When I was growing up, we were never allowed to play with fireworks. When I was a little girl, a group of grown boys in Kansas City threw a handful of flaming firecrackers on me and I suffered some painful burns on my legs. From that point on, I was through with fireworks, forever.
When my son was young, his friend’s grandfather always took the boys out on a country road and shot fireworks for them. As far as my son was concerned, his outing with his friend’s grandfather was the only celebration he ever participated in, and so it was the only one he knew about.
In my family, the Fourth of July weekend was the beginning of our family’s vacations. I always spent my summers in Minnesota with my aunt and her family. We went fishing every weekend and spent all of our time at one of the many parks. During the week we played cards every day. I learned to play Canasta and we had a group of friends that joined us in the afternoon.
By the time my son reached his late teens, he began to spend his summers with his uncle and cousins in Minnesota, so he duplicated my experience. The difference between my son and me is that he moved to the land of lakes when he became an adult.
As it has turned out, most of my family now lives in Minnesota. My sister lives there now with her family. For a long time we were Missourians. Me and all my eight siblings were born here. My mother was the first African American born in Windsor and I and my other siblings followed her. As it is, I am the last of my family to live here.
For the most part, we lived in Kansas City. And I will always claim Missouri as our home. My great-grandparents moved to Windsor early in the 20th century. My mother boarded here to school and graduated from high school here in Sedalia. My great-grandfather and my grandfather, who was born in Mexico, were both carpenters. My great-grandfather served in the Civil War. My father was born in Clinton.
So, I consider myself a born and bred Missourian. I love the state and have spent many years studying it. As far as I’m concerned it’s a great place to live. Missouri has been good to me.