Sunday, July 3, 2016

Historical Tips For a Safe and Sane 4th of July

By Kelli Huggins, Education Coordinator

This 4th of July, take some inspiration from the past while planning your celebration. While some things have changed, more have stayed the same. Remember, people in the past liked to party as much as we do!

Hostesses, make sure your table decor is on point
No pressure, but your reputation as a host is riding on your ability to create a festive, yet tasteful, decorative scheme. Fear not, here are some tips from 1915 to help you out: find red, white, and blue flowers and “arrange the blossoms in moist sand in pyramidal form.” Also “at each place there may be a miniature drum concealing bon-bons in its depths.” You can’t go wrong with a drum full of bon bons! Serve thematically colored foods, like tomato soup, whipped cream, jellied bouillon, crabs, and tartar sauce. Mold Uncle Sam and Miss Columbia out of ice cream and you’re ready to go. Quiz your guests on American History and give a special, dubious award to the “greatest ignoramus present.”
Looks easy, right? Just add some jellied bouillon and you're ready to entertain.
Leave the fireworks to the professionals
This one has always been controversial, but in 1910, Dr. Charles Haase implored Elmirans to do away with the dangerous tradition of amateur fireworks. The American Medical Association attributed 215 deaths to fireworks in 1909. These also included conditions like lockjaw (Tetanus) contracted from fireworks-related injuries. He argued that if Elmira was really a “progressive” city, it would eliminate “this barbarous way of celebrating.”
You probably shouldn't let your small children play with fireworks, no matter what this early 20th century postcard depicts.

Stock up on flags
Iszard’s has got your back on this one. Check out these amazing deals on flags from 1911! Every home should have one! And while you’re there, make sure to get your ice cream-making supplies: how else are you going to mold Uncle Sam out of ice cream. Think of your guests!

When invited to parties, make sure to bring your lady
Being the popular person you are, certainly you’ve been invited to a lot of parties this 4th. Do your best to make an appearance at them all, like these parties on the same day at the same time in Wellsburg and Southport in 1867. And make sure you bring both yourself and your lady.

The Eldridge Park Casino is the place to be
These pictures are from the Centennial celebration in 1876. Looks pretty fun! Go out and plant a celebratory tree!

Play pin-the-goatee on Uncle Sam
This was all the rage for children in 1914. Flag hunts are good, too. 

When in doubt, just get a big flag and a small dog
You can’t go wrong with this combination, as evidenced below:


  1. What a fun read! Darn I should have read it yesterday as I failed with my table decorations but was saved as I have a cute picture of our dogs with the flag!

  2. interesting how 4th of July celebrations were done in the past and now because of possible fire danger and worry that someone could get hurt they are much more controlled by professionals, however people still shoot off fireworks at there homes, have cookouts and enjoy themselves as most everyone did in the past!