With Independence Day coming up and Canada Day just past, the topic of fireworks comes readily to mind! To this day, three score years and some, I still love fireworks. If I don't get to see any on the Fourth of July, I feel a real sense of loss. As well as I can remember, I was probably eleven when I first really saw them.
Anyway, my first memory of fireworks; at that time, my family lived in a little town called Clarkdale in Central Arizona. To the east across the Verde River, an "ox-bow" of the old riverbed had been cut off eons before and existed as a small lake and marsh area. It is now a bird sanctuary and closed to vehicular traffic but that's now. Back then, it was a public park and there was some fishing in the lake. It was also the site for the local holiday fireworks display.
I'm not sure how who hosted and managed the event, probably a fraternal group like the Elks, Lions or perhaps a Masonic Lodge. At any rate, they set up in the central "U" which was almost an island. From that point they fired the rockets out over the lake at about its widest spot, perhaps a quarter of a mile or so.
We could watch all the aerial display from our front steps, and from the first summer there, 1954 on, my brother--later both brothers--and I did so. Mom and Dad could care less, it seemed, and were not about to drive anywhere to watch such frivolity, From that first summer, I was an avid fan. This is my Grandpa Witt, Charlie and me on that little porch that summer.
One year a few summers later, my brother and I hiked over to the lake, about a two mile walk along the dusty unpaved road where the traffic had stirred the dry dirt to a powder of tan. It seemed that half the northern Verde Valley was going there--Clarkdale and Cottonwood with perhaps a few folks from Jerome, Bridgeport or even farther away!
We sat on the grass in an area where no cars had parked and watched. It really wasn't much prettier but a lot louder and I got to watch the antics of a couple of boys, one on whom I had a crush who chose to ignore me, the skinny weird girl who rode horses and mules. From then on, the front steps were sufficient until I left home.
From that time on,, I didn't see any fireworks for a number of years. Not sure why--I expect Flagstaff where I attended college and lived for several years--may have had a display somewhere but then maybe not, due to the forest all around the town and the fire danger. Finally I graduated, went south to my first 'real' job at Fort Huachuca and wound up living in rent-cheap Bisbee where I soon met my future husband. That's another story for another time. But Bisbee was fireworks friendly.
Every year either the city or again a fraternal organization put on a good display atop the "Number 12 Dump" which was a huge pile of rock and dirt that had come out of the open pit when the underground mine was opened into that form in the late forties. The stony ground was fireproof and the site was visible all over town. My new family and I watched from various viewpoints for the four years that we lived there.
This photo is not mine but I do have one similar taken in Bisbee with lightening thru the Mule Pass and fireworks closer. Apparently I have not scanned it yet. Nor any of the other attempts I made at taking photos of fireworks. It is incredibly hard to get a good one! I may try tomorrow night to get some digital shots but it's a tricky thing to capture them. More fun just to look and oh and ah and enjoy!
Then in the fall of 1973, we moved to Colorado and another long fireworks drought ensued. We lived out at a then-rural community called Falcon and Colorado Springs was not visible due to a few low hills in between. Then another mover, this time to north central California where we lived in Olivehurst, just south of Marysville. From there we had a good view of the annual display held on Beale AFB where I worked part of the time we were there, later transferring to McClellan AFB on the north side of Sacramento. Sometimes we got up on the roof to improve the view a bit. So I had six good summers of a fireworks fix.
Finally in 1983, it was back to Arizona and the little house on Old Church Road that became home for the longest I've lived anywhere. It was in Whetstone, an unincorporated community north of Sierra Vista at the junction of highway 90 from Benson to Sierra Vista and highway 82 from Sonoita to intersect with highway 80 just north of Tombstone.
The nearest town, Huachuca City, had good fireworks as did Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Benson. Sometimes we watched both Huachuca City's and Sierra Vista's displays from the roof of our flat-topped garage and sometimes we drove to various sites to take pictures and see at least part of almost every display around. By then it was just my husband and me and sometimes a dog or two.
In 2004, when I was again alone after Jim's passing, I found a good spot on highway 82 just west of the junction where I could see at least the displays of Huachuca City, Sierra Vista and some of Tombstone's. It was far enough the noise did not frighten my dogs so they went with me for company. It was a little lonely but also nice and peaceful with no traffic or uproar. That went on until I moved to New Mexico in the late summer of 2008.
2009 found me in Colorado Springs again. The area where I lived--moving in with the same brother who hiked to the lake with me so long ago--offered no real visibility of the display in Palmer Park nor one at the Air Force Academy so it was back to only a few neighborhood maverick displays. I didn't drive at night too much so was not about to try to fight the crowds. Although we could, if the weather allowed, see the display a group climbed to the top of Pikes Peak to fire off on New Year's at the stroke of midnight! One year that was pretty spectacular.
Then in the fall of 2011, fate brought us to a new home in Alamogordo, NM. The first July here, 2012, we had just adopted little Rojito and I discovered the local fireworks display, shot off up the hill at the Space Musuem parking lot area, was awesome! I also found our backyard provided almost a grand stand seat! But it's close enough to be pretty loud...
The dogs were not so happy with that so we put them in the house in their 'safe rooms' and cranked up the music on a radio or stereo for them to deaden some of the 'bombs bursting in air' effects. A trick my late husband and I had discovered to calm a dog who freaked out about thunderstorms also works for fireworks. It seems that a tape or CD of a British military band with lots of bagpipes really muffles the noise and most dogs seem to like ti. I know there are jokes about bagpipes making dogs howl, but maybe ours were Scots in a prior incarnation. Anyway, they dig it! That's a blessing as I can now enjoy the sights without guilt while the fur kids get their serenade indoors.
Anyway after all these years, I still love fireworks. They seem to be more and better every year and it is said that Alamogordo has one of the best displays in the state. The paper boasted 7,000 items to be fired this time! The Powers-That-Be willing, I will have eyes to see them and a patriotic home to celibrate them with until I leave this life. I wonder if they have fireworks on the other side?
Happy Independence Day to one and all and never forget that Freedom is not Free!!
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!