Monday, July 2nd- It’s 8:00 p.m. and the sun is going down. We hear the first boom. It’s not bad and comes from the house one street over. We will name the owner of that house one street over, Bob. Bob's grass is very often the highest in the neighborhood except 3-4 times per year when he mows...or should I say when he mows it onto the road. More booms follow that first boom. Bailey, one of our golden retrievers looks up from her spot by my chair. Ginger, the other golden continues to sleep. A few more fire crackers, then a mini-grand finale and the show appears to be over. We've been through this for several years. This reminds me that tomorrow, it is time for me to stop by the fireworks tent to buy the materials for my own celebration. This is America's Birthday.
Tuesday, July 3rd- It's 4:30 pm. and I am on my way home from the river, drift boat in tow. I swing into the fireworks tent just off the four-lane. The tent is overflowing with things that sparkle and go boom. I walk in and the guy sitting in front of the giant fan looks up from his book. He says "that's a funny looking boat". I ask him what can I get that makes exceptionally loud booms and let him know I'm not necessarily interested in a pretty light show. He nods toward the back corner of the tent. It's 1 million degrees in the back corner of that tent.
My senses are overwhelmed immediately by the sheer volume of yellow and red packages.There are fireworks on all the tables. They sell fireworks with names like; Gold Fountains, Silver Spinners, Red Rain Rockets, Blue Rain Rockets, Sky Rockets, High Voltage, Spitfire Tanks, and Whispering Palms 40 Shot. All this and more is for sale under that tent. I settle on a case of Thunderous Finale 60 Shot boxes. With the half price coupon my total is $378.42. The fireworks are always half price according to the banner that is blocking the airflow from the fan as I pay. I ask the guy how to ignite all of my purchases at the same time. He mumbles something about a G9 Super fuse and I get one of them too for my trouble. He keeps looking at my drifter parked by the road, so I tell him it's a fly fishing boat and before he can ask I tell him there are trout here in Tennessee. This seems to ease his mind and he tosses in a couple long sticks that he calls "igniters". He says they are supposed to be lit first, so I can then light the G9 fuse, which needs to be linked into all the Thunderous Finale 60 fuses. He says my friends are in for a "hell'uva finale".
I can't wait for the Fourth of July. It's literally just around the corner.
Tuesday, July 3rd, it's 7:30 pm and Bob is at it early. First there are a few booms. I walk onto the porch and see there is a small fire in Bob's yard. The fire appears to be from the wrappers he left laying in the road the evening before. They must have blown to the edge of the road and caught fire with what I can only assume is a Spitfire Tank that he kicked with his foot while running after lighting it. Those Spitfire Tanks shoot a short flame out of the end of the barrel and this is probably what caught Bob's day-old wrappers and dead grass clippings on fire at the edge of the road. Bob and his neighbor Pat are watering the dead-burnt grass, just before starting their second largest fireworks show of the year. I can see them between the houses. They are drinking Red, White & Blue. It is almost the Fourth of July.
Tuesday, July 3rd at's 11:45 pm and it's dark. The guys are lighting fireworks at a fast pace. There are lots of lights and crackles and booms and well you get the picture. I can't hear the TV. Bailey and Ginger have retreated to the bedroom and I am sure they are contemplating their next move. The numbers on the clock continue to pass as the time gets later and the noise seems to get even louder. I will be fishing in the morning. The booms continue to get louder and carry-on well into the night. I can't sleep and Bailey is now in the bathtub. It's really late as the show continues. I'm not happy and Ginger is shaking uncontrollably under the bed. Both dogs are on high alert as Bob and Pat entertain themselves and everyone else in the subdivision.
Wednesday Morning, July 4th, it's 3:45 am. I am up early to get to the river before the crowd. We should be on and off the river before most of the recreation folks are even filling their coolers with ice and beer. Bailey is still in the bathtub and Ginger is now wedged between the pedestal sink and the wall. I flip on the exhaust fan and shut the door. They are sleeping and with the fan running they can't hear a thing. The neighborhood is quiet when I step on the front porch with my Thunderous Finale 60's, my G9 Super Fuse and my igniters. The lighter is in my pocket. All this goes into the truck and I drive one street over. The street is dark except for Bob and Pat's neighbor's porch light. The light shows the fireworks wrappers in the road from a few hours before and the burnt grass in Bob's hay field...errr yard. I stop the truck and unload the fireworks. The air smells like gunpowder and burnt grass. Everything is set in the middle of the road. I double check all the fuses and light the igniter. The igniter is touched to the G9 Super Fuse, which provides exactly two minutes of time before the early morning show. The G9 Super Fuse is now sparkling, so I jump in the truck and back down the road.
Wednesday Morning, July 4th, it's 4:02 am. When I get back home, to my front porch, I can see the fuse glowing in the road between the houses. The fact that I can see the fuse from my front porch was sheer luck and I am taking great pride in the placement. Then the show starts. There are no bright lights, no sparkles, no pretty colors. Nope, there are just loud booms. I quickly lose count. In the distance, lights come on, up and down Bob and Pat's street. I hear voices. I hear Bob's voice and some arguing as the Thunderous Finale 60's continue to explode, one after the other. The arguing gets louder. The neighbors from both sides of Bob's house are yelling while Bob and now Pat, who has emerged from his house, try to defend themselves. The show lasts another 5 or 6 minutes but the yelling continues until I hear doors slam. The show is over and then I see the blue lights as they make their way up the street toward Bob's. Some people are still standing in the street. I can actually see the discarded fireworks papers and tubes in the roadway from the headlights on the police car. People are still talking loud as the officer tries to sort out the commotion. I load the drifter and the truck. Rods, reels, bags, flies, hats for the sun, all the stuff we need for a morning on the water. I grab a couple extra rolls of tippet off the shelf. Everything is hooked up and ready for a quick run to the river.
The police car is stopped at the stop sign at the end of Bob's road when I pass by, drifter in tow. I wave in the dark. The officer turns the cruiser and goes the other direction and the taillights disappear.
Wednesday Evening, July 4th, it's 7:45 p.m. Bailey is laying next my chair passing gas and Ginger is snoring by the TV. It's a million degrees outside with a heat index of twice that. The neighborhood is quiet. Happy Fourth of July America!
Some names, facts and information have been changed for the protection of some involved and some not involved.