The Fourth of July brings out the fireworks. I was a firecracker fanatic. That may be one reason I can’t hear so well. A couple of other well known citizens were firecracker pyros too, but I won’t mention their names since I am trying to keep as many friends as possible these days.
Boys like firecrackers, the louder the better. We grew up with super loud and, in fact, dangerous explosives. My favorites were Cherry Bombs, Bulldogs and M-80’s. They were hard to come by, too. We could always count on carrying back a gross of the explosives from Myrtle Beach vacations. I think they cost about $2.95 a gross. They were like gold to us.
The regular little packs of firecrackers were no match for the big stuff. We devised all kinds of ways to blow things up. We experimented with excavation by digging holes in the ground dropping down a Cherry Bomb and running like crazy. An earth shaking thump was followed by a puff of white smoke. We threw them high into the air for really loud neighborhood blasts. A soda can didn’t have a chance. We were always on the lookout for the police. Firecrackers were illegal. Maybe that’s why we enjoyed them so much. We were lawbreakers. On more than one occasion a neighborhood adult called the law on us. We scattered to the wind but only for a short time. After the “all clear” signal we were at it again.
We devised the “Wham-o sling shot technique” whereby one brave soul would stretch his slingshot loaded with a fresh Cherry Bomb as far back as possible. The accomplice would then light the shaking Cherry Bomb fuse next to the ear of the sling slot shooter. The shooter would then hold the lighted Cherry Bomb to make sure the fuse was burning well before releasing the bomb high into the air and over into the next neighborhood. The device usually exploded high in the air. Neighbors had no idea from whence the explosion came. We did.
Even today, Johnson City’s strict laws rule out any fireworks. But, it never fails. All through the evening we will hear blasts throughout the neighborhood. The commotion will probably last all next weekend since the celebrated holiday will be on Friday this year.
Outgrowing fireworks is a gradual thing. Sometimes you don’t. For instance, our neighbor in Georgia bought over $500 worth of firecrackers and skyrockets each Fourth of July. We were invited down for a cookout and to view the coming blast. His son, Wilson, was his partner in crime. They purchased the large packages of firecrackers made in China, maybe with 500 or so firecrackers in each package. But, that not being enough added ten more packages. They had to wheel the lethal package to the street in a wheelbarrow. The stacked packages stood about four feet high by three feet wide.
After expertly arranging the fuses, the dad made sure everyone was safe behind a tree, car or locked door. He lit the fuse and ran, laughing all the way.
I have never seen such continuous and loud explosions of the regular old firecracker. It was huge. I started to inch my way behind Judy for protection. The firecrackers continued blasting for ten minutes. You would think they were finished and another package would start to explode. The street was completely covered in smoldering firecracker paper. We soon moved out of the neighborhood.
Large firecrackers are very dangerous. I’m not sure if they even make the kind we used to explode anymore. We were lucky to never get injured. We knew some fellows who lost fingers in firecracker accidents.
I used to keep at least one pack of little firecrackers in my drawer for emergency celebrations but can’t find them. Maybe I’ll go over to the legal store and buy a few for Friday.
Remember what it says on the package, “light fuse and run.”