What is your favorite part of the Fourth? I’m sure you have many. Mine are sort of a mix of all the past Fourths: lots of fireworks when I was very young. My favorites as a child were snakes. You young people may not have ever heard of them. They weren’t exciting. Before being lit, a snake looked like a piece of black licorice the size of an aspirin. When I lit the top, the snake would grow in a long, black tube of ash, coiling like a snake. When they reached a length of about six inches, it stopped. A light breeze would break the ashes up and blow them away.
However, snakes–boring as they were–were very safe. When I was six, I took a sparkler and lit it. Unfortunately, I was holding the wrong end. I’d pick up the soft, thick end of the sparkler, believing–and, yes, I do remember this–that was the comfortable handle. When I put a match on the other end, the heat moved down the wire section and the part I held–the “sparkler” part–burst into, well, sparkles. I got terrible burns on my palm. A great deal of what I remember about celebrating the Fourth has to do with pain.
Every year back then, in late June, there were explosions in stores that carried fireworks as well as the factories and transportation centers. That’s why you see fireworks sold at stands yards away from and building and why sparklers are now so hard to light. When I was a kid, fireworks killed people. I feel it is my duty, as an old person, to mention history.
However, I do have good memories of the Fourth which include family and watermelon and long drives to Wichita, Kansas, and back to Kansas City in the same day. Historical note: this was before car air conditioning.
What’s your favorite memory of Independence Day?