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    Fireworks: “I always have the most fun on the Fourth of July. You don’t have to exchange any gifts. You just go to the beach and watch fireworks. It’s always fun.” – James Lafferty, American actor

Sitting like a moon crater southwest of the barn, the concrete stock tank looked indestructible.

It was fortress-like in heft and size with walls three to four inches thick.

Unlike today’s galvanized tanks, this one was immovable and impregnable.

Hereford bulls weighing 2,000 pounds could rub against it, with no measurable effect.

In summer, it was a great place to play with toy boats or even cool off during those sizzling 90 degree days. But this anchor of the barnyard did move once that I recall, or at least I think it did.

It was on one of those typical July 4 days when the sun boiled hot and long and we as kids didn’t seem to notice. We had more important things to do, such as setting off fireworks. Which brings me to my favorite: the famous and revered (and dangerous) Silver Salute.

Like the M-80 and Cherry Bomb, the Silver Salute packed a wallop because it contained many times the explosive power found in today’s weak imitations. A Silver Salute was about two inches long and cylinder shaped, like a shotgun shell. The fuse protruded from the side, not the top, and it was maybe the most exciting and explosive firework of the 1950s and ’60s until it was banned by law.

One day my cousin Robin and I placed a Silver Salute in an empty five-gallon lubricant can we found in the garage. Or almost empty.  We reattached the tabs of the lid on the can, leaving the fuse exposed along the edge. On lighting the fuse, we ran like crazy. Boom! The lid hurtled high into the air like a spaceship taking off. The can itself was ruptured in two or three places.

However, the most impressive display of the Salute’s firepower was when we lit the fuse and dropped it into the concrete stock tank.

We waited. Then – kaboom! Water everywhere and the explosion shook the massive walls of the tank.


Those days are long over. Politicians passed laws to protect kids like my cousin and me from harm.

I have noted, however, that the ingredients and recipe for building a homemade Silver Salute are available on-line. Though I admit I was tempted, I’m sticking with the memory instead of the real thing.

Happy Independence Day, and if the only match you light is to start the grill, that’s OK. And don’t forget to give thanks for living in the USA.

July 3, 2019