17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Thursday, July 4, 1912: Such a magic sound it has to some, but to me it is about the same as other days. We got a glorious rain this afternoon. I can’t help but rejoice over the very thought of it. It’s cooler now for one thing.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Poor Grandma–It sounds like an incredibly boring 4th. Some places were livelier.
About 125 miles northeast of McEwenville, New York City was holding a modern 4th of July celebration.
Here are some excerpts from the July 4, 1912 issue of the New York Times:
CITY TO CELEBRATE ITS SANEST FOURTH
Music, Parading, Speeches, and Electric Light to Banish Firecracker Riot
Over the Old Fort Block House at 5:30 o’clock this morning the new forty-eight-starred flag of this country will be raised and its raising will be the start of this city’s celebration of Independence Day. This celebration will be the 136th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
It will represent weeks of effort put forth by the Mayor’s Committee and by countless societies and organizations, all joined in a determined campaign to free the marking of this day from the ancient rites of fire and powder and its ancient toll of death and wounds.
Instead of the steady popping of firecrackers and deafening crash of the cannon cracker, there will be parading, music, dancing, and speechmaking.
The prediction last evening, as the final touches were put on the innumerable arrangements, pointed to the safest and sanest Fourth in a city where the Nation’s big day has been growing safer and saner every passing years.
For safety Acting Chief Guerin of the Fire Prevention Bureau reported that for the last week he and his men had been on the lookout for fireworks stored away for sale. Confiscation is the rule and some $3,000 worth of explosives have been so put out of harm’s way.
The weather man, after scanning the heavens and weighing the evidence with unusual care last evening announced his gloomy fear that this city and the surrounding country would experience thunderstorms this afternoon or evening.
Quite as much as any other part of the celebration, the elaborate illumination depends on the holding off of the rain. If all goes well many parts of the city will be radiant with fantastic light, for nearly a hundred thousand Japanese lanterns have been strung to the trees in the parks and these were supplied with current last evening to try them out. As the dim trees in each park, loaded with festoons and strung ropes of these lanterns would spring into radiance with the turning of the switch, a shrill chorus of delightful approval would go from hundreds of children. The current is the gift of the New York Edison Company for the celebration and besides this, it has given the lanterns.
City Hall and its square is to be more brilliantly lighted than any, 6,000 electric light bulbs being devoted to this purpose.