Kids Do the Darnedest Things
by Dave in Texas

Imagine you are a boy. A nine year old boy. You really love Bugs Bunny cartoons. Like this one with Yosemite Sam as a pirate.


One of the things you like about it the most? Explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. Cannons, and gunpowder. You remember the cartoons where Yosemite or some other enemy of the wabbit runs off over the horizon with a trail of gunpowder behind him, and Bugs casually lights a match, and it splutters and hisses and follows the bad guy all the way over the hill, until it blows up in his back pocket. This you think is very cool.

And then you remember something.

You have ready access to gunpowder. Because your dad reloads his own shotgun shells. You know where it is. You know what it looks like. You remember because you watched him for hours and it occurs to you that it’s the only time you can remember him sitting at that workbench without smoking a cigarette.

I can’t believe the stuff I did when I was younger. This was one. I climbed up the shelving dad had built into the garage wall, two by fours and plywood, very sturdy stuff, anchored into the wall, and grabbed that can of blue dot. Then I swiped a book of matches out of the coffee can in the cabinet above the sink. Going back outside, I searched high and low for a quiet out of the way spot to try my little experiment, and decided that the driveway, right in front of the garage door was the perfect spot.

ordinance1.jpgI opened the can and poured a little two foot long trail, and then made a pile about the size of two fists at the end of the trail. This was going to be so cool. I placed the can (sealed, for safety) a good safe distance away, call it two feet, and began striking the matches. I hadn’t started stealing cigarettes from my parents yet so I wasn’t any good at this yet, but I finally got one lit and managed to keep it lit by cupping my hand around it. In order to light the trail, I had to lean over and keep my hand around the match. And then I touched it to the gunpowder. Right as my dad pulled into the driveway from work.

I learned something interesting about gunpowder that afternoon. There is a slow burning variety, and a fast burning variety. As luck would have it, it turned out the fast burning variety is the kind you use in shotgun shells.

As soon as the flame touched the powder, the trail, and the pile all went up in one big FWOOOOP! I’ll bet it didn’t take a full second for the whole thing to go. There was a big flash, a huge ball of smoke in my face that billowed up over the house, and I stood there holding a match (what was left of it). My clothes were blackened, as was my face and arms. My eyebrows and about an inch of my crew cut were singed away. I looked like I had just arrived from Hell. I stood there blinking and sputtering and then I heard those words, the special words of power that when uttered in the correct sequence and tone informed you that you were in a world of shit.

“BOY?! WHAT IN THE (long e sound) HELL ARE YOU DOING”!?

Thus endeth my first experience with gunpowder, at the age of nine years old. “Was it my last experience” the reader asks?

I’ll tell you this. There was a last experience. One that taught me and left absolutely no doubt that my days of playing with gunpowder were over.

But this wasn’t it.

Dave is the firestarter. Twisted firestarter.



I'm convinced that setting things on fire is a rite of passage.

Some of us never get out of that stage, though.


My buddy lived out on a large piece of land when we were kids. There was this little tank (small man-made lake for you yanks) where he and his family used to go fishing together.

One day, we were watching TV and found out what a Molotov cocktail was. We went and took a beer bottle out of the trash, found a rag, some kerosene, and a shitload of gunpowder. We went down to the tank with our supplies and a twenty-two.

After preparing our new toy, we lit it and threw it as hard as we could at the big log in the middle of the tank. It just bounced off and floated upright in the water. My buddy noticed it was still lit and decided to shoot it.

Bad idea.

There was way too much gunpowder in there. The thing exploded and in seconds, a majority of the tank's surface was burning. Seconds later, fish started floating to the top, one by one.

My buddy told me that somehow, several of the fish lived, and the next time they went to the tank as a family, people were catching fish like nothing had happened. It wasn't until that night, when they were eating the day's catch, that he noticed the unmistakable taste of kerosene in the meat.


Similar experience with gasoline while cleaning paint brushes and wondering what a match might add to the process. It's good to be alive.


I love how in our youth is was so easy to "get some gunpowder."

I had quarter sticks of dynamite to have fun with.


Reminds me of the time the neighborhood instigator and I decided it was a good idea to start a fire so we could cook a snack right beside a mobile home.

Man, my butt is still sore thinking about the beating I got for that.


See? I knew you people were lunatics, just like me.

Cindy, as a teaser to the teaser I left in the end of this tale, I will tell you that the experience I alluded to, the one that convinced me I was done with gunpowder forever, was also the only time in my life I ever had my ass whipped by a friend's dad.

This did not dissuade my dad from whipping it later. Not one bit.



I can say I never had a friend's parent beat my ass for getting into shit. It would be mom beating my ass first and then dad when he came home.



My great-grandfather built and operated a nitroglycerin plant. I was never tempted to touch the stuff.
But I still enjoyed your story, Dave.

”Nitro Plant”



Did I ever tell you about the time we made molotov cocktails?

That may be a future column. I think the statute of limitations has long expired.


cindy, tune in again next Tuesday for the exciting conclusion.




Just read your link PattyAnn.

Nitro. Heck even I wouldn't go near that shit.


Model boats/airplanes/plastic army guys + brick of firecrackers = Good times...good times.



Wrap one pack of sparklers in aluminum foil, leaving one sparkler sticking out (tightly wrapped at the base, tho') to use as a fuse. Light and throw in mailbox. An Earth-shattering KABOOM.

Repeat as necessary.


meth explosions effect everyone


Thanks to The Anarchist's Cookbook, I learned how to make napalm. Long story short, we made a bunch in a jar, lit it on fire and rolled it across the garage floor. Cool stuff, and it burned for a few minutes before going out.

Unfortunately, we didn't open the garage door to let the fumes out, and about 15 minutes later we went back out to the garage and noticed that the American flag that was on the wall had spontaneously combusted and had blackened a large chunk of the drywall nearby.

The arson investigators thought we were anarchists and we were forced to go to fire safety classes with 8 year old pyromaniacs and listen to Smokey the Bear berate us for hours on end.

After that incident, we stuck to dry-ice bombs.



I know Strunk says it's cool. But that shit is 30 years old. I say "affect".


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