A Glorious Fourth of July, 1933

As we approach the long holiday weekend and Fourth of July, I thought you might enjoy a break from the current blog series. The following is a re-posting of a few excerpted July 4th entries from various years of my great aunt Hattie’s diaries. All of the entries below were written from her farm and ranch in Hidden Timber, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and here is a video version of Hattie’s experience of the Glorious Fourth of July, 1933:

Harriet “Hattie” Whitcher was a writer, although I’m not sure she thought of herself as one. Many of her entries are written in the kind of shorthand one uses when writing only for oneself, but she never failed to notice and record details that most people miss. One of the touching aspects of the following entries is that they show how the active and wide community that she loved in the first years of her marriage slowly changed as she and her husband, Will, aged (they did not raise any children of their own), so that, by the end of Hattie’s life, she often missed the companionship of traveling with neighbors to races and ball games, horse shows and picnics.

All of the photos below and in the video above are from the July 4th, 1933 celebration at O’Kreek, South Dakota, and were most probably taken by Maggie Gehlsen, who was a live-in helper to Hattie at the time.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Enjoy.

July 4, 1933: Barbecue, Program, Clowns, Music by Orchestra, Indian dances, ball game, O’Kreek vs. Wood and O’Kreek won, races, Kitten-ball, dance in evening with orchestra (The Four Aces or Bailey’s) and a wonderful crowd. I saw Mrs. Charles Sinclair (Edith Brownfield) and boys of Winner as they were at the Celebration with Carl Anderson’s. We ate only sandwiches from the stand and ice cream and pop in the evening.

Hattie’s Caption: Carving Barbecue Beef

July 4, 1939: Bright, hot, and south wind real strong, clouded in S.W. and a regular dust storm for awhile in afternoon. Le Moyne chored and went home horseback on Gold Dust, and came back at 3 p.m., and he said there was a real dust storm here, and Will and I went to Abbotts at 11 a.m. They got ready and filled our car with gas from their barrel, so we all went to White River, via O’Kreek and Mission, and was a real dust storm there, could scarcely see horse racing, calf roping, and no ball game until as we were leaving grounds, Murdo and Wood started to play.

We got home at 6:30 p.m. and all clouds were gone to the east, no rain here, but a beautiful evening. A large crowd of people at White River to a Free Celebration of the 4th of July.

Hattie’s Caption: Tom and John with Barbecue Bone, and Jay standing back, smiling at them with their large pieces. They had more than their share, so passed pieces on.

July 4, 1934: This is the Glorious Fourth of July. North wind, dusty but bright until I p.m., was cloudy during Hidden Timber ball-game between part of Longview and Hidden Timber, rest substitutes, and a few sprinkles of rain then clear eve.

After morning work Elmer took Maggie to Armbusters, and she and Rita went in Carl Gehlsen’s Car to Sell’s, and Elmer, Carl, Mary and Josephine Armbuster went to Valentine Celebration. Harry and Louise and family came and the men made ice-cream. We ate dinner and went to Hidden Timber Celebration, back in evening and Ed, Rena and Yvonne were here butchering an E. R. A. calf gotten at Boarding School. Harry got a quarter, also we did, all went home.

Hattie’s Caption: Bald Head Men Got Prizes at Legion

July 4, 1942: I put things, quilts, pillows, a stool, some lunch and dishes and clothes in suitcase. Washed all dishes. We left for O’Kreek, got tire fixed that went flat on Will coming from Valentine, went to Gregory S.D., saw the Ft. Meade, S.D. Soldiers Parade, then left for White Horse Ranch, south and east of Naper, Nebraska, about 6 miles southwest of The Point between the rivers, but first we crossed Niobrara Bridge south of Naper.

Folks were eating lunches or had finished, we came in from the west side of the place, was a large pasture and white horses in it, and an arena built northeast of trees, and large trees around the buildings. After trained white horses, cow and bull and dog performed by 5 girls and 4 boys, ages about 9 to 17 years old. They had a rodeo, but we went to the ranch buildings, then to Point, Butte, Spencer, then our old home, 1 mile down railroad track from Spencer.

Hattie’s Caption: Youngest Married Couples

July 4, 1943: Sun shone bright and nice in general until evening, then there was a real rain at Mission and east to north of Antelope Creek, for we got stuck in Charles Merchen’s yard, and Bob had to pull us out with their tractor to the highway east 1/2 mile, and Wm Van Epps, Floyd and Margie and Dean Totten, Wm Abbott, Mrs. Cora Ann, Billie, Delores and Mrs. Anderson (Rika), Mrs. Abbott’s mother, were behind us. They went off the road towards the ditch, but got out.

