Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dynamite Stories: Episode 2: Don't Try This at Home

When I was a kid on Paw Paw Avenue in Watervliet, we had an old red shed out back full of tools and junk and one wooden box mysterious to us boys. It turned out that it was a box partially full of old sticks of dynamite. Now dynamite is actually sawdust-like "fuller's earth" or diatomaceous earth soaked in nitroglycerin and wrapped in a kind of wax paper. When it gets old and sits around too long it leaks some of the nitroglycerin. That was the case with this old box. The wood of the bottom and lower sides of the box were soaked with nitroglycerin.

As you can imagine, this creates a tricky situation safety-wise. How do you get rid of old dynamite in a nitro-stained wooden box? You sure don't haul it to the town dump.

Our solution was for Dick and I to gingerly lift the box and carry it down to the woods in the river-bottom behind the house. Then Dick got his .22/250 varmint rifle with the telescopic sight, assumed the prone firing position on top of the hill, aimed at the box, and fired.

The result was tremendous blast that reverberated up and down the Paw Paw River Valley, and, as we later learned, scared the hell out of the people in the house nearest across the river. 

Obviously, we didn't publicize the incident.

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