Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fritz Vs. Washing Machine

In this corner, weighing in at one hundred and eighty pounds, that former golden gloves boxer, that mass of muscle, that human power house, Fritz Ethridge! (Crowd cheers.) In this corner, weighing in at one hundred pounds, that antiquated piece of machinery, that pile of spare parts, that frustrating hunk of junk, the washing machine! (Household appliances scream until they are horse.)

For those of you who have never seen my Dad fix anything that may seem like a strange opening to my tale. However, those of you who have been fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your disposition) enough to see Dad work on anything know exactly why I put it that way. It's simply a matter of “That's the way it was.”

Dad would come at any fix-it job with the blind enthusiasm of a child. No matter how many times he had been cut, bruised, smashed, shocked or caught on fire he always felt that nothing was going to go wrong this time. Anyone else that had observed him at all knew better. You could almost see the bought opening in your minds eye. There was Dad in his corner, the whatever-it-was in it's corner. The announcer finishes his speech and the contestants promise to fight clean (the whatever-it-was always lied about that though and was thoroughly intending to cheat.) They touched gloves, the bell rang and the bloody contest began.

Still, Dad always won. It was never a question of if, but of how and how many trips to the doctor. He always won because he never gave up. He once told me that he always fixed things the first time simply because he never stopped working on anything until it was fixed. I could see that it was a sound philosophy, I was just surprised that the man that said it to me had all his fingers and toes and both his eyes.

I suppose that's enough of the pre-fight buildup, now to the main event:

Dad had decided that it was time to fix the washing machine. It had needed a tune up for a while and had finally stopped working all together. I want to say that it was Saturday and Dad had picked me as his helper. It was always a challenge for me to work with Dad because I tend to laugh when people get hurt and Dad hates being laughed at when he gets hurt. Couple that with the fact that Dad was always bound to get hurt several times each job and you can see why it was hard for us to work together.

Still, mine was not to reason why... I reported for duty in the utility room and found Dad, with all his tools, looking at the machine. One important note here: He was barefoot. Almost always was when at home.

“First we need to pull it away from the wall.”


He stepped up to the machine, being careful to keep his feet back, grabbed it with both hands and pulled. The machine didn't budge. Dads considerable muscle mass bulged as he struggled with the machine. Nothing...

“I can't believe this! It's like it's stuck.”

“Yes Sir.”

Again he grabbed and pulled and again nothing moved. He did the natural thing and put one foot forward bent his back and grabbed it with both hands. With every muscle straining he jerked at the machine.

It popped away from the wall like a cork out of a bottle. Dad had actually lifted it up as he pulled so that it slammed into his knee and then dropped onto his outstretched foot. He stifled a cry as he began trying to push the machine off his foot. It seemed to be stuck again. It being on his foot made that fact unfortunate. Dad began beating the machine away from him and kneeing it with his spare knee. It slowly dragged its way across his flesh and at last revealed a very unhappy foot.

I will give Dad's monolog the go by at this point. I will merely say that it was very spicy and very very funny. I had to run into the dining room and quickly laugh until I felt I was empty. Mom was in there as well. Neither of us wanted Dad to see our peeling laughter brought on by his pain. She heard Dad hurt himself and then make his interesting, if inappropriate, commentary and so it was off to the dinning room to express herself. Once I was done I headed back to the utility room.

For a man that hated being laughed at Dad was the worlds worst for setting things up like a comedy. Honestly, he could had written dialog for any of the great American sitcoms. For some reason he would expect you to act as if what he said was some dark bitter truth rather than a very funny observation. Over time I learned to stare hilarity in the face while wearing a somber expression.

Dad laid the machine on it's side. For some reason he laid the machine where the part he was working on was facing the wall. (He may have had a good reason, but I can't see what it was.) So, to get into the position where he needed to be he merely had to climb over the dryer and lay down in a crack between the two machines and the wall. Again, I have no idea why he did this, but for the sake of courtesy we will assume he had a reason. Whatever his motivation, it left him in cramped quarters. There was no room to dodge out of the way of impending accidents for example.

A number of small things had gone wrong and I had choked a few good laughs to death while holding a straight face. As Dad's fix-it jobs progress his optimism is worn away by pain and frustration. He may be naive about it when he starts, but he's not blind. You can only keep your “This job will be a piece of cake!” attitude up until the third or forth time you choke on it. Dad had reached the stage where his optimism was beginning to wear away.

