What, another Mormor story, so soon? Well, the first part is a little story that Mormor wrote, and after it, in honor of independence Day, a story from the other side of my family. First, from Mormor . . .
Though my father was a naturalized citizen he always celebrated the Fourth of July
as a loyal American by going some place for a picnic, and by ordering ice cream and soda pop from Scotia. As we started out we stopped at the station in South Fork to pick up these goodies. Of course, Mother had used the previous day to cook all kinds of picnic food.
Dad didn't own a car at first, so we traveled in the spring wagon to nearby places like the Green Point Ranch or the Patmore place near the base of Old Baldy.* Later, my father's cousin Alfred Anderson came out from Rio Dell to take us where there were public picnics planned for the day, such as at Devoy's Grove, Lane's Flat, or Bear Creek.
(I recall very vividly my excitement when Alfred drove up in his new Hudson Super-Six. It was black and had real leather cushions that smelled so good in the hot summer sun. Later he had other cars, but none so impressed me as that Hudson.)
*I often Google Mormor's site references such as Old Baldy and Devoy's Grove, and very often find no references. They may very well be archaic names which have faded in the past 100 years.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, a couple of hundred miles (and about 30˚F) away, the residents of Chico, a hot and dusty Northern California valley town, were enjoying the holiday as well. On one of those long-ago Independence Day picnics the Pierce family were at Children's Park, by the Bidwell Mansion in Chico, for the festivities. There were fireworks as the light faded, but something went horribly wrong on this evening. An errant rocket strayed into the crowd of onlookers, and killed a child. The toddler Helen, the youngest Pierce child who would one day become my great aunt, became separated from her older sisters in the ensuing confusion and horror, and stood screaming as crowds of people rushed past. Helen remembers being lifted up onto a picnic table by a man who was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of touching a strange child. Deposited on the raised table, she was safe from being trampled, but was still alone and no happier. Her sisters found her and scooped her up, whisking her to safety.
My aunt told me this story this spring, and since she is, at 90, the last remaining Pierce trying to remember an episode from her toddler years, it is unverifiable. However, her mind is as sharp as a tack, and her early memories were seared by the death of her mother at just about this same time; I tend to have faith in the very few memories she has brought forth from this era.