Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Celebrating the 4th of July - Pendleton Style

by Shanna Hatfield

All my childhood years were spent on a farm outside a small town where it seemed like everyone knew everyone else.

Not much happened in the way of excitement there. We only had one blinking red traffic light, two one-way streets taking folks through town, a grocery store with a doorway that led into a clothing / home store, a tiny corner drug store, and a Dairy Queen.

But for four-days a year, the town burst with excitement and life during the 4th of July celebration. The biggest draw was the rodeo, bringing competitors from all over. Toss in a Suicide Race, a parade full of horses and antique autos, and events in the park, and you had a quaint hometown celebration many found hard to resist.

Because of the 4th of July being THE holiday everyone I knew celebrated, it has long been one of my favorite holidays as well.

I often tie in a 4th of July celebration into my stories - just because it's fun to think about how people celebrated back in the day.

One of my favorite scenes is taken right out of Pendleton's history. Two arguing politicians were trying to out-shine each other and the end result was a smelly disaster.

The basics of what happened are told through the characters of Caterina (Book 2 in the Pendleton Petticoats series).


“Remember the year they were going to have a clambake?” Garrett asked Kade with a broad grin.

Kade nodded his head and wiped his mouth on a napkin. “That was the smelliest mess I’ve ever seen.”

“What happened?” Caterina asked, wondering why they’d have a clambake in Pendleton. They were a few hundred miles away from the ocean.

“There were two politicians trying to out-do each other. One of them was a chairman of the Fourth of July celebration that year and decided to have the biggest clambake ever held in Eastern Oregon. It might have been the only clambake planned in Eastern Oregon. He made arrangements to have a train car load of clams delivered the morning of the fourth from the Washington coast,” Kade said. 

“The other politician got wind of the plans and wired ahead, saying the clams should be delivered the second of July, to ensure they’d arrive in time for the festivities. The problem was that he didn’t think about the clams needing additional ice during the two days the train car sat on the tracks in our hot July weather. When they opened that door…”

Kade and Garrett both grimaced remembering the smell and the flies that crawled all over the clams.

“They hauled the train car out to the reservation to give it a proper burial and no one has suggested bringing clams to town again,” Kade said, making both Caterina and Aundy laugh.


 There really was a train car load of clams that ended up baking in the scorching July heat. And they really did take the whole train car out to the nearby Umatilla Reservation and bury it.

However you celebrated the 4th of July - I hope it was safe and full of fun!


Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, USA Today best-selling author Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with relatable characters. When this hopeless romantic isn’t writing or indulging in rich, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
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