Fourth of July!!

[A Holiday repeat of July 2, 2017]

On this Independence Day eve, here’s a distillation of a few prior posts.  

Fireworks? Firecrackers? Cherry bombs? Should they be legal? In Wisconsin, fireworks stores seem to outnumber cows.  Weekend festivities are often punctuated by the staccato of firecrackers or the magnificent boom of larger devices.

In 1956, the Hungarian Revolution began.  And my 9 year old pals and I learned about Molotov cocktails.  So – we filled a pop bottle with gasoline, stuffed a rag in the top and lit it — tossing the bottle into Weller creek.  WOW!!   Spectacular blast and flames (not to mention the bumblebee whiz of shards of glass and rocks).   

We’d break open firecrackers, shake out the fulminate of mercury powder into cigar tubes with homemade fins, balance them on an incline and then light a fuse sending the “rocket” skyward or sometimes just bouncing along the ground (ending with an enormous explosion).  We would grab handfuls of match books at the local pharmacy and snip the heads off.  And stuff match heads into thin pipes, shaking in the fulminate powder for more incendiary displays.  And bombs.  And cannons stuffed with BB’s held in place by dripping candle wax.  And once a hand grenade – using Slaymaker lock dial.  Every boy had a supply of firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80’s and such.  And my neighborhood was frequently ripped with massive explosions.  

I am keenly aware of all of the arguments of some armchair howlers (“what about accidents?” “they can blow your finger off!”).  Puh-lease.  Wisconsin and 39 other states have got it right on fireworks. Illinois – as usual – marches to the wrong drummer.  On pretty much everything. . . . .   

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4th of July!

On this Independence Day eve, here’s a distillation of a few prior posts.  

Fireworks? Firecrackers? Cherry bombs? Should they be legal? In Wisconsin, fireworks stores seem to outnumber cows.  Weekend festivities are often punctuated by the staccato of firecrackers or the magnificent boom of larger devices.

In 1956, the Hungarian Revolution began.  And my 9 year old pals and I learned about Molotov cocktails.  So – we filled a pop bottle with gasoline, stuffed a rag in the top and lit it — tossing the bottle into Weller creek.  WOW!!   Spectacular blast and flames (not to mention the bumblebee whiz of shards of glass and rocks).   

We’d break open firecrackers, shake out the fulminate of mercury powder into cigar tubes with homemade fins, balance them on an incline and then light a fuse sending the “rocket” skyward or sometimes just bouncing along the ground (ending with an enormous explosion).  We would grab handsful of match books at the local pharmacy and cut the heads off.  And stuff match heads into thin pipes, shaking in the powder for more incendiary displays.  And bombs.  And cannons stuffed with BB’s held in place by dripping candle wax.  And once a hand grenade – using Slaymaker lock dial.  Every boy had a supply of firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80’s and such.  And my neighborhood was frequently ripped with massive explosions.  

I am keenly aware of all of the arguments of some armchair howlers (“what about accidents?” “they can blow your finger off!”).  Puh-lease.  Wisconsin and 39 other states have got it right. Illinois – as usual – marches to the wrong drummer. On pretty much everything. . . . .   

Fireworks – Redux

On this eve of Independence Day, I thought I would have a rare “repeat.”  This one is from October 10, 2012.

So what do you think about fireworks? Firecrackers? Cherry bombs? Should they be legal? I was in Wisconsin this last weekend and the fireworks stores seem to outnumber cows.  The weekend festivities were punctuated by the staccato of firecrackers or boom of a larger “device.”

When I was 9 years old (and on), I loved firecrackers and fireworks. Loved the smell of cordite. We used to break open firecrackers, shake out the fulminate of mercury powder into cigar tubes with homemade fins, balance them on an incline and then light a fuse sending the “rocket” skyward (often with an enormous explosion). We would pack match heads into the tubes, pouring in the powder for more incendiary displays.  And bombs.  It was wonderful! 🙂 Every guy had a supply of firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80’s and such.

I am keenly aware of all of the arguments of the armchair howlers (“what about accidents?” “they can blow your finger off!”).  Give me a break.  I believe that fireworks (at least firecrackers) have a place in a young boy’s life. Wisconsin and 39 other states have got it right. Illinois – as usual (with its regulations on everything) – is marching to the wrong drummer. . . . .

“F” is for “Fireworks”

Every Independence Day, I am embarrassed that Illinois is one of the few states in the Union that disallows any and all kinds of fireworks for private use. This Fourth of July I heard a few neighborhood “pops.”  And saw a few puffs of light.   And I can just imagine police SWAT teams barreling down on the offenders.

I continue to believe that people of Illinois should descend on Springfield and demand equality for buying and using fireworks. As I reported earlier (10/10/12; 10/15/12; and 10/30/13), many kids – like me – grew up with fireworks.  And it was a hoot.  Don’t give me the “oooh oooh – you can get hurt” business.  It does not happen.  And you know it.  Your child has a greater chance of being seriously injured playing soccer than by a firework. 

