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In my early youth, New Year’s Eve and Independence Day were fairly quiet occasions at home. My father had a pathologist’s view of the downside of firecrackers and other home fireworks. He supervised our early training in firearms at ranges and in the woods, but small explosives and incendiaries were another matter.
Then we were stationed at Fort Knox, KY in 1976. As part of the Bicentennial Year, the Bellmore Johnson Tool Company re-released the Winchester Model 98 signal cannon, a 10-gauge blank-firing miniature cannon. They were all-metal, painted black, and fired by pulling a 10-foot lanyard. My father saw one at the post exchange (PX) and it brought back childhood memories of Boy Scout camp. They had morning flag-raising and evening flag-lowering ceremonies with bugle calls. One of the adult leaders would pull the lanyard firing just such a miniature cannon at the proper moment.