The Fourth of July … the old fashioned way


Our town’s Fourth of July celebration never included patriotic speeches, blaring bands or petty parades.  No sir, our town dedicated the holiday primarily to noise.  The din began at 6 a.m. and did not fade away until well after sundown.


The day seemed to be in the hands of every boy in town who armed himself with cannon crackers, the 12 to 14 inch firecracker that burst with an earsplitting boom and if a can or cooking pot was placed over it the result could be a metal container ascending to the height of nearby telephone poles.


On tht day old ladies did not sit by their windows and all sensible cats and dogs retreated to the cellars.  Our gang was playing hopscotch when raggedy Bub Cooley pumped his brakeless bicycle by us.  He boasted, “Betcha I’m gonna buy more firecrackers than all of you!”


Now, like all little girls at that time we were content with sparkler and snakes;  all very quiet ammunition.  However, his sneering face was a challenge.


“We stamp on ‘spit devils’ a lot,” offered Scoot.

“Yeah,” Mig joined in. “They sputter so much they burned my ankles last year and I didn’t cry.”

“We’ll probably be shooting off ‘lady finger’ all day,” I lied.


“Baby stuff,” sneered Bub.  “That’s stuff for babies that don’t know nothin’.  I’m gonna have the biggest explosions you ever heard ‘cause I got money from my Uncle Jack.  It’s enough to buy a whole careload of firecrackers!  It’s five whole dollars!”


As Bub pedaled off he left us with a horrific picture of him drowning in a pile of fireworks or worse yet him shooting off fireworks all over town forever, because surely he’d never be able to set off all those fireworks in one day.


A few days after the Fourth came and went we saw Bub’s older sister, Vandy, and cornered her battering her with questions about Bub’s fireworks.


Scowling ferociously Vandy muttered spitefully, “Bub didn’t buy no fireworks with Uncle Jack’s money.  He went down and spent the whole dern lot on chocolate candy and went out back of the shed and ate it all by hisself.  Then he got sick as a dog all day long.”


All the gang agreed, “Bub really must have had an ‘explosion’ of his own to celebrate the Fourth of July.”

Mary Elizabeth Mruzik
Pacific, Missouri