Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For July 20th, 2007 Edition.

It appears the "4th of July Season" has finally ended, as it's been several days now since I've heard the boom and blast of nighttime fireworks. Like the politics of running for President, those who love to celebrate the birth of our nation seem to start celebrating earlier every year and also extend the celebration well past the 4th.

I certainly admire the patriotism of those who celebrate early and often but the current tradition is certainly much different than it was decades ago.

As a youngster I ranked the 4th of July as my second most favored holiday, with Christmas being rated number one. And I would guess that is probably a common feeling with many folks in this day and age. But it's amazing how the celebrating and the celebration have evolved over the years.

As a kid, my normal stash of fireworks amounted to several packs of Black Cat firecrackers, perhaps a dozen cherry bombs and M-80s, plus a package or two of sparklers. Once in a while some of the rich tourist kids showed off by celebrating with Roman candles. None of my pals or I were allowed to fire off our 'crackers until the 4th of July. And heaven help us if we started too early in the morning or blasted any off past bed time, which back then for the working class was shortly after dark.

Most of our fun and celebrating centered around seeing who could launch a small tin can the highest. The best technique was to use a cement block for a launching pad, place a firecracker under the can and run for cover after lighting the fuse with a glowing punk.

Some inspiring young engineers would twist several fuses together in an attempt to increase the launch power, but rarely did their attempts cause the multiple 'crackers to detonate simultaneously. Those who used their treasured M-80s or cherry bombs as launching devices soon realized the resulting explosion generally shredded the tin can and sent shrapnel flying in all directions. Yes sir, those were the good old days!

Another popular firecracker was called Lady Fingers. These were tiny bombs, less than an inch long and when set off produced a sound similar to a kernel of popcorn exploding. The bravest of the brave would show off their fearless character by holding a Lady Finger between their thumb and forefinger while lighting the fuse. Generally this produced water blisters on their thumb and forefinger.

The magic moment came as dusk settled in when it became permissible to light the sparklers. Adults and trusted older kids ignited the sparkler while the youngsters quivered with excitement awaiting the ignition to be completed. Then with waving arms and grinning faces the show began. Today all of that is considered "ho-hum" boring.

Back then only a few communities offered public displays of nighttime fireworks, but those shows pale by comparison to the extravaganzas of modern times.

By comparison, the normal stash of celebration material purchased today is measured in hundreds and even thousands of dollars of explosive armament that resembles a military arsenal.

Wifee poo and I were invited to a private 4th of July celebration, which actually was held on the 4th of July. The residence is located on an area lake, where a dozen or more personal fireworks displays take place annually. A full sized SUV arrived loaded to the hilt with boxes and boxes of blast off items. A small army of volunteers toted the entertainment items from the vehicle to the launch site near the lake shore, which had been laid out as though the beach was being defended against an impending attack..

By the time dusk began to melt into darkness, the launch area resembled a defensive missile instillation, as though one might be expecting an invasion via water.

For the next hour the air and sky was filled with an awesome display of light, sound and smoke, making viewers feel they had been transported back in time to the Normandy Invasion or the Battle of Iwo Jima. From numerous locations all along the perimeter of the lake similar battles were being waged. However this evening there were no known casualties.

As I sat contentedly in a lawn lounge chair, sipping an iced internal body stimulant and enjoying an expensive Cuban seed cigar, I wondered two thoughts; what would my ancestors think of this display and I bet the fish in the lake think the Mother of all Thunder Storms is taking place overhead.

On our way home after thanking our host and the military engineers who planned and executed the breathtaking event, Peggy and I stopped our car on the side of highway C and watched the final minutes of the fireworks display taking place in Sayner, just a mile or so away. It too was a "wow" show!

Since the 4th there has been a steady diet of nighttime displays from all points on the compass, at least up until a few nights ago. I was privileged to attend one additional dual celebration, part birthday of an individual and part honoring the beginning of this great nation. The early evening hours were spent in causal conversation between old friends and neighbors, ingesting iced liquid refreshments, snacking on rich and yummy snacks and ending up munching brats, 'burgers, and way too many side dishes. Next came the cake, happy birthday to you, and ice cream.

After deep dusk set in the light show began. It was still going on when I called it a night at ten o'clock. When I reached my home I put some ointment on my thumb to cover a water blister I received from a spark-spitting fuse on a Roman candle. I guess there is still a bit of a kid in me.

God bless America!

Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin.   Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean,  both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide.   Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email:  or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.

Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here

Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger

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