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The Great Bottle Rocket Wars

Fireworks for the Fourth of July
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A few of weeks ago, I wrote about the perfect Christmases I had as a kid growing up in Vinton. Just about the time we were getting bored with our Christmas loot, it was New Year’s Eve in the neighborhood. And that meant FIREWORKS! Now, this story is meant for entertainment purposes only. Do not try this at home!

When were younger, under the age of 13, fireworks mainly consisted of sparklers. Some of the parents would entertain us all with larger fare, such as roman candles or those large, exploding devices that they would light then run from. As we all got older, the parents would stay inside and we were left to entertain ourselves. Thus began the bottle rocket wars!

When we hit our teenage years, we discovered that it was more fun to light the fireworks and hold on to them until just before they fully ignited. And if you waited until just the right moment, you could toss them in a way that, once they began to do their thing, you could actually direct them toward a specific object. The missile of choice was the penny bottle rocket. You know, the small ones you would stand up in a coke bottle. At no time did we aim the larger rockets at each other. That would be dangerous! Besides, the small ones caused little harm, and were cheap! Tossing them by hand wasn’t very accurate. But if you had access to an old TV antenna, the long hollow metal rods made a great launcher and greatly increased accuracy! They also kept the sparks away from your bare hands.

The wars were mainly against each other. But one year, a gang from uptown Vinton showed up. We lived in a quiet part of town, and minded our own business. This group wanted to take over our turf! Actually, it was friends from school who got tired of heaving fireworks at each other, so they came after us. We were ready! The fog had rolled in, so it was hard to see the enemy. Bottle rockets were flying everywhere! It was wonderful! Best war ever! The battle may have lasted 45 minutes or so, and we held on to our little neighborhood. The only real casualties were some new Christmas jackets that had a few holes burned in them. I got one lodged in a draw string on my new windbreaker, but I somehow managed to keep the hole hidden from my mother until it warmed up in the spring.

Our bottle rocket wars did not last very long. Girls, cars, and better ways to spend our money pretty much ended them. But they are a part of the memories of growing up in the late ’60s and early ’70s in the Fontenot subdivision in Vinton. The perfect place to be a kid!

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