My youngest recollection of the Fourth of July was when I was a small boy in Cottonwood, Idaho. It was just my older brother Joe and I then. My sisters Lori and Lisa were just babies and not old enough for fireworks. The only fireworks I remember from that time were Sparklers, Snakes and Whistling Pete’s. Dad lit the Snakes and Whistling Pete’s while it was still light, but saved the Sparklers until it was dark.
When it was dark enough. Or, Dad couldn’t stand us asking, is it dark enough yet one more time, he gave Joe and I each a sparkler. He lit mine with a match and told Joe to touch his to mine. Now, I could be wrong because I was probably less than four years old, but once his sparkler lit Joe dropped it because he was scared.
Dad wasn’t happy, and probably said something totally inappropriate, like calling him a baby. It was different times then. Self esteem must not have been invented. It didn’t take Joe long to catch on though, and he and I were soon waving the sparklers through the air making designs until they burned out.
That was pretty much it. “Is that all?” I asked Dad. I’d seen pictures of fireworks in books and knew there was more to the Fourth of July than a few Sparklers.
“Well, you could watch the fireworks show in Grangeville, they always have a big fireworks display.”
My eyes lit up. “Really?”
“Sure. Do you want to watch the show too, Joe?” I think Joe nodded.
I headed to our Chevrolet Corvair Station Wagon. You know, the car Ralph Nader said was unsafe at any speed.
“Where are you going?” Dad asked.
“Aren’t we going to Grangeville?”
“Oh, no. You can see them from the curb out front.”
“Really?” I was picturing some massive fireworks because Grangeville was a long way from Cottonwood.
Hold on a sec. I’ll Google it. It’s 15.4 miles. Anyway, I think Dad gave us each a bowl of popcorn and a plastic glass of water with an ice cube in it. He walked us out to the curb and pointed toward the grain elevators off in the distance. “You keep your eyes on that spot and you’ll see them.” He nodded and walked back to the house.
It would be hard to describe how small fireworks look from 15.4 miles away. Joe and I ate our popcorn, drank the ice water and walked back into the house. Now you know the story of the first Fourth of July I remember.