He flips like a switch between “Nothing simpler!” and “Worst job ever!” For some reason he thought it was important for me to observe the nuances of the twists of fate.

“Jeremy, come here!”

“Yes Sir.”

“I want you to see this!”

“Yes Sir.”

“Ok. Do you see those two wrenches?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Ok. They will open the machine and whatever water is left in it is going to dump on the floor.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now, that shouldn't be a problem because we emptied all of the water out of the machine.”

“Yes Sir.”

“You remember us doing that right?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Good! Because when I turn these too wrenches the water, that can't possibly be in this machine, is going to dump all over this floor! It's going to leave me lying in a puddle! Do you understand me?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Good! He we go...”

He turned the wrenches and water began to pour out of the machine at say ninety gallons a minute or so. In a moment Dad was in a pool and the inside of the machine was so dry that you could have dehydrated fruit in it. Dad had called it, he was right on the money. For the record we had emptied the machine and had taken our time doing it. There shouldn't have been a drop of water in it. Again, Dad began his monolog:

“This is great! I'm laying in a pool of water now! This is wonderful! This way when I get shocked it will be able to go all over my body! It won't have to be content with just getting me in the hand! That's wouldn't satisfy this piece of...”

Here I interjected:

“Be right back Dad.”

I ran into the dining room to empty out all my laughter again. Mom and I stood there snickering as silently as we could. I was still shaking and had tears in my eyes when I ran back to Dad. I was doing my best to compose myself, but I think Dad was beyond the point of noticing. As soon as I was back in the room he began:


“Yes Sir.”

“Come here I want you to look at this!”

“Yes Sir.”

“Now, you see that I'm laying in a pool of water?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Well that's so that when I get shocked in a minute it will be able to run all over my body!”

“Yes Sir?”

“Yes! You see I am going to check the voltage on this thing and there is no way it is going to able to shock me!! However, it doesn't matter!!! It's going to shock me just the same!!!! Just watch!!!!!”

Here I have to point out that my Dad was a plant engineer. He was a professional electrician. This kind of work was his bread and butter and he had been doing it for close to twenty years at this point. This wasn't one of the times when he thought he knew more about it than he did. This was an area in which he knew more than most men ever will and to a very real extent knew a majority of what mankind knows on the subject. If he said it couldn't shock him he knew what he was talking about.

Still, there was that gnawing in the back of my mind. This wasn't a job Dad was working on for money. This was something he was trying to fix for himself. On the one side you had to consider all his knowledge and experience and on the other you had to take into account that things like this always went wrong for him. I have to admit that when I added up the score I figured it was almost inevitable that he would get shocked. It seemed like one of those things that was just ordained by the fates. The setup was too good. It couldn't have gone this far and not go all the way.

Dad reached slowly up into the machine. Suddenly he went as frigid as a frozen fish and then began to jerk convulsively. Fortunately this jerking pulled his hand out of the machine and he regained the power of speech.

“@#$% *&^% $%$%#! I love it! Being shocked! I just can't get enough of it! That's why I became an electrician, so I could get shocked all the time!”

Needless to say this resulted in my running back into the dinning room to laugh until I cried. By the grace of God that was the last big hurdle between Dad and a repaired washing machine. He only had to pay the low price of a skinless foot, a soaked floor and a shocked, well everything I guess. He got it put back together and it worked again for a while. Mom and I got a good laugh and Dad won the bought. In a situation like that it's hard to say if it was worth it, but it made a great story one way or the other!

I hope everyone got a good laugh. I know I did!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fire Marshall Sam

The central theme of these stories is Sam playing with fire and getting burned. Now some of you may be thinking that you never thought of it as funny when someone got burned. Well, that's all right, you're about to.

To set the stage I want to first underline that character trait of Sam's that I mentioned before. He was quicker to act than to think. People who are like that often make mistakes. Young adventerous boys who are like that often make very funny mistakes. That is why Sam has such a high place in these recollections. He truly separated himself from his peers in those days. He set a bar for lack of forethought that perhaps only Brandyn ever surpassed.

Again, the tale begins not so much at the beginning as where the mild humor lies. It will then move on to things that make me laugh to think about even now.

As children we were taught to make fire and allowed to use it at a very young age. I was perhaps seven years old when I was given my first book of matches. Dad had shown us boys how to properly setup a fire and had outlined in the greatest detail why fire was a tool not a toy. (The only exception being fireworks. Those were a toy that one had to respect and play nice with.) I don't know how many little camp fires we built during our formative years, but Dad had taught us to be very careful when we did it. Only one ever got close to getting away from us and we got it back under control very quickly.

