Memories – 4th of July, 1977 – Don Taylor

I was reading Randy Seaver’s Blog “Genea Musings” ( who was suggesting that we might remember our best 4th of July experience as a child and our best as an adult. So, I put my mind to it.

Cap Pistol with roll caps much like I had in the 1950s
photo via

Sadly, I could not think of any childhood experiences that were outstanding or particularly memorable. Certainly, growing up in Minnesota, a state without personal fireworks, means I didn’t have any fireworks around until I was a teenager. We had roll caps for our toy guns and cracker balls that you threw at the sidewalk to get a pop, but there really wasn’t much. I recall going to the drive-in movie theater a few times to watch the fireworks. One year, when I was at the Hilltop Theater, there was a misfire and a large starburst went off about 30 feet off the ground showering the spectators with hot sparks. (Boy, did people dive into their cars quickly.) I also recall going with some friends on the 200 mile drive out to Watertown, South Dakota to get some real fireworks, but, the road-trip was probably more fun than shooting the fireworks off.

Then I thought about my adult experiences, and I’ve had many good experiences. I think the best, and most memorable, experience was in the late 1970s. I was in the US Navy, stationed in Hawaii. I lived with my wife and son in base housing at “Camp Stover,” which was at Wheeler AFB near. Across Kunia Road was Schofield Barracks, a large army installation. It is where we usually shopped because they had a great commissary and exchange. One of the three years I was there (1976-1979), they planned a huge fireworks display climaxing in the 1812 Overture with cannon. Wow.

By The U.S. Army (Firing a Salute)
CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We packed a lawn blanket, a picnic basket of goodies and had a wonderful afternoon with other service families. Later that evening, after the sun went down, the fireworks began. Then there was a short lull in the fireworks and the Army Band played the “1812 Overture” and the canon (howitzers actually) joined in. The howitzers were deafening and from were we were, probably 20-25 feet away, the pressure change was like a kick to the chest. An amazing experience, lots of fun, and something I will always remember. YouTube has several videos of 4th of July celebrations that show more modern celebrations, but none of the videos do justice to the experience of being there.

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