Thursday, June 30, 2011
Happy 4th...run for your life.
Ah yes...Again we approach that mid-Summer festivity known as the 4th of July. It was a big deal at my house. The summer equivalent of Thanksgiving...Tons of burgers and dogs on the grill...potato salad...my dad even made homemade ice cream.
We'd eat and swim all day. Play volleyball with the neighbors. All the while eager for dusk to set in so we could settle in and watch the fireworks. We'd walk over to my junior high school and sit on a big hill and watch the display. But even that show paled in comparison to the firework show at my house.
He'd sneak out of the house a couple days before the 4th and shop at some random firework stand manned by a toothless Mexican. We'd look at the large displays of what was likely contraband military ammunition and I'd ask, "Dad, are you sure these are safe?" It was kind of a routine with us. I'd ask knowing they weren't safe...just to cue Dad. And just so he could tell my mom he was assured they were safe, my question broke his pyrotechnic trance for long enough to ask the leather faced Mexican, "Are all these legal for Colorado?" as though the guy was an agent from the ATF. The answer was always, "Yes Senor."
We'd load up on cherry bombs, smoke snakes, sparklers, bottle rockets....Then we'd casually stroll to the heavy duty stuff. Larger fireworks...ones that were packaged in a way that the only safety label was a skull and cross bones to indicate they might be lethal. It was these fireworks that really got Dad jazzed.
On the night of the display Dad would prep for his show by bringing out two of his prized saw horses...and wore his Sears and Robuck brown running sneakers. He'd use the saw horses to nail spinners so they'd be less likely to kill anyone in his audience. The sneakers were worn so he could run for his own life in case one did come loose and go flying.
A propane tank with a special attachment was used so he always had a flame at the ready. He'd hold it proudly. Did I mention he wore his wood working safety goggles? He did. You never know when a smoke snake can get a little wiley and go flying.
Anyway, we'd sit at a relatively safe distance...I think...and watch Dad as he lit Mexican dynamite. He'd extend his arm as far as he could...make up the rest of the distance by doing a lunging movement..light the firework...then practically trip over himself as he ran for his imaginary foxhole. We'd watch the spectacle...mostly because we were frozen with fear.
Did he have mishaps? Yeah...a few. One year a bottle rocket pierced and burned our neighbor's shirt as it went flying over our fence and hit the laundry line. Another year a roman candle tipped over and shot balls of fire at the audience...which is to say.."Us."
I think that was the only night of the year I saw Dad run. Good times...