Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Top 5 Fireworks of My Childhood

Many moons ago, I, along with two of my cousins, had the best Fourth of July ever.

We were spending the week at my cousin’s ranch/farm. We had a huge sack of firecrackers. There were countless piles of cow dung in the field. In a matter of minutes, a new game was invented.
Need proof we live in the greatest country on earth? Go buy a huge roll of these and give them to a young teenager.

Step one: take a firecracker and place it in the cow patty as if it were a birthday cake. Step two: light the firecracker. Step three: run. If you got hit with poop in the ensuing carnage, you lose.

We took turns playing this new game for the better part of the day. When we turned up at the house, my uncle took one look at us and grabbed the garden hose.

This story speaks volumes to the nature of young boys. It also says a lot about the versatility of the simple firecracker. Here are my top five fireworks of all time (for a kid, i.e. no big/expensive stuff).

5. Dancing rosebud: I’m not sure if this is the correct name. I couldn’t find them online. They probably stopped making them because they were a bit dangerous. I’m referring to the thumb-sized cylinders that you would lay on a flat, hard surface with plenty of room. It sounded like a really mad bumble bee and resembled a flower bloom that danced along the ground.

I loved these things because they were so unpredictable. I think dad loved them for the same reason. Every year, he would buy a package of them. He’d light one up by the basketball goal. Mom and the rest of the “audience” would be back by the three-point line. Not a year went by when one of those little buggers didn’t stray further than intended. After mom had her say, everyone would pick up their lawn chairs as dad promised never to buy those stupid things again. (Sure dad)

If everything went right with the lady finger, you got to keep your fingers. That's always a nice bonus.

4. Lady finger: Google image search “lady finger firework” and a photo of someone missing a finger is one of the top hits. And for good reason, before safety fuses, these millipedes of destruction were quite dangerous. (Remember those old gray fuses that would speed up randomly and shave like five seconds off the total time?) Anyhow, when they didn’t blow up in your hand, they were pretty awesome. You could toss them in a coffee can for even more fun.

3. M-180:  I grew up in a post M-80 world. I still remember claims that an M-80 was a “quarter of a stick of dynamite.” According to Wikipedia, we were way off. But still, we were right in that firecrackers used to be a lot bigger than they are today.

Now, these are the biggest “cherry bomb” type firecrackers you can buy. They have a lot of different names. Typically they’ll come encased in plastic and they do give you a much bigger bang than your traditional firecracker. We used to toss them in a pond and watch the water shower up after the muffled boom. Good times.

2. Firecrackers: The lowly firecracker is still one of the best bangs for your buck. We would unravel them from the huge rolls and carry around a 20-ounce cup of them. We’d light and toss until our heart was content. If you really thing about it, they’re a slightly more grown up version of the snap and pops.

Growing up, we'd try to ration out our bottle rockets. There was nothing better than finding a forgotten gross in August.

1. Bottle rockets: What else could be number one? You take the cheap cost of the firecracker and add in propellant. Huge win! As a kid, you knew you’d finally hit the big time when you graduated to bottle rockets. Some cultures use extreme survival tests as the line of demarcation between boyhood and manhood. In ‘Murica, dad pulls out a gross of Black Cats and says, “Here, son. Go have some fun.”

And finally, I’ve got to end with a quote from one of the best movies ever. “You’re gonna stand there, ownin’ a fireworks stand, and tell me you don’t have no whistlin’ bungholes, no spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick, or one single whistlin’ kitty chaser?”