Hello Everyone and welcome. Come meet author McGee Mathews.
Hi! I’m McGee Mathews and I write women loving women novels. My book Keeping Secrets, a historical romance set in the American Civil War, will be released August 15 from Sapphire Books Publishing and available from all your favorite online booksellers. I love the characters in this story and I hope you will as well. My first two novels from the Ladies of Diamond Lake series, Moving Violations and Exceeding Expectations, are both available on Amazon.
As we all celebrate the Fourth of July a little differently this year, the ungrateful colonists that we are, I thought I’d share what my past activities included:
My grandparents had a cottage on North Lake near Chelsea, Michigan. My sister and I have birthdays with July Fourth between them, so there would be a celebratory air and a lot of cake for almost two weeks. This included much swimming; red, white, and blue matching shirts about to be stained; and raspberry picking. There was always an amazingly large amount to be found right where the neighbor walked his dog.
Our foray into flaming celebrations started low key. As a child, we were only allowed to use sparklers, and my younger brother burnt himself on them for several years until he figured out Mom meant it when she said that they were hot. Then we’d pile onto the pontoon boat and we’d fall asleep on the life cushions. I’m not sure we left the dock.
From the boat, you could see the professional fireworks barely peep over the trees. Occasionally we would go watch from the fields around the launching zone. When I was six, the first rocket they sent up landed in the pile of fireworks on the ground and they all went off at once. My dad carried one of us under each arm as he hightailed it out of there.
We didn’t go to the big shows often. My parents didn’t like crowds or waiting in line for an hour in ninety-degree heat with no air conditioning in the car. Weird, I know.
If we were at home in the city, we might get one of the package sets, the kind with sparklers, some black snakes, smoke bombs, and a few fountains. It wasn’t much, but we didn’t know any better and still had a great time watching a six-inch snake of ash form from a little black button..
As teenagers, we could go with friends, and we hit every small town, local show over three days. Sometimes someone had illegal firecrackers. More than once, the echo of a cherry bomb left us running for cover, just in case the police couldn’t tell who’d lit the thing.
When my wife and I moved to South Carolina, we discovered why airborne fireworks were against the law in Michigan. As it happened, during our first fourth in the South, my Dad and his Gold Wing buddies had a convention locally and a number of them stayed at our place. For entertainment, we got a selection of potential projectiles.
While we stayed quite a distance away, Dad chivalrously lit the first one. It was a little green plastic thing with two sort of opposite wings, not any bigger than the palm of your hand. It hissed a moment and we all stared. After a shrill whistle, that sucker insanely spun, spewing sparks, then flew straight up into my Dad’s, um, jeans. There is nothing funnier to adult men than another guy getting popped in the…pants.
Next summer, we discovered Roman Candles and those multi-shot cardboard boxes with an entire show in one container. Now we were talking! We shot up the sky and noticed the neighbors had a little show, too. Other than the bottle rockets with two-foot flaming wooden sticks that rained down to our house from their yard, it was pretty cool.
Our first year with a child, we visited my in-laws at their lake place in Michigan. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the family packed in for a huge dinner and then my wife and I snuck out our bags of stuff from Tennessee. After each of the first four went off, it was quietly mentioned that we could get arrested. Pish posh. Soon the neighbors were all out on their porches, oohing and aahing. It was a pretty decent display and it was nice over the water. Even better, my sister and her husband were out on a paddleboat with debris raining down on them.
A few kids later, we discovered the BIG fireworks store just up the road a spell. They sold the foot-long canisters that launched those big shots with sparkles and retorts like a professional show. I bought three bags worth of stuff. My brother’s family drove down for the holiday. He bought three bags worth of stuff. We invited friends over. They brought three bags worth of stuff. It was epic.
Now the collection of kids ranged from two to eight years old. They did a few sparklers and we let the oldest light a few fountains. Then we blasted up cannons filled with little army dudes with paper parachutes for them to chase after. As it got dark enough to see the show, we lined up a bunch of bitty chairs and they sat enthralled as their parents lit so many explosives that the lighters melted. I got the propane torch from the garage and we continued. My brother stuck a roman candle in the cement block upside down. After the first flash, he dove, flipped the tube, and then held it as the other fourteen fireballs shot out of the increasingly warm cardboard. I went to drop a load into a canister with one already in it, it exploded as I leaned to drop in the ball and the shot whizzed past my head, brushing back my hair. I couldn’t hear out of that ear for hours. It turned out some of those cardboard tubes weren’t very robust. One fell over and, from a foot away, blasted a shell into my right calve. It exploded on the ground around me and I had a three-inch bruise all summer. It was awesome.
For future holidays, the neighbor started putting on a display for the local church, so we’d just head to the top of the driveway and watch. Our kids never developed a pyromaniac tendency like me, so over the years, we stopped launching fireworks at home. Sigh.
That is until a friend from California came to visit. To her amazement, and utter shock, we were able to buy bullets in a five-gallon bucket at Walmart. She had her first trip to Waffle House. She learned how to drift steer a vehicle in the back pasture. For the highlight, we did a bonfire and fireworks. Now in my defense, it had been a few years.
I may not have paid attention to the fact that, in addition to coming with multiple retorts in one long shell, they now had a direction and the base was supposed to go in first. The ground level explosion of multiple fireballs of sparks was hard to top. Except maybe when I set her hoodie on fire. Just a bit of smoldering, not a “get the water bucket” kind of thing. Welcome to the South, y’all.
I hope you have a safe holiday.
I want to thank you, McGee, for your share today.
Until Next Time,
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