Fourth of July, south city-style

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Ever feel nervous when your children handle pyro and/or explosives?

"No, kids, these fireworks are for Mr. Loesch and Mr. Dellas."

Yeah, well Team Loesch did that on Shock City's roof on the Fourth of July because it's not Independence Day unless you can toss a bottle rocket from four stories up with friends and your friends' kids.


Which reminds me.


When I was a kid I spent the majority of my summers in the Ozarks with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all their offspring. There where so many of us I honestly have no idea how Grandma kept track; I remember stealing cookies from her cookie jar and running off to hide in the corn when I thought she was occupied and dangit all to Hades if that devil woman didn't find me. I mean that affectionately. I'm sure you can understand the wrath of a ten-year-old whose Grandma just swiped a Keebler elf cookie from her hand moments before she crammed it into her mouth.


The great thing about the Fourth of July is that all the adults wanted to drink beer and light fireworks off from my aunt's porch so no one paid all too much mind to what the kids were setting on fire - except my mother, who never let me hold a Roman candle like my cousins did because some lady she worked with had a neighbor who knew someone whose arm was blown off by a Roman candle when it exploded and bits of arm went everywhere. She changed the story up and made it gorier every year; one time it was his arm, another time it was his face and his lips were burnt clean off.

My cousins and I waged legendary bottle rocket fights. I was the meanest of them all mainly because I had to be: everyone took one look at my white fro and their eyes twisted into evil half moons.

When the adults ran out of their share of bottle rockets they dispatched Uncle Surl out to the field to babysit us. Uncle Surl is a cantankerous beer drinker who prefers solitude and great mystery novels to nights out, at least in his old age. His idea of a cruise is to pay for a bunk on a merchant ship and sail around the Pacific going to ports "they don't take the stupid tourists to." He became legend when, while boarding in Alaska, he slipped and fell all the way down the gangplank. Instead of fighting it, he thought "Eff it. I'll roll" and broke his leg. He also once stole the family town's city sign and planted it up at the North Pole.

Uncle Surl would trudge out to the field near the railroad tracks where we were all battling, the porch a glimmer in the distance.

"Here!" he'd bark, and produce a batch of pilfered bottlerockets from the porch. We were estatic as our supplies were dwindling. We prepared to light them off in our hands when Uncle Surl would holler "NO, no, you blockheads, you'll blow your da*mn hands off and then your mothers will nag me to death. Here." He downed the open bottle of beer in his right hand, finished off the one in his left, and plunked them down on a railroad tie.

"Stick 'em in this and then light 'em."

He'd watch for a few minutes, the resulting explosions reflecting off his thick glasses, before trudging across the field, back to our aunt's house.


There's something about the Fourth of July that brings me back to the Ozarks, even mentally, and even if I'm standing on the roof in the middle of the city with fireworks exploding all around me. The kids clamored around Chris as he lit bottle rockets in his hand, anxious to see if he'd blow his arm off. The sky was red and hazy from all the smoke.


Maybe it's because I'm older, but the night seemed to last longer when I was younger.


Ha! I can't believe you were actually up there! Now I wish I HAD driven by and lobbed water balloons up.

We were homebodies, though.

Yes. At our house, it is the duty of the drunkest adult male present to perform all set up, ignition and trejectory analysis duties. 'Cuz nothing goes with copious amounts of alcohol like corner store explosives.

My grandfather was a casualty of fireworks! No, he didn't die and I can't say there were bits of arm, face, or lips anywhere, but he was burned and angry. All my memories of ny grandfather are of him angry though...

We had such a time with fireworks and sparklers when I was a kid. Now the stress of having them anywhere near my child is unbearable. So, he's only two months and yes, I am a first time mom. Perhaps next year will be more fun ;), Loesch style I guess that is!

We missed the fireworks this year. We were in Ohio and you can't shot them off. Thanks for the smiles.

By children, were you referring to your "little boys" or your "big boy"?? :)

Several years ago the "big boys" in our family put on a display that entranced all the neighbors. We could hear their oohs and aahs from across the subdivision lake. No one dared call the cops; they were all too busy enjoying the show.

Unfortunately, the "little boys" (and girls) were somewhat disappointed becuase it wasn't SAFE for them to shoot off any themselves and they had to make do with sparklers. When in truth, the big boys just didn't want to share! And yes, there was a bit of beer involved. OK, maybe more than a bit.

Ah, the memories. That one, and my dad sneaking me out to shoot off bottle rockets where mom couldn't see. She held me to sparklers only, but dad was way cool. And he probably used a beer bottle similar to your uncles!.

Times like that I realize how much I miss my dad, and how special those times were. Your boys will have those memories as well.

I'm thinking I am jealous of your childhood Fourth of July' mother only let us have snakes and sparklers. And while the odds of poking out our eyes with hot sticks blinding us for life was great; fun lacked in watching a charcoal pellet grow to an eight inch black turd.

Hey Dana :)
I loved the post. I think your right, everyone has to hear about the kid who got his arm blown to pieces on the 4th. Glad Liam and Cheeks had fun!

I am one of those unfortunate parents who actually saw her cousin get burned by fireworks as a child. Now they terrify me and I much prefer to watch the city displays rather than watch my neighbors break the law by doing their own displays. My kids, on the other hand, love fireworks. What can you do? I repeat all the warnings then let them go (the youngest is 12).

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