I got a bit excited Sunday evening while celebrating the birthday of a friend. I thought I was going to finally hear the answer to the question of who blew up the left-over band fireworks on the Rock Island railroad line in the 1980s. One of the other attendees, a long-ago Peabody High School grad who has returned to the area, struck up a conversation with me. We talked about mutual friends and acquaintances as well as events from the 1980s when I was a much younger wife and mom and he was an upcoming shaker and mover on the PHS scene.
In the course of the conversation, he shared details of a long ago event that I had forgotten. It seems that one warm Saturday night in early spring, Walnut Street was awash in high school kids dragging Main, honking and hollering at one another, and looking for some kind of fun. The Mister and I were apparently out with friends that night and The Daughters had been left with a sitter. The Youngest Daughter was asleep, but the now-Married Daughter and the sitter were on the front porch watching the activity on the street.
Eventually the car the young man was in found its way into our driveway so the occupants could talk to the babysitter who was a cute young thing. At some point the now-Married Daughter mentioned that there were leftover band fireworks stored in the loft above the garage and presto — the boys in the car found the “some kind of fun” for which they had been searching!
Luckily for them we had conveniently left a ladder in place to gain access to the loft. They loaded up on fireworks and sped back onto Walnut Street. It seems they made several more trips to the garage loft before the police got called into action because of residents’ complaints about fireworks explosions that seemed to spring up from the north to south end of town simultaneously. Oddly enough, there were multiple vehicles involved in this mayhem.
Things finally calmed down for the evening after some fireworks set Margaret and Willard Jewel’s bushes on fire across the street from us. The fire department arrived and put the fire out and the high school kids scuttled off toward home. The cute babysitter and the now-Married Daughter retreated from their observation point on the front porch and went inside. The town quieted down. Another fun-filled Saturday night was in the books!
When the former PHS shaker and mover somewhat sheepishly told me about this incident, I remembered it. It seems that our neighbor to the south saw all the activity in and out of the garage and called me first thing the following morning to bring me up to date. Sadly enough for the now-Married Daughter, the neighbor was pretty certain she was the ring-leader, probably because said daughter was the only person the neighbor recognized. Several hours later she was in Margaret and Willard Jewel’s kitchen apologizing for providing the pyrotechnics that burned their well-shaped bushes to the ground. I think she was about 12 and, of course, was in tears.
Somewhere that fits into one of life’s lessons, I’m sure. The kids who had all the fun got away with it and she took the blame. The other part of that lesson is that if parents are patient long enough, they often learn the details of long ago curious events involving their children.
— SUSAN MARSHALL