(crossposted to my LiveJournal)
In 1967 we lived in Beatrice, Nebraska (pronounced Bee-ATT-riss, if you can believe that). My parents had built a house on the block where a school had once stood–one of the first houses to be built there after the old school was demolished. By the summer of 1967 there were a few other houses, including one whose back yard abutted ours.
This house was inhabited by a family I will refer to as the Pretentious Losers. The parents were impossible, social-climbing snobs (yeah, hard to believe anyone could have such pretensions in a little armpit town in Nebraska, but they did) and the children were all incorrigible brats. Needless to say, the family quickly aroused the loathing of everyone in our household, not the least because the youngest child liked nothing better than to stand by our back fence and screech “GIT OFF OUR POPPITY!” any time any of us came near.
In those days, a certain amount of fireworks were legal. In the days leading up to the 4th, my brothers and I went and stocked up on firecrackers and bottle rockets. And as soon as it got dark on the night of the 4th, we turned off the lights in the back of the house and went outside with our arsenal. It took about five minutes to get the angle on the pop bottle just right so that a bottle rocket launched from it would explode right outside the Pretensious Losers’ back door. We then happily occupied our time with explosion after explosion till all of a sudden the light over the back door went on. We all scurried back into our house as fast as we could run. Moments after that, our phone rang.
And then came one of my mother’s finest hours. She answered, knowing full well what we’d been up to and having had a good laugh herself, and proceeded to put on a fine old display of righteous indignation. Absolutely not, her children weren’t even home. Nobody in our house had any kind of fireworks, and how dare Mrs. Pretentious Loser make such accusations. No doubt she’d been setting off the fireworks herself. Mrs. Pretentious Loser had better find other ways to occupy her time besides annoying the neighbors with prank calls, and GOODBYE.
Meanwhile my brothers and I and a couple of my brothers’ friends were in the darkened living room literally rolling around on the floor laughing and trying desperately not to be heard. After Mom hung up, she came in and joined the laughter–but told us we’d better quit while we were ahead.
Someone suggested waiting till midnight and lobbing a whole string of firecrackers into the neighbors’ yard, but in the end we decided not to put Mom through the ordeal of having to do a repeat performance for the cops.