Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not The Best Fireworks Ever

Barry, Brian and Me. On a juvenile fireworks shooting spree, through the northern fringes of Minneapolis, 40 years ago. I don't remember how I hitched up with those two: Brian the carefree, Barry the heart-breaker. Brian had just come back from South Dakota with a grocery bag of fireworks, his summers were a continous series of explosions. I had been to his house a few years earlier, his uncle and grandfather sat in the back yard with beer and eight-foot long strings of crackers, lighting them from their cigarettes one after another, for hours. It was in his blood. Barry, sinfully handsome even at 15, was a Bud Abbott to Brian's Lou Costello.

It was quite dark, after ten at least, and we made our way through various neighborhoods, randomly punctuating the cricket's songs with our explosive outbursts. We arrived at the Shingle Creek park, which had a sledding hill- the perfect site for shooting Brian's "big" rocket. We were trying to figure out a way to prop it up when we saw a squad car in the street below. We took off, laughing, in the other direction, over the creek where the police couldn't follow, heading off to the neighboring suburb, Brooklyn Center, leaving a trail of explosions on the way.

Even the most incorrigable delinquent can weary of this past-time, we finally found an empty lot where there was an old bucket that we could use as a launch pad for our mighty missile. All that running we did must have loosened the powder, when Brian lit the rocket it fizzled a bit, rose about six feet into the air and exploded in a shower of colorful sparks. We thought that was really hilarious. Especially when Brian noticed that his polyester shirt was riddled with tiny burn holes.

And, of course, by the next summer we could drive, take part-time jobs, go on dates, and have other kinds of fun/trouble. The most memorable skyrocket of my childhood was the one that was a dud.

By Professor Batty


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