Okay, I will admit my brain grows confused at times. The State of Michigan once banned firecrackers and bottle rockets and M-1000 bombs. I remember the series of events vaguely that lead to the ban, a number of boys either killed or maimed by firecrackers. Fingers were blown off, eyes ruined. Was it Bill Milliken in the governor's office? I believe the ban passed with rapidity and across the aisle consensus. I remember my father speaking about the ban and speaking about it approvingly. By the way, my father had a penchant for burning that almost made me into a pyromaniac. We burnt our farmland every spring, an unnecessary practice that did did reveal the sprouted timothy stalks. I understand George Washington Carver spoke against the practice in the south, explaining how it didn't add nutrients to the soil.
My father once played, so to speak, with the big guns, the ones that took down target drones over Lake Michigan during the late fifties, early sixties. In the last years of his life, I asked him numerous questions about his service with the Michigan National Guard on the cliffs of Claybanks Township. My father worked in the motor pool. I am really good with tires.
I even called him up as I walked around the property. The one time mom and he drove out to visit me in Muskegon, I put them up in the Holiday Inn downtown. Good enough for Miss America meant good enough for mom. So we never walked the former military grounds together, still heavily forested and remote. When he passed in August of 2011, I said the following when a friend and fellow employee arrived in my office to talk reporting. "Sir, we're down a guardsman". That friend had managed an officer's commission with the guard and an executive sales position with our firm.
In the summer, the Michigan Nation Guard controlled the waters from the White Lake Channel to the Little Sable Lighthouse, a vigilance enforced by the artillery batteries of Camp Claybanks, south of Stony Lake, lakefront village near Shelby. Certainly, the pleasure boat industry made sure the guns of Camp Claybanks went silent. The Army Corp of Engineers cleaned up all the unexploded shells and munitions and the land went on the block for trophy homes two or three years ago.
So, today, on Meijer's parking lot, we have pitched a tent to purvey a range of explosives from finger poppers to scaled down mortars. For the more explosive items, the state collects an extra tax that goes toward fireman education and additional safeguards. Light up a cigarette and a penny or two goes toward a fund to pay for oxygen tanks. Roll the dice and a dime goes toward a gamblers anonymous membership.
I haven't seen this concentration of fireworks stores since I left Dallas in the summer of 2007. I could launch a bottle rocket from TNT's tent and hit the walls of the old Butch's gas station, where more 4th of July munitions are for sale. I hope the boys sparking up pops were just goofing around with finger pops.
TNT has contracted with Living Word church to staff the tent, and a mom and her son are moving the explosive merchandise, paying for a missionary trip to the poor of Peru. It's not in the Bible, but the moral idea of ends not justifying the means comes to mind here. But I am the wrong person to ask for a moral reading. The young man's tee shirt read: "Cynicism is just one of the services I offer". His mother said as I left: "Keep coming back".
Confession is good for the soul. I looked at the bottle rockets with lust in my heart.