Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Blowing up 4th of July

Back in my youth, in San Francisco  you could get all the fireworks you wanted.  Most of them were sold by the Chinese gangs.  They'd have some guy on every major street corner of Chinatown saying "firecracker."  As I said yesterday, I thought bottle rockets were the best.  They flew and didn't cost much more.

So, you wanted bottle rockets, the guy would say "next block, blue shirt." and you go to the next block and the guy in the blue shirt would ask "firecracker" and you'd reply "bottle rocket."  "How many?"  "100"   And he'd give you a price.  And you said okay.  Then he'd call some kid over and give an order in Chinese.  The kid would run off and be  back in a flash with a bag.  You could take a quick peak, but the order was always right.  And you paid the man and headed out of there clutching your goodies.

What a wonderful place.  But that was then.  I don't know if it still works the same now or not. I have not lived in the Bay Area for a long time.

Then there was this product called the barrel bomb.  People confused them with something called an M 80.  M 80 sounded military. It wasn't.  They were billed as a 1/4 stick of dynamite. It wasn't. Barrel bombs had more of a homemade feel.  I think both were about the same strength, but I could be wrong. Anyway, these were a lot more powerful than firecrackers.  And a lot louder.  And I never purchased any from the Chinese gangs,  I got them from some guy who'd dropped out of high school. I suspect he made them in his basement. This was pre 9/11 and you could buy black powder to reload with no restrictions.  They just were in a capped cardboard tube.  I bought some a few times. And they had waterproof fuses. Oh my.

These neighbors down the street had a horrible dog.  One time I launched one once with a wrist rocket [sling shot]. It went right into the dog's house at 1 am. Kaboom. Supposedly the dog hid in the bushes for a week and wouldn't come out.  [Okay, I did a few things back then that were kind of bad.]  

Most of the barrel bombs went into the San Francisco Bay.  They were like mini depth charges.

And one went into a local park.  And around the corner were the park police.  But they searched my car and found no barrel bombs but kept accusing me of having "M-80s"  I insisted it was just three firecrackers tied together than exploded at the same time and there were no more. Having no evidence and I had given a plausible confession, they let me go with a warning.

Ah, those were the days.  

Haven't set off any illegal fireworks in years. I guess I've gotten old.

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