Wow. That was a long post.
Here's a short one from me about a 4th of July that I remember from my youth.
My dad had a decent collection of black powder pistols and rifles. He was very fond of guns. He even had his own ammo bench and I remember helping him make bullets from time to time.
My dad also liked to drink. I didn't know any different at the time, I just figured it was a "Dad" thing. And he wasn't a mean drunk, at least not mean to me, so it didn't lead to a ton of abuse like it could have.
Anyhow, on to the 4th of July, 1977. I think. I would have been 9. It was a nice 4th. He had been drinking most of the day. My best friend at the time and I were playing out in the yard, waiting for the sun to go down and the fireworks to begin.
I don't know who's idea this was. It may have been me or it may have been my dad. Whoever it was we all pretty much concluded that it would be cool if he were to sit on the camper (it was one of those collapsable ones) with a couple of his black powder pistols and all of the stuff to make them work (I can visualize all of it, but I don't remember the proper names) with the exception of the shot, load them with the powder and wad, and fire at us as we ran around the yard like loons. While drinking beer, of course.
Every time a pistol would go off we fell to the ground in dramatic death throes. Then when he was reloading we would get up and run around some more.
No bullets and at least 10 feet of distance made it actually quite safe and the guns were cool. And loud. Even though he was using smokeless powder I still remember the smell that accumulated after around 15 shots or so. And the echo through the neighborhood was awesome as well.
So after the police arrived and verified that we weren't in fact dead on the lawn as we had been reported, my friend and I were sent in the house while they talked things over with my dad. I'm pretty sure they took the pistols with them when they left, but he got them back at a later date. It was fun while it lasted.
So that's the short version of my 2nd most memorable childhood 4th of July celebration.