Every year Dad would take us out to Colma to buy us one of those fireworks kits that were sold at the roadside stands which would popup before the fourth of July Holiday. Joe recalled the “bees” that would buzz and spin throwing sparks, the various colored smoke bombs and the hand held pinwheels as well as the snakes, roman candles and sparklers. We couldn’t wait till it was dark enough to start.
I remember one Fourth when a firecracker blew up right in Louis Thurman’s hand, and the look on his face the instant before the scream was precious! His face contorted and eyes his opened wide and then the howl! He never touched another firecracker. Joe also reminisced that Mom would also have us use the end of a smoldering rope instead of using matches to ignite the fireworks.
The smoke filled the nighttime air and the pungent burning smells were in the senses, as everybody reveled in a cacophony of pops, bangs, whizzes and vivid colors that glowed incandescently here and there and everywhere. And on our street, the magic of our few simple fireworks would be frozen in time, our own piece of summertime Americana right in the middle of the city.
On the second floor of the house the front bedroom window overlooked the street, with a commanding view both up and down for quite a ways. From this perch we’d spent many an afternoon watching and waiting patiently for any potential targets that might happen by, whether they be human or animal, moving or not. Using the old BB Rifle, most of the shots we took missed but we were lucky on a few.
Our luckiest shot was when we hit the lady who was bending over picking up something out of the backseat of the car they’d just parked across the street, right in her rear end! The instant she was hit on her butt she jumped and screamed and she smacked her head on the inside top of the open door! The man with her cried out “What Happened”? And she bellowed to him, “Something bit me”!!!
A few times we burned the rice while we were outside playing football in the afternoon, and when we saw the smoke coming out of the front door, we would bolt inside and spring into action. Opening all the windows, both doors, front and back, we started frantically waving and flapping towels to try to clear the smoky air before the folks got home! This was before electric rice cookers.
The long hot days turned into warm balmy nights, and most of the kids would be outside doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, like all kids do in the summertime. We would have these giant hide ‘n’ go seek games, or listen to some music, and most times more often than not we’d be just sitting there on somebody’s front stairs talking and passing the time till we all had to go inside.
There was a real Watermelon Man who came around in the summer months in his old truck full of watermelons, and we’d sit on the back porch spitting the seeds out onto the ground in the back yard. Also every summer the black motorcycle club would all come roaring up the street like thunder in formation and park their motorcycles side by side in a long line in front of the house where one of them lived.
At one point every year in late summer, Dad would take us on our annual camping trip either to Icehouse Lake or Camp Richardson at Tahoe, and then summer would soon be over. Back to school, books and teachers. Summertime for us was the same as for any kids anywhere, with fond memories of a time in our lives that we had great fun.