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LuckyGuy's avatar

If you grew up in the '50s and '60s what did you call the loud, cylindrical firework with the fuse coming out the side?

Asked by LuckyGuy (34730points) 3 months ago

As kids, we bought these for $1.00 a dozen from the ice-cream truck. (In today’s money that would be about $4–5.) They were about 1½ inches long, >½ inch in diameter, and came with a fuse that burned “energetically” – even under water.

These were very powerful and if placed under a metal trash can would launch the can 20 ft in the air – if the can didn’t unwrap and blow apart. If you tossed one under a junk, lot car it would make the car jump.
They were banned in the US by the Federal government in 1966.

If you know what I’m talking about, what did you call them? Also please mention about where you grew up.
I think the names used to describe these differed depending upon where you lived in the country.

Since this is in social feel free to say how you used them. The statute of limitations has long passed. ;-)

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46 Answers

Coloma's avatar

A ½ stick of Dynamite? haha

chyna's avatar

M-80’s in my neck of the woods. I was not allowed to touch them. I grew up in WV.

Coloma's avatar

I was going to say M-80’s but can’t recall exactly what they looked like.
I do remember someone tossing one into a tunnel on the 4th of July once and my ears were ringing for days after. Ugh.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We called them something different. i will wait for more answers before I divulge our term for them.

I was doing a little research and the largest devices today, no matter how they are shaped or labeled, may only contain up to 50 mg of powder. The pre-1966 ban devices we used contained 3 grams or 60 times today’s legal limit!
No wonder kids lost limbs or were killed.

And we bought them from the Ice Cream man!!!

@Coloma Did you grow up in the same region you are now?
@chyna What about you? Same general region?

Pachy's avatar

The only fireworks I was allowed to touch were sparklers.

ragingloli's avatar

Field cannons.

chyna's avatar

One of my brothers was playing with cherry bombs when we were kids and one exploded in his hand. He lost part of a finger and injured his entire hand. Mom and dad were at work so a neighbor took him to the doctor. My brother asked that no one tell mom cause she’d be mad. I think she will notice.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We loved them! Before we’d crawl through a sewer pipe under the road we’d toss one inside like a grenade and flatten ourselves against the concrete wall near the entrance. The sound would shake the ground. We’d then go inside and crawl through the smoke and come out on the other side of the road.

@ragingloli That is a new name for me. ;-)
Were they legal? Did you play with them?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t remember them and I bought everything a person can buy out of an ice cream truck! However M80s come to mind although I’ve never seen one. I’ve heard about them.

rebbel's avatar

Screaming (House)Maids
Thunderstruck.

ragingloli's avatar

Used them to great effect in our Invasion of Denmark in ‘64.

CWOTUS's avatar

In most of New England, as far as I know, you’ve described a standard M-80.

si3tech's avatar

@LuckyGuy Grew up in Montana. I’m wondering if that’s the one my older brother called a “cherry bomb”.

janbb's avatar

I think in England they were called Roman candles but I may be wrong. We only had sparklers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Roman candles shoot colored fire out the top
You can hold them in your hand if you’re dumb, and probably not get hurt.

NomoreY_A's avatar

Never encountered anything that potent. The most I ever got were the garden variety Black Cat fire crackers.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy I grew up in Sacramento about 40–45 miles away. All fireworks are illegal in this area where I have lived the last 25 years because of the major wildfire danger.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We lived in the NYC – Long Island area and called them “Ash cans”. I hadn’t heard the term M-80 until I went away to school and met kids from other areas.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@si3tech Cherry bombs were red, round, and sort of looked like cherries. They were not as powerful as ashcans but were still spectacular.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ragingloli I spoke with a Danish tank operator who told me they practiced aiming and firing the main gun by shooting .22 caliber bullets out of modified barrels at paper targets. That saved a lot of money.
I can see how a bunch of these can be used in an invasion. ;-)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Sounds like an M-80 to me. It was red, about two and half inches long, an inch in diameter and had a green fuse coming out the side. It was waterproof. I think it was equivalent to about an eighth or a quarter of a stick of dynamite. It was dangerous as hell.

zenvelo's avatar

When I lived in Harrison NY, 3rd and 4th grade, we called them ash cans. When I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, we called them Barrel bombs.

An “M-80” was bigger, and was also called or described as ¼ stick of dynamite.

We liked cherry bombs because you could light it, then flush it down the pipes. Caused plumbing damage.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My husband said he flushed a lit M80 down a school toilet.

