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Without researching, my wet nose-cooled computer seems to recall that as soon as the Communists took possession of Wicked, Evil Portuguese Degenerate Depraved Macau, they exctincted the cheap firecracker industry. Game Over.
A violent blow to the Human Rights of Very Short Humans (chiefly but not entirely males) throughout the world. For a mere dollar, danger, very loud noise, and disturbing people, sleeping babies, dogs, cats and police officers of the entire neighborhood were yours for a half-hour.
A boy could make a difference in the world.
I found these last night, and promptly filched and blogged them. Notice that, as you reminded me, several have the Cautionary Notice that you stand an excellent chance of losing two fingers or an eye in a few seconds.
Clearly the firecracker factories spent more on remarkable advertising art than they did on the sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter. They knew what they were selling to the children and the disordered of the world, and they wrapped it proudly in this odd, romantic beauty.
I can see why they've become collectibles. I saw a few that brought tears of joy.
Have you ever been to the fireworks store -- the Wal-Mart of Firecrackers -- at South of the Border on I-95 on the Carolinas border? Do yourself a favor, drop by if you're passing through. Clean bathrooms, gas, a dozen good restaurants, motel ... oh, and if you remember, a trunkload of firecrackers, M80s, cherry bombs and torpedoes that your checking account will barely notice.
It is heartbreaking to think of childhood in the future stripped of cheap, abundant, accessible unlicensed unregulated portable gunpowder amusements. I hope some obscure sovereignty or colony or ambiguous government zone somewhere has taken up the slack. I'll bet -- like colonial Macau -- it will be a swell, memorable place to visit, probably great cheap restaurants.
The demand for this market will be strong until the end of time.