"Ehhh normally we do 55 for those mortars.. Let me check with my boss. You paying card or cash?
"Okay, I'm going to grab the boss," a partially toothed man in his forties wearing a Seahawks jacket announced as we left the firework shack and headed towards a nearby trailer.
After a minute or two, the trailer's screen door flung open and out marched the matriarch of the firework stand, followed closely by her genuine Seahawks apparel-clad henchmen.
"You paying cash?" She said with out breaking stride.
"Yup." I said shifting my gaze away from the wall of fireworks and towards the 5o-year old Chinook women.
"Well pick out everything you want and we can go from there." Her demeanor and the way the other Chinooks hanging around the firework shed and accompanying trailers treated her with reverence reminded me of Pilar from For Whom the Bell Tolls.
I nodded in approval and returned to the task of selecting enough fireworks for the coming night's festivities.
As a young kid growing up in the Columbia River Gorge, we would head east down the 14 to a handful of Native fishing camps and buy fireworks in the days leading up to the Fourth. Starting in June, I'd scrape together as much allowance as I could to spend on Mortars, M80's, bottle rockets, Saturn Missiles, and assorted firecrackers. Overcome with excitement, I would blast off my bag of fireworks before sunset on the fourth.
Years spent on the East Coast and in New York City where discharging the fireworks of my childhood would earn you an interview with a few men with suits and ear pieces, built up a strong yearning for the sizzle of a fuse and the smell of discharged gunpowder. This year, for the first time in the last three, I was in Washington for the fourth.
One of my favorite movies.
Tying off three mortar fuses into one.
After Half an hour of haggling, I exchanged with the firework Matriarch a wad of bills for a box full of fireworks and headed towards my truck. Heading west on the 14 through Bingen and Underwood, hundreds of of kite boarders punctuated the Columbia's whitecaps. I had two hours or so before the sun started setting. With any luck, I'd get to blast off my first mortar before it was dark.
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