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Published 12:00 am Monday, July 6, 1998


  Wash. Post


  Opinions Letters to the Editor Editorials Columns

The Gray Line Tour

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / July 6, 1998

Burned by fireworks in my neighborhood

I think a part of it is getting older, although I’m not saying adults who enjoy fireworks are immature. Let’s just say, speaking for myself, thatmy tolerance for fireworks has lessened over the years.

When I was a child, I would spend a lot of holiday weekends at my grandparents in south Mississippi. In that town fireworks were legal. Oh,one would hear the occasional horror story about putting one’s eye out or burning your fingers. I took it to heart and never held firecrackers in myhand to throw them. I was always too chicken to do so. I would put themdown, then light them, then run.

I would do small, organized demolition jobs, such as fire-ant piles and fallen tree limbs. I was always a very solitary child, so the idea ofrunning and playing with a group of children, tossing firecrackers at each other never really appealed to me.

Rockets, for me, were also fun. I would get an old, empty soft-drinkbottle, stick in my bottle rockets and fire them one by one. I didn’t spend ahuge amount of money on fireworks, so I’d buy one huge rocket and save that for midnight of whatever holiday it was and fire that off at the end of the countdown I’d do.

All that’s behind me now.

Nowadays, I sit in my house, surrounded on all sides by children and adults firing their fireworks. The sounds outside in my neighborhood are like awar zone, with crashes, booms, whines and whistles. Every holiday, Iexpect some fizzing, sparking and sputtering rocket will land on my roof and set the house on fire.

All this is never mind the sale and use of fireworks are illegal where I live. All this is never mind there’s about six sheriff’s deputies’ residenceswithin shouting distance of my front door.

I don’t know whether any of the deputies in that parish are involved in the shooting of the fireworks. I never tried to find out. It just makes me angryevery year, feeling helpless and powerless. I do recall, in my neighborhood,a man was arrested last year for building a “bomb” out of fireworks and severely injuring a child. It’s a shame that something like that happenedand even more so that it’s had no apparent effect on the neighborhood.

The following morning, the streets and yards are littered with burned-out fireworks trash. Any angry phone calls I may have made the night beforewere politely ignored. I mutter and fuss and fume to myself and clean upmy yard and wait until the next one.

Fireworks, for me, are fun to watch. If I were off in an open area, far fromhouses where shift workers may be trying to sleep, I may even enjoy shooting fireworks again. Maybe it’s all part of my growing older andputting away my childish toys.

Or, maybe I’m just turning into an old fogey.

Leonard Gray is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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