carefully washed and never used for anything else.

She poured the milk into large crock bowls, putting them in the refrigerator. Any that didn’t fit in the bowls, she poured into drinking glasses. The thick cream rose to the top of the containers and could be skimmed off for special treats like the peach tarts.

The glasses of milk could also be stirred to combine cream and milk and tasted so wonderful with the peach tarts … or anything else!

There was so much good stuff to eat. We picked huckleberries and blackberries in the woods around the house. Then it was time to eat huckleberry pie with — you guessed it — thick cream on top and a cold glass of milk from the icebox.

I say icebox rather than refrigerator, because that’s exactly what it was. There was a compartment that held the ice, which was delivered daily by the “ice-man.” In the summer that ice was important!

My brother Bill and I would roll the wheelbarrow down to the highway and wait for the arrival of the ice truck. The ice was on the back of the truck and covered with a thick tarp.

The driver would throw back the tarp and using an ice pick, chip away at grooves frozen into the blocks of ice. Then using tongs, he would swing the block of ice down into our wheelbarrow and off he would go to the next house.

Such simple ways of life were observed even by children, who found their own entertainment in work and play before the advent of televisions and computers.

As we observe the modern celebration of July 4th, may we remember those old summers, as well as the American patriots who fought to give us the good life we are still enjoying. We have a great country! Celebrate!

 Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at