Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 4

I was going to post something yesterday about the financial aspects of our founding fathers' push for independence... but then I said, nah... I'm no historian, just a navel-gazing money blogger!
So then I was going to write something about how important financial independence is to me as a single woman in NYC... and then I said nah again. I just wasn't feeling it.

But what was really on my mind last night was the underground economy of fireworks!
I spent July 4th in New York one year when I was a kid-- this would have been around 1979, I think. My mom and sister and I spent the day in NYC with my uncle and cousins. I don't remember anything that we did except being in SoHo where my uncle went to see someone he did business with-- back then, SoHo was still full of wholesale fabric warehouses and such, rather than being the upscale shopping mall it is now.
Before going back upstate, my uncle made a detour to Chinatown. He slowed the car to a crawl, and when a Chinese boy ran up to the car window, he spoke to him briefly, then the kid ran away. We sat there double-parked for a few minutes, and then the kid came back with a paper grocery bag stuffed full of fireworks. My uncle paid him-- I think I remember it being about $40 or $50, which was quite a lot back then, and of course I was all excited that we had just bought illegal fireworks in Chinatown!
It's funny, my uncle is kind of a good-time guy who likes to make people happy. He's never had much money and in fact had to declare bankruptcy a few years after this story took place. But he liked to be a wheeler-dealer about this kind of thing-- knowing where to go to get something illegal, or something cheap, or just something rather mischievous. That night, we had a grand old time shooting off all our firecrackers and bottle rockets and roman candles, lighting them with my uncle's cigarettes, which we were ordered not to inhale! My father, who had not come with us on this trip, was not at all happy to hear these stories when we got home, and I hid my extra firecrackers so he wouldn't take them away from me.

In the years since, I've heard that there was a big crackdown on selling fireworks in Chinatown. But every July 4th, you still hear plenty of people setting them off. I don't know if they go to other states to buy them or what-- I've heard that you can still buy fireworks in Chinatown if you try but it's not like there is an open market where everyone just drives up and gets a bagful! How much do fireworks cost these days? Does anyone know?

2 comments:

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

It depends on what you get. Legal fireworks, probably about $40-$50 per major firework, and $10 or less for the little sparklers...

But those chinese firecrackers are fine, except they could be potentially dangerous because they may not be regulated and could have disastrous consequences.. my mother was burned badly by a malfunctioning one as a child.

iburyem said...

It is still legal to buy/sell fireworks in most towns in Oklahoma. The show I had the other night (which lasted about 40 minutes) cost about $450.00. A once a year expense isn't too bad, and it's a hell of a lot of fun!