Tomorrow is the Glorious Fourth. Let’s take to the newspaper archives, and see how it was celebrated in years past . . . well, it seems as if they had picnics and blew off fireworks.

Turns to there’s not a lot you can say about it that isn’t obvious.

1910: a contest for the kids. Write a poem!

Or rather complete one, since they spotted you the first four lines.

  You wonder how the devil they chose the winner, since they are all virtually the same.


At the same time everyone was getting ready for the day of brass bands and speeches and box lunches and lemonade and the like, the boys were preparing their arsenals. But times had changed, and there was a new mantra for the Fourth:

"Safe and Sane." The term appears in papers all over the country. Yes, a restrained observance meant less mayhem. But . . .


This was a regular sight the day after the Fourth: THE DEATH LIST.

Granted, murder doesn’t seem to be part of the Fourth’s celebrations, so I’m not sure that’s fair.


But there was still a good deal of blinding.

Those were strong crackers. I wonder how they compared to the M-80 of yore.


1920s: Hurrah!

It says:

HURRAH FOR THE GLORIOUS FOURTH! That's the way every red-blooded, virile American feels on that day.And it is a day that makes every American proud of the fact that the Nation’s absolute freedom never was so widely recognized as today, when America leads the world in power, prosperity, commercial prominence, and world-wide respect.


1940s: Harlan's a hard case.

The toll in 1950: a bad deekend. (Sic)

Only two in the nation? Hardly worth mentioning. The article said “education and regulation” was to thank. I suspect it was more the latter than the former, particular if regulations crimped the explosive power.

Also in 1950: nostalgia for the true Fourth of July celebrations. I've misplaced the file, but you could probably imagine it from memory. It was better when it wasn't commercialized, should be held in small towns with a brass band playing a gazebo festooned with bunting, and so on. Thus it was always so.

The DEATH TOLL was still a post-holiday mainstay in 1960:

From 29 in 1910 to 892 in 1960.

I’d expect medore clip art, really. There's really just Sam and sundered crackers.

BTW, the AI art dreamed up some nightmares:

I guess that's after the fireworks went off.

I asked it for some 70s celebrations:

Urgh. Okay, how about the 80s?

Future generations - of people, I mean - are going to be so misled.



Yes, it's going to be one of those Hiatuses. Sorry, but I love this stuff.

1981: Orange Twist: we’re going head-to-head with Tang, and may the better granulated citrus experience win!

It has all the conventions of the era, including the now-abandoned Happy Massed Choir of Joyful Endorsement.

This one has a different score; could almost be a Randy Newman beat there. And it has gawky guys who are really quite surprised to find real orange flavor.

I wish they'd fix the color.

Same alarmingly happy blonde liquid-consumer. Tagline: Mist of the Twist. It seems as if they embedded tiny nozzles in that orange rind. There’s no way that skin would generate that much mist.

And a different musical approach.

Here’s how Tang was selling itself back in the 60s:

The way the camera moves on the kids is a bit disorienting, but it gets your attention.

Make it fresh every morning! Because no one wants stale Tang.

Now, one has to ask: Why did General Foods make Orange Twist when they already had Tang?

Had the space-age allure worn off, and they decided to come up with a new version instead of relaunch Tang?

We conclude with this week's Hiatal Contest:

A 1924 newspaper contest that went on forever.

I couldn't find the answer key, so we're going to be on our own.