It is one of the odd facts of life that the more familiar you are with something dangerous the less keenly you feel the danger. I honestly believe that I was safer with fire when I was seven than when I was twelve. When you play with fire and don't get burned you begin to think in the back of your mind that you will never get burned. That is another twist of life. Once you feel you'll never get burned, you do. Of course, once you have been burned you often learn the lesson for life. Needless to say Sam didn't....

We were walking along the road in front of Nana and Papa's one day talking of this and that. Each of us had a book of matches or a lighter and a pack of lady fingers. Sam had started lighting them in his hand and throwing them. That was something we were never allowed to do. I underlined that to Sam, but he wouldn't stop. As I couldn't prevent him from doing it I did the next best thing and started doing it myself. So there we were, the three of us, walking along lighting lady fingers and throwing them here and there.

Now, if you don't know what a lady finger is it's a small firecracker that makes a lot of noise. On the list of dangerous fireworks it ranks down pretty low. In fact, it's almost as harmless as you can get when dealing with fireworks. Knowing how harmless they were we began to throw them nearer and nearer each other. Again, I didn't think this was a good idea, but since Sam wouldn't stop I joined in.

He had just thrown one to close to me for my comfort and I told him so. He began to mock me in his usual fashion, so I lit a lady finger and threw it to my side without even looking. Sam was walking right beside me so I had, for all intents and purposes, thrown it right in his face. He ducked with lighting reflexes and it missed him. He immediately began to mock me with even more vigor. Perhaps two or three seconds had gone by and my lady finger hadn't gone off.

“Ha! You can't even throw em at me right! Did you see how I dodged?”

“Yes, yes, but where did the lady finger go?”

“I don't...”

POW! It went off! Here it is important to note that Sam had thick, luxuriant, curly red hair. (I know it's hard to believe now, but I have pictures for any of you doubting Thomases.) As soon as the lady finger went off a rather thick smoke began to waft up from Sam's rich red curls. He hadn't dodged it at all, he had merely caught it on his head. We hadn't seen it because it had dropped so far down in that red mass.

For a moment or two Sam was trying to figure out whether or not he was on fire. Having something like that go off on your head can be very disconcerting. Joshua and I helped him in his inspection and at last decided that his thick curls were in no danger of conflagration. For the moment we had learned our lesson. He hadn't caught fire, but he could have. We stopped throwing fireworks at one another for the time being.

Now we fast forward a few years. Sam, Joshua and myself were at Mom and Dad's. It was early evening and we had a few fireworks. The porch light was on so we could see what we were doing. We didn't have any showy fireworks, just a few odd sparklers and what not. That's why we hadn't turned the porch light out. The fun for that night was in the burning of the fireworks, not in beholding their beauty. Sam got the bright idea that it would be awesome to light a sparkler from the bottom and let it burn to the top instead of the other way around. We all liked the idea and so set about it.

Here I have to describe the sparkler a bit as the particular type of sparkler we were using is getting more and more rare. Modern sparklers often have a long wooden stick to hold them by. As the sparkler burns along it burns up the stick and you are left with a smoldering end that is not especially dangerous. The sparklers we had as children had short metal rods to hold them by and a solid metal core. When the sparkler burned away you had nothing but a glowing piece of metal hot enough to weld with. (Even as a child I thought they were dangerous.)

The stem was short enough that Sam didn't want to hold it while we lit the bottom. Sparklers often have a bit more zest when you first light them then after they've burned for a second or two. In order to keep from burning his hand when it first lit he came up with a brilliant plan. He poured a small amount a gasoline on the ground and then stuck the sparkler in the middle of it. He set the gasoline ablaze and within moments the bottom of the sparkler had caught fire.

Many times in life we rush into something without thinking about all the ramifications. This was certainly one of those cases with Sam. He saw the sparkler burning bottom up and wanted to run around with it looking cool. So he did the logical thing, at least from his point of view. He stomped the gasoline out reached down and grabbed the sparkler with two fingers and tried to pull it out of the ground. His fingers slid up it as if they had no traction and he almost burned himself on the flaming sparkler bottom.

This only took an instant and Sam was staring at the sparkler in disbelieve for a moment before the pain hit him. At first he couldn't fathom how the sparkler could be stuck in the ground that firmly. The throbbing pain in his fingertips reminded him that metal that had just been in the middle of burning gasoline was often very hot.

