Summer Sounds: Firecrackers

Originally published on July 4, 2011 5:01 pm
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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

It's Independence Day, so today in our regular feature, Summer Sounds, we hear from a listener who has a special connection to the day's noisy ritual.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. BEVERLY DODGE BROWN(ph): My name is Beverly Dodge Brown, and I live in Georgetown, Texas. For me, growing up on the plains of southeastern South Dakota, summer was synonymous with the Fourth of July. After all, my dad was the fireworks man.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: Every July 4th of my childhood, dad planned and shot the Sioux Falls municipal fireworks show at the football stadium.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: As the whole city cheered and gasped in awe, that made July Fourth the biggest day of the year, the apogee of summer vacation toward which each day of summer inched, and the summit from which the remainder of vacation hurtled toward the start of school.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: Dad always started the show with a single report aerial shell salute, shot hundreds of feet into the air from a buried mortar and exploding with a near sonic boom.

Next, a series of colored aerial bursts, each launched from a mortar with a forceful shoom.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: The crowd following its trail into the sky, holding its collective breath until the shells burst into luminous flowers.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: Mushrooming out symmetrically horizon to horizon. Then the multi-stage shells with multiple bursts, first green, then yellow, then blue. And always the final frame piece was the American flag, sizzling forth its red, white, and blue fire and smoke, and the mortar operators launched a final deafening volley of aerial salutes.

(Soundbite of fireworks)

Ms. BROWN: Then startling silence, the field heavy with shifting layers of smoke. Summer had peaked in a thunderous fiery spectacular. Its anticlimactic remainder stretched out lazily, to dissipate amorphously like the crowd flowing out of the stadium, carrying cushions and coolers and memories of the magnificence of dad's Fourth of July fireworks show.

NORRIS: Beverly Dodge Brown, now of Georgetown, Texas, and her July 4th summer sound. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.