Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

What Goes Around . . .



Did you ever hear the saying, “What goes around, comes around?” I heard it first when we moved to Pryor Creek, but I’ve seen it lived out most of my life.

When I was growing up, the family and any friends we invited along went to a nearby lake to picnic and water ski every Sunday after church, and on the 4th of July. Of course, on the 4th we had fireworks. And firecrackers. And bottle rockets.

Mostly, kids handled the fireworks, but I have one uncle who loves to tease. His favorite thing to do on the 4th of July was to toss a firecracker right behind one of the kids and scare us out of three year’s growth.

I had several cousins around my age, but most of the fun ones were guys, and that summer they were into bottle rockets. Ever shoot a bottle rocket? They look like a firecracker with long tails.

Now there’s a firework I just don’t understand. Why do boys like them so much? Light one and it takes off. You can’t predict where it’ll go or explode. Kind of scary.

Rather than shoot them from a bottle, some of my cousins would hold them and let them take off from their fingers. Or light them and toss them into the air with a spin. I didn’t like being around when they were shooting bottle rockets.

That summer, I watched as a cousin shot one that landed in the lake, then exploded right next to a couple fishing from a small boat. When it went off, it splashed and startled the unsuspecting couple.

We ran.

I got my quilt and my book and laid down to work on my tan. I wasn’t very far into the book when another bottle rocket went off, right in the dry grass and, you guessed it, started a grass fire.

I think I mentioned the other day, I’ve always been a person who runs toward trouble. The parents were at the top of the hill under a shade tree, and the bottle rocket shooter hadn’t even seen where it went  off.

A grass fire can get out of hand quickly on a hot, windy day and July is nearly always a dry month in Okie-Land. I yelled for Dad, dunked my quilt in the lake and started trying to put the blaze out. My dad always could move pretty fast, and almost immediately took the little blanket away from me. “Go on. You’re making it worse.”

I wasn’t really, but I think it scared him to see me in the middle of those flames, even if they weren’t very big. I moved out of his way and he put out the fire, then told the boys to stop shooting the bottle rockets.

They stopped with the bottle rockets and started having Roman Candle battles–over the curve of the hill where the parents couldn’t see what they were doing.

We didn’t go to professional fireworks displays. Instead, all the families brought fireworks for the final deal at the end of the day. The dads and older cousins set them off for safety’s sake on hard packed sand near the lake while the rest of us stayed higher on the hill.

By the time we were through with the fireworks, the night was so dark we could barely see to get to the cars. Sometime in the darkness, the cousins had decided to get our teasing uncle back. They put something on his pickup that made it backfire, sputter and sound like it was having real engine trouble.

Funny thing about this uncle, he really hated payback. I think Granddad had to tell him to take a chill pill that night because it made him so mad. He might have mentioned what goes around comes around, but I doubt my uncle would have heard him, and Granddad never was one to waste his breath.

How did your family celebrate 4th of July? Any happy memories to share?

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

2 thoughts on “What Goes Around . . .

  1. I liked bottle rockets, but we rarely got to have them just for the reasons you mentioned. It was fun when we did, though, because we set them off from empty Coke bottles, and of course, we had to drink the Coke first. 😉

    There was a tall narrow tunnel by our house, and we’d go up there with empty tin cans and Black Cats. We balanced the edge of the upside-down can on the firecrackers, then light them. The cans flew, and the echo was awesome.

    Grass fires . . . ugh. The railroad tracks ran not far behind our house, and we always had two or three fires a summer started by the sparks from the trains. We learned now to beat them down with shovels, wet canvas tarps and the garden hose from the time we were six or seven years old.

    • We blew up everything we could with Black Cats, M. Ant hills, snake tunnels, old cans and anything else that wouldn’t be missed. (And a few things that could.)
      I wasn’t around too many grass fires. Guess the parental units didn’t want us to get lit.

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