The 4th of July in Colon, About 1906-‘07
From the July 6, 1977 Colon Express; signed Monk Watson, HDQ Co. 125th Inf., 32nd Red Arrow Div., World War I: “The day would start with some of the Old Soldiers, meeting on the corner of State and Swan Streets, talking about the war that they had served in. I was an interested kid who loved to hear their stories about Bull Run and San Juan Hill (I think that’s the way you spell it). I was waiting for the LKG (Lamb Knit Goods) band to form for the parade, and I could carry the music or perhaps the drum. The Ross brothers were the leaders of the band at that time. One worked in the factory and the other made cigars. This LKG band was a very good one, and was in demand all over the State of Michigan for parades. Wherever they went Jeff Hill was at the head of the band, with his gold-headed cane waving in the air, calling for “In the Good Old Summer Time”. That was his favorite for as long as I can remember.
After the parade they had races of all kinds, greased pig to catch and keep, the greased pole to climb to take the money that was in the cigar box on top of the pole, and bicycle races from the Hub (now Dawn & Phil’s) to the four corners and then across the road into town, now Old-78.
Now comes the big night … with Hartman’s ice cream, Clement’s grocery store open for candy, and the balloon race. Mr. Clement’s note for $5.00 would be pinned to the top of the paper balloon, to be brought in and cashed at the store. The paper balloon was about 10 feet high and Mr. Clement had to stand on the top of a ladder to hold it. When it was inflated (a small bit of soaked straw on the wire across the bottom of the balloon), he would let it go and away we kids went running and bicycling, trying to catch up with it for the prize. I was very lucky one night to reach the balloon near Sherwood. I took the note and returned to Colon. I also took the balloon which was not harmed in landing. However, it was never used again because I tried a rag full of fuel and it worked too well.
There was also the High Dive from a ladder standing at the east end of the dam. The water hole was very deep at that spot, and the platform was about 50 feet above the water. The diver, Mr. Emmell (I believe that was his name) reached the platform and looked down, and then gave up. It seems that Phil
Waite, the balloonist, had landed on the steeple of the Reform church, now the Church of God, and that upset Mr. Emmell so much that he called off the High Dive. It wasn’t too long before I was at the top of the ladder and yelling. “Everybody look at me!” I then dove off and was followed by at least a dozen of my friends.
I walked over to the spot where the ladder once stood, a long time later, and there in the ground was an iron eye that was used to anchor the cable that held the ladder.
The fireworks were made up of Roman candles and pinwheels, and now and then a skyrocket. How it suffered by comparison last night when Colon put on one of the nicest displays of fireworks. We stand-alone from other small towns with our Fourth of July.
Again I rode in the parade, with my Red Arrow cap, and thoughts of where I was July 4th, 1918. We were facing fireworks that were for real, and many of my friends are still in France from those bombings. No wonder I have a lump in my throat when our children march in our parades, and the Flags stand out so great head of the marchers. I saw a very few uncover their heads, of half-hearted salute as the flags went past. They seem to be afraid someone will see them salute. Times change!!!”