West: Happy July 4 or is it Christmas???
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By MIKE WEST

The Fourth of July is here! Yea!! Next week is Christmas.

Confusing? Let's put it this way. Time passes quicker the older you get. It's not that I am that old.
Really? REALLY! Yes, really!!

Well anyway, back in the day we had all sorts of time to plan a proper July 4 event. My brother and I would start saving our nickels and dimes awaiting the opening of the fireworks tent two or three weeks before the holiday. "Baby" brother didn't come along until the glorious days of bottle rockets.

At that time, it was illegal to sell fireworks inside the city limits. Fortunately we lived near the edge of town and the tent was just a quick bike ride away.

Well actually it was little bit more complicated than that. We weren't supposed to ride our bikes on the main highway. So we would ride _ and ride _ through the country side up to this little side road that crossed the highway and zip, we were across.

In those days, the selection of fireworks was pretty slim. Sky rockets, roman candles, sparkers and firecrackers were about it.

Then a world-wise buddy of mine revealed that the vendor had something a little more powerful if you were nervy enough to ask. Yes, he had the dreaded "cherry bombs" and the horrifying M-80s.

I didn't have enough money for an M-80 so one cherry bomb was purchased. It was top secret.
I carried that deadly bomb like it was a bottle of nitroglycerine. Naturally, I couldn't wait until the Fourth. I had to set that thing off.

So I went to the edge of the yard and after carefully determining that no one was around I struck a kitchen match and lit that thing.

What if it was a dud? What if it was as powerful as a quarter stick of dynamite? I didn't have much time to worry.

That cherry bomb went off with a big boom. It had a full, throaty sound similar to a 12-gauge shotgun shell.

Yep, it was loud.

I darted inside and my mother immediately asked "What was THAT?"

"I-I-I don't know," was the lie I uttered in response. 

I was sent directly to my room until my memory clarified.

Eventually, I owned up to that "big firecracker" without saying "cherry bomb."

My next fireworks exploit involved my father. It was rainy, so we were shooting roman candles out from the garage.
Naturally, we ignored the instructions that said you shouldn't hold them in your hands. But the evening was uneventful until we got to the last roman candle. The fuse was missing.

So, yours truly, came up with the bright idea of sticking a firecracker in the end of the candle to ignite it. It was a trick my fireworks "buddy" told me that worked.

So I carefully placed the roman candle on the edge of the concrete floor and barely put a firecracker in the end of it. I lit it and stood back.

But my father grabbed that roman candle up and the lit firecracker slid down the tube and blew up. The roman candle blew up too in an amazing blast that shook the garage.

We found ourselves on the garage floor and after the initial shock was over we were roaring with laughter.
Inside, it must have sounded like World War III.

My mother mistook the loud laughter as screams of agony and slowly opened the door in fear of what she would see mutilated on the garage floor.

Instead she saw two howling baboons and slammed the door in disgust.

This reminds me of another Fourth of July …. Oops, out of space and time. You will have to wait until next year, which should be along in a week or two.

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