Founders Holiday

My husband, Jan toasting marshmallows on the Forth of July on Selitz Bay, Oregon
My husband, Jan toasting marshmallows on the Forth of July on Selitz Bay, Oregon

My husband, Jan, toasting marshmallows on the Forth of July on Siletz Bay, Oregon

Founders Holiday 

I love the 4th of July but I’m a spectator, like everyone else, most of the time.

At Gleneden Beach, Oregon, we start off with a pancake breakfast at the community center before we watch the 4th of July parade.  Then we drive the ‘twenty miracle miles’ to Newport to sit on the bleachers of the basketball court at the High School to hear the free patriotic pops concert, given by the Newport Symphony Orchestra.  They always end with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.  Finally, we trek out to the end of the spit where the Siletz River meets the sea. Bonfires dot the beach. Families toast hot dogs and marshmallows.  Then the finale of fireworks, donated by the Chinook Winds Casino owned by the Siletz Indian Tribe.

Founders Holiday

When I was growing up, I celebrated quite a different holiday on the first Monday in July, Rhodes and Founders, which honored Cecil John Rhodes’ birthday the 5th  of July and on the 6th the other founders of Southern Rhodesia.

Although the holiday had been designated in 1895, just five years after the country’s founding, we still needed to make our own fun.

Families went fishing and often camped at the local dams and rivers, or, if they had access, to hunt the local game.  Evenings were spent around the campfire spinning yarns after a braai (cookout) of boerevors (South African spiced sausage) or a good steak and finally, toasted marshmallows.

Our family never went camping or lazed around chatting.  Our routine went on.

The only Rhodes and Founders that was different was the time my mother arranged to take our Girl Guide troop to Zimbabwe Ruins and the just completed Kyle Dam in 1960.   The Gwelo Guides would join us.  Everyone had submitted their permission slips, the chalets were booked and permission from the headmaster to allow the girls off at noon on Friday obtained before she informed my Dad.

We travelled in uniform, enamel mug attached to our belt.   Our bedding was wrapped up in a groundsheet.   I had followed the kit list to the letter. We each carried a picnic supper to eat in the car along the way.

We had worked in patrols planning our own menus and programs, but the troop would meet for prayers, colors and campfire, rest hour and lights out at eight pm.   This camp was the one exception to the rule: tinned food was allowed to give us more time to explore the ruins.

I was in the Poinsettia Patrol.  Ruth was our Patrol Leader.  Her father was a small- worker (small gold mine owner) that had still to hit pay dirt.  Her mother ran a nursery school to keep their family of five afloat, which my father had closed for health reasons at one point.  Ruth was the middle child and though rather wild, Mom saw leadership qualities in her.

She wanted to get breakfast over as quickly as possible.  There was porridge to make, scrambled eggs to cook and water to boil for tea.  We got a good fire going in the belly of the iron stove. While the porridge was sticking to the bottom of the pot, the two dozen beaten eggs oozed out of the plastic jug that had melted on the hot stove.

“Eat up.  You’re lucky to get anything,” Ruth said as she strained the tea through the sleeve of her jersey, “Lick your dish clean and we won’t have to clean up. You want to get out and explore don’t you?”

That evening at campfire my marshmallow turned to gold and blistered, the inside oozed pure sweetness amidst the wood smoke.

I’m planning to toast marshmallows tomorrow.   Happy Forth to y’all.  (I lived in Texas for 27 years somewhere along the line).

Que Que and Gwelo Girl Guides exploring Zimbabwe Ruins 1960. (L to R, I think, Melody Hannaford, Adelaide Hahn, Wendy Allen)

Que Que and Gwelo Girl Guides exploring Zimbabwe Ruins 1960. (I think L to R Melody Hannaford , Adelaide Hahn, Wendy Allen.)