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Suggestive programs for special day exercises/Our Nations Birthday/Grandfathers Fourth

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2508144Suggestive programs for special day exercises — Grandfather's FourthJason Elmer Hammond


Grandfather Watts used to tell us boys
That a Fourth wa'n't a Fourth without any noise.
He would say, with a thump of his hickory stick,
That it made an American right down sick
To see his sons on the Nation’s day
Sit round in a sort of a listless way.
With no oration and no train-band,
No fire-work show and no root-beer stand,
While his grandsons, before they were out of bibs,
Were ashamed—Great Scott!!—to fire off squibs.

And so each Independence morn
Grandfather Watts took his powder horn.
And the flint-lock shotgun his father had
When he fought under Schuyler, a country lad.
And Grandfather Watts would start and tramp
Ten miles to the woods at Beaver Camp;
For Grandfather Watts used to say—and scowl—
That a decent chipmunk or woodchuck or owl
Was better company, friendly or shy,
Than folks who didn't keep Fourth of July.
And so he would pull his hat down on his brow,
And march to the woods, sou’east by sou’.

But once—ah! long, long years ago.
For grandfather’s gone where good men go—
One hot, hot Fourth, by ways of our own,
Such short-cuts as boys have always known,
We hurried and followed the dear old man
Beyond where the wilderness began.
To the deep, black woods at the foot of the Hump,
And there was a clearing and a stump—

A stump in the hearth of a great wide wood;
And there on that stump our grandfather stood,
Talking and shouting out there in the sun,
And firing that funny old flint-lock gun
Once in a minute, his head all bare,
Having his Fourth of July out there—
The Fourth of July he used to know
Back in eighteen-and-twenty or so.

First, with his face to the heaven’s blue,
He read the “Declaration” through;
And then, with gestures to left and right.
He made an oration erudite.
Full of words six syllables long;
And then our grandfather broke into song.
And scaring the squirrels in the trees.
Gave “Hail Columbia” to the breeze.
And I tell you, the old man never heard
When we joined in the chorus, word for word!
But he sang out strong to the bright, blue sky,
And if voices joined in his Fourth of July,
He heard them as echoes from days gone by.

And when he had done, we all slipped back,
As still we came, on our twisting track;
While words more clear than flint-lock shots
Rang in our ears.
And Grandfather Watts?
He shouldered the gun his father bore,
And marched off home, nor’west by nor’.