Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Catherine Wheel

Many of us remember life before the safety of the world depended on NOT selling fireworks locally--it was a ritual for my family--The Buying Of the Fireworks! 

One of my favorites was the Catherine Wheel--a type of firework consisting of powder-filled tubes or angled rockets mounted on cardboard (which usually caught fire at the end!) When ignited, the pressure from each individual rocket spun the wheel, producing a rotating shower of sparks and flame.

Catherine Wheels are named for St. Catherine. According to her legend, she was to have been martyred on the wheel (common at that time) but as soon as she touched the instrument of her demise, it fell to pieces.

My father or grandfather would dutifully nail the cardboard to a tree, light it, and walk backward to where we were seated. It didn't work all the time--sometimes it took a nudge to start--but the effect was a wonder to my eyes.

Catherine Wheels are a "set piece" in the fireworks world--they do not explode in the sky. In the 1860s, set pieces were much more common than today. I have done some research on set pieces, as I find them fascinating.

If possible, you really ought to buy one of these marvels this year. If you can remember to look at it through your child's eyes, prepare to be amazed!


1 comment:

  1. Would the Confederate relatives of Obama have had these St. Chatherine fireworks? Im going to look up how they finally murdered St. Catherine.