, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 18, 2013

Lagoulis: Remembering Newburyport's July 4th festivities


Mr. Jacques also had with him his fascinating display stand of fireworks, mainly firecrackers that he would use during the height of the 4th of July celebration. And, during the day he would also sell his goods to the many passersby.

Each year, it was always the same man with the same stand and his wonderful stories of the past. However, the last time he appeared was on a July 3rd. It was customary that on the day before the 4th he would set up his platform and display stand of fireworks in preparation for the next day’s big events. And, as always, when finished setting up his display, he would later go home.

That particular night someone ignited his display and burned it down. After that incident, he never again appeared to tell us his stories of Newburyport’s past. I never knew what happened to him.

There were other individuals in Newburyport who celebrated in their own curious ways. For example, children were often known to toss firecrackers into neighbors’ yards at any time of the day or night throughout Newburyport. It was a common occurrence to hear the startling sound of firecrackers going off in the streets and in front yards and back yards throughout various neighborhoods. The noise was actually very startling and scary at times.

However, as I noticed, Newburyporters found it very difficult back then to break from established habits. Every 4th of July we routinely expected to hear the sounds of firecrackers going off in our yards or surrounding neighborhoods all day long…..and so they did.

Additionally, prior to the arrival of plumbing as we know it in Newburyport, every home and building had to have an outhouse. The outhouse was either attached to the building or it sat a few feet away from the main building. Years later, when plumbing arrived (and the Grover Plumbing Co. on Inn Street, as I recall, did a fine job installing plumbing throughout the city) the outhouses were not destroyed or removed.

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