When I was 12 years old, I sold fireworks under the supervision of my older brother, Neil. The stand (more like a wooden shed) from which we sold, had been positioned on the property not far from my dad’s gas station. Nowadays OSHA would come down on you for doing that, but for us, it was an opportunity to earn enough money to buy a bicycle. I’d waited impatiently to be old enough to take my place as a sales gal. It was my first, paying (by someone other than the parents) job.
Note: I had, a couple of times, assisted that same brother with his ice cream truck job, but received no pay (other than the occasional ice cream sandwich) for helping him out. In fact, at the time, he convinced me he was doing me a favor, letting me help him without pay. Not the first, or last, time he convinced me that what he wanted was in my best interests. He should have been a salesman, not a dentist.Ours was yellow and pulled by a small, matching tractor that made more noise than the music.
So anyway, Is it just me, or does it seem like the booms have gotten less loud? Oh, I know the shows are big, the rockets red glare. I love them, too. We used to have our show out at Lovell “lake.” Now that I’m big, I realize it is more the size of a pond, but seemed very lake-like when I was little. We thought it good fun to smear ourselves with possibly toxic insect repellant and head out to watch the show.
No, it seems like the firecrackers themselves are smaller. I suppose that makes them safer, but safe isn’t nearly as much fun. I used to love Black Cats. They made a nice bang and if you set off a string of them? Oh yeah.
Let’s see, we also sold cherry bombs and M80’s. I liked the cherry bombs better, not sure why. The M80’s would stay lit under water.
And do you remember the snakes? They made such a mess!
No stroll down firework, memory lane would be complete without sparklers. Those little holes you burned in your clothes?
I can still remember my brother (yeah, same one) trying to launch a grasshopper using a bottle rocket. They probably shouldn’t have stood so close. It made it about face height and then detonated. The last revenge of the critter.
And of course, the fun couldn’t start without a punk! Which always went out just when you needed it.
We used to give them out for free with a firework purchase. Haven’t bought fireworks for so long, I don’t know if that’s still the case.
Two memories of my time as a firework sales girl. “Carding” a twenty-one year old who wanted to buy some cherry bombs. I was as serious about it as you usually are at twelve. And the evening that some drunks bought fountains and then started shooting them at each other. Yeah, next to fully loaded fireworks stand and a gas station. No cell to call the police, but the guy running the station had a phone. My first look at an actual arrest.
I miss that feeling of wonder, of being young and excited about putting down my money for explosive things and having the freedom to do it. Of being unaware of the dangers. We had a great time, though I sort of recall my mom giving us dire warnings. The world might be safer, but I don’t think it is nearly as fun.
So, what about you? Have any Fourth of July stories to share? Miss the bad old days? Feel the need to give me a stern lecture? Cause its way too late for that. I managed to not blow myself — or anyone else — up, though yeah, some insects and fish didn’t make it.
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Perilously (with all digits intact),