The Muskets of the lower woods

Bottle rockets were and probably still are illegal in North Carolina, but when I was growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, one of my better friends had a father who was a truck driver, and his long hauls brought him frequently through the firework havens of South Carolina.

Five dollars bought a tremendous number of bottle rockets, and I wasn't the only one buying. A length of PVC pipe, 3 feet or longer, plus a small block of 2x4 finished off our improvised muskets. We stacked brush up across a firing line only ten feet from one another, and dozens of children participated. If your parents smoked, and my mother did, you had a ready reserve of lighters. You lit the bottle rocket, loaded your gun, held the block to the end of the tube, and if all went well, the rocket fired straight at your target, another child, across the line and in the brush.

We didn't mind getting hit. we laughed actually. We were in the thickest denim coats we could manage at the time. My puffy, hooded number provided tremendous protection, and its dark grey acid wash exterior hid any evidence of powder burns or explosions. The small amount of plastic in the fibers would look a bit smooth where a bottle rocket impact may have coincided with an unlucky explosion, but these were details invisible to all but the most discerning parent.

We reenacted war. That’s been a child’s game and perhaps prerogative for far longer than this nation has been a country. The United States has been selling casting kits for lead works since the signing of the Constitution. A small snippet I once read actually mentioned that the small toys which apparently have been cast since at least Roman times have been the toys of children for over 2000 years.

Which brings me to GIJOE, the most successful toy of the 20th century has an incredible following and remarkable prices on eBay. The USS FLAGG, an aircraft carrier for the Sky Striker and Conquest Joe aircraft is the Queen of all 80's era boy toys. A remarkable number of my computer programmer friends have ponied up hundreds if not thousands of dollars to either for the first time or to again possess the toy that defined opulent wealth among children of my age. There are even modified versions made by enterprising painters and modders of FLAGG kits re-imagined in the colors of Cobra, Joe’s nemesis.

The battles I described above were yelled with the battle cries of Joe versus Cobra, and I wonder if those simpler times weren't actually a boon to peace. Joe did not fight Russia, Joe was against Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organization bent on world domination(to paraphrase), and when I look at the forces of ISIS, I can’t help, but draw parallels to the enemy painted for us. The US and other world governments have air craft carriers with carrier mounted air craft. ISIS has a terror drone like soccer stadium where they execute women and children. I wonder if the metaphor for children, and the simple joys on those battlefields wouldn't make it easier to bear than what passes across the screen today.

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