Every year around this time of year, as the fireworks streak across the sky and the shells explode outside my bedroom window, I’m taken back to my younger days. You can’t get past an exit on any …
Every year around this time of year, as the fireworks streak across the sky and the shells explode outside my bedroom window, I’m taken back to my younger days.
You can’t get past an exit on any highway now without passing a fireworks stand. Kids today don’t know how easy they have it. When I was a kid, fireworks were contraband, and you had to know someone to get your hands on some. Sure, you could go into the dime store and get some of those lame snakes or caps, but those were only fun if you lit the whole box on fire. But then you were out 47 cents. Sparklers had their moments, but they just didn’t do it for me. Standing around and twirling a piece of flaming hot metal always made me a little nervous.
I know there are a lot of gray areas on what is actually legal and what isn’t as far as fireworks go. Through some quirk in law, it’s apparently legal to buy exploding artillery but not legal to use it most places. Yet, the sky was ablaze this weekend, so it’s obviously not a high priority crime for local police.
I’ll admit that when I was a kid, if you had firecrackers, you were going to have some fun. Sure, they were illegal. Heck, back then you had to go to Tennessee to get them. Anyone driving through the state would fill up the back end of their station wagon and sell them to hooligan kids. If you had firecrackers, you were somebody. Sure, they could get you into trouble. I can attest to that. I landed a three-day vacation from the eighth grade because of firecrackers. Some kid’s brother was passing through Tennessee, and I just happened to have two bucks in my pocket at school when they were being peddled in the downstairs hallway at lunch. Two bucks bought me eight packs of firecrackers.
Like so many first-time bad boys do, I made the mistake of showing off my bounty. We had phy-ed that afternoon. It was a Catholic school, and we had no phyed teacher, so they sent us to play softball. Word spread fast that I had pockets full of explosives. When one of the boys produced a matchbook, you can guess what happened. Teachers were flooding out the school in no time. Even the priest came outside to see what the racket was about.
I just provided the fireworks. I didn’t light them, but I ended up taking the fall, in addition to having nothing to show for my two dollar investment. I got a lot of mileage out of being the kid who got suspended for having firecrackers so it upped my social status a little.
In the pre-cable TV era, kids had to actually make their own fun, and whenever we could get our hands on them, firecrackers were the source of it.
It actually makes me glad my kids have cable TV now.
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