Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July Memory

Roman Candles .... one each year

stuck in the ground in that tiny patch of earth that passed for a front yard at my Grandmother's apartment in Chicago, where the stoops of the old buildings were shoved almost up to the busy sidewalk.

We aimed it up and away from everything, sat on the top step of the stoop, and sat for the longest, watching all the wonderful dazzle of brightly flaming streamers bursting toward the sky. It's a glorious memory of my childhood.

It's been many, many years since I've set off any fireworks at all. When I looked up Roman Candles out of curiosity, I saw these real skinny things that really looked like candles. That's not what our Roman Candle looked like at all. Ours were pretty big, as I recall, maybe 3 inches across, and lasted a long time, so they would have had too much explosive material in them to meet modern safety standards ... But I do know that none of us ever got hurt by one, and it's what I automatically think of when someone talks about setting off fireworks.

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Mama Mouse said...

I'm not sure what my father set off ... but they were probably bottle rockets. I was never allowed to get close enough to the them to see what they looked like, even before they were lit. I loved them though. But what I remember best are the 'snakes' ... black pellets of gunpowder I think ... that when lit started to expand and get snakelike! Then there were the sparklers which I could never get enough of.

I'd hold one in each hand with arms outstretched, wincing as the sparks hit my bare arms, and I'd twirl around and around watching as the bright sparks left purple lines in my eyesight. Ah yes .... those were the days!

Dirty Butter said...

I don't remember who lit the Roman Candle, but I would guess it was my Uncle Mal. It certainly wasn't me!LOL

Oh, I do remember the snakes. They were creepy. Kenny, the boy downstairs and my best buddy in Chicago, and I, set off lots of those and sparklers, too. I don't remember how old we were, but we were given free reign to do as we pleased. His mama really didn't care what he did, and Grandmas are like that sometimes.

jan said...

It's kind of ironic. I've always lived in cities where they spent thousands of dollars on fireworks. But what my brother and my kids remember most were the little front yard displays that we put on. There were the illegal fireworks that we brought back from vacationing in Tennesee and hoarded for our glorious fourth. And yes, those great and now illegal Roman candles and messy snakes. Maybe this says something about our desire for individual expression?

Dirty Butter said...

We always went to Soldiers Field for the big professional fireworks display each year in Chicago, but it's that single Roman Candle that I remember the best. There's something about setting it off yourself that's so much more satisfying than just watching it, isn't there, Jan. Some inate pleasure that I can't put my finger on, but I think you know what I mean.

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