The Way We Were – a ’70’s Cracker Night

In 1972,  Belinda Green was Miss World, The Poseidon Adventure, Roberta Flack and Number 96  were chatted about at the Milk Bar; swap cards, elastics and British Bulldog ruled the playground, coffee came out of the International Roast tin and we still had Cracker Night. It was nearly as exciting as Christmas, way better than Easter and up there with your birthday.

The Multi Pack Special

Cracker Night was a week of bungers blowing up letterboxes, the quick-fire spatter of throw downs and Tom Thumbs and the expedition to Franklins to buy the mixed bag of Fireworks and Sparklers that dad would let off in the backyard, with mum giving helpful instructions like, ‘Careful. dear’, or ‘That one didn’t work’, as a Roman Candle fizzed and fluffed.

Roman Candles before Dad attempted to light them

After a dinner of lamb chops and three veg ( mashed potato, carrots and beans, boiled to an unrecognizably pale colour ), the four kids would be sitting on the back steps, rugged up in our hand-knitted tank tops, over skivvys under a Parka adorned with our holiday resort patches. Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Blackheath, all the exotic tourist spots of the early seventies.

Dad would carefully attach the Catherine Wheel to the Poinsettia tree, stand Roman Candles in buckets of dirt and point sky rockets away from his beloved Holden Kingswood.  The sparklers were doled out so we could write our names in glittery, disappearing letters, draw love hearts and peace signs, or when mum wasn’t looking, pretend they were cigarettes. our warm breathe the smoke on the cold night air.  And it was never disappointing. Even if the Roman Candles didn’t fizz spectacularly, or the Catherine Wheel fell off the tree mid spin, it was always one of the best nights of the year.

it just wasn't Cracker Night without a Sparkler

Now Fireworks are a spectacular. Professional displays without the risk of injury and  with maximum bang for your buck. But I miss Cracker night, maybe not the knitted tank tops, though.

Sydney 2010


18 thoughts on “The Way We Were – a ’70’s Cracker Night

  1. Im miss dad letting off sky rockets from an old Glass Milk Bottle and running away as quick as possible ahhh those where the day’s.

      • And for those of us with dogs, it was night of shutting them in the laundry. Usually outside – I don’t think that laundries hidden behind doors in your kitchen were invented then.

  2. OK, I could not translate all of this into American, but I loved this post. It is very true, there is somethng about your own crappy fireworks display that is more fun and special then the professional shoot-offs!

    The Cranky Old Man

  3. oh my goodness this is so evocative of my childhood, but apparently we were living in the seventies during the 80’s! we were always in dressing gowns and slippers for cracker night. my sister caught fire to my lovely pink polyester number with a sparkler once- just a little though, no harm done!

  4. I am of the generation without crackers. I feel like I missed out, this sounds wonderful.
    Although it’s probably good we missed out: my dad probably would have taken off a few fingers if he got his hands on some fireworks.

  5. Oh yes, I miss them too. We had Bonfire Night aka Guy Fawkes Night, we pulled a Guy around and sang songs and got sweeties. The wood for the bonfire was collected for weeks, the fireworks were fantastic, the catherine wheel never worked. We roasted potatoes in foil in the fire and had mugs of soup. The neighbours came back for a drink and music. I do miss the seventies in that respect for sure….

    • I lived in London for 11years and loved Guy Fawkes night too. We used to stamp up to Alexandra Palace and watch the big organised display, but the whole of London was covered in the bonfire of haze & the smell fireworks.

  6. I remember many great things from Cracker night. We had a ritual with another family and it was such fun. We had some very close calls over the years – too many kids, adults a few beers down – but luckily we have all survived (in tact) to tell the tales. Thanks for the trip down memory lane (although my experiences were from the late 70s/early 80s!). Thanks for Rewinding x

  7. I was a child of the 80s but still remember a few cracker nights. The huge bonfires, running around the next morning looking for those little parachute things that shot out of some crackers, the sparklers…. Definitely a great family memory.

  8. Cracker night was so much fun, better than birthday’s or Easter, bonfires, rocket fights, blowing up letter boxes & telephones, those were the days, we weren’t vandals it was just good fun, Then up early next morning & looking around for crackers that didn’t go off, no one got hurt that we knew. My son Brett was born on cracker night 1972. It was a very special time for me, That I have missed for so long. CHEERS.

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