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Friday, July 13, 2012

Rockets' Red Glare

Greetings friends,

We have stayed busy since the conclusion of the Mensa Gathering in Reno and I am writing this quite late on Friday evening instead of being able to publish in the morning as I prefer. It has been said to me that whenever I can write and publish, my readers will be happy to have the material. I actually did blush at that statement, believe it or not.

My tales are pieces of my life that while I find them amusing, I am still amazed that others want to read them. At the AG I received a lot of encouragement from not only friends who I know read my stories, but strangers from other countries that I had never met before. One young man from Germany was quoting one of my stories to me at a reception and I am afraid that I just stood there with my mouth hanging open, such was my amazement. THAT was cool!

Today was our day to take Mr S. to lunch and shopping and I see him slipping farther away from us. He no longer remembers from one day to the next. The expression of his frustration, is to ride around and around the outside of his living complex on his powerchair dozens of times a day. It makes no sense, but neither does his life any more. We continue to do what we can to stimulate his mind and provide opportunities, but I fear it is useless at this point. All we can do is see to his physical needs and do our best to understand.

Tomorrow is my son Patrick's wedding and we will be in Reno early as someone has to get a new pair of tuxedo pants... Anna has been losing weight and the dog isn't going, so I guess that leaves me doesn't it. Fortunately I am not tasked with any duties in these ceremonies, so I can't flub any lines or forget to do something. (Yay!) But I will undoubtedly have to do the photo thing so I will get the new britches. Pat and his bride will be honeymooning briefly in the NorCal area before returning to work in a few days. They have been together for several years already, so they will save the major travel for another, more convenient time.

The tale I am about to tell took place in the mid '80's and I believe it was 1986, but I am not sure. The event is certainly a matter of record with the Storey County Fire Department and is just one of the many tales they have to tell about 4th of July fireworks. It is still the Wild West up there at times! Enjoy.

Rockets’ Red Glare

While in the U.S. Navy stationed at Fallon, N.A.S., I had occasion to play host and tour guide to a couple newly assigned to our base. This is usual and customary in the military and a method of making the frequent moves less painful.

The service member, Tim (name changed to protect the guilty), was a member of the elite Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) detachment and at six foot four and two hundred and eighty pounds, looked like a blonde GI Joe doll with a flat top haircut and arms which were bigger around than my legs. The fact that he giggled like a girl when things were funny was a bit image busting, but he was cool. His wife Katie was also a full sized human being at five foot eight with an athletic build and what she called “dirty blonde” hair, but looked light brown to me. She laughed from the bottom of her guts, and when things got funny around these guys you could hear it a long way off.

It was the Fourth of July, and I had been telling these New Jersey city kids how much fun it was to go to Virginia City for the parade, then wander the multiple cemeteries and finally watch the incredible fireworks display. Katie was really excited about wandering the graveyards, and Tim kept asking if they would let him blow something up.

The seven of us, four adults and my three kids, loaded up in my car and made the trip up the mountain, arriving in time to find a parking spot below “C” Street, right where the fireworks would be launched. This is prime real estate, and within minutes of parking, there were no more spots. Timing is everything here.

I told my friends that it would be hot and sunny and to dress accordingly. Tim had a tank top, board shorts, and sandals made from tires and surgical tubing, no hat, and white sunglasses that Sir Elton John would have been proud of. Being blonde and fair skinned I warned him about the power of the sun at 6,000 feet. He just laughed and reminded me that he was “EOD.” Katie was wearing a sundress that had a stretchy elastic top and barely covered her rear, but had frilly shorts on underneath. On her feet were flip-flops and toe rings on each toe. I didn’t think too many people would notice her toes though. Katie was what I had heard described as “amply endowed on top” and they were unrestrained. It was a very good thing that Tim was not a jealous person as heads continuously snapped around as Katie walked down that uneven wooden sidewalk along the main drag. I thought that it was hilarious. They were definitely an “Oh Wow!”  couple.

We walked the length of the main street and back again. When Katie couldn’t stand waiting any more, we headed for “Boot Hill.” There are seven cemeteries on the hill, and we walked around all of them. I believe that we might have read every tombstone; our girl was definitely enthralled. The kids ran up and down the paths and stopped to read and stare at the grave of every child they found. I believe that they learned an important lesson about how hard life was in the “old days,” and how many people lost children to childbirth and diseases that we now brush off as not serious.

As we wandered either my wife or I reapplied sunscreen to our children and warned our friends of sunburn. Both laughed at us and insisted that they were fine. After lunch we stopped in the park to rest and listen to music being played there. Lots of kids running and playing, plenty of beer being consumed and still a lot of hours to go until the fireworks happened. Tim got wrapped up watching some guys lifting obscene amounts of weight on a bench and before we knew it he had his shirt and shoes off and was on his back lifting with them. Katie decided that she would lie down on our blanket and get more sun. She hiked her sundress up, exposing her belly and legs and fell asleep. I was sent off after bottles of cold water and hiked up the hill. The rest found a spot in the shade and plopped down to wait.