We started to have trouble in mud north of Sazamas. A bunch of young men pushed us up the hill. I think it was Sazamas. Then at Carl Andersons, Van Epps, Totten and Abbott pushed, south of River. Need never bothered. We got home from Boarding School Show, Road to Morocco, starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour. Was a good show all in all. [Film clip below from Road to Morocco]

July 4, 1950: Rained and rained this forenoon, and it kind of quit in p.m. Sun was shining brightly when I got up from a nap at 4 p.m. Will lay down also as he has heart pains, so we had to stay home this late p.m. in such a beautiful part of the day, and I had such a lonesome feeling, felt as if we were entirely out of the world.

Hattie’s Caption: Longest Married Couples

July 4, 1954: Bright, hot day but cool in Valentine Park. Lunch all fixed and in the car. Got ready, went to Rosebud, no one at Ball Park, so went on to Rosebud and looked around some, on to Valentine to Park to eat dinner, was nice, water from spring so cool. To Rodeo. Had supper at park. Up town to wait for drive-in, first to Fish Hatchery. Never saw anyone we know.

Baffling Squirrels

Last year, we had a new window installed in our living room. This summer, while I contemplate what flowers will grace our front flower bed, I decided to start with a couple of bird feeders, now that we have such a clear view.

We have already ceded the first feeder to the squirrels (in truth, they are fun to watch, so I don’t mind).

The second feeder, however, I want to keep for the birds, if for no other reason than the squirrels tip it so much that most of the bird seed falls to the mulch below.

After searching online for “keeping squirrels away from bird feeders,” I learned that one can buy (or make) something called a squirrel baffle, designed to keep squirrels away from bird feeders attached to poles or shepherd hooks.


Our shepherd hook is too low for the baffle to work in theory, but I’m going to give it a try before buying a taller hook. Stay tuned…. (my money is on the squirrels)

This post is part of the #30PostsHathSept Blog Challenge. So many good posts from everyone… seven more days to go!

Labor Day Parade 1968, Winner, South Dakota

First, thank you to everyone who is participating in the #30PostsHathSept Blog Challenge! Be sure to take a look at the posts so far, and remember that it’s not too late to add your own. All you need to do is write 20 to 30 blog posts in September. That still allows for four or five days off if you start this weekend. The purposes of the challenge are simple: use it for whatever you need to get back to blogging this fall, find and support other bloggers along the way, and have fun. Tomorrow I will highlight some of the participating bloggers, and on Monday I’ll share tips for writing daily or nearly daily blog posts when you are short on time or ideas (or both!).

Labor Day Parade 1968, Winner, South Dakota

In keeping with the spirit of this holiday weekend, I want to share the following family video of the 1968 Labor Day Parade in Winner, South Dakota. The silent film was shot by my uncle Bill Furrey (music added later). Several years ago Bill transferred his home movies to VHS tapes, and recently they have been digitized.

The parade shows a decidedly different era—the cars, the clothes, the hairstyles. And no cell phones.


Darcy’s Excellent Adventure (new betta in his new home)

And now for something completely different.

I tried to take a video of Darcy, our new betta fish (with whom I am already in love),  as soon as he was introduced into his tank, but not until the end did I realize that my phone was accidentally set to “time lapse.” The error was serendipitous as it  better illustrates his reaction: several minutes are collapsed to 35 seconds. This was immediately after I transferred him from a smaller bowl (and, before that, from a small pet store cubicle).

You will see that he explores every inch of his new home, both with excitement and, I think, as a form of patrolling for any predators or other lurking dangers (notice the frequent flaring). Because I wasn’t planning for a time-lapse video, I hand-held the phone, so it’s a bit shaky—hold on tight to whatever is close by! There is audio.

How do I love Mark Rylance? Let me count the ways

I was thrilled to learn that Mark Rylance received last night’s Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his portrayal of Olivia in Twelfth Night. How good is Mark Rylance? Good enough that my husband and I made a trip from Milwaukee to New York last fall for the sole reason of seeing him and the rest of the cast in a double feature of Twelfth Night and Richard III.

We were not disappointed. You can see a short clip from Twelfth Night below. Rylance plays Olivia, a grieving woman of noble birth who is smitten with the young Cesario, not knowing that Cesario is really another woman, Viola, in disguise (played by Samuel Barnett, whose performance also earned him a Tony nomination).

As if his acting isn’t enough, I am a Mark Rylance fan for at least two other reasons. He was born in Kent, England but grew up on the United States, spending much of his youth just a few miles north of where we live in Wisconsin and graduating from a local private high school before starting his professional training at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

Reason number three is easy: Mark Rylance has given some of the best award acceptance speeches ever. Last night he offered a straight-forward and sincere expression of gratitude to the late Sam Wanamaker for his part in reconstructing Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (the third of the videos below), but his previous two Tony acceptance speeches are, well, I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blank. My kind of humor.

2008 Tony Acceptance Speech

2011 Tony Acceptance Speech

2014 Tony Acceptance Speech