Let freedom Hot Diggity Dog! ring | Intermediate Eater

By John Owen | Jul 03, 2014

One of our great grandsons, Connor, will be 4 years old on the Fourth of July.

It’s not fair!

When I was a kid there was an unwritten rule that you were allowed to set off 10 firecrackers for each birth year you were celebrating.

I learned that from my father, who loved to set off fireworks, anywhere, any time, but especially on the Fourth of July. Often he would schedule a family picnic, usually near a Montana river with wide, sandy banks. When he had grandchildren, they kept a wary eye on their elder, and when a cherry bomb exploded they would jump 5 feet in the air and, in unison, they would holler, “Papa, you quit that!”

I guess my father had it in his genes, and passed it along to me. When I was a kid I’d begin saving my weekly allowance in late May, and spent it all the first week of July on fireworks of all sizes, shapes and altitudes, from skyrockets to little red cannons that would explode a rubber ball 100 feet in the air.

This Fourth of July, I believe that Connor will be allowed to set off zero firecrackers and double-zero skyrockets. He’ll be lucky if he is able to score one bent sprinkler. It’s not fair.

Our forefathers set off tons of fireworks to celebrate Independence from the British, who I suspect spent all their loose cash on those little worms that, when lit, crawl slowly along the sidewalk,

The present situation would be intolerable if it were not for two factors.

I don’t want any relatives, or strangers, setting my home on fire.

And as a kid I never suspected I would be able to see a spectacular, safe and sane fireworks display just a block or two away, as our families can do in Edmonds.

Not that I led a deprived childhood. Each night of the North Montana State Fair in Great Falls ended with a spectacular fireworks display, which reflected into the spray of the Great Falls of the Missouri. Families would park their cars on the Giant Springs Road and watch the display.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lewis and Clark fired their muskets into the air the first time they saw the Great Falls in the twilight. That’s all that us kids were doing with our fireworks money, celebrating historic events on a day that often ended with a quick, simple meal built around:


Hot Diggity Dogs


blob of butter

8 wieners

2 cups tomato sauce

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon relish of your choice

dash of cloves

1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon sugar


Melt butter in a skillet and add the sliced wieners, and when they have sizzled and popped a few times dump everything else into the pan. Simmer 10 or 15 minutes, then serve the dogs in warm buns with plenty of sauce.

And if a loud noise prompts you to drop your hot dog before you can get it to your lips, holler in unison, “Papa, you quit that!”

Am I not my father’s son, or Connor’s great-grandfather?


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