Fireworks in my Youth

Hearing early Canada Day bangs from a house near me reminds me of fireworks when I was a kid. The only time in the year when we could buy them was November. We celebrated Guy Fawkes Day in New Zealand and excitement built in the weeks leading up to the 5th. .

We didn’t have only fireworks to enjoy but also a guy. It would be burned on the bonfire set in one of our deep ditches in front of our houses. To make a guy you needed a male to donate an old shirt and trousers. Any accessory like a tie, hat or socks was a bonus. You made a rough head from some fabric and then stuffed it and the clothes with straw until your guy could stand up or at least sit with a sideways lean. He was usually tied to a stake in the centre of the fire and destroyed to great cheers from the spectators. Rather macabre now that I think about it.

I remember studying the Guy Fawkes display in Woolworths. I can’t remember any packs like you can buy these days. The fireworks were sold individually and had wonderful names like Silver Stars and Golden Trails. Dad gave us some money and my sister and I took ages to make our selection. We had to include a couple of rockets and catherine wheels. I can’t remember having sparklers to twirl in the air.

At home, we spread the fireworks on the living room carpet and argued over the order they should be set off. We joined with our immediate neighbours for the display and I assume they also contributed fireworks. There were plenty of oohs and aahs just as there are today. Having a fire meant you had an extra treat at the end of the fun. Potatoes were cooked in the embers. They were so hot you could burn your fingers or tongue and tasted wonderful with butter, pepper and salt.

Next week I will write about fireworks when I was grown up.