Here’s wishing you a happy Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, America! And happy Independence Day to you, as well. I hope you get to do some fishing today and this weekend to celebrate, and I hope you still have all your fingers on Monday.

Growing up, I looked forward to the Fourth of July even more than Christmas. It was my favorite holiday. That was partly because our good family friend Bill Brohm also loved the Fourth of July, and he saw in me a kindred spirit. Every year, he rolled up to our house in the 1958 Corvette he only drove on the Fourth of July, told me to hop in, and we cruised to every fireworks stand in Riverton in search of the newest, biggest, loudest fireworks.

Bill was a surgeon, so he had a fair amount of disposable income that he happily disposed of on the Fourth. I was just a kid who mowed lawns, so I wasn’t able to afford the kinds of fireworks Bill loaded in the trunk of that ‘Vette. But Bill didn’t let me spend my money on those shopping trips. He let me pick out what I thought would be good fireworks, and he added them all to his pile.

When we got back to my house, Bill would sort out the mounds of fireworks. He’d put them in separate boxes, depending on what they did and when we’d set them off. The biggest boxes were the ones we’d save until after dark. And those boxes were huge. Most years, after Bill and I got back to the house, he’d take my sister for another trip to the fireworks stands.

The rest of the day, I’d strap my firecrackers and bottle rockets to GI Joe figures and blow them to smithereens. Or bury them in anthills or drop them in the stock tanks. And that night, Bill would preside over the county’s most impressive fireworks display.

Bill is no longer with us, and with livestock to worry about and fire danger to think about, I’m not as excited about fireworks as I was when I was younger. But I plan to send up a big, noisy, flashy rocket to celebrate the birth of our nation, as well as to honor Bill. The Fourth just isn’t the same without him.