Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fireworks and Firecrackers

A couple weeks before the Fourth of July, fireworks went on sale in Seward. In our part of town, the main purchase point was a temporary stand across the street from Hands grocery store on Third Street, near the intersection with Moffitt Street. This picture reminds me of the variety of fireworks that were sold at that stand.

Fireworks. Image taken from

I don't think there was any minimum age for buying fireworks. If you were old enough to carry some coins to the stand, then you were old enough to buy whatever fireworks you wanted. Since I earned money from a paper route, I always was able to buy a lot of fireworks.

I loved black snakes. They didn't explode, but they were ugly and left a big mess -- two qualities that I admired. Here is a video clip.

I also loved those little balls you threw down onto the ground to cause an explosion. I forget what they were called. I liked them not only because of the bang but also because they left a black spot on the pavement.

Sparklers were boring if you just waved them around in the dark. Sparklers were good for holding them close to little girls, like my little sister Tricia, to scare them into thinking that you might set them on fire.

I liked ground blooms ...

... and cone fountains.

Here is a website with video clips of various fireworks.

Nebraska prohibited the sale of firecrackers but one of our neighboring states -- Iowa or Kansas -- allowed such sale . Once in a while I heard about some of the older kids would go to that other state and buy some firecrackers and bring them back to Seward.

Steve Roettjer knew how to make cherry bombs, and he made quite a few of them every year.

Steve Roettjer, eighth-grade student at St John Elementary School in Seward, Nebraska

He made them out of jawbreaker candies. First he would buy a lot of legal fireworks and then tear them apart and take out all their gunpowder until he gathered enough for a cherry bomb. Then he would cut a jawbreaker in half, scoop out the gum from the inside, pack it full of the gunpowder, insert a fuse, and then re-assemble the jawbreaker with gum, putty or glue. This adhesive had to dry for a couple days in order to become a strong bond for the re-assembled jawbreaker.

Roettjer blew up his cherry bombs to make loud bangs to scare other kids. If he could explode a cherry bomb near someone who wasn't expecting anything, then that was an optimal accomplishment that would cause a lot of laughs. Maybe there were some incidents when he blew up some object, but I don't remember any such incidents. The explosions were quite powerful.

No comments:

Post a Comment