The crackle of salutes, the pop of a Roman candle and the flair of a pinwheel echoed as the Fourth approached.
“Let’s get some cherry bombs. A cherry bomb is a cannon that can blow your fingers off.”
“And don’t forget the wood for the bonfire. We’ll pull it out when it starts to get dark.” The plans were in the works weeks before.
It was our neighborhood ritual — to see if someone knew someone who knew someone who could get us fireworks. And, we helped to build the biggest and best bonfire on the night before the Fourth.
Kids came alive, almost frenzied, because this was THE excitement of the summer.
Out of school and a long way from the history lessons and the founding fathers, most of us had long forgotten the reasons for the celebration. We just knew that something had to be celebrated with a bang.
“We’ll light it at the intersection. Let’s go.”
Kids ran from all angles laden with wood, stopping to pile it higher and higher. The pile extended almost to the level of the first floor of the houses, and then someone ran out of the shadows to throw gasoline.
Another struck a match and Whoosh!
The neighborhood was alive with the intensity of the dancing glows….yellow, red, green… and the smell of thick smoke.
Shadows that covered trees and houses were wiped away. Flames danced in the windows. Porch lights came on in unison.
“What the hell are these kids up to? This thing is out of control!”
I backpedaled toward home.
Sirens grew in the distance. Trucks rumbled closer.
I went to bed only to hear more, sounds that hit the boom chart, exploding enough to rattle my body three floors above the street. It was the cherry bomb!
The next morning I ran down the stairs and hustled to the site of the bonfire. The street was stained like coal. Charred logs sat at every corner and on the sidewalks.
There were puddles at the low points. The houses were still standing.
“Where did you go last night? You should have stuck around. Moose got a cherry bomb.”
“Yep. I know.”
What a great Fourth. Now, what was that we were celebrating?