Remembering the old days on the Fourth of July
Tuesday, July 4, 1944, in Bay Village
It was hard to fall asleep the night before the Fourth of July just thinking about all the goodies that were going to be piled high under the big tree across from the Community House the next day. Checking it out was one of the wonderful parts of the day.
Up on top were the two bicycles, one boy's and one girl's, for the winning raffle tickets. Underneath were all the rest of the goodies: basketballs, baseballs, footballs, bats, baseball mitts, roller skates, tennis rackets and balls, badminton sets, croquet sets, decorated wooden boxes, books, dolls, paper dolls and more. For Mom and Dad, there were clocks, radios, mixers, toasters, hand-crocheted towels, pillow cases, hot pads, aprons, dishes and glass sets. It was a smorgasbord of goodies to see, and it was all donated by area merchants.
In the morning, in our best shorts and T-shirts, we headed for the park. The activities for the day were organized and run by our parents. Here are some of the names on the 1944 roster: Austin, Baldwin, Bellish, Benbow, Botts, Burt, Chamberlain, DuProw, Harter, Hoagland, Hockett, Holliday, Hook, Houk, Hudak, Jacobs, Knoll, Koelliker, Laverty, Leavens, Linsenmeyer, Mosely, Peterson, Potter, Pyle, Redinger, Rothaermel, Smith, Solt, Wendt, Wingard, and Wischmeyer.
It all started at 9:55 a.m. with an aerial salute and the raising of the flag by the Bay Village Scout Troops. At 10:05 a.m., a ball game featuring the Canterbury Tigers and the Bay Village All Stars began. At 11 a.m., the decorated Bicycle and Tricycle Parade started at Rose Hill, and at 11:30, there were bicycle races on Cahoon Road.
At 1 p.m., there was an assortment of choices. Down at the mouth of Cahoon Creek, motor and sailboat races commenced. In the park there were bowling, golf, horse shoe or beach ball contests. At 1:30, the Girl Scouts and Brownies sang at the Community House. At 2:00, the games and races began for the children. There was the three-legged race, the wheelbarrow race, the sprint, tossing the baseball the farthest, toss and catch and badminton fly. The top three winners got something from under that marvelous tree by the Community House. For adults, there were the three-legged race, egg throw and who could wrap and unwrap dad with toilet paper the fastest.
At 4 p.m., the firemen had a water fight with their fire hoses, and at 4:30, Bingo started in the Community House. The dinner hour was at 6 p.m. and featured ham and potato salad or wieners and beans. Coffee was served by the Girl Scout mothers, and soft drinks were sold by the Boy Scout fathers.
The flag was lowered at 7 p.m. and the Parkview High School Band concert started. At 9 p.m., dancing in the Community House began, and a movie was shown in the valley. Special events were the war stamp treasure hunt, time guessing contest and largest fish caught. Prizes were awarded to all, and we watched the goodies disappear under the tree. Every hour there was a raffle drawing, and near the end of the day the bicycles were awarded to the lucky boy and girl with the winning raffle tickets.
We arrived for the evening events in our best dresses and summer sandals. Our parents were often in charge of the dance. No matter the age, anyone could dance in the Community House to the 78-rpm records, with owner’s names on them, loaned by the high school students. The fans were running overhead and with the windows open, the sounds of “Opus One” and “Stardust” drifted out over the park. I can still hear them.
Those were the days. Although it was a sad time in Bay with our boys fighting in WWII, this was a day to remember. As kids we wondered how it could get any better!
Kay Rothaermel Laughlin is the Bay Village Historical Society Historian.