Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, America!

The M-80 firecracker was the epitome of cool back in the day.  Package after package of Chinese strings were purchased and consumed.  But a few very special fireworks made the Fourth all worthwhile!

The M-80 was charged with three to five grams of flash powder.  Amazing!  By comparison, the most powerful of firecrackers generally available today  may contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of powder.  An M-80 could be 100 times more powerful than today’s puny offerings.

A couple of weeks prior to the fourth, we would marshal our resources, in some cases pooling with the best buddy, and head to the fireworks stand!  The selection  process was thoughtful, both tedious and exciting, and painstaking.  Key: the most bang for the buck, no pun intended.  For this reason, the purchase of roman candles, rockets, and the like, was very limited.  Firecrackers were the items of choice.  And the more the better, the bigger the better.

For nearly fifty years now, American youth have had no idea, for the limits on the charge was imposed by the Child Protection Act of 1966.  Eat your hearts out, kiddies!  The Fourth of July celebration is much tamer nowadays, and perchance much safer.  At least in some ways.

I know, the right thing to have done here would have been to present  the story of our country's founding, an appeal to patriotism, and a Hip, Hip, Hooray! for the Red, White, and Blue.  Well, consider that intended and implied.  But for once, I wanted to revel in nostalgia on this Glorious Fourth, and long for the “good old days.”

Here, Wes.  Put that M-80 under this lard bucket!

Tip for the younger set:  Did the fuse come out of that little contraband Chinese firecracker?  Break it in half, lay it on the ground and light the powder directly from punk or match.  When it starts (that'll be real quickly) stomp on it with the heel of your shoe.   Don't do this with bare feet or flip-flops.  For the M-80, oh, nevermind.  You don't have any of those.

Image: M-80s courtesy Wikipedia

7 comments:

Shelly said...

If things weren't so dry, we'd be celebrating with fireworks tonight, although not with any of those grand M-80's. What a kick they must have been!

Happy Independence Day~

Secondary Roads said...

Break in two, light, stomp--hard and feel the bang. That was fun.

vanilla said...

Shelly, discretion is sometimes better to be observed than is celebration. Be safe. (Lefty and Popeye can testify to the "blast" of an M-80.)

Chuck, you have validated the experience! I was so hoping there was someone out there who had enjoyed this stunt.

Grace said...

I don't know if fireworks were legal in NYC when I was a kid - I have the vague recollection that my father bought them from some guy selling them out of the trunk of his car! Grown-ups did the big fireworks, we kids had sparklers and those strings of small firecrackers...always kept some back for later use...Oh, wait cherry bombs - we kids were allowed to have them...

vanilla said...

Grace, whatever the source, you did have fun with fireworks! 4:30 p.m. July 4, 2013 I think I have heard two firecrackers today. Sad.

Cherry bombs were fun!

Sharkbytes said...

Oh yes, we could still get them when I was a kid. Parents were not happy, but blowing things up was... very cool.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, right! The noise was a part of it, but blowing things up (looky how high that can went!) was cool.