As Coronado grade-schoolers growing up in the late 1960s, we’d frolic and play down along the bay near the old ferry landing, sometimes schlepping along our painstakingly-assembled, scale-model, plastic warships, setting them adrift from the shore, their decks laden with lit firecrackers. Bon voyage!

Speaking of simple minds, one day down at the bay, a friend (who shall remain nameless) had readied for “launch” his big, plastic, model Saturn-V rocket, a mini-version of the mammoth monsters which powered NASA’s Apollo program “to infinity and beyond,” a little Buzz Lightyear lingo. But I digress. Let’s get back to our itty-bitty bayside launch pad in the sand, down at the foot of D Avenue circa ‘69.

My anonymous friend’s scale-model Saturn-V rocket stood over three feet tall, quite an impressive contraption! For “propellant,” and for special-effects value, we’d loaded the hollow innards of the doomed rocket with as many M-80 firecrackers as we could muster, along with a modest assortment of garden-variety cap rolls, smoke bombs, and sparklers, all allegedly illicitly procured from south of the border by the older brother of a mutual buddy, (who shall also remain nameless). Oh, the contraband!  

I don’t recall what we used as a fuse: perhaps a trail of black powder in the sand, just like in cartoons? I simply don’t recall, Senator...

Our rocket’s “payload” helped balance it vertically in the sand. And so with a quick flick of a Zippo, we lit the makeshift fuse and hurriedly exited s-s-s-s-s-s-stage-left, backing away from the impending s-s-s-s-s-s-spectacle.

We are go for liftoff! Next stop, Smithereens-ville!  

Ten...nine...eight...BAMMO! “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

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