Billy Wallace hits the floor, meekly peering outside from the shelter of his home. Fingers crossed and with bated breath, Wallace has the intense focus of an elite soldier in an active warzone.
“Aw hell yeah, I told y’all it was just fireworks!” he gleefully explains to friends and family gatered in his north Brownwood home. The Wallace family you see, is participating in North Brownwood’s favorite game, “fireworks or gunshots?”.
“Well, it all started back in the ’70s I recon. Uncle Zell (Wallace) was having a hard time with his finances so he didn’t get any of us kids firecrackers. He was driving home from work on the 4th, and right as he rounded the corner and was about to go under the old Commerce Street overpass he heard a lot of jubilation coming from Cecil Holman Park. “Well goddamn, I just thought it was fireworks!” Zell Wallace stated from his room at Songbird Lodge. Nearing 80 years old now, and in poor health, Wallace is still proud to tell anyone and everyone about his recreational discovery, and cherishes his role of stewardship in passing the tradition down to the next generation. Wallace continued, “.. so I pull my car around the Brownwood Cafe and head back towards the park. I’m thinkin’ maybe this is where some kids with some spare fireworks are at and maybe they’d share. Hell no they didn’t share and I’m glad they didn’t because that park had 4 or 5 people shooting guns straight up in the air! I guess we weren’t the only ones who couldn’t afford firecrackers that year!”
Wallace and his family soon adopted the tradition as bullets were cheaper than fireworks and have more uses than simply celebrating America. Before they knew it, friends and family were showing up with pistols, rifles, shotguns, and even a musket. What started as an act of desperation became a yearly celebration of the 2nd amendment and the reckless disregard for public safety that makes America and Brownwood great.
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