A Short History Of Fireworks ~ Part: I ~ Happy 4th Of July ~ Original Photography and Somewhat Lengthy Discussion ~

in #tunkshooshfizzleboomoooh2 years ago (edited)

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By Dawn's Early Light


Note: For those of you on holiday, with "more fun things to do than read a lot of words", there is a gallery of color images from various 4th of July Celebrations on down the page [↓] .



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A Holiday Like No Other

Happy Birthday, America. It's finally here, the 4th of July. Time for one full day off from work, boating, swimming, water skiing, BBQ cookouts in the park , finishing up DIY projects BECAUSE you have one day off from work, and searching high and low for the cat while calming the dog's frayed nerves. Why? Fireworks! LOTS of fireworks. For some reason, blowing stuff up and 'oohing' about it is THE way to properly recognize this single-nation holiday. (Followed by a whole lot more searching for the poor cat.)

Yes, we do it up big here. And fireworks are the center point for the celebration. Though I'm not exactly sure WHY. Maybe it has to do with the rocket's red glare, bombs bursting in air, and all the rest of that storied song's history. A throwback to the birth of a nation, and a time when they evidently shot enormous bottle rockets at each other, in the hopes of chasing one group or another back across the ocean. But I'm only guessing here. Maybe there is more to it, and I'm just a loud noise skeptic and hullabaloo curmudgeon. More on that later.



The Large Scale Legal

No Man's Land On The Links

Watching fireworks displays has always been a big part of this holiday for my family. The legal, official version that is, put on by our city fathers with fat wallets. It happens all over America. Pack up the family station wagon before dusk, then head over to the local lake, park, marina, or in our case, golf course, to watch the big show. And what a show it was!

The deep, muted 'tünk' sound of the giant mortars going off, trailing a faint wisp of flame into the sky, with a sudden BURST of bright, flowery light, noise, and smokey mayhem, all too soon followed by black stillness once again. Until the next one is shot off. Each bristly plume of glory accompanied by the collective "oooohhhh and aaaahhh" from the masses of humanity, blanketing the grass for miles in all directions.

Oh the joy. Oh, the glory.
Oh, the opportunity to play WW-I trench soldier for we small lads.



I Thought YOU Were Watching Them

Give a kid and his friends a booming display of bright light and explosions, toss in 18 holes of sand traps and grassy, domed hills, sprinkle in a good dose of imagination, and hope you find them all by the end of the night. We LOVED it.

It was actually a very simple exercise. Try to get from safe haven to safe haven across the course, before the massive explosions from above got you. Each blast was used to full extent, but the best were the 'boomers'. Those small, round, incredibly white flashes of light, followed by complete, black nothingness for 2 seconds (an eternity in the white sand trenches), then a drum splitting explosion that we swore echoed back off the school building, a mile or two away. Those crazy-bright 'sneakers' that we felt "all the way down to our innards".

The secret of this whole endeavor was to get from trench A to sandy trench B during a 'lull in the fighting', without getting 'hit' by the next blast, when dodging back and forth at full speed across the grassy fairway. Get caught out in 'no man's land' when one went off, and you fell where you were. After a five count, you could get up and run to the next safe zone, before another one went off. Just hoping against hope the guy at the mortar was goofing off, or having a smoke break, thus giving you a chance to make it to the next 'trench'.



Who's Kids Are Those, Anyway?

I'm sure the other families and groups on their bedspreads surrounding the course watching the display (in the sky), thought we were nuts. But we were HAPPY nuts. I'd love to have a video of our maneuvers today. Full darkness, then a bright flash of light, fully outlining some goofy kids out on the horizon. Zig-zagging across the fairway, diving into the sand traps, or falling on their back as another flash goes off. Slowly, methodically working their way from the 3rd green to the 18th, before it all came to an end.

Ah, the thrill. The joy. The rank expletives from the greens keeper the next morning, when he saw the condition of his precious, smooth-surfaced sand traps. (My dad was a fledgling golfer, so we knew better than to mess with the greens). In hard working adult hindsight, this dismay makes sense. In small-child reckless abandon on the 4th, we had no clue. All we knew, or cared about, was that it never lasted long enough.

