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A Booming Tradition

Resident recalls fun & family on the Fourth

By the end of June, fireworks stands have popped up all over the town and the county, beckoning buyers with promises of the biggest booms. But when Jane Tyler was a girl, fireworks were a little harder to come by.

Jane's mother found out how to order fireworks by mail from a seller in Nebraska. And that started a Fourth of July tradition that grew through the generations. "It started when my sister and my brother and I were young," said Jane, a resident of Manor of the Plains. "When my sister and I married and started our families, she kept doing it. Every Fourth we would get together."

Over the years, more and more friends and relatives joined the fun. After Jane got married, her husband's family started coming every year. Usually about 25-30 people would gather on the buffalo grass lawn at Jane's home near the town of Copeland. It was also her brother-in-law's birthday, so homemade ice cream and cake became another cherished tradition of the day.

"We would eat first, and then when it started to get dark, we would get the chairs set up in the front yard. Then we would shoot off the fireworks for about an hour," Jane said. "It was always fun. We'd have a big yard full of people."

The kind of fireworks they had then are most likely outlawed now, at least in the city limits. Like bottle rockets -- it was lots of fun to see how high you could get them to fly. But what goes up most come down. "One year we had a bunch of people shooting those off, and all of a sudden we smelled smoke. We seemed to have a fire out in our wheat stubble," Jane said. "That broke up the party for a while. Everyone ran to get the tractor and the disc."

Another time, Jane's son made the mistake of looking down the barrel of a rocket that he thought was a dud. It flew right out at his face, but fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt. And then there was the big surprise when Jane went out to burn the household trash a few days past the Fourth.

Unbeknownst to her, one of her kids had put an old package of firecrackers in the trash. She lit the fire. "All of a sudden we were having a fireworks display. There was a telephone guy up on the pole, and I think he thought he was being shot at," she laughed.

Jane's mother ordered from the same fireworks vendor for decades, even when Jane's own grandchildren were small. But eventually it became easier to shop at stands. She recalled taking her grandson to a stand and indulging him a bit. "When Grandma goes shopping with their grandchild, you do whatever they want," she said.

The Fourth of July will always be a special day to Jane for the way it brings back memories of family, community and excitement – even the unexpected kind.

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