Friday, May 31, 2013

Some people say, "boys will be boys." and I am sure that I was not an exception. Our neighbors' boys were older and were into much more construction and destruction than I was. They were always tinkering with cars, sleds, and cannons. Yes, cannons, but all the more dangerous. The neighbor boys had older brothers who supplied them with firecrackers. They were legal at that time.

Homemade Cannon
Our neighbor's boys had some cherry bomb firecrackers that their older brothers had bought for them. This was a time when fireworks were legal in Pennsylvania. I was visiting them and they were looking for an ingenious way to set them off. The loud noise wasn’t enough for them. Why waste a cherry bomb and just see it explode. An idea came to them as they started rummaging around in a scrap pile. They had already put a firecracker under a can and watched it fly into the air with the force of the explosion.
Pulling an old metal bedstead out from the other items in the pile, they carried it to a level place and pushed one end into the soft ground at a slight angle, while the opposite open end aimed skyward. They dropped a lit cherry bomb into the tube, It was cool to hear the ringing peal of thunder and see the flying paper and smoke come out of the end of the tube. It was impressive, but not impressive enough.
They found the large tomato can that they had used earlier. It was just small enough to slide down the tube snugly. They lit another cherry bomb, dropped the explosive charge and the can quickly followed down the bedstead tube. I could hear the metal scraping metal as it made its way to the bottom.
Boom! The can flew nearly twenty feet into the air. I thought  it was great, but of course they wanted more.
Retrieving the can, they filled it nearly half full with the pea –sized gravel and small stones. They dropped it down into the cannon following after the lit firecracker. (That was what they were calling the bedstead by now.)
BOOM!. The percussion was louder than before. The weight of the can must have caused a greater compression before the can was forced out. It shot about another ten feet higher than the previous shot.
The gravel flew out of the can. Some it ripped leaves from the branches of the oak trees overhead. The scattering gravel fell back onto our heads, some down the driveway, and some hit their dad’s pick up truck parked near the house.
Although they still had several cherry bombs, they wisely chose to save them for another day and the cannon went back to the scrap heap.

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