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The Season of Sandwiches

Image courtesy of Apolonia / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nah, not that kind of sandwich. Every year, when the big tents are rolled out to shelter bottle rockets, snakes and sparklers, I am most fondly reminded of July 2000. I literally cannot believe that this story is now 13 years old, but it goes something like this:

Gathered to join in the family holiday celebration of some of our dearest high school friends, we bemoaned the horrible selection of legal fireworks available for general sale in the state of Pennsylvania. We decided that we could definitely do better than these, so we set up a workshop in the garage. While the adults drank and socialized in the house and on the back patio, we were painstakingly unwrapping fireworks, reserving fuses, shaking powder onto paper plates, and filling everything we could find with new combinations. Empty cherry bombs were filled to the brim and sealed with electrical tape. We harvested a film canister and did the same to it (because we’re old enough to have had cameras that needed film).

My friends’ father came into the garage in the middle of this evolution, no doubt to grab a beer. He saw paper plates strewn about and everyone quietly bowed over his or her handiwork. “What are you guys doing?” he asked. We were a loud crew, and this silence held a bit of foreshadowing for him, I’m sure. Quick on the draw, his younger son responded, “Making sandwiches.”

In this context, making sandwiches is rather a dangerous sport. We had some really great fireworks, and several duds. But nothing was quite as scary as what we did to those bottle rockets. A brick of firecrackers had been soaking, ridiculously, in Zippo fluid for a couple hours. I honestly don’t know what we thought that would accomplish, but we were young pyros, spurred on by thermite demonstrations orchestrated by the chemistry teacher outside of school hours. We wanted it to burn bright. Burn hot. Burn with twenty or so bottle rockets threaded between the rows of firecrackers.

Yeah, you read that right.

So, we went with this unholy brick of Black Cats woven with bottle rockets, and we lit the fuse up in the center of a cul-de-sac down the road that hadn’t been developed yet. The firecrackers went off rather unceremoniously, perhaps in spite of the bath they had received. Crackle, pop, boom. . . Silence. We were about to head toward the smoking carnage of paper to see if we could salvage a few bottle rockets since none of them had even lit. Suddenly, though, we heard the hiss of a fuse. The bottle rockets were coming, and they sure as heck weren’t pointed into the air. They came from the center of the cul-de-sac at every angle, one nearly making contact with someone’s face. We got out unscathed, but we never repeated that stunt.

We still joke about “making sandwiches” this time of year. I don’t know . . . I’d skip the pyrotechnics and go for the beer these days. I wish they were closer so that I could see more of them, but I hope they all have a wonderful SAFE holiday.

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