Mid-Century 4th of July – Remember When

By Chris Faria, Raving VP of Marketing

Last month my husband and I picked up a 1966 Apache Eagle Tent Trailer to tow behind our 1974 VW Thing. We’ll be using it for weekend camping, as well as taking it to “vintage” trailer shows. At these events, you “stage” your campsite and your trailer with all period pieces. For us, that would be those old green Coleman coolers; aluminum webbed lawn chairs, our brown sleeping bags with the cowboy yellow flannel inside and Melamine dishes. (I do understand that some younger readers may not know what these things are).

To prepare, I’ve been looking through my own hand-me-down camping gear and searching antique stores and eBay. It’s put me in a bit of a melancholy mood … to know that the year I was born classifies me as vintage. And that common household items I grew up with are now hotly marketed as “mid-century” and are sold at premium prices.

So, in this reflective mood, I thought about this annual holiday piece I write. Fourth of July, for most of us in the U.S., is traditional … and betcha’, the menu and the activities haven’t changed much in the last several decades, with the exception of bans on fireworks in Western states.

I was wondering too, if Fourth of July is celebrated differently in, say, the land of our English forefathers compared to what I experienced growing up in California. I reached out to former Reno gaming reporter and good friend Tom Walsh, a Philly born and raised writer, on his thoughts.

So please take a trip back with me to Philadelphia sometime in the 1970s …

When I lived in Reno, I remember thinking how different the culture was about holidays. In particular, along the East Coast (at least from DC to Maine), the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are very, very big deals, as they are indicators of the beginning and end of the summer season. In particular for Philadelphia area folks, this means time at the Jersey Shore (in local parlance, going "downashore"). I didn't find that in Reno or California.

For Fourth of July, there is no shortage of parades, usually that morning. Of course, in the city where it all began, it is enormous, and the "Wawa Welcome America!" runs from June 29 through the Fourth. There are many concerts and events and multiple days of fireworks over both rivers and at the Art Museum.

When I was a kid, my family was still relatively new to the suburbs. So my parents would have all their friends from the city out to our house "in the country" for a big party each July 4th. My dad would even string up the Christmas lights and only have the red, white and blue bulbs lit. This was considered quirky and wild back in the '70s in our neighborhood of four-bedroom homes in the 'burbs. My older sisters would invite their cute friends with their Farrah Fawcett haircuts, and the adults would drink highballs and dance under the basketball hoop to Sinatra and Artie Shaw records. Cars were parked up and down the street. In the morning, my brother and I had to help lift the heavy-ass stereo console outside, where my dad would hook it up to an industrial strength extension cord. Later, if it got too hot, the sprinklers were turned on, or people could go into our one air-conditioned room (the den) to cool off for a spell. My mom would occasionally find some teens making out in the basement and give them hell.

The Bicentennial year, 1976, when I was nine, was the biggie. Dad got patriotic bunting for all the windows, and there were a lot of sparklers and red, white and blue ice cream, I remember. Also, plenty of beer-soaked badminton and, yes, lawn darts. 

To all of our Raving readers, no matter if you’re working at the casino this 4th of July creating memories for your guests or at home experiencing your own family traditions … from us at Raving, very happy Independence day and go celebrate!

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About the author

Chris Faria

Raving’s VP of Marketing has been the company’s core marketing writer since 2001. Chris has a lifelong passion for finding and sharing unique stories of people and places through her travels, business and daily life. We’re always interested what YOU’RE doing at your properties – drop me a line at [email protected] and share how you are celebrating the 4th with your guests at your casino!

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