My mother had three sisters and two brothers and they and their families all lived within 5 - 10 miles of their parents (my grandparents). So, we often got together for extended family parties and picnics at my grandparents' place. Any excuse would do whether it was the Fourth of July, someone's birthday (especially their 16th birthday) or someone graduating from high school. So, one summer day, we gathered for another picnic. My dad didn't say anything about a special surprise but after we'd been there a while, he started talking to everyone about some games and contests he wanted to organize. To get everyone interested, he mentioned the prizes that would be offered. A telephone, a toaster oven, a television and some other things I've forgotten. Well, that got everyone's interest. I was young and I forget if anyone questioned him about where he got these things. They all knew he would never steal anything and he was good at fixing things (besides his regular job as a construction equipment operator, he'd also gone through a technical program to learn to repair televisions and had a side business doing that). The only question was: Did he get a good deal on buying new items cheaply or were these repair projects where people were just throwing old things away?
My father was always a great motivator, though, and he got everyone into the games. There was a mixture of races and skill games (balancing things the longest, stuff like that I think) and quizzes...if I remember correctly. People who weren't interested in some of the games just watched and then competed in the games that interested them. Finally, as the afternoon came to a close, he announced the winners and made a big show of going to our car to get a box that had the prizes (All of them? In one box?). He struggled to carry the box to the picnic table from our car and wouldn't let anyone help him. He stood up on something so no one could see in the box. Then he started handing out the prizes. They were all small, plastic replicas - a tiny telephone, a miniature television and so on. My relatives were yelling and laughing at the same time.
My father was born in Wales (a part of Great Britain) and even though he was a naturalized citizen of the United States, he was still thought of as the relative from England. So, a lot of the joking afterward mentioned how they were going to get him and mention of a song that was popular at the time, The Battle of New Orleans written by Jimmy Driftwood and performed by Johnny Horton and his band. They especially liked the verse:
Yeah, they ran through the briars an' they ran through the bramblesThis part was sung after the British had been defeated and were being chased by the victorious Americans. My relatives all forgave my father. I had never known him to do anything like this but I always remembered the excitement and joy he brought to the party. I'd never seen him be the center of attention like that before. He was like a carnival barker and a motivational speaker as he urged people to join in the games and to do well. He was quite a guy.
An' they ran through the bushes where the rabbits couldn't go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.