Sunday, July 5, 2015

Berowne's 277

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "Z" is for "zero")

Yesterday was the day for fireworks and I got to thinking about Little Roy.

And that made me remember a special example of the pyrotechnician’s art: the JumboBlast rocket.  (This all happened way back when I was just a lad of ten years of age, which is way back indeed.)

We had heard about that rocket because so many of the kids our age spoke of it.  However, it was extremely expensive – it cost fifty cents – so it was out of the question for our celebratory pyrotechnics.

You see, at that time we were in the middle of the depression.  I mean The Big One, the worst depression in our nation’s history.  This was bad for the entire country, but it was also bad for me: if I ever had more than one dime at any time I would have considered myself on the road to affluence.

On the same street where I lived were the Yeagers, a family of four boys, so I hung out there a lot.  They too were also suffering from galloping penuriousness.  Our holiday was spent disappointingly with sparklers and very cheap firecrackers, so weak that if anyone was speaking loudly when you set one off you could entirely miss the “pop” sound.

But on that day the youngest brother, Little Roy, five or six years old, had a secret.

A secret no one knew about, for he certainly had told no one.  For the past few years, for most of his life as a matter of fact, Little Roy had been hoarding.  Any penny, along with the rare occasional nickel, that he managed to get hold of he hid away in a special cache only he, acting aloof, knew about.  I’m not sure he was aware of how much he finally had because counting past ten wasn’t what he was good at, but it turned out to be a total of about fifty cents.

We learned that because one of his brothers had stumbled upon this whole treasure and suddenly our July Fourth took on dazzling possibilities.

The Yeager guys were not bad with their little bro.  They didn’t bully him and they certainly wouldn’t physically harm him.  But they, and I, set out on a propaganda campaign to illuminate for him what a sensational holiday this could be.  If he’d just turn over those fifty centavos, we could actually go and buy a JumboBlast rocket! 

Think of it, Little Roy!  Your rocket – (yes, we’d make sure it was known as his) – would shoot up into the firmament and explode and the entire vault of heaven would burst forth into brilliant, positively ravishing examples of incredible fireworks display.  We would have a holiday none of us would ever forget.

It wasn’t hard.  Little Roy wanted the rocket as much as the rest of us.

Long story short, one of the older boys went and bought the device.  We set it up carefully in a wide patch of the back yard.  It was a thrilling moment when the lit match touched the fuse.

I was only ten or so, and I didn’t know all that much about aerodynamics, so I didn’t understand why the rocket, as it started off, suddenly took a quick turn to the right.  It shot like a bullet just over nearby housetops and in a matter of a second or two was totally out of sight.  Its pyrotechnical effect was zero.

Whatever dazzling display that rocket was going to put on would be displayed before someone else.  Little Roy had a stunned look on his face, as if to say: Was that it!!!?

There was not much we could say to ease the situation.  Little Roy just sat there staring into space, thinking about his life savings, perhaps hoping the rocket's absence was only temporary and it would come back again and perform as expected.

The rest of us got together and ponied up some money so we could buy him a Popsicle.  That helped a little.  In its way it was a Fourth of July I’ve never forgotten. 


Annie said...

Little Roy probably didn't know it then but he had just learned one of life's most important lessons. Charming story.

naturgesetz said...

Definitely a Fourth of July to remember. Poor Little Roy! You big boys were very good to get him a popsicle. The story has put a smile on my face that's still there — the smile, that is, although, if the truth were known, the face is still there too.

Karen S. said...

I know these were rough times, but when I read the stories of those days I can't help but feel things were much more appreciated and heartfelt back in those struggling years. Lovely write.

Kathe W. said...

Poor Little Roy and all the rest of you- what a disappointment!
Have a great week!

Roger Owen Green said...

Been there when the buildup is great, but the payoff, not so much.

Gail said...

What a wonderful story!!!

Poor Little Roy, that disappointment is right up there on the list of all time disappointments.

A teacher told us once how she loved ice cream in a cone, how magnificent the cone was and for years she dreamed of eating the cone with nothing in it. Finally at the age of five, she got a cone without ice cream...the taste was about as welcome as Little Roy's rocket experience.
Thanks for buying him a Popsicle.

Thanks for coming by.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Fireworks may not be all bang and blast. There are some that are fizzers. A lovely tale.

Truedessa said...

I knew there was a reason to come and visit. I have found yet another wonderful story. Too bad the rocket didn't live up to the expectation. I am glad that you boys were able to buy that Popsicle for little Roy. I think we still have moments like this in life when we have these great expectations and then find they weren't quite what we had in-visioned. I hope you had a great 4th of July. I remember those sparklers I used to like to write my name and see it glow in the night sky. It was like having a magic wand of some sorts..smiling..thanks for sharing.

Sara McNulty said...

Great story! Wonder if little Roy is still saving.

Berowne said...

My thanks to all for some wonderfully encouraging comments.

brudberg said...

What a story.. I guess it also provided a lifelong lesson for all of you. Maybe the way we take risks with our assets.. on the other hand it was probably also a good thing that it didn't cause a major explosion somewhere.

Trubes said...

Poor little Roy, I bet he grew up to be a financial wizard in the city!

Best wishes,
ABCW team.

Helen said...

I do enjoy your storytelling .. and now after doing the math I know your age! Never stop being creative ~~

Reader Wil said...

A magnificent story! I never buy fireworks, but we always bought some harmless little starry sticks. There are, however, enough boys living in the neighbourhood who experiment dangerously with fireworks in bottles. I am too old to join them now!!
I feel sorry for little Roy.
Have a great week.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Photo Cache said...

What a neat little story.


Roy Schulze said...

Every great story should include at least one person named Roy, and that was a great story.

Hildred said...

Now that you are much older and know more about aerodynamics, can you explain the events of that sorrowful night?

Berowne said...

I'm afraid I know little more now about aerodynamics than I did then...

Jae Rose said...

Poor little Roy - but a lesson well learnt...popsicles or pops too short too miss..neither seems like a good investment..i am sure Roy knew this and kept his pennies to himself afterwards

Vinay Leo R. said...

The popsicle might have been a temporary cure at least, but he definitely would think twice before handing over more centavos in the future :)

Leo @ I Rhyme Without Reason

Keith's ramblings said...

The rocket may have disappointed, but I'm pretty sure the popsicle pleased!
Visit Keith's Ramblings!

Sheilagh Lee said...

oh what a disappointment. I'm glad you bought him a Popsicle.

i b arora said...

beautifully told

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Good for you boys to buy him a popsicle.
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