Thursday, July 05, 2007

The alley by Logan Street

I spent part of the day, thinking about Fourth of July past. And wondering what memories my children will take with them, after this relatively short stint in my care. I was thinking about how Fourth of July has changed.

I grew up in a sleepy little Midwestern town, and I think we were able to buy fireworks about a week and a half out from the Holiday. We would get the "Shopper" a local small publication that listed Ma and Pop grocery adds, local business ads, yard sales, and the like. Around the fourth, the fireworks stands would start to advertise. They would enclose a coupon for a free pack of lady fingers, and smoke balls if you spent $5. So my Mom would cut the coupon out, and then she would call Grandma, and folks from work. I recall heading down there in my Mom's blue buick, hot from the summer heat, smelling of old car. A smell I miss, and would recognize immediately, but no one has an old car any longer.

My Sister is 7 years my senior, so I do not remember many trips to the fireworks stand with her. I do recall my younger brother and I making the trip year after year. We would get one brick of lady fingers. An entire brick. I am unsure how many lady fingers that adds up to. We would take them home, and Mom would give us an old Folgers coffee can, we would proceed to unwrap them one by one. Fingers turning sliver as we worked on the chore. Unwrapping yellow, red, and green for hours. We normally left the free pack intact, and would light it as a unit, and listen to the series of blasts....always deciding in the end, it was sort of a waste, one light and an entire pack woud be done.

We would stand by the alley on Logan Street, ALMOST the worng side of the tracks, hell one street off, and we would keep oursleves busy for days. We would light the punks off of the electric stove, and run outside for hours. Punks no longer smell the same, I wonder what has changed. The neighbor kid Roger, that shot my Sister in the arm with his BB gun, told us punks were made from camel crap. Funny what I can remember.

We were careful with the lady fingers, for the most part. Of course we always found a stray pop can, or something to blow up. Oh and there was a "close call" EVERY season, you know the lady finger with the short fuse, that you should light on the ground, but didn't as some sort of show of Bravado. And the tricky long fused lady finger in which you were sure you had a long enough time to throw the thing, only to have it almost take a finger off. The promises of "do not tell Mom, I almost blew a finger off" following immediately.

I do remember my Father holding bottle rockets, and lighting them throwing them up in the air, thinking that he was nuts. Bottle Rockets were outlawed in those parts not to long after.

I also remember that when we ran out of punks, my Mom would give us a lit cigarette to light the suckers with. A cigarette of all things. Of course, this was back in the day, where you could smoke in the Drs. office. Yes I am that old, I suppose.

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