Fourth of July Reminiscing · 9 July 2022

There is something about the Fourth of July that brings about memories. Memories of cigarettes.

Now I must say right up front that I do not hold to smoking cigarettes. In fact, I like the notion that people are not smokers at all. The cigarettes are the smokers. The people are just the suckers. But I am not trying to condemn smokers either. In reality, the fireworks we had this Fourth of July just brought back memories of Independence Days of yore.

To be sure, our Fourth of July was not a loud event. At least not at our house. We had to drag our kids out to the cul-de-sac to watch our little display of sparks and smoke and a little noise. No big mortars in our display. Just little sparks and lots of smoke and a few pops. And since we had no big aerial displays, we did not have any strained necks either. Quite the low key event.

So what brought on the memories of cigarettes? I am glad you asked.

I was using a torch to light the fireworks. Not a torch in the British sense of the word. (I cannot imagine anybody trying to light fireworks with a flashlight.) No. I was using a crème brûlée torch. But instead of burning sugar, I was lighting fuses. I know. Overkill. But we did not have any punks, and I have the tool. So I used it. Instead of lighting desserts, I lit ground blooms and spark-emitting fireworks. Quite fun. Our kids (in their twenties and not enthralled with lighting stuff on fire or blowing stuff up) lit a few ground blooms too, but mostly they let me have the fun of burning stuff.

Which is where the memories of cigarettes came from.

Back when I was a kid, I remember all our uncles smoked cigarettes. Well, most of them did. And a few of our aunts did as well. So when we were out on the farm lighting fireworks, we would either use a punk or we would borrow somebody’s lit cigarette. We would hold those smelly cigarettes away from our bodies as we went to where our fireworks were going to be lit. Inevitably, one of our uncles would tell us to get the tip red hot by taking a drag. But we would just blow on the lit tip of the cigarette to get those fuses lit. Then, we would run away and give those smelly things back to whoever it was sucking on them.

Of course, we would hoot and holler when something exploded. And then we would get things ready and borrow the smelly cigarette again and do the whole over thing again and again. I know. It is an odd memory, but it is vivid in my mind. As are many things from my childhood.

The sparks and the sounds of Independence Day come around each year. As does the smoke and the smell of that smoke. But for some reason, this year those sights, sounds, and smells evoked a powerful memory. A memory not really of cigarettes, but of fun with family. Fun blowing up stuff to be sure. But mostly the fun of being together using our family’s burning cigarettes to light the fuses of our fireworks.

I hope you had a happy and safe Fourth of July full of great memories of family and friends.

© 2022 Michael T. Miyoshi

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  1. You and Russell introduced me to bottle rockets and punks at your Uncle Don’s farm (I think). This was a few years after Ronnie and Larry blew up a frog or two with firecrackers taped in mouths as they hopped around.

    — Dale+Tanigawa · 7 July 2022, 11:40 ·

  2. Smell is such a powerful trigger for memories!

    Lydia · 11 July 2022, 06:59 ·

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