See, back when I was single-digits old--I don't remember the year--Dad found some firecrackers in his closet and gave them to my brother and I.
1975? 1974? It wasn't 1976 because we were at Disneyworld on July 4th, 1976. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't 1977 because in 1977 Dad was in the process of shopping for and buying a boat.
Anyway: Dad found a pack or two of Black Cat firecrackers. Typical "ladyfinger" crackers, nothing dangerous, and because my brother was 12 or 13 Dad probably figured we'd be okay, and there weren't very many of them anyway.
I remember going out into the street in front of our house. It was a beastly hot day, the sun was beating down on the tar-and-gravel-asphalt road like it was trying to turn the place into Death Valley, and a hot wind rolled off the field across the street from our house. The gravel on the road was pretty new--they had put on a new layer recently--so the road was white in the noonday sun.
So my brother took four firecrackers and twisted them together, and put an aluminum cup over them, and lit the fuse. And poom! the cup rocketed into the air, going perhaps 10 or 15 feet before clattering to the tarmac.
And its bottom was bulged outward. I was afraid we were going to get into trouble, but my brother nonchalantly got a hammer and tapped the bottom back in, and then took the cup inside and put it in the sink as if nothing had happened.
This was the height of that 4th of July.
* * *
Many times, the 4th of July was spent at the boat; and then we drove home in the evening with my head craning around trying to see the fireworks displays we drove past. I think that happened once or twice before I started going to Beecher with my friends, after I got my driver's license.
Dad didn't like dealing with the crowds and the traffic. Considering the situation, I don't blame him--he worked very, very hard, and wanted only to relax when he had time off. If I hadn't experienced it myself I nonetheless would understand that mental labor is just as tiring as physical labor solely because I saw how tired Dad was at the end of a day's work. He wore a suit and tie to work every day but his brain went at full speed the entire time. It was like that for me at R-C, too, minus the suit and tie. After eight hours of rattling keys and reading schematics, I was done.
...I didn't like that we hardly ever went to see fireworks displays, but I'd been raised to learn to accept that sometimes you couldn't do what you wanted to do. Dad wasn't interested, Mom didn't really care, so unless I could get my older siblings to take me with them I was stuck at home. "Your day will come," I was told.
But prior to getting the boat, a lot of the time we were on vacation around July 4th, so it's not like my childhood was a wasteland bereft of pyrotechnics. Like Disneyworld in 1976--I'd like to borrow a time machine and see that display again.
After the boat, we spent our summer weekends in Indiana...and of course at the time Indiana restricted fireworks to non-explosive, non-flying stuff. No bottle rockets, no firecrackers...but all kinds of other neat things. Dad's "no fireworks!" rule began to crumble when he discovered ground bloom flowers; he loved how energetic they were: "It's like it's atomic!"
Sometime in the late '80s--I want to say 1984 or so--this one nursery over in the Dyer area began selling everything, including firecrackers and bottle rockets--the good stuff--and all you had to do was sign a piece of paper saying that you were intending to take the fireworks out of Indiana within the next five days...and they didn't even verify the information you wrote on the paper.
From then on, there was nothing keeping me and my friends from having a lot of fun on the 4th. Light fuses for a while, go to Beecher, come home, light fuses...it was a grand old time.
In 1985 we did that. When it came to be time to go to Beecher, I parked the Blue Bomb where I usually parked it, on the street; it was warm and sunny and I saw no reason to roll up the windows.
(I tried unsuccessfully to find the post on the Blue Bomb. But I did find this.)
Beecher was good as always. And after the fireworks, the rain started. It had been a hot one, and it had been hot for a few days (hence me leaving the windows down) and all that heat energy came out of the atmosphere in a rush. It was pounding rain by the time we got to Route 1 headed north.
...wasn't until we turned onto my street that I remembered Oh shit I left all the Bomb's windows down! so I had my friend let me out by my car so I could roll up the windows. It was still a freakin' monsoon out there, and the seats were already soaked, but at least I could keep the entire interior from getting sopping wet.
I, of course, could not have gotten more wet if I'd jumped into a swimming pool. "Monsoon."
The guys ran inside while I was rolling up my car windows, and I hurried in once that was done; after I got toweled off and into dry clothes, the lights went out. They came on really dim, something outside went pow!, and the lights stayed off for 14 hours. Fortunately the next day was breezy and cool.
Turned out the wind blew a tree over, right onto the power line that fed the house two of my brother's friends lived in with their mother. The short-circuit blew a 3" hole in their fuse box and set the place on fire; the house was fixable but they lost a lot of stuff, including their clothes. Because of how things worked out, line fuses blew all over town from backfeeding and sneak circuits. We all could have done without those fireworks, let me tell you.
The Bomb dried out with nary a problem, though. And the day after that, Mom made me and my friends pick up all our fireworks litter. Heh.
* * *
I can tell all kinds of stories like these. Anyone can. The point is, fireworks have played a part in my life to a surprising extent, and they somehow cement things in my memory. Considering how scatterbrained I am, that's usually a good thing.