I took my time and stopped off in the Delta Saloon to use their clean bathroom and popped in to visit with my friends Paul and Marilyn who ran the Indian Outpost Store. I knew that I had time to kill and nearly forgot that I was on a mission to get water. Waking up from my thoughts of Hopi Pueblos and Kachinas, I hurriedly bought bottles of water and walked back to where I left everyone in the park.

Tim was now drinking beer with his muscle-bound buddies and everyone else was asleep, except my daughter who was putting sunscreen on Katie’s face. Katie had assumed a position with the soles of her feet together and pulled up closer to her body. This position caused her inner thighs to be exposed to a very brutal July sun which had burned those white legs to a bright pink and promised to be painful. I woke her and the rest of the sleepyheads up and distributed water to them and made everyone drink it on the spot. Tim had a cold beer in his hand but I got him to drink the water anyway. Alcohol dehydrates you faster than anything; and even though your stomach is full of liquid, it isn’t helping your body fight off the heat.

We walked back up the hill and ate at the Palace and wandered through the stores again, but much more slowly as we were trying to stall until the sun dropped. As expected the sunburn our young guests got deepened to a lobster red and became even more painful. Tim removed his sunglasses and it looked like they were still on. The same white shape was there against a face that looked like it has been too close to a bomb blast, which was going to cause him no end of grief when he went to work. Katie was in pain as she tried to walk. Her inner thighs touched each other, and her toes were burned and swollen so that she struggled to get those toe rings off. I had honestly never seen anyone stick an ice cream cone on her feet before that day, but she did it.

Finally it was time to go grab a spot by the car, which we had strategically positioned at the beginning of this very long day. It took a little shuffling around but we got the blankets situated and everyone parked comfortably on them. The laughing and teasing continued as we discussed the upcoming fireworks show and the dry ground and houses below the hill.

As the light faded Tim kept saying that he wished he could be right in there with the professional miners who were setting up the rockets about one hundred feet away from us. As the Chinese proverb says, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.”

The fire trucks were in position all around the small valley where Virginia City is located, with the majority below the hill where the rockets were about to be ignited. There were wooden crates with wet sand in them linked together and leaned against an embankment at just the right angle for optimum trajectory. In this long line of boxes were placed rocket after rocket waiting to be lit. The line of rockets was longer than three fire trucks end to end. The stage was set and the man in charge gave the command to light the fuses. I think that was the last moment of quiet and calm that night.

When the master fuse-lighter put his glowing road flare to the combined fuse line to start the ignition series, something got bumped and that connected line of crates tipped backwards. Wait, backwards? Yep, towards all of us with great seats and the bomb disposal guy who wanted to be “right in there” with the fuse lighter.

Rockets red glare took on a whole new meaning as whistling balls of red, white and green shot past our heads. The boys were asleep inside of the car; they didn’t care. My daughter thought it was so very cool and was laughing. We were scrambling to get behind the car so it could block the blast. I looked for Tim and Katie and saw them as they went up the hill. 

As a blog special addition: an addendum to the original story with information supplied to me by Katie after I wrote this:

The epic run:

Katie was laughing like crazy and those big boobs of hers, (which were something past DDD's and very lively), both burst out of her sundress from all of the motion, which made her laugh even harder. Her arms were trapped straight down along her body, like a full-sized cardboard image, so she couldn't cover up if she wanted to. The bright pink, large, thin, flip-flops waving like overspeed fans as she was carried away damaged my brain. I laughed until I was crying.

Tim with all of his gigantic size and build, was giggling like a hysterical 10 year old girl as he ran carrying this 180lb woman with no effort and hardly any appearance that he realized that she was even there. His own flops were making loud popping sounds as the surgical tubing stretched and then snapped the tire chunks back against his foot. He was running like a barefoot guy on hot coals, but there weren't any there. A young blonde, better looking, "Arnold", giggling as he ran...

The immediate crowd cheered them as he stopped and looked around to see either; where we were, or if a fire was behind them and Katie asked him "if she could stand up now?" He put her down and she curtsied to the crowd above the hill and then pulled her top back up. Yes she is a bit of an exhibitionist.

It took less time to happen than it just took you to read this, but the image is forever burned into my brain.

No one got hurt, not even the guy lighting the fuses who got knocked over backwards. His fire department turnout coat and face shield on his helmet protected him. Some grass was ignited on the hillside above us and was quickly extinguished. The crowd scattered just like you would expect, but came right back clapping and cheering for more. The crew set up again and the show went on. Hey, it is Nevada!

The moral of the story:

When you see the bomb guy running, do your best to keep up. 

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