We'd soon pile back into the Oldsmobile, fully decorated for our incredible bravery with grass-stained, raspberried knees, shorts full of white sand, and a serious bath once we got home. I guess that's why someone invented soap, and our mothers swore by it. Or just swore more than they should, when we were out of earshot. The 4th of July... running the gauntlet on the WW- I battlefield of youthful imagination.



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The Smaller Scale Scofflaw

Growing Up, And Going Rogue

Sooner or later we all grow up. Or at least get bigger and older. And running around, thrashing the golf course during fireworks shows will likely get you in a bit of trouble. Say, an admonishment, stiff fine, or worse. Which makes a good, harsh, brush-scrubbing in the tub seem pretty tame by comparison.

No worries. There are still OTHER ways to show your Fourth of July Spirit, beyond recreational landscape destruction. Like blowing off fireworks, on your own. People LOVE to buy fireworks. The smaller ones. And for some reason, in this part of the world, they've traditionally started selling these things in May or June. I'm not sure why. The fourth is still many peaceful, quiet months away. But this matters not.

Little stands start springing up here and there on street corners and in the BigBox store lots, seemingly the day after Easter. Hawking all sorts of fancy pyrotechnics and noisemakers. And these things are EXPENSIVE. I've seen guys walking back to their car with a huge grin on their face and 2 months salary clutched to their chests, in the form of finely packaged noise and light. Things with funky names like Wall of Fire, Boomer-Zoomers, Sparkle Rockets, The BIG Bang, and Great Niagara Balls Of Light.

I certainly can't afford these things anymore. As a kid, we bought firecrackers and such, but in small quantity. And they were legal back then. (I think. I got them from my older brother. So who knows...). And now, at least in this part of the country, this whole fireworks thing has changed drastically. The firecrackers of old are illegal. Most legal fireworks are now all about light and show. The huge, noisy explosions are (theoretically) out, colorful waterfalls of spark and shine are in. At least if you follow the law.

I suppose these big banger's ARE a lot of fun, unless you are a cat or dog, huddled oddly together under the bed while the fantastical light displays rapidly disappear into the atmosphere in a puff of smoke. (Amazing how a bit of shared terror will overcome millennia of natural selection and speciatic gentrification.) I've always felt bad for the domestic livestock around here, when the 4th season descends with a bang. And though it may not be related, they have changed this whole availability thing in the last year or two. For ALL fireworks.



That Curmudgeonly Part We Talked About

Traditionally, this celebratory racket of the extended holiday has gone on for weeks, if not months. And though I've never considered myself a dyed in the wool stick in the mud, and as an older kid, played with my share of fireworks, the illegal ones going off in the neighborhood DO get a bit old. For me, and the cats. Not the tame, legal fireworks. All they do is sparkle, and melt holes in the pavement where I ride my bike. I'm talking the large, illegal explosions, going off at 2 AM, while I'm theoretically asleep. Or randomly detonating at ALL, nerve-jumping hours, just because they can.

And as for ON the fourth...which I fully understand, it's a HOLIDAY...they're normally non-stop. But today, it's amazingly QUIET outside. And has been, for weeks. Usually this stuff is going off all day and night. Much to my sleep-repressed chagrin. And helps lead further to the development of that whole curmudgeon thing, we mentioned early on.



The More Things Change, The More They're Still Different

But things HAVE changed. For the good. At least in my book. Maybe the dog catcher ran for mayor, and won. And now has a soft spot in his heart for...Spot. Though I doubt this is it. I'm thinking it's just a noise ordinance or safety thing. They seem to be drastically limiting the window for celebration around here.

And though I still think the sport of fireworks is a small blast, PFI, the dogs, cats, and we wannabe writers who like to sleep, in prep for concentrating at the keyboard at all hours, are a happier lot. Thank you, Mr. Mayor/Dogcatcher, or whoever's in charge. You make me proud. And less on edge. And my cats are as elated as a cat OCCASIONALLY stoops to be.



Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Be Inside

Uh oh, the neighbors are off work today, and their heavy metal band just cranked up, practicing very thumpy music two houses over, as I type this. If only I had a slew of firecrackers to let off, to drown them out. Oh, wait, those are now illegal. More on that, tomorrow or some other day beyond, in Part II.

That is, if I can concentrate. The illegal, amateur thunder-boomers just started going off in all cardinal directions across town too. So very pleasant, loud explosions blending in with the death-metal rock music down the block. I think the long arm of the law is only so long. Now where DID that cat get off to?

Cheers, from the merry curmudgeon, and a happy 4th of July to everyone who celebrates it.
And if you don't, well, it's a good excuse to make some extra noise on a Thursday....

- ooo -

~ FINTO ~



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On With The Show

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- ooo -

~ FINTO II ~



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All images taken with a Nikon D200
(At various settings I am not going to list individually because I'd like to get this out before the 5th of July)



Thanks for stopping in and viewing the latest discussion about the Fourth of July, and some photos to go along with. If you have any thoughts about fireworks, the noise the huge ones make, your pets during this celebration, buying either legal or illegal works, or anything else this post reminds you of, please feel free to comment away in the spaces below. I'd love to hear from you.




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Posted: 07/04/2019 @ 19:05~ Post No. 319



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Excerpts From Late-Night Conversations With A Mechanical Cat

Fact Number 154

More Classic Cat Facts From Stinky the Cat

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Nice photos! I'm not sure why we launch them off, either, especially considering the price of fireworks. The price tag on a large city's fireworks display is astronomical and, yet, city governance can't find enough money for the arts, city improvement or beautification projects, feeding the hungry, etc....

Still, they are fun. We never played with them as kids, because my parents were worried about blown off fingers and, really, the big fireworks display was the main attraction. Nowadays, I like to buy some of the more interesting ones on the 5th or after, when they're on deep discount. They're handy for photography projects :-)

Thanks, glad you enjoyed them. It is an expensive endeavor, that's for sure. I go back and forth about it. Nice to see and photo, but could feed a lot of people with it.
I have a second part to this I want to finish, about the youthful days, but may have to wait until next year. I never seem to be on time, and now, it's a bit too late. But I had the whole finger thing happen. Luckily it was a small firecracker, but HURT LIKE THE DICKENS!! Lucky, I guess. Just numb for a day. Maybe that's why we never messed with the big ones. We were actually hidden smart, in our dumbness.
I should try the day later sales. They DO come in handy for more than just light and noise. How do you use them in photo projects? I can only imagine.

Ouch! Yeah, that doesn't sound fun!

Mostly, I try to get the sparklers and smoke bombs for use with photos. I used some smoke bombs in my jack-o-lantern after Halloween for photos last year. It was fun to play around with.

Oh, that's right. I recently re-read that post, for some reason or another. With the blue smoke and other types coming out. It was rather comical, to say the least, and very creative. I was trying to figure out what you would use the huge, spider web in the sky thunderboomers for. The sparkler and smoke bomb do make sense.
As for the hand experiment, luckily I learned the hard way, but not as hard as it could have been.

What a fun and interesting way to celebrate. I would have loved that golf course game. Heck, I'd love it now.

It seems to me there are two kinds of creatures: Those that want to run at a lit firework and bite it like the best dog toy ever, and those that want to hide under a bed and say dog prayers. I happen to have one of each in my house.

