News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 5, 2011

MS. TAKES: Fireworks color is nice, but noise isn't

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I usually spend July 4 all hunkered down indoors. I don’t like loud noises and I quit going to fireworks displays because any pleasure from the colorful spangles is outweighed — for me — by the booms and whistles and blasts it takes to make the spangles.

I wonder if the noise hasn’t become the purpose of the holiday rather than the original celebration of our national independence?

I don’t miss the too-long speeches by politicians on the holidays of my youth. I was willing to concede their patriotism without the speech. I just wanted to get back to the picnic, to the fried chicken and chocolate cake.

I do remember Dad’s company picnics when he would stop at Mr. Webster’s drug store for ice cream — special ordered — as the ultimate picnic dessert. It was packed in a metal container, wrapped in a heavily padded cover and the whole thing sunk in dry ice. Even so, you had to dip early and fast or your ice cream needed a straw rather than a spoon.

Yorkville had no public fireworks display. Ed and I spent the day with our haul of firecrackers. I favored the tiny little “lady fingers” while he went for the big stuff. The dog hated them all and hid out in the coal bin until things tapered off about sunset. A pan of water and a few crunchers made her day.

Since July 4 falls near the longest day of the year, it seemed to take forever to get dark. Dad always sprung for a couple of Roman candles, a “fountain” and a box of sparklers for us. He was leery of fireworks. He had a younger brother who died young following the onset of tetanus from a fireworks accident. We thought he was too cautious, he thought he was prudent.

And it’s not just July 4. My Best Friend and I were coming home from New Orleans one New Year’s Eve and stopped at a small hotel in Natchez, Miss. My BF asked how folks in the south celebrated the arrival of the new year and I assured him it was uneventful. Well! About midnight all hell broke loose: shotguns, fireworks, sky rockets, the works. We sat up in bed, had a good laugh and figured we’d also celebrated the following July 4th as well as New Year’s Eve.

I take my noisy celebrations the way our dog took hers. A pity we don’t have a coal bin.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to