By Joe Rector

The day began with my rising at 5:00 a.m. to go to work. By 5:30, I was mowing tee boxes with the mower headlights on. By 9:00, I was finished and on the way home. Once there, I took a shower to wash the grass clippings and mud splatters away. At 1:30, I was back at the golf course to play a round with friends. After that, we met up to ride together to watch the Smokies play ball. By the time I arrived at home, my old body was worn out, but the day was one I’ll remember for a long time.

We ate at the game, and for the most part, our attention was more on talking and exchanging tales than on watching the game. Our team defeated the Lookouts handily, and because it was free hotdog night, the larger than usual crowd was loud and excited. The grand finale was a fireworks display. I thought the event would be minimal at best, but the Smokies brought out some of the best fireworks that I’ve seen.

Fireworks have always been fascinating to me. When we were small, Daddy would buy sparklers for us to hold or to make designs as we moved them in swirls in the night air. As we grew older, packs of firecrackers were added. If we carefully unwound them, we could fire the things for several minutes. Then, the celebration was over. We didn’t have money to spend on things that simply blew up.

When my children arrived, I wasted money on exploding things. We traveled to the store at Watt Road or to the stands in Lenoir City to choose the ones Lacey and Dallas wanted. Still, I was cheap and refused to spend too much on momentary excitement. When the skies darkened, our family would go down to my mother’s yard to make noise and view some pretty colors as they spread across the sky.

The most elaborate fireworks drew large crowds to downtown Knoxville. Boomsday was spectacular in the number of explosives and the music that was synced to the explosions by the local radio station. I never made the trip to Boomsday. I don’t like crowds, and I had school the next day. My children went with friends a few times, while I stayed home and watched the event on television. I avoided the crowds and saved money by not having to buy drinks, popcorn, cotton candy, and other unnecessary things.

Yes, Boomsday and ballgames and even some megachurches give the public plenty of exciting shows when their fireworks begin. For this old guy, the fireworks displays that I loved the most were located at the TVA&I Fair. As boys, Jim and I were given the choice of going to the fair or receiving $5.00 cash. In later years, we took the money, but in our younger years, we always chose the fair. It was a day filled with rides, games and food. We walked miles between Chilhowee Park and the Midway. At the end of the night, we stood with Mother and watched fireworks. People oohed and aahed as the sky filled with smoke from the colors and designs from the explosions. Yes, those were the grandest shows because they came only once a year. They were special parts of our lives because of their rarity.

Maybe we all might appreciate things in our lives more if they came less often. We expect too many special events for even the smallest occasions. Think how important phones, cars, televisions and fireworks were to those of us who grew up without the Internet, cell phones and video games.