SUMMERTIME (4TH OF JULY) July 4th was always an anticipated holiday for me as a kid. We knew the celebration was close when Jerry Futscher (two houses away) opened his basement garage door revealing his deluxe display of newly arrived fireworks and firecrackers. In my mind there was always a distinct difference between fireworks and firecrackers. Fireworks to me were sparklers, flowerpots, snakes and anything that had a limited amount of danger involved. Boys (nearly men) leaned toward ladyfingers, inch and a halfers, cherry bombs and the ultimate M-80’s.
Taken in order: Funny that our entry level exploding firecrackers had such a sissy name. The ladyfingers were red, an inch long and only the thickness of pencil lead. We advanced beyond these quickly since we were nearly men (we were in about the 5th grade). If you happened to have one explode between your fingers, the resulting pain was little more than having a screen door close on your fingers. Next on the pyrotechnic ladder were the inch and a halfers aptly named since they were an inch and a half in length and the thickness of a pencil. For a machine gun effect, the lady fingers and inch and a halfers were lit by the pack. The resulting rapid fire sound was great but it devoured our arsenal too quickly.
The big leap was to the cherry bombs which were designed to look just like a cherry, red in color (slightly larger than an actual cherry) with a green stem (wick). The cherry bombs were usually the explosive limit for us for two reasons. They were dangerous and they were priced individually at the upper end of our budget. Lady fingers and inch and a halfers were sold in packs with their wicks woven together. A marketing statement claimed that the cherry bombs would explode under water. With our first exposure to the cherry bomb and the under water claim, we headed directly to Four Mile Creek to challenge the claim. Amazingly the marketers were already abiding by the “truth in advertising” guidelines before there was such a thing.
Finally, the M-80’s were out of our reach both because of the danger (more powerful than the cherry bombs) and their availability on the open market. Most often, the M-80’s were only available through older kids who would or could not reveal their sources.
Most often, lighting firecrackers extended beyond July 4 to consume the final remains of our supply. Usually all of mine were set off by the end of the 4th at my parents’ urging.