Monday, 7 April 2008


Short periods of time seem to occupy vast amounts of my memory and vast quantities of time seem to have vanished. My past seems like a series of reincarnations and I sometimes wonder if I recognize who was living there.

Before I went to Berkeley in 1961, my parents often spent a week or so around the 4th of July in Oklahoma at my grandfather's home. It was a clan gathering and I was usually there along with my brother, many uncles, aunts, cousins, some of the cousins were the "Kissing" kind. That sometimes caused a bit of trouble. We all stayed at my grandfather's small house, the garage was full of kids on cots and I don't know how all the adults crowded into the house. There was much drinking, eating and storytelling and one night of frog hunting. Everyone stayed up late most nights with the adults sitting on the porch or in the large backyard around a BBQ. They told yarns and stories and laughed and didn't much pay any attention to the kids unless required.

Fireworks are part of the 4th of July and in Oklahoma fireworks stands appeared outside most small towns several weeks before the 4th of July. They sold all kinds of fireworks to anyone who had money. I saved my money all year to spend on fireworks, mainly cherrybombs(round, bright red with a fuse that would burn underwater) and TNTcrackers(silver cylinders with a fuse in the side), they both make a LOT of noise. Roman candles and fountains were for girls, sparklers were for little kids but I loved them all. The adults rarely interfered and there were no serious injuries.

I was the fireworks expert. I blew tin cans way up into the air, perfected the art of shooting lit cherrybombs with my bean flip way, way up into the night sky. They explode with a blinding flash and a bang that would make even the adults look up. The trick is, watch the lit fuse of the cherrybomb you are holding in the bean flip pouch getting shorter and shorter. When it is about 1/2 inch long, let her fly and it'll explode right at the highest point. Don't let them hit the side of your bean flip as they break open and the fuse lights the flash power and you'll get a good flash burn on your hand. I exploded them in the mud, underwater and anywhere that seemed to need a Bang!

The total time I spent with my fireworks must have been less than 40 days and nights but those memories seem to crowd out most everything else. How did we get to Oklahoma? Which years did my parents not visit my dad's father? Who were all those cousins? I didn't care about "who I was going to be," I lived only for the next "BANG."

J in JaM

No comments: