As we approach the Fourth of July a.k.a. Independence Day, we are reminded that John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and that Benjamin Franklin invented fireworks. Hancock went on to open a big Insurance company. Franklin sold his fireworks the idea to the Chinese and got his picture on the $100 bill.
Fireworks are a big part of every Independence Day celebration. Cities try to out do each other with elaborate fireworks displays that light up the night across the country. This is nice.
Fireworks are also a big part of a lot of backyard celebrations and that’s the part I don’t understand. First of all, I grew up in Ohio where fireworks were illegal. Of course they were readily available from nearby Pennsylvania, or, if you knew a guy who knew a guy.
We didn’t blow off fireworks at home when I was a kid. My dad knew a lot of guys who knew guys but he just wasn’t interested in blowing off his own fireworks. This is a trait I inherited because I don’t get it either.
When I was a kid on the Fourth of July, the big fireworks activity at our house came in the form of snakes and sparklers, neither of which made any noise. Everyone knows what sparklers are but snakes are passé in today’s fireworks world, like bell bottoms in the world of fashion. They made no noise and just grew into long black earthworms that were not very exciting.
But when it got dark, my dad would bring out the granddaddy of all holiday fireworks, a 30-minute railroad flare. The kind you see thrown around traffic accidents. He put our flare upright so we could ooh and aah at the white hot light that could be used for emergency welding. At the end of the 30 minutes, we all had watermelon and went to bed…which was not a smart thing to do after you just had watermelon.
I see the fun in Roman candles and sky rockets, but from a safe distance, not ground zero. Need I remind you that these fireworks were made overseas, by poorly paid employees, some of whom may not be fully concentrating on the day your firecracker was made, and it could explode in your hand.
Every July Fourth there are numerous reports of people suffering firework-related injuries including missing fingers, missing toes, burned hair, and having an eye put out. Why are you doing this to yourselves. If you like this kind of pain, marry a Kardashian or volunteer for an IRS tax audit.
In closing, let me say that if you are inclined to buy some fireworks to use in your own backyard this week, please don’t. Somebody’s gonna get an eye put out.
Thanks a lot Ben Franklin.