John Gralenski: The way we think about fireworks has changed

To the editor:
I've always had a pretty comfortable relationship with explosives. My old dog Zelda, however, does not. I took her to the Fourth of July fireworks. Dogs as you know have much more sensitive ears than we do, but we were at least a half mile away, so I thought it would be OK. It wasn't. At the first shot she crawled under my knees and shivered. A few more shots and she cringed each time. Oh, well. We went home.
Back when I grew up (just after the mammoths went extinct), explosives were common tools and toys. When Uncle Eddy had a stump or a rock to move, it was just a matter of going down to the hardware store or the feed store and getting a couple sticks of dynamite. Fireworks were a constant. I used them for the noise and even some practical things.
There was a place where a brook ran into the Connecticut River. It was a good spot for bass fishing. Right at the brook mouth, there was a small pool that always had a bunch of minnows. I would bring along a few salutes with an iron nut tied to the fuse. Light it, toss it into the pool, watch the minnows swim over to inspect the bubbles, and BAM — then just pick up the bait.
Things got somewhat more serious when the state decided that firecrackers were too dangerous for kids to play with. Once our supply ran out, it was a simple matter to get the formula for black powder from the library. The druggist had no qualms about selling us the chemicals, although I do remember one guy saying, as he handed me the bag, "Watch out. That stuff is explosive."
Pop had taken out all the galvanized plumbing in the house and replaced it with copper. Being kind of a pack-rat, he stored the old pipe in the barn rather than throw it out. Those steel fittings made fine pipe bombs for us to replace those dangerous firecrackers.
And that's the way it goes. The authorities decide on laws they can pass to make things better, and in the process, make things a lot worse. That's still going on.
John Gralenski
Shelburne