Assembled under the burning tree, we contemplated our options. Climbing to the blazing top did not seem to be a good one. Throwing beer at it had no effect whatsoever. And then someone had the brilliant idea of running to our neighbor's, pounding on his door to wake him and asking to use his chain saw.
Thus armed, we cut down the tree and pushed it into the river where the flames sputtered and died. The following year when we drove up to the camp on the Fourth of July, we found the chain saw on our porch!
In subsequent years, we changed our venue once more and acquired true professionalism. A California cousin with lots of money but no access to fireworks teamed up with an Ohio relative with no money but a choice of fireworks rivaling those fired off at Haddad Park.
Lawn chairs were set up in our chain-saw neighbor's yard. The setter-uppers and igniters lined up the fireworks, lit them and retreated to the shelter of a chicken coop as the show began. Magnificent fountains, glorious bursts of stars, cannon-worthy booms elicited delighted oohs and ahs from spectators -- until one of those little cardboard tubes fell over! Instead of zooming into the sky, a rocket dashed across the grass toward toppling lawn chairs and fleeing family members.
The following year, fireworks securely anchored, we acquired a rival on the other side of the river. They were worthy competitors, matching us rocket for rocket.
The results were inconclusive, but we did have one advantage: They were on a main road; we were accessible only by a gated dirt lane. By the time law enforcement had flushed out our neighbor (after all, it was his yard) and made their way to us, we would have concealed the evidence and be feigning sleep.
From one Fourth to the next, excess fireworks are stored in the attic of our old camp. If the house ever caught fire, the Chinese who invented fireworks in the first place could admire the display from their own lawn chairs.
Dorothy Wehrle Dixon, of Charleston, may be emailed at dwdi...@suddenlink.net.