I sometimes wonder how I managed to live past twenty. When I look back at several truly "dumb" stunts I pulled as a youngster, I have to question whether I received any "smart" genes from either of my parents. I probably should "change the names to protect the innocent" as I recount these tales but I won't. Heck, no one was innocent.
DOES GASOLINE BURN?
Somewhere about 12 or 13 years old I recall one particular day playing with the Maple Street Gang. That would be Johnny Vaughn, Loverd Peacock, and Johnny Morrison. I'm sure there were others in that gang at one time or another; Loverd's sister Paula was probably there, but I never really noticed her until I was in the 10th grade.
I can't remember if there was a specific agenda that began that day but what I do know is that we discovered 5 or 6 large wasps nests hanging from the eaves of Loverd's house and felt called to destroy each and every one of them. Now in today's world we would have gone down to the local hardware stores next to the banner office and purchased a couple of cans of "Wasp" spray.
But in 1955 wasp spray didn't exist, at least we didn't know of it if it did. But this brilliant foursome decided to invent our own version. One of the rages at that time were rubber "water-gun" hand grenades, and we had discovered that when squeezed really hard they would shoot a stream of water 10 or 12 feet; plenty far enough to reach the wasp nests on Loverd's house.
Quickly, we learned that squirting water on wasp nests just pisses them off. We put our heads together and came up with the "plan"; gasoline. Wasps hate gasoline. In fact they die quickly if hit with a good solid spurt of it. We all loaded up our weapons and headed back to the enemy lines or rather eaves. Within 30 minutes we had eradicated every wasp nest on that house. Harper Peacock would have been so proud of us knowing that he would not have to worry about being stung by a wasp in his yard. The fact that his house was now soaked with gasoline might have caused him some concern, but it sure didn't dampen the spirits of the Maple Street Gang.
Once we had conquered the wasps and not feeling the need to follow the enemy to any of the other houses in the neighborhood, we decided to experiment with our "toys" a little further. A favorite pass time of every kid in town in the 50's was playing war; usually with pea shooters and cap pistols. We now had "flame throwers".
You got it. You knew all along where I was going with this. It was just a matter of time until one member of this brilliant foursome would realize that all we needed was to light the stream of gasoline and "presto", we would have a flame thrower just like in the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima".
Or, if we threw our "now much more real hand grenade" at the enemy's pill box we could blow it up like in "To Hell and Back".
Okay...................Let me ease you down gently.
No, we did not burn down the Peacock's house that day.
No, none of us was soaked with gasoline and, ignited, ran through the neighborhood.
No, none of us was even burned that day in spite of the fact that we did find those matches and we dispelled the commonly held notion that a container of gasoline will explode when lit. We found that day that you can ignite a stream of gasoline shooting from a rubber hand grenade. And it looks really cool, just like a real flame thrower. However, when you stop squeezing you better let go quickly because the flame will follow the stream back to the container; you know, that rubber thing you're holding.
When that happens you better let go of it real fast. You drop it on the ground. It doesn't explode, but it just sits there with a flame coming out the end of it. Gotta put the flame out. I know I'll stomp on it. Not smart. When you stomp on a "lit" rubber filled container of gasoline, the end of the "rubber thing" where you put the gas in will shoot off releasing all the gasoline at one time allowing a gusher of ignited gasoline to shoot out setting fire to whatever is in front of it.
There is no doubt in my mind that on that particular sunny afternoon the "Guardian Angels" of each of these young boys were looking down laughing their asses off. Undoubtedly wondering why they had been assigned to this crew of idiots. But they "were" there, and they did their job, and none of us were even burned badly that day.
And after we put all the small fires out caused by the climatic "stomping of the grenade", we all looked at each other silently thinking, "How did I get mixed up with these stupid morons."
And my original question remains: how did any of us make it through high school alive?
Believe it or not I have several more of these stories that for some reason I feel compelled to confess to. So you all have my permission to tune out for a few days while I purge my conscience. Children of mine, please delete these postings so my grand-kids won't get too depressed concerning their gene pool.
I love this story, but better yet my son will love it. Thanks so much for painting a picture of Tiptonville in the fifties. It sounds like Mayberry but edgier.ReplyDelete