Miss Minnie usually makes enough money selling fireworks to provide for her medicine and the little extras she needs, since Social Security is now her primary income. (You can visit Miss Minnie's House in the Dollhouses pages.)
Miss Minnie Sparks has always been independent and energetic, and for many years was a popular figure and valued employee in Women's Fashions and Alterations at Blumrosen's Department Store. Although she never made much money, she helped all her nieces and nephews attend college or get started in their own businesses. Miss Minnie enjoys being retired, but occasionally she still does custom hats and dressmaking for certain longtime customers from her Blumrosen days.
As a matter of fact, to her great surprise, Miss Minnie's nieces and nephews recently got together and set up a tiny little shop for her custom hats. Known as Hattery Flattery, it is here that she spends many enjoyable hours reworking vintage hats for a growing list of customers.
Miss Minnie never married. The great love of her life, Joe Kindlin, was killed in Korea, and she has always flown a flag in his memory in front of her little house on the edge of town. Besides the extra money it brings in, running her fireworks stand also allows her to see lots of people and help them celebrate the freedoms Joe died to preserve.
Ed Handy, a local man who often has coffee and lemon pound cake with Miss Minnie, built the stand. He also used a chainsaw to carve the patriotic eagle that stands beside it. When Joe was drafted and sent to Korea, Ed, his friend since childhood, remained at home, 4F because of his shoulder. It has dislocated easily ever since a childhood accident when he jumped into a creek and hit a submerged tree limb. The shoulder kept him from combat, but has never hindered his carpentry skills.
Guilty that Joe went to war and he did not, and feeling that he could not compete with his best friend's memory, Ed has never confessed his true feelings to Miss Minnie. One wonders what might have happened if he had?
A few of the fireworks were from kits, like some in this carton. Most, however, were my own creations. The mirror was placed behind the shelves at the back of the stand because the interior was too dark. It does help to reflect light, but unfortunately it creates a glare for the camera.
The stand originally had open ends, but they were enclosed to provide more wall space. Here on the left end are the added shelves and a fire extinguisher. (Of course, Miss Minnie complies with all state and local laws). You can catch a glimpse of the fire extinguisher in the upper left of the picture by the F in the Fireworks sign.
Beads, dowels, rolled tubes and cones and little cardboard bases formed most of the fireworks. For weeks while watching TV I made all sizes of open and closed boxes and cartons in different colors, and rolled and glued dozens of colored paper tubes of various sizes around a bamboo skewer or a dowel, etc.
Labels were made with cutouts from a fireworks catalog and advertising flyers. I made so many that I had enough leftovers to give as gifts and still have some! While I worked on them, I kept all the materials and tools in a shallow box and just slid it underneath our sofa.
Patriotic eagles and political donkey and elephant plaques are also for sale.
Miss Minnie's supper is on the counter, and the stand is open, so you would expect her to be here, right? She somehow always manages to duck outside of camera range!
"Honey," she told me, "Do you realize how I sweat out here in this July heat? I'm not about to let you get a picture of me lookin' like this!"
The nonworking lights, Uncle Sam figure and the wooden flag were all found among Christmas decorations. I cut off the hemp hanging loops. To make the signs show up better, I made a contrasting backing using Fiscars craft scissors to cut a decorative edge from a yellow greeting card envelope.
My husband's uncle was a wholesale fireworks distributor for many years. Many of his customers ran fireworks stands all over southern Oklahoma and large expanses of Texas during both the 4th of July season and the less-popular Christmas season.
Each year when Ed helps Miss Minnie open the Spirit of America Fireworks stand for the season, they always remember Joe, and I always think of Uncle Elvin.