July 4th in Detroit 4th in Detroit, Texas, Population 732

Published on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 23:48 - Written by Seth Cowan, Guest Columnist

His 18-wheeler stops at the traffic light on busy U.S. Highway 82 parallel to Front Street. The curious and perplexed driver honks, smiles and waves as he gets a glimpse of Detroit, Texas, celebrating its 2013 July 4th parade. It is hosted every year by the Lions Club on the Saturday nearest the holiday.

An ear-piercing siren is heard at 10 a.m. The parade, a small circus, begins. Homemade signs on convertibles and vintage cars identify city officials, families, and energetic individuals. Flags are waving, and red, white, and blue streamers flow. A team of beautiful, matched, black Clydesdales from Circle C Ranch are making a clop, clop, clop on the pavement as they pull waving occupants in a five-bench surrey with fringe on top.

Pickup trucks, tractors, and Jeeps roll. A golf cart carries two white-haired “girls” from the class of 1943. Twenty members of the anniversary class of 1983 are sitting on bales of hay on a flatbed truck. The well-organized Gibbs family of 30 sits on folding chairs on a long iron trailer.

Then come decorated four-wheelers, bicycles and scooters. One family of five rides graduated size bicycles. The little daughter’s pink one is supported by ropes held on each side by her parents. No horseback riders this year — what a disappointment. The end is marked by three modern red fire trucks.

But, the parade is not over yet! As usual, it circles the block and passes back by for an encore.

The Saturday celebration actually begins at 6 a.m. The tantalizing smell of bacon floats outside the metal building housing the fire trucks. The volunteer firemen are cooking a pancake breakfast for both visitors and residents.

At 9 a.m., there is quilt judging. There also is time to visit the recently renovated Vocational Agriculture/Home Economics building, which has been moved to Main Street. Not necessarily for literary purposes, but because it holds the only convenient restroom.

An hour before the parade begins people are gathering and walking up and down the wide elevated sidewalk on the block-long Front Street. Some have canes, some have walkers. All are looking for old friends and schoolmates. There are a lot of “I know you, what is your name?” Then hugging and reminiscing.

After the parade, the five-year anniversary classes are served a barbecue lunch at the High School Gym.

If one arrives on Friday evening, a fish fry at the Tabernacle is hosted by the Cemetery Association. The tasty $10 meal consists of deep fried catfish, spicy hush-puppies, French fries, onions, sour pickles, rolls and ice tea. The local Mennonite men are selling homemade ice cream outside.

The Tabernacle with its sign, “Built in 1901” has served many purposes. It has held revival meetings and free Saturday night shoot-em-ups. And when the nearly impassable muddy roads required, it has housed saddled horses and mule-pulled wagons bringing country students to Detroit’s consolidated school.

The final event on Saturday is a memorial service at the First Christian Church. Its historical marker indicates its establishment in 1906.

The report in the Detroit News Weekly can be expected to state, “A good time was had by all!”

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Seth Cowan, 85, was born in the small community of Manchester, Texas, just eight miles from the Red River and 20 miles from Detroit. At age four, his family moved into Detroit, where he graduated from high school in 1945. He is a resident of Meadow Lake Senior Living Community. A retired physician, he volunteers at Bethesda Health Clinic and is active in Meadow Lake’s memoir writing group.