I can hear the distant booms indoors before, during, and after the fourth of July, but they generally are not very loud. I enjoy the sound. Maybe it reminds me of childhood, or maybe it makes me think that there is someone getting a little high off of their boom. Most likely it reminds me that there are holidays, and holidays are often lovely - even without fireworks. That said, I can sleep through a heavy metal band no problem, so that certainly plays a role in perspective :)

I did come across a bit more like a crabby crank than a curmudgeon there. These are big, M80's on steroids. And at random. They used to start around May or June, and run till August. I think those in charge have put the kibosh on that. Though the huge ones still go off, just not as much. They are kind of cool, on the holiday, or when playing on the golf course, but after midnight a month later, get a bit old. Like I mentioned, it's gotten much better. And I've gotten older too ( :

I am afraid I need quiet to write, maybe a touch ADD or something. Most things distract me easily, either out of "ooh, that's cool" interest, or simply harder to concentrate. So the new band is tough sometimes. I AM getting old, aren't I?

Never seen a dog run toward fireworks. Though Stinky the Cat used to run up to the weed eater, whenever I fired it up. "What's going on here?" Had to shoo her away from that one. Though like so many things in life, it wasn't the obvious that did her in, like messing with the blackberry blade on the Stihl, it was some sort of odd brain cloud. I suppose that is typical of life. Worry about crossing the street, so you dash across, and fall into a manhole.

Those numbers and letters for the booms always manage to confuse me. I think it is the same issue I have with street names - I can always remember Mulberry Street, but call it 22nd Street and forget it. Literally, I forget it :)

So, I am thinking those number-letter-something-or-another big booms you mentioned must be the professional style ones that burst high in the sky? They are illegal here as well but apparently it is not enforced in any way here. I see them frequently in the distance, but only the week of the holiday. That stuff is really expensive to be blowing off for the heck of it in May or June. Those crazies - it takes all kinds.

I know what you mean. It takes me twice as long to write with any noise because of distraction. I think the human brain inately likes to avoid work, even when it is work we enjoy. Maybe its an instinctive effort to conserve energy...or maybe brains are just lazy :)

Poor Stinky. I believe in the law of the opposites. It is often the opposite of what we think that happens in the end.

M80's. "If you can't baffle them with B.S., flummox them with facts." (Don't ask me what I'm talking about there.)
As for the human brain in this head...I'm sure it is a combo of the W.A.L. (work avoidance-laziness), the lack of focus of the scatter gun-based approach to life and thinking, and the fact I spent many years working in the near silent woods of the west. Add them all up, and "I need quiet, people".

Happy 4th of July!

WOW! Very magnificent fireworks! I love them all! Great capture!

They are now illegal here, too. So, it's great to see these fireworks via your photos!

I'm excited every time I see fireworks, especially when I was a kid..... Or even today, "kid heart in older body"! Ha ha! ;D

Thanks so much for sharing. ;)

Hello. I'm glad you liked the photos. They were fun to capture. And glad I can provide them for you, since they are hard to see there. As for growing up, why bother, eh? Have a nice night, my friend.

Yeah! No problem for "old body with kid heart"..... Ha Ha! ;D

Have a wonderful night, GFF! ;))

Yes, I suffer that, luckily ( :

Ha ha! ;D

I can hear the " uuuuuuuh, oooooh, ahhhhhh!" that comes with the fireworks! :D

I think it's universal. And probably in all languages, it's still oooh and aaaah. I wonder?

Fabulous!

Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed the photos and etc. Always fun to celebrate the 4th in whatever way possible. Have a nice Sunday. (I seem to always be a bit behind the arc...)

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What a good photo!!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed them, and thanks for stopping by.

2 and 8 are my faves. Any good fireworks were always illegal in Michigan. Yeah I remember how when I was young when we would vacation down south and I would load up on illegal one and bring them home. I remember being 10, and going to the Dearborn fireworks display. I had my illegal fireworks in a paper bag set on the blanket. That cop didnt worry about any warrant, he snatched that bag, looked in and walked off with my year's worth of fireworks :( I had not thought of that memory for ages and it still stings lol.

That was not a nice policeman. he probably took them home and blew them off with his kids that night. Heavy corruption in the world of noise and light. Sorry to bring up bad memories, on a nice Sunday. But I suppose that is what happens, when the writing mind wanders. Do you still blow them off now? They are very expensive, I know that much. And paying the bills has somehow become a higher priority on this end. Whatever HAPPENS to us as we get older than we think we are?

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