Archived Story

Celebrating the Fourth

Published 10:07pm Monday, July 2, 2012

This summer has really flown by for me. I just can’t believe this is Fourth of July week. I have some very vivid memories of this holiday due to my Daddy.

My earliest memories of the Fourth of July are going with Daddy to buy fireworks. There was only one stand we ever went to because Daddy was a friend of the man who owned it. Daddy and I would go behind the counter where they stored boxes and boxes of fireworks. The man would give us a large (and I mean large, 3 feet by 3 feet or bigger) box. Daddy would start picking out fireworks not one at a time, but boxes at a time. I don’t think we ever had one of anything, except the “Grand Finale.” The Grand Finale was the biggest firework he could find.

We lived on a farm with plenty of open space for shooting off all those fireworks. Any aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents that could come did. The festivities usually started mid-morning with my Mom beginning to prepare a large meal.

Daddy, of course, would barbecue on the grill. Mom always made her famous potato salad along with fresh corn on the cob, ripe tomatoes, tomato and macaroni salad and many other dishes. After our late lunch, Daddy would let us kids get out the fireworks that made noise and blew up, but they weren’t pretty.

Looking back, I can’t imagine how we were lucky enough that none of us got hurt! If Daddy had seen us lighting a firecracker in our hand and trying to time throwing it so it would explode in mid-air, he would have busted our tails!

Anyway, by the time night began to fall everyone was ready to get down to the business of lighting the “real fireworks.” Daddy would usually set up three stations with boards and bottles to light fireworks. The big box of fireworks would stay safely back so as not to get any accidental sparks or a stray bottle rocket in it.

Except for one time. It happened when I was about 4 or 5 years old and I actually remember it! My Mom was holding a lighted match in her hand and got bumped. She dropped the match into the large box with all the fireworks that happened to be sitting right behind her Pontiac. Well, before she could fish it out, it lit a package of firecrackers. You can probably imagine the rest of the story. I remember Daddy grabbing me and telling Mom and the rest of the family to run. I vividly remember Daddy hiding us behind someone’s pickup truck while bottle rockets, firecrackers, roman candles, fountains and everything else went off every which way while I cried that, “Mommy blew up all my fireworks!!” Mom’s car suffered a few little marks due to that one. She was just lucky that she still had a car left at all!

Daddy ended up heading back to town (10 miles away) to buy some more fireworks and you know, now that I think about it, I don’t remember Mom having much to do with fireworks from then on. She left that to Daddy – imagine that!

Mom found other ways to contribute to our celebration. She enjoyed watching the fireworks displays we put on and she made sure we had plenty of bug repellent, as well as homemade ice cream after the “Grand Finale.”

So what have I learned from these experiences and others? One, don’t ever let children out of your sight with fireworks. Two, don’t use matches around fireworks – especially large boxes thereof. Three, make sure you do something special with your kids so when they’re grown they will have memories to cherish. Lastly, don’t forget to remind your kids of the important history behind the Fourth of July and of the servicemen and women who still defend our freedoms every day.

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