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The last fireworks contest

We always brought the fireworks when we visited from North Carolina. We drove through South Carolina, so we could stop on the way to Georgia and buy lots of legal fireworks with fantastic colors, big noises, red-hot sparklers, roman candles, bottle rockets – everything Daddy was willing to buy. Our family was the star of the 4th of July show.

The 4th of July was a big deal for Daddy’s family – the twins (older cousins) were born on the 4th and cousin Ricky on the 5th – plus the mills were closed down every where in the South, so it was easy for everybody to show up. The last time we had a fireworks show – Ricky won it. We were grown – way grown up. I had talked to him earlier in the week – he was 20-something years old maybe. I said “I heard you joined the Army” – Ricky said, “No, I joined the Guard – I get extra money. I just got back from training – and I only go one weekend a month and for a month in the summer.”

“Sounds like a good deal,” I said. We went down to Uncle Mack’s for the fireworks show, since he had a big flat front yard.

Then Daddy and Uncle Mack and some of the rest of us started the fireworks. The little kids were oohing and ahhing and screaming and generally running around and having fun. The bigger firecrackers exploded and we were pretty proud of our show. Suddenly Ricky said. “Hey – I got an idea, I’ll be right back.” And he took off to his house – about a half mile away in Aunt Ruth’s old house. He came back in his truck minutes later, stopped out in the road and rolled down the window and shouted “Be right back” and took off to the branch, within sight of his Dad’s house down the road.

About 10 minutes later, Ricky came back into his parent’s yard , this time sliding that truck sideways – and he leapt out and UNDER the truck. I knew Ricky well, so I went under the truck with him. That’s when the explosion hit. Ricky grinned and said, “They trained me to use dynamite in the Army. I use it to blow up beaver dams for money now.” Dynamite. Huge firecrackers.

“Great,” I said. “How many trees did you knock down?” “None,” he said. “I tied it to a tree. Dynamite only hurts things when you contain it – it hurts the first thing it hits, and this didn’t hit anything.”

About then, the doors to the house flew open and Aunt Jeanette came out yelling her head off. It turns out that the first thing that blast hit was the side of the house, moving it in and out enough to knock all of the pictures on that side of the house off the wall. They fell and all of the frames broke. Oops.

That year, we declared Ricky the winner of all fireworks shows ever – that was the last fireworks show our family had.

Note: The star of this show, Ricky died in 2017. His death took the fight out of his father Maxie, who died in December of the same year.

Categories: Family Stories


I write. I fix computers. I feed cats.

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