When New Year’s Eve went off course

Published 4:03 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

My brother shot a Roman candle up his nose.

That was the end of our good-time New Year’s Eve fireworks show.

Back during my childhood days, children were allowed to play without adult supervision.

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The grownups had more and better things to do than to watch us play.

In fact, we were encouraged to “go on out and play.”

Mamas and daddies didn’t say what for us to play or where to play, only “don’t let dark catch you!”

And, we usually made it home before dark, or somewhere close to it.

Our mamas didn’t ask where we had been or what we had been doing or who played with us just, “Supper’s ready. Go wash your hands.”

Daddy wasn’t interested in how many tadpoles we had caught nor Mama about the blackberry stains on my shirt or the hole in my shorts.

“Did you know there’s a deep gulley-wash in Marine Land?” I asked. Mmmmhuh, Daddy said.

“Get the fly swatter but don’t knock the fly in the peas,” Mama said.

Mama and Daddy didn’t get too much in the business of children. We were pretty much left alone to play to ourselves.

So, that’s how was that my little brother was shooting a Roman candle on New Year’s Eve.

Daddy had taken me and my cousins up to the fireworks stand to spend the money we had saved from sweeping out the chicken house and picking up pecans for that very purpose.

The fireworks stand was an amazing place. It was packed full of all kinds of explosive things. Bottle rockets, Roman candles, fire crackers, sparklers, ground spinners, black snakes and devil chasers.

No matter how much frost was on the ground that day, our hands would hold our one-dollar bills so tight that George Washington would get sweaty-wet.

“Go ahead and get what you want,” Daddy would say.

A package of Black Cat fire crackers, for sure, a box of sparklers, one bottle rocket … or if we put our last dimes together we could get a Roman candle. What explosive fun! We would balance a tin coffee can on a stick and light a firecracker under it. The sound was so loud we had to cover our ears.

We popped one fire cracker at a time to make them last. We wrote our names in the air with our sparklers, We put our bottle rockets in a co-cola bottle and shot them to the moon. We were having so much New Year’s Eve fun that we didn’t see my little brother, somehow, some way, light the Roman candle and  give it a sniff. What a ruckus that caused!!! Mama thought he had put his eye out. Daddy said he was yelling because he was just scared and his nose was just a little red.

And, all of a sudden on New Year’s Eve night, mamas and daddies got interested in where we were and what we were doing when little brother shot a Roman candle in his nose.

The answer was easy… we were outside playing, just like they said.