Tuesday, December 13, 2016


There was a thing on Facebook where a father really needed to chastise his kids for getting into the paint cans and making a mess of themselves, but could not stop laughing long enough to do so. Took me back to my teenage years when I did that to my father more than once.

I developed a fascination with making depth charges. This consisted of a classic pipe bomb using homemade black powder, a large paint can mostly filled with sand, and some dynamite fuse which burns even when there is no air. Put the pipe bomb in the paint can, fill it with sand, light the fuse, hammer the lid on and drop it into some deep water. The results are awesome, but don’t try this at home. It’s illegal today, and probably was then.

My first test was in a new garbage can my father had just bought, filled with water. Not, it turns out, one of my better plans because I had no innocent way to explain the thirty-gallon colander that was lying in the alley when the local cop showed up. He didn’t do anything Well he did the worst thing possible. He said he would come back after my Dad got home. Shit.

The cop showed up and related his story, and I related about how I had seen this movie with the Navy dropping depth charges and wanted to replicate the effect, and Dad started getting all outraged and parental, but then he started laughing. Then the cop started laughing. They finally gave up any attempt at keeping a straight face; the cop left, Dad sent me to my room and told me the next day that I had to buy him a new garbage can.

He forgot to tell me not to build any more depth charges. Or maybe he told me and I forgot. It was a long time ago, and I may have had a habit of not always doing what I was told.

I built four depth charges, big ones, and took them down to the river. Standing in the middle of the bridge, I lit them one by one and dropped them in the river, then waited for the explosions. The first one went off just as the local cop, same cop, was driving over the bridge, and the geyser of water was a good ten feet higher than the bridge railing.

Thinking fast, I ran to the cop, freaking out and screaming that there had been an explosion and pointing at where the water had shot up and saying that he should do something because, “Oh my God.” He did not believe one single word; got out of his car, leaned his butt against the fender, folded his arms and gave me the stink eye.

I continued my Sergeant Shultz protest of “I know nothing” and kept insisting that he investigate until the second depth charge went off. I then did a little dance about, “Oh my God there’s another one. Do something, do something,” which he still wasn’t buying. He knew me too well; but still, I had been standing right beside him when it went off.

We walked to the bridge railing and were looking down at the water when the third one went off. It was quite spectacular, and we had to step back to keep from getting wet. By now he is actually beginning to believe me until he says something about that being all of them and without thinking I said, “No, there’s one more.” Shit.

The sumbitch actually hand cuffed me. He later admitted that he only did it because he was so pissed off at me for making him believe my “innocent” act, like he was the only one who ever fell for it. Everybody fell for it.

He didn’t take me to jail, though, he took me home where Mother sent me to my room and told me to stay there until my father got home. That was routine enough, but when Dad got home he didn’t come to my room or call me to the living room. Hmmm. Then the cop showed up, and after a few minutes he and Dad went out and sat in the cop’s car for quite a while. That was making me nervous.

Finally the cop left and Dad came back in and, after another considerable delay, called me in and announced my punishment. I don’t recall what it was, but it wasn’t anything very severe, and I found out much later that the delay had been to allow the laughter to subside. That did, however, bring an end to the depth bombing adventure.

1 comment:

bruce said...

"... may have had a habit of not always doing what I was told.."? No shit, really? You had to outdo your sister in the problem department. The second one, not the oldest.

Besides being illegal, it would mean all kinds of WTF Oh Shit response today. Nowhere near a simple scolding by the local cop of yesteryear.

Well, it makes a good story to add to the "Uncle Bill Collection". Thanks for sharing.

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