Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrating the Fourth

Fireworks at the Boston Pops

Our fourth of July plans were washed out the same as many others' in Iowa. Creston postponed their fireworks display until July 31, but we went ahead with the planned cook out although we had to move it from the deck to the covered patio.
The only fireworks we watched were the ones from the Boston Pops program on TV. Which was ok, because we watched them from the comfort of the couch - no bugs, no humidity.

Even though we now have shade on our deck (thank you, Thea), the new umbrella couldn't keep the rain off all of us. The large umbrella is such a welcome addition - makes our space so much more usable in the afternoons.

Somewhere over the years I've lost my enthusiasm for fireworks even though the 4th of July was a big deal when I was a kid. The sale of fireworks was illegal in Iowa as was the possession and firing of same. The law banning fireworks in Iowa was passed in 1938 after the town of Spencer burned June 27, 1931 when a display of fireworks for sale was accidentally set on fire.

All the law accomplished in the southern counties of Iowa was making people drive to Missouri for their fireworks. I think Dad and his neighbor friends usually drove down to Hopkins - the first town across the Iowa state line in Missouri - to load up on fireworks. I remember "Fireworks for Sale" fliers coming in the mail in June advertising other Missouri locations with competitive pricing.

My sister and I were too young to shoot off firecrackers. We could have the sparklers, but that was all. At some point, we were deemed old enough to light "ladyfingers". These were very tiny little firecrackers. I can still remember how excited (and scared) I was the first time I held a punk to a ladyfinger. They often didn't even go off, which only prolonged the excitement until one finally popped.

We gradually worked up to some of the larger firecrackers, but never to the cherry bombs or M-80's my brother and his friends would set off under tin cans to see who's can blew highest or lit and threw into the stock tank to watch the water blow into a geyser.

It seemed like we always invited neighbors and/or family to come for supper of fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans, followed by homemade, hand-cranked, ice cream before the evening grew dark enough for the fireworks.
Dad would lean a section of eave spout against the front yard fence as the launching pad for the rockets. A few rockets were the highlight of the evening. In those days they only came in red or green. Dad wouldn't let anyone else light the rockets, but we all oh-h-d and ah-h-d as they exploded over the field across the road.

Some years later, bottle rockets were invented - or at least discovered by us. Setting off those little gems was as much fun as watching the big rockets, plus we could buy so many more. After my brother grew up and moved to Missouri, he used to bring fireworks back for the 4th. My kids went through many of the same rituals celebrating our country's independence as did I.

Maybe it was after they grew up that I lost my enthusiasm for fireworks. Or maybe I've become jaded and think of fireworks the same way I do mountains - you've seen one, you've seen them all. I still enjoy the getting together with family and eating, however.

Hope you had a Happy 4th of July and remembered at least once why we were celebrating.

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