And while we’re in Springfield asking those who run this state for equality for buying, selling and using fireworks – we might create some fireworks of our own demanding honest government and fiscal responsibility.  Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation.  And according to a new Thumbtack.com and Kaufmann Foundation survey, Illinois is the worst for business (okay, California tied us).  Illinois got an “F.”  Companies are leaving in droves to the tune of 1,000+ jobs a day.  Illinois is one of the most heavily-taxed states.   Yet new taxes, fines, regulations and penalties appear daily.  Did you know Chicago’s population today is less than it was in 1920?  Illinois leadership has ruined our State.   Yet they keep getting voted in.  Who votes for these people?  How’s that for a segue?     

Halloween

In my posts of 10/10 and 10/15/2012, I mentioned that my 10 to 12 year old buds and I made really cool rockets with match heads and Black Cat firecrackers – broken open to carefully pour out and use the fulmenite of mercury powder. We would similarly make bombs and cannons with such materials. We learned about Molotov cocktails from the Hungarian Revolution (1956) so we made them with pop bottles, gasoline and a rag stuffed in the opening.  We’d light them and pitch them into the creek by my house while six foreheads and twelve eyes peered over the edge.  Waves of intense heat rolled above us while the bumblebee sound of glass and rock shards buzzed over our heads.  Occasional ka-booms would rip through the neighborhood to the grand delight of our “gang” – and much to the irritation of our mothers who would yell out the window “Harold – you go find your hand and sew it back on” [slam].

Halloween was always a special treat.  For tricks. However, the tricks though were far more benign since they involved adults.  Thus our creative and cautious natures sprang forth.  Most aggressive was setting fire to a paper bag full of dog poop on someone’s front stoop. Then ringing the doorbell (and watching – hands over our mouths – as Mr. Foy stomped it out).  Or just ringing doorbells.  I remember calling my friend Darryl M. on the telephone. I mistakenly dialed CLearbrook 3 – 75_ _.  A woman answered and I asked for Darryl.  The woman went ballistic (maybe she’d had calls for Darryl before).  She went on and on – and I was fascinated!  CLearbrook 3-75_ _.  I memorized the number which I remember to this day.  I went over to Darryl’s and together we called the number.  Our ears pressed against the receiver.   “Hello?”  “Hello is [snicker] Darryl there?”  “X%@&!!@&*#!”  Oh my socks and shoes the woman used every word I had learned never to use – and then some.  We shared the number with other friends.  I’m sure the number was spread far and wide.  “Hello is Darryl there?”  In these simple days before caller ID, we could call with impunity.  And learn many new words in the process.   I am sorry – today – for doing such impish things.  But there’s a 10 year old boy somewhere in my core that still wears a smile . . . . . 

Fireworks – a Postscript

I have received some criticism for my posting about fireworks.  When it comes to firecrackers though, I continue to be bewildered by the fuss — and oppressive regulation.  I suffered a badly-burned finger once and had my ears ringing a few times but there were never any serious problems among my 10 year old pals.  And we did have fun. . . . .  

Let’s look at statistics.  According to a 2004 study, there were 9,600 fireworks injuries in the United States.   None were fatal and most occurred in the month surrounding the 4th of July.   http://www.pyrouniverse.com/stats.htm    This number of injuries is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to other activities such as high school football where there were 500,000 injuries in the 2005-6 season including 16 fatalities (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070815154430.htm ).  I have no kneecap in my right leg thanks to high school football. . . .

I try and put things like this into some logical perspective and cause/effect context.  Firecrackers for me were a hoot and generally safe.  The cherry bombs, Roman candles and such?   Okay — I agree they should be reserved for adults.  And probably limited to rural environs.   But please tell me this — would you rather allow your son to play high school football or light off some Black Cat (I still remember my favorite brand) firecrackers?  I know what I would choose. . . . .     

Fireworks

So what do you think about fireworks? Firecrackers? Cherry bombs? Should they be legal?  I was in Wisconsin this last weekend and the fireworks stores seem to outnumber cows. And the weekend festivities were punctuated by the occasional staccato of firecrackers or boom of a larger “device.”  

When I was 9 years old (and on), I loved firecrackers and fireworks.  Loved that smell of cordite.  We used to break open firecrackers, shake out the fulmenite of mercury powder into cigar tubes with homemade fins, balance them on an incline and then light a fuse sending the “rocket” skyward (often with an enormous explosion).  We would pack match heads into the tubes, pouring in the powder for more incendiary displays.  It was wonderful!  🙂  Every guy had a supply of firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80’s and such. 

I am keenly aware of all of the arguments of the armchair howlers  (“what about accidents?”  “they can blow your finger off!”) but I still feel that fireworks (at least firecrackers) have a place in a young boy’s life.  Wisconsin and 39 other states have got it right.  Illinois – as usual (with its ban) – is marching to the wrong drummer. . . . .