Sunday, July 04, 2010


Starburst explosions;
Symbols of celebration.
Siss, boom, pop pop pop.
My first recollection of a fireworks display on the 4th of July was when my age was written with a single numeral. It was a birthday celebration, and I'm sure that the adults in attendance were aware of the duality of the festivities. But for me, it was Uncle Ed's birthday party. The bestest part for me was the yellow cake with chocolate frosting, his favorite, made by Aunt Nellie.
After dark, mom put a lit sparkler in my little hand and showed me how to trace sparkling light trails in the air. Meanwhile the men were setting off roman candles, rockets, cherry bombs and strings of firecrackers. We all oohed and ahhed at the starbursts and booms, and booed at the duds. The whole thing was over in 15 minutes and everyone said their final happy birthdays to Uncle Ed, commented on the day's perfect weather, and departed for each of their respective homes around the neighborhood.
A decade later, in early adolescence, when a few friends and I would sneak across the river to Canada on the ferry: sneak? Yeah right; like every adult on board didn't know who we were, where we were going and why! School was out and the 4th of July was just around the corner. It was illegal to sell fireworks in New York State but not so in Canada. We were off to spend our paper route monies on packets of firecrackers, with the keen knowledge that our clandestine trip would go undetected and that the custom's agents would never suspect that we were bringing illegal contraband into the U.S..
Of course besides the 'crackers we would also buy a cone of chips with vinegar plus some other trinkets so as to "fool" the custom's agents into thinking that that was the real reason for our trip to Prescott.
How they must have chuckled after they let us through without searching us, knowing full well that there would be plenty of mini explosions in the 'burg on the 4th of July.

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18 Comments:

Blogger Helen said...

Two for the price of one! Great haiku and wonderful prose!
Happy Day!

11:11 AM  
Blogger sheri said...

ah, rel, what wonderful memories! i had to chuckle right along with you as i pictured the faces of the customs fellas knowing full well what you were up to! your annual 'trip' to canada must have made the fireworks just that much more valuable to you :)
thanks so much for all the kind words in my comment box, especially since i wasn't able to get out and enjoy my favorite authors these past two weeks. it was a real pleasure to come by and read through all that i had missed. hope you and yours have a glorious 4th, one you'll be blogging about for years to come ;)

11:47 AM  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

chips and vinegar...yum. and sneaking back fireworks...i'd know nothing of that...(sheepish) smiles. nice magpie!

2:43 PM  
Blogger christine said...

A lovely tale of you younger!! I loved it Of course not being American the fireworks for the 4TH of July didn't occur to me. When I was little, my home town in South Wales had a firework display each year through September and when I leaned right out of my bedroom window I could see their spectacular display and it being a seaside holiday town we had chips with vinegar but not in a cone but in newspaper!

Christine

3:43 PM  
Blogger joanny said...

Wonderful Memories -- those were the days, growing up back East in New York I remember going into Canada without needing any ID.

Interesting magpie story -- and just a great all around good tale.

Have a Happy 4th of July.

Joanny

3:43 PM  
Blogger joanny said...

Oops forget to mention love the Haiku.

Joanny

3:44 PM  
Blogger Stafford Ray said...

We have been really hurt by 9/11!
So much freedom and trust gone.
Was with you on your foray into Canada and the customs guys... great times and neat poem! Thanks Rel.

5:02 PM  
Blogger twitches said...

Was never much into fireworks, but I know eEveryone goes to Mexico down here for the same purpose!

6:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

you bring to mind the simplicity of childhood and the pleasures of "secrets", but secrets that don't hurt those around us. Simpler time, simpler pleasures. Great, great post. :)

7:58 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

Oh, what fun - outwitting the gendarmes. I've never been able to sneak a thing through anywhere. But I never carried chips and vinegar! A delightful memory.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Chrissy said...

your magpie made me long for my youth and the innocence that comes with it...nice job!

2:22 AM  
Blogger Suz said...

A wonderful piece here Rel..loved the sharing of childhood
and the haiku

8:52 PM  
Blogger Patience said...

I dont think the 4th of July would be as fun if one didnt get to sneak in fireworks! This sounds like a true story and that those Canada trips were a blast!...no pun intended:)

11:52 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Oh, I love nostalgia. I hope this year's holiday was just as much fun.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

I never fooled a gendarme! Always got stopped, searched and banded. :) But I never had a cone of chips and vinegar - I'll remember that next time. Fun story!

9:32 PM  
Blogger chiccoreal said...

Dear Rel: So much innocent spunk and vinegar (and chips!). You kids! Today could you imagine? I was always under the impression that it was tons easier to get Fireworks in the states; due to the fact they were sold off-holidays in most Minimarts, Gas Stations, etc. The fireworks promptly disappear after firecracker holidays I think. Especially if there is a fire ban which is almost all the time now (due to global warming). Ah, for the good old days. Thanks Rel! Excellent story which brought back a lot of fun memories!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

a real joy reading your memories.

nice Magpie

loveNlight
Gabi

11:21 AM  
Blogger willow said...

Love it!! Fireworks are a MUST for the Fourth. Hope yours was nice.

4:28 PM  

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