He looked down at his fingers. There was a perfect little trough in each one. When he put his fingers together it made a perfect circular hole where the flaming hot sparkler stem had melted through his flesh. He put his fingertips together and looked at the porch light through them. A little circle of light beamed through his fingertips.

“Do you think they will stay this way?” He asked me.

“I hope not... I doubt it really, bound to heal...”

That was enough for that night. A little cold water helped wash away the pain as we went inside for the night. This simple lesson was learned: “Fire indeed hot!” Now, you would think something like that would burn itself into your memory (forgive the pun), but Sam still had more to learn.

Young men have many funny little traits. One of them is that they often destroy toys that they no longer intend to play with. They are often also obsessed with fire just as a general rule. Sam, Joshua and I were no exception to these rules. It was only a matter of time before we stuck destruction and fire together.

I remember it was a hot summer day. I had gotten bored as I often did. While discussing what to do someone came up with digging out all the old G.I. Joes and destroying them. It seemed like a generally entertaining thing to do, but how to go about it was the question. Finally we decided to setup a combat scene in Dad's garden area. He had tilled it but hadn't planted anything there yet, so it was a perfect empty battlefield.

We lined up the combatants and doused them with a healthy quantity of gas. Then we took one of the planes we had and poured gas on the nose of it. We lit the plane on fire and began the dialog.

“I've been hit! I'm coming in for a crash landing!”


We threw the plane onto the gas soaked battlefield and “whoof!” the entire squad went up in flames. Both sides were decimated. There was nothing left to do but bury the former combatants. After all, what was left was a burning puddle of goo. We were done forever with those toys. (As I said, young men have some strange tendencies.) Sam decided that the puddle was dangerous so he covered it with a little dirt.

Here I have to underline several points so that what happens next will make sense to the reader. First point: Burning plastic can continue to burn for hours even if you think it's out. Second point: Dirt is an excellent insulator. Third point: When one has been playing with fire one should always were shoes.

Sam almost always did wear shoes. It was some odd twist of fate that made him think that the day was to hot or that his feet needed air. I can honestly say that unless we were swimming he was almost always shod. I don't know why it didn't strike me as odd that day that he had decided to run around barefoot like I did. Just one of those odd twists in the fabric of life I suppose. Whatever the reason Sam was barefoot.

Roughly ten minutes after leaving our buried bubbling pool we decided to race around the yard. One of the locations the race was to go through was the nice cool freshly tilled field. Sam and I were running neck and neck. I think he had actually pulled out in front of me when it happened.

“Ahhhhh!” “Ahhhh!” “Ahhhh!” or something very much like that anyway.

Sam looked down to find that he had stepped in the hidden pool. Melted plastic clung to his foot as he looked down yelling. He actually kept a clear head all things considered. He ran for the hose. A cool blast of water soothed the pain and firmed up the plastic enough so that he could break it off the bottom of his foot. By the grace of God it had only burned him a little. It was probably on the cusp between first and second degree I would say. I suppose the dirt stuck between his foot and plastic provided some little protection.

Once he realized he wasn't burned that badly he got incredibly angry!

“Stupid place to leave a melted puddle of plastic! I'm moving it!”

I didn't point out to Sam that he had buried it there in the first place. I felt it would have been in bad taste. He had been burned and certainly had the right to vent. He stormed over to the shed and grabbed a shovel. With a determined stride he walked over to the puddle and scooped it up. He moved it to the further corner of the field and covered it with a little dirt. Now there are three points to make about this. However, I have already made them, so you may look back and review them if you feel you need to.

Sometimes it seems life really has a sense of humor. I know that some of you reading this feel like you know where it's going, but are saying to yourselves right now “No Way!” I can only humbly say in reply “Way.”

Yes, the melted menace safely buried under a thin layer of soil we resumed our game. The results?

“Ahhhhh!” “Ahhhh!” “Ahhhh!” Well, there or thereabouts.

Yes... he did.... We had run onto the other side of the field where Sam again trod upon the semi-liquid sea of pain. In point of fact, he stepped in it with the same foot. Screaming, yelling and cussing it was back to the hose. Another cooling rinse and hardened plastic broken away from the soul of the foot.

We decided at that point to let sleeping dogs lie, or melted plastic burn if you prefer. We went inside and rested until the flaming mass was inert. It is amazing how there are times in our life where we refuse to learn the lesson the first time it comes around. It's something to think about, it seems there may be a moral there somewhere.

