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  Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :

BOOM!

by George Lester
George Lester
Itís often been said that kids are lucky to make it to adulthood. With Sam and me that was no exaggeration. When I look back at all the scary things we got into it frightens me even now. A good example was one Fourth of July when we were shooting off fireworks at our Spunky Flat farm.

Someone had given us a device for launching a rubber ball with a firecracker. It looked like a small canon, made of cast iron, with a hole in the bottom where the fuse could come out. The ball was then placed in the barrel of the canon. A small firecracker about a quarter inch in diameter and about two inches long was the proper size to be used. The explosion would blast the ball fifty feet in the air. This was a big thrill and we did it over and over again until we ran out of ammunition.

We were about to call it a day when Sam noticed we had a jumbo firecracker left. These were a good half-inch in diameter and they packed a mighty wallop. The explosive charge was probably not much less than that of a shotgun shell. ďWhy not give it a try?Ē was our decision. It was a tight fit but we got the huge firecracker in the canon and then squeezed the ball in on top of it. Sam lit the fuse and the two us stood there with wild anticipation. When the giant explosive went off the canon literally disappeared. So did the ball.

We both froze in our tracks in a state of shock for what seemed like a minute, but Iím sure it was much less. When we finally thought to look for the ball it was just a tiny speck in the air and still rising. It was completely out of sight for a while before we saw it on its way down. It must have reached a height of at least five hundred feet.

As far as the canon was concerned, it disintegrated just like a hand grenade. The brittle cast iron didnít stand a chance against the powerful blast of the jumbo firecracker. Any particle of it could have been lethal. The fact that the ground was freshly plowed and the canon was sitting at the bottom of a deep furrow might have been what saved us. It was either that or just plain old dumb luck.
© George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir
July 1, 2005 column
 
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