Roman Candles

It was another 4th of July at the Bump home.  Each Independence Day was somewhat similar to the one that preceded it!  Illinois had laws prohibiting the purchase of the ‘good’ fireworks!  In their place were the black buttons, that upon being lit by a match…extended out to form a semblance of a black snake, and they were therefore called snakes.  Or there were the, lame and safe, Sparklers that had colored and harmless light expelled from them after they were lit, and you held them with your hand.


You could not buy firecrackers in El Dorado.  They were Billy and Carl’s favorite 4th pastime!  When you lit the wick and subsequently threw them…they made a magnificent loud bang!  If you lit the entire pack…it was exciting and loud and Billy had been told that the person taking the risk to light the pack…could loose a finger or more!


There were community fireworks at the Starlight Drive In.  Now for those of you that do not know what a Drive In is, it is a I Max Screen outside that you pull your automobile up to and place a large heavy metal speaker on your car widow…to listen to the audio of the film.  At the Drive In…’The Fifty Foot Woman’…was really fifty feet tall!


At the Starlight Drive In in El Dorado the cartoon that was shown before the movie was, ‘The Pink Panther.’  The Pink Panther was a cool cat, and the music, performed by Henry Mancini and his orchestra, was delightful!  There were times that I enjoyed the Pink Panther cartoon more than the main attraction!


Billy had never been to the Starlight to see the annual Fireworks…he had been to his Grandma Grace’s home in Beulah Acres…that if you sit on her front porch…and it was good and dark…you could see the ones that rose high in the sky!


Billy could not help but notice that when he and his mom and his cousins, Harry and Linda, arrived at the Drive In…once the sun started setting and the moon began to shine…truck lids across the Drive In Lot…began to open!  Then…much to his surprise and similar to Dracula opening his coffin and arising from the dead…people exited their automobiles’ trunks rapidly and in an expert fashion!

So, Demetrius announced that he had procured, in Missouri, some Roman Candles and some Cherry Bombs and that this 4th of July was going to be special!

As dusk began to settle over the Bump home Billy and Carl were enjoying their sparklers and snakes and a few, bogus, firecrackers that they had obtained on the firecracker black market!

Carl asked Billy, ‘do you think that Demetrius will let us light the Roman Candles?’

Billy responded that, ‘he planned on lighting a candle and a cherry bomb and a full pack of firecrackers…before the holiday was over!’


Now Demetrius was a conigseaur of fireworks…after all he had been in the Korean War…and he understood ordinance!


Billy Bump had seen, ‘It Came From Outer Space’, at the Starlight Drive In with his cousin Harry and it had been on the 4th!  Jane did not realize that Billy and Harry were at the Drive In.


Billy, vividly remembered the movie as Demetrius invited him to light a Roman Candle.  He recalled the fiery crash of the flying saucer in the movie…and suddenly the Roman Candle brought fourth its’ terrible brilliance!  The explosion knocked him back on his feet and wondered, for a moment, if the force had hurt him.  Carl called out, ‘let her rip…Billy!’


The sky was awash with the brilliant colors of the Roman Candle!  There was blue and green and red flashes of light!  And, Billy thought…this is the best 4th of July ever!




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