This past week I embarked on a little project for the upcoming edition about the Fourth of July. It is usually tough to find something to say about our annual celebration that has not been said before. The longer I stay at this job, the more difficult it becomes.
I thought I hit on a great idea about a month ago when I was searching archived issues of the newspaper on the Peabody Township Library website. I stumbled across a newspaper page that told of all the comings and goings of families and friends during an early July Fourth celebration. I recognized some names, learned that the pig purchased for the greased pig contest “did not give a good accounting of itself” and was too easy to catch, and that the show was the “largest one ever.”
So I decided to pick through the last 95 years or so and see how we celebrated. Quite honestly, some old editors were not much more inspired about upcoming celebrations than I am now. Several did not even bother to report about themafter the fact. However, others gave detailed reports that were all about small town living and the good things that go on.
I found the following opinion column by then editor Earl Fickertt from the July 12, 1934, issue of the Peabody Gazette-Herald. Back then, there was no charge for the show. Peabody businesses chipped in and paid for the fireworks. Races, patriotic speeches, ballgames, picnics, and band concerts helped fill the day with events.
I thought Fickertt’s column hit home and wanted to share it with my six regular readers. The rest of you might like his comments as well:
Why do we do it?
This year, as is always the case, friends from other towns asked the question, “Why does Peabody celebrate the Fourth in this fashion year after year?”
This year, especially, we were asked that question many times. In this kind of a year when the Depression is still with us, etc. And our answer, as always, was we do it because we like to. We do it because we like to have people come to Peabody, enjoy our park with us, and partake of our hospitality for a day.
It’s a good thing for people to get together and get acquainted in times such as we have been having the past several years, more perhaps, than other times. It is good to forget the times and conditions of the day and just mingle with friends, make new ones, and remember that our nation still survives and is celebrating another birthday.
True, there may not be many direct benefits to the business interests of Peabody and it’s possible those who work the hardest on the various committees reaped the smallest direct benefits. But the generation of good will toward Peabody, the fact that Peabody invited the surrounding communities to come in and enjoy the day with us, all of these things are good for Peabody and the entire community and Marion County.
Like many of the other things that are done, it is impossible to see the direct benefits, but the benefits are there, nevertheless, and anything that brings thousands of neighbors and friends together in one place on the Fourth of July, is a mighty good thing for all concerned.
So that is why we do it. And we’re glad so many of you came, and we will be expecting you and all of your friends again next year.
I hope you enjoyed that peek into Peabody’s past.