If we were having coffee today we’d probably catch up on our respective Fourth of July festivities. I generally remain pretty sedate about such celebrating, maybe a little cooking out, along with some intensive movie watching. It’s almost too hot to do anything else. We went to a small cookout at a family member’s place and, on the way home, we managed to catch sight of a few of the local town’s fireworks. Once I got home, I was amazed that quite a few neighbors were shooting off some pretty good fireworks themselves. We’ve generally don’t have too much of this around here since fireworks are very illegal in NC. This was the most I’ve seen in a while. Thankfully, our dog Daisy does not seem to be bothered by the explosions.
I grew up in Texas where there was a serious demarcation line between city and county. It was illegal to sell, possess, and use in the city, out in the county it was okay. It’s a bit like the old wet-county, dry-county thing … twice a year, just outside the city limits, temporary plywood fireworks stands would suddenly appear just before New Year’s Eve or Independence Day. Imagine, an entire cottage industry for two days a year.
My parents were not major proponents. We never, not once, made the yearly pilgrimage to the fireworks stands. As a result, this fledgling pyromaniac had to resort to scavenging. The Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve meant two things to me: July 5 and January 1. I’d head out early both of those days and prowl the nearby streets of our subdivision. I found out early on that there were leftovers which were easy-pickings to someone industrious enough to seek them out.
I reasoned that those large strings of firecrackers would often blow a small percentage of individual units away from the group. Not duds, mind you, but fully functional explosive devices that fate had spared from certain explosive extinction. I’d generally find dozens of these lying about, unnoticed and unforgotten in the late-night festivities. There were other things too. At the time I was amazed at the bounty of bottle rockets and other small items that would have been overlooked. I know now that, sadly, Mr. Stumpy and Old Man Lefty were likely drunk when they were shooting them off, so it was easy to miss a few out of the bag in the orgy of pyrotechnics they were intent on exploiting.
I even found a way to utilize “dud” firecrackers. If you broke them in two, you could light the innards and they’d be like earth-bound rockets, spewing jets of sparkly and intense flame. Fizzlers I called them.
So the day after both holidays were my day of celebrating.
As long as my mom didn’t find out.
What about where you live or have lived?
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina, where most fireworks are illegal although they try to assuage the masses by allowing some really lame ones that are even sold in grocery stores. If you want the really good stuff, you have to try to illegally import from south of the border … South Carolina.
His latest novel, Lucky Strike, is coming in October 2019. Info on his writing is available at http://thefensk.com