NomoreY_A's avatar

Lol, it happens. I knew I guy did that, blew that plumbing to hell. Glad I wasn’t around when it happened.

stanleybmanly's avatar

silver salutes Omaha, Ne c. 1960

stanleybmanly's avatar

they had multiple warnings printed on them “do not hold in hand” or something to that effect.

stanleybmanly's avatar

cherry bombs with the same waxed green fuse were also common. Late in my teens a smaller version of the silver salute appeared in the Summers. Both they and the cherry bombs were illegal in Omaha, but you could buy all the weaponry you pleased in Missouri, and excursions were common. There were stories every year of some kid or other losing his fingers or hearing.

CWOTUS's avatar

Ah, yes. Ash cans. I have heard the term, but it wasn’t a very common name for them in Central Massachusetts in the 1960s.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The salutes were shiny silver cylinders of heavy cardboard rolled on the model of a toilet paper core. And considering the “experiments” we conducted with the things, I frown a lot now when looking back. If any of you are parents of young boys, it’s a damned good idea to find productive distractions or even jobs for the little criminals when school is out.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I find it incredible that kids could buy them. They were so dangerous.
We dug holes and lined them with metal cans. Then we’d drop an ashcan inside and follow that with a ball or other projectile. I’m pretty certain they went into orbit!
I still have all of my fingers and toes!

Ehh? What did you say? Speak up.

Coloma's avatar

This reminds me of a psychopath kid in my neighborhood growing up that would catch frogs in the creek at our local park and stuff lit firecrackers in their mouth and throw them off the bridge to explode in mid-air. I was very traumatized by this little maniac.
I bet that guy has a basement full of bodies somewhere. LOL

janbb's avatar

@Coloma What’s funny about that post?

Coloma's avatar

@janbb Sardonic wit, you know, or maybe you don’t.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I avoided that type of kid. They give fireworks a bad name. ;-)

janbb's avatar

Nah – I don’t know anything about being sardonic.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I heard stories the whole time I was in school of somebody throwing and M-80 down a toilet and flooding the classroom below with sewage, etc., but I never saw it actually happen. I’m sure it happened, but I think it was mostly urban legend. That would be a sure way to end up in Juvenile Hall. Today, I’m sure the perp would be tried as an adult on domestic terrorism charges with his/her face all over FOX & CNN.

We used to throw them in the bay at night while we were out boating when we were kids. It lit up everything around the boat a nice and pretty ice blue, but it also caused fishkill. I saw some locals down in the Bahamas using them for just that purpose. They would drop them in the water, then bring in the fish with a casting net. Highly illegal, but hard to police.

I’ve also seen some Bahamians go into a pristine, shallow cove and pour gallons of bleach into it to paralyse shellfish like lobster, then go down and pick them off the bottom. It fucks the ecology of the cove for months and kills the beautiful and meaty Queen Conch outright. But it is a great cash crop for them at the hotels. Some of these people on the outlying islands live in hovels with dirt floors. Money trumps ecology every time.

Zaku's avatar

My dad, who was a kid in the 50’s, said something like that was called a “silver blast” in his neighborhood.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Zaku “Silver Blast” That’s a new name for me! Where did he grow up?
Some kids called them “silver salutes”.

@Espiritus_Corvus they really lit up the water. We once blew one up in a friend’s swimming pool – with his permission, of course. The water flashed white and ejected a giant air bubble.
It made quite a mess.

Patty_Melt's avatar

My dad had several I imagine were left over from before he met my mom. He grew up in rural Iowa. He called them m80. I heard tgem called something else a few years ago, but I don’t remember what. Barrel something maybe.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Born 20 years too late, sigh.

rojo's avatar

Another M-80 here. South Texas.

What about the long, narrow ones that used to scream/whistle as they went careening around on the ground?

stanleybmanly's avatar

They were sold as Silver Salutes at the Missouri fireworks stands.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

They sold “mock m-80’s” at fireworks stands when I was kid. They looked the same but were severely tame, practically useless for blowing up gi joes in mock battles. If you took it apart inside the m-80 looking case was a standard black cat firecracker.

rojo's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I remember those.

I grew up in Corpus and I remember people making trips to Mexico to buy the real things around New Years and July 4th. They would buy a bunch of them for themselves and to sell to finance their trip. You could always find someone who had some for sale; that and pot that they probably picked up on the same trip.

zenvelo's avatar

Horror story:

Fourth of July after third grade, story went around of a kid ” at the other school” who lit an ashcan “down by the creek” and it blew up as he tossed it. No damage to fingers, but “he blew his eyeball out of the socket”. Swear to god, cross my heart and hope to die true story. Or so it was said.

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