SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Americans Like Loud Bangs, "Blowing Up Stuff"

Bob Weaver

Americans like loud explosions and watching things blow up, not terrorist attacks.

We also like God, guns and flag waving.

We are now waving Donald Trump flags for the first time, with many US sociologists saying it is an omen of things to come for the great nation.

Most Americans even like to go to big bang wars for truth, justice and the American way, then regret it later, particularly since World War II, a really formidable cause.

Customers have been lining up at fireworks places, looking for the best blasts for the Fourth of July. The WV Legislature expanded the kind of legal fireworks allowed in the Mountain State, now aerial boomers are allowed.

The Hur Millennium Celebration in 2000 brought more loud explosions from the ground and in the air than ever seen in this community, the display put together by family members mostly for my aged father, who wanted to live into the new millennium.

He died four months later at 87.

I know such excitement, having made dozens of homemade bombs when I was a kid on Hur Hill and going to all those original movies about blowing up planet earth.

Being of unsound adolescent mind, I even blew-up a dynamite cap with a hammer, which knocked a large hole in the concrete behind the house, and sent me to the hospital with embedded fragments in my body, but eyesight in tact.

At Hur (please don't do this at home or anywhere) we made Molotov Cocktails, the favorite weapon of sectarian violence and political discontents.

Placing the bomb on a fence post and igniting the wick, Bill Barnes and I hunkered below a road bank, waiting for the blast.

It came slow, and Bill raised his head to inspect the burning fuse, at which time the bomb went off with a shard of glass parting his hair.

Dear Jesus, please don't let my grandkids do this stuff.

Miraculously, after many explosions and rocket launchings, I still have my fingers and toes.

Even today, it's not uncommon for folks in the neighborhood to blast off a shotgun.

In today's climate, along with my high school buddies, I would most certainly be on a list of terrorists and likely be charged with terrorists acts.

The Weaver cellar house was a place of experimentation and development, having received a rather elaborate chemistry set for Christmas.

The chemicals, which were added to, were quite dangerous, and among many experiments were used to make homemade gun powder, which on one occasion caused a flash explosion, resulting in burned eyebrows and darkened faces.

Now, chemistry sets are banned in the marketplace.

It was the movies about blowing things up that added to the devils of dubious excitement.

In more recent years, "Independence Day" was a film portraying the invasion of America by alien forces, lots of things being blown-up, to be enjoyed by people who like lots of explosions, being entertained by the destruction of all mankind - a really big bang.

Paramount Picture-1953

There was the re-make of Orson Wells "War of the Worlds," which first came to the movie screen in 1953, and caused small children to shiver at the Mt. Zion Drive-in.

I went to see the new version in Clarksburg, an edge-on-the-seat thriller, whose special effects made the '53 edition warm and fuzzy.

The film was based on a 1938 radio show, written, produced and acted by Wells himself. My dad said he heard Wells broadcast of his sci-fi tale on a battery radio.

Following the broadcast, a wave of mass hysteria seized thousands of radio listeners, who believed the drama was really happening, Martians invading the earth.

The broadcast disrupted households, interrupted religious services, created traffic jams and clogged telephone lines.

My dad said he got the creeps, but he managed to hear the disclaimer.

An early spine-tingling B-movie regarding such a calamity was "When Worlds Collide," made in 1951 and re-made many times over the years.

In most such flicks, the world was spared.

Such alien force weirdness was never done better than the hoaxes and spins of West Virginia's own UFO guy Gray Barker.

We visited the Gray Barker Room in the Harrison County Public Library after meeting him in Buckhannon.

Barker, a West Virginia original, was the editor of a flying saucer magazine and made a living (or tried to) writing about alien abductions, the Braxton County Monster and numerous other books about UFOs.

He assured us aliens are here now and they want something we have.

Maybe us.

His story lines were always written as the truth. They have made millions and millions of dollars for movie makers, with none of the cash going to Gray Barker, long deceased. He was the creator of the "men in black" and was the person behind Point Pleasant's "Mothman."

No motion picture will equal the terror of the real-life pictures from 9-11, the attack on the Twin Towers.

In the meantime, take a few moments to blow something up this Fourth of July.

Please, nothing harmful.

And look skyward. "They" are out there, just waiting ... to blow something up.