Whether you’re shooting them or watching them – fireworks are a popular way to celebrate Independence Day. But for a local man, it’s part of his life year round.

The 4th of July is a big deal for Tom Wilson.

“I’ve been doing fireworks since I was 12,” says Tom Wilson.

And while each year’s sales are full of roman candles, artillery shells and smoke bombs, he’s kept several items that aren’t on the market anymore. And Wilson – also known as Mr. Black Cat – trades to get his hands on fireworks that are even older.

“I have stuff dating back into the 20s,” says Wilson.

There are the Ball Caps, 12 bags for ten cents, a price point much less common today.

“Nickel, tens cents, 25 cents – lots of time it’s hand written with a marker,” says Wilson.

Then there are the precursor to Snaps or poppers that had to be discontinued.

“Maybe a little louder, they got banned eventually because kids were thinking they were candy and putting them in their mouth and so they kind of went away,” says Wilson.

And another from the 1980s called Thunder Balls or Blaster Balls.

“You would tap them together, throw them , you’d throw em at your friends which you weren’t supposed to do,” says Tom Wilson.

To be clear – Wilson does stress safety these days. But he enjoys remembering the good old days – what’s changed and what stayed the same.

You can see part of Wilson’s collection yourself. It’s on display at the Black Market Fireworks building on 7th Street just west of Joplin city limits.