I hope you all enjoyed this!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

When Toads Fly

It seems like that would be the kind impossible statement you might yell at someone. “When Toads Fly!” Sort of a more genteel way of telling someone the thing in question was about as likely as snow in the infernal regions. However, one of those two ideas, at least, is possible. At least one time in history a toad did, in fact, fly.

Joshua, Tara, Chris and myself were all at Nana's one afternoon. I was bored and looking for something to do. Those of you who remember me at that age probably remember my incredible capacity for boredom. I tend to jump into things, suck the fun out of them and then discard the husk. I have heard a number of theories on why this is. Whatever the reason, one of my natural states of mind was bored.

When you have such an amazing tendency for boredom you have to learn to think along unconventional lines. You have to look at all the resources you have, no matter how ordinary, and learn to see the possibilities. Whether or not it is a good quality I will leave to philosophers, the point here is that it is a quality I had and have and hope to have in future.

So, I had to consider my resources. What did we have that we could get our hands on? There were the normal things as Nana and Papa's: Crayons, Tape, Cardboard, Toads... Now, some of you may be surprised that toads made the list, but honestly they were everywhere. We would often go hunting for them just to make them jump around or to try to get them to eat things we had caught for them, etc. So, they became a staple in the “supplies” list.

As I was mulling all these objects over I was struck with an idea. What would it be like for a toad to fly? I have no idea why it struck me or where the thought came from, but it stuck in my mind. I always loved the idea of flying. It was hard for man to fly and therefor amazing. How much more amazing would flight be if you were a toad?

Could it be done? I considered the question. Why not really? Toads were light and they were sturdy. All it would need was a good pair of wings and something to get it started. Certainly it wouldn't be able to maintain flight, but to soar for a moment would be a great adventure for a lowly toad. My mind became enthralled with the idea. What a tale the toad would have to tell when it got home!

I discussed it with my companions. I explained all the advantages in detail and lit them with the fire of my enthusiasm. It was decided! A toad would fly! We immediately began the work. The design was simple. We took cardboard and made a small ring that would fit snugly around the body of the toad. To this we attached two struts to connect the bottom of the ring the the bottom of the wings. The top of the ring would also be attached directly to the wings.

Then we made the wings themselves. They were beautiful! They were probably six to eight inches across and two or three inches wide. We stylized them to look a bit like birds wings complete with small fetherettes along the back edge. We then colored them with flame-like decorations. If the toad was to fly he should fly in style!

Nana was watching us and finally asked what we were making. “We're making wings for toad so it can fly!” I said. Nana was very used to her grandchildren. “That's good.” was he simple reply. She sat there as we completed them. I can still see those wings in my imagination. They were wonderful. Grey cardboard, bright crayons and the dream of things to come!

Having completed the wings we only needed a volunteer to test them. As I said before, the yard was full of toads, it was just a matter of finding one. Within minutes we had a specimen that fit the wings perfectly. We could get them on, but it took a bit of effort and there was no chance of them just falling off. The toad looked amazing when he was fitted out. There he was, a simple toad, sporting a huge pair of beautifully crafted wings.

Our launch vehicle was a simple design. We laid a 2x4 over a log and put the toad on the low end. Chris jumped up and stomped on the high end. Lift off! The toad shot strait up and reached a height of maybe twenty feet. The wings caught the wind and he began to glide like a dream. I doubt the Wright brothers could have done better at our age! The toad flew maybe fifteen feet and settled as pretty as you please into the branches of a pine tree... Disaster!

Had the toad been able to speak and had he known his history I am sure at this point we would have heard a small “Houston, we have a problem...” However, our mute friend had no such way of expressing himself. He had to be content to silently hang suspended by his two large wings between two forked branches. Had he landed on the branch there would have been some small chance of his hopping down to safety, but such was not the case. He was stuck right in the middle. Two inches at least separated him from the nearest branch.

One thing was certain, we couldn't leave him like that. The problem was that he was still fifteen feet off the ground. We couldn't reach him with a stick no matter how hard we tried. Finally we had to resort to throwing sticks at him. It was imperative that we hit the branch and not the toad. I underlined this to Chris several times before he threw. He was the only one big enough to make a toss of sufficient height. The first throw was a clean miss. He didn't want to hit the toad whatever he did. After a few more he took careful aