My friend Vinnie had called me at home. He wanted me to see a dead buzzard he had shot from his bedroom window. This was a favourite pastime for Vinnie. Even though his parent’s house was in the city limits, he thought nothing of taking off his window screen and shooting at the “varments” that wandered into the back yard. Amazingly, no one ever complained about his shooting. I do not know if this was because he used a scoped rifle and had little chance of missing or if no one truly cared.On this particular day, it was late enough in the year for there to be a good bit of frost on the ground. When I got to Vinnie’s house the frost had mostly melted away. “You should have seen it first thing this morning,” Vinnie said, “It threw up when I shot it and the stuff was frozen on his head.” I said that I was sorry I hadn’t gotten there sooner so I could see this undeniably grotesque sight. *Yes, I do know that young teen boys can be disgusting at times*After looking at the dead bird in his back yard for a bit, Vinnie then mentioned in a very hushed tone that he had some professional explosive powder and some water-proof fuses. My jaw dropped down in total surprise. It seems that Vinnie had an uncle who was in the underwater demolition business. On his last visit he had given these items to Vinnie with the idea of making a home made explosive. “You want to help me?” Vinnie asked. My answer was a resounding yes. Excitedly we both made our way to his dad’s garage.
While figuring out what we wanted to make with the blasting powder and how we were going make a casing for it, we decided to experiment a bit with the blasting powder. We took one of Vinnies .223 cartridges and filled it tightly with the powder, we then crimped the end of the shell around a two inch bit of fuse. Taking this miniature bomb out to his back garden, we made a hole in the hard ground. After the hole was about six inches deep, we lit the fuse and dropped it into the hole. We scrambled quickly away and waited.
A geyser of dirt and rock shot into the air accompanied by a most satisfying boom. Rushing back to the hole we checked to see how far down it had extended after the explosion. We found a bamboo fishing rod and shoved it in the hole. We never did get to the bottom and the rod was well over six feet in length. We were suitably impressed.
Vinnie then showed me an aerosol can that he had taken the top off of without blowing himself up. This he decided was going to be the explosive’s casing mould. He just needed some lead to melt and pour into the can. That was where I became useful. My dad was a house builder. One thing he had lots of was lead. In those days when the plumbers made a base for a shower stall, the base was lined with lead. They invariably left tons of “off-cuts” laying around the site that was anyone’s for the taking. Since lead was cheap, we used it to make fishing weights. My dad had a “shed-load” of the stuff. I asked and got permission to use as much of it as we needed.
For weeks Vinnie and I melted lead and poured it into the can. This was a slow and boring process. When we finally got the whole can filled with lead, we then cut the can off to leave us with our bomb casing. This left us with a cylindrical object that was roughly three inches in diameter and seven inches long. There was no “hole” in the middle to put the powder in. But we knew just what to do.
Vinnie got out his dad’s heavy duty drill and fastened a one and a half inch drill bit to it. We then took turns drilling out a hole. This was also a long and boring task. We were about halfway through when a female friend from school dropped by. She wandered out to the garage and asked us what we were doing. We explained about the bomb and having to drill the hole. We also moaned a bit about the amount of time it was taking.
Looking at the half drilled cylinder she said, “Since you guys melted the lead to make it, why didn’t you put something in the middle and pour the lead around it so you didn’t have to drill one?” We both reacted the same way. “Huh! What do you know?” “That never would have worked!” She gave us both a disdainful look, tossed her red hair from her face and left. It was only after she left that we both had a face palm moment. Now why didn’t we think of that?
We finally finished the bomb and tried to set up a time for it to be set off. Vinnie’s dad had some land beyond the city limits and we both agreed that would be the best place to blow it up. All that was left to do was organise a time to get together. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come up with a time that was mutually beneficial. Plus, while we were building the thing, my family had decided to move.
Although we only moved a few towns away, I did not get a chance to hunt down my friend for a couple of years. I finally bumped into him while visiting my grandparents. The first thing I asked about, of course, was the bomb. “Oh yeah! Dad and me took it out to the farm. We dug a hole, put about a mile of fuse on it, planted it, then we lit it and ran like hell!”How big was the hole after the blast I asked. “HUGE!” Vinnie said with a grin. ” It left a crater about six feet across and about four feet deep! It was also so loud, I think they heard it in town!”
I think back to those days and wonder how in the world did we not blow ourselves up! I also marvel at the simplicity and naivety of the both of us. We never at any point thought that this was too dangerous a pastime. We also never realized that what we were doing might just be illegal. When anyone complains to me about today’s youth and how they spend too much time playing video games, I always think back on my childhood activities.
Sure video games can be time consuming and expensive, but at least they aren’t making bombs.