Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is a reporter and page designer for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CCNnews@cox-internet.com.


The spark has fizzled

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

I ’m not much for fireworks.

After 49 years on this Earth, they just don’t hold much enjoyment for me. I’m just not amazed, astounded, fascinated — or any other adverb you can think of — by them.

Well, maybe there is one — annoyed. I’m annoyed by fireworks.

I wasn’t alway this way. Like most young folks, I couldn’t wait to go see the big show every Fourth of July. By the middle of June, I was practically vibrating. Every time we passed a fireworks stand, I begged to stop, especially once I was old enough to earn my own money. I could always find something, whether it was a bag of Snap-Pops, sparklers or some Black Cats — the most cherished of firecrackers — or even a selection of Roman candles.

Growing up in Charleston, Mo., it soon became clear to me that those little fireworks stands were no match for our hometown joint, Reeve’s Boomland. Even in the 1970s-1980s, Boomland — which now offers 60,000 square feet of the loudest, brightest, boomiest fireworks you’ve ever seen — was a staple for every kid in Mississippi County.

In addition to fireworks, Boomland also features a top-notch home-cookin’ restaurant known as Wally’s Chew-Chew — named after the original proprietor and his love for trains —and more country kitsch than you can shake a “hillbilly golf club” at, all available for just the slightest bit of of your hard-earned coin.

The original Boomland’s location — just off the Charleston exit on Interstate 57 — is a prime one, serving to draw customers from Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. There’s now a second location in Benton, Mo., just south of Cape Girardeau. That one doesn’t count, just like the other locations for Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston — “Home of the Throwed Rolls” — don’t count, even if one of them is only an hour away in Ozark. If it’s not the original, it’s not the same.

Anyway, back to the fireworks. At Boomland, if you couldn’t find what you were looking for, it probably wasn’t worth having.

Once I got old enough to visit on my own and had my own money to spend, Boomland became a regular summer spot. After all, what red-blooded American boy doesn’t like to watch things blow up?

Back then, I still liked watching the professional fireworks shows as well, although my interest had already begun to fade. Like baseball, fishing or any number of other pastimes, it was more fun if you were the one doing it instead of watching someone else.

Sometime between high school and the end of my college years, my interest waned completely. Sure, I’d watch if I didn’t have to go out of my way and if that’s where the beer was, but it wasn’t something that got me excited the way it used to.

Years later, after I found myself stepfather to two precocious little girls, I had a brief rekindling of that interest. I found a new spark, watching their faces as they oohed and aahed over the colorful spectacle of one fireworks show or another.

As they grew, their fascination waned as well, and soon, I was back to my previous state of disinterest.

I don’t know when that disinterest actually became annoyance, but I have to assume it happened sometime in the past decade. As I approach 50, I’ve noticed that many things — things that I once found enjoyable or fun — now annoy me to one degree or another.

I was reminded of this Sunday as I attempted to enjoy the evening air on the back deck. I could catch glimpses and hear the muffled booms of Berryville’s annual “Fire on the Mountain” fireworks show through the trees, and that wasn’t particularly bothersome.

The neighbors, however — with their snaps, crackles, pops and fizzes that did little except distract from the professional show and go on for far too long— were extremely annoying. I realize it was fun for them, but I just wasn’t feeling it and found myself headed back inside after only a short time.

I get more enjoyment watching the fireflies winking through the trees on their nightly mission to procreate. At least they’re quiet.

On reflection, it may be that I’m slowly turning into a grumpy old man, one who may soon find himself yelling at clouds.

In the event that comes to pass, I’ve been practicing. It hasn’t come up much, but if it does, I want to be ready.

“Get off my lawn!”