Miss Carmen and Mr. Louis lived next to my Grandma.  They immigrated from Spain and spoke very broken English.  Miss Carmen was the nicest lady and she would always hug me and tell me how pretty I was.  I was scared to death of Mr. Louis.  Maria, their daughter, was a bit spirited and was always in trouble.  She was also my good friend.  Mr. Louis was always chasing after her, flailing his cane, and cursing (I am sure) in Spanish.  Maria and I would try to outrun him.  I was always able to get away, but Maria not so much. 

Maria was often grounded and had to stay in her bedroom for punishment leaving me with no one to play with.  We devised a plan to pass notes back and forth.  We tied a string on a can and would swing it back and forth at all hours of the day and night.  I wonder if Aunts Minnie and Rose ever saw that can on a rope swinging by their window.  They must have, but they never let on. 

I remember Maria showing me one day the cherry bomb that one of her friends gave her.   She told me that her friend told her that it would blow her finger off if she was not careful.  One night I was upstairs watching TV with Aunt Minnie when we heard a mighty bang.  I could hear Mr. Louis and Miss Carmen yelling and swearing (again, I am sure) on the other side of the wall. 

Grandma ran over to their house to see what had happened.  Evidently, Maria and curiosity played a little game.  Curiosity won.  As she related it to me later here are the events…

She thought she would light the cherry bomb, but would stop the fuse before it went off.  She was in the bathroom so she would not catch anything on fire when she lit it.  She lit the cherry bomb and then burnt her fingers when she tried to extinguish it.  She then flung it into the only place that she thought it would get put out, the toilet. 

Well, it must have been close to the end of the fuse as it detonated in the toilet and blew it clean off the wall!  There were porcelain bits all over the bathroom!  That was the last I saw of Maria that summer as she was permanently grounded and Grandma forbid me to play with her!  Mr. Louis probably beat her butt bloody as she did not sit down for a long time. 

Maria went down in infamy after that incident and became a legend on the block where Grandma lived.  Everyone knew about it and she never lived it down.  They say that there is a mother’s curse.  I wonder if Miss Carmen prayed that onto Maria? 

As you are watching the fireworks tonight remember Maria’s version….

And the crapper bursting in the air…

Happy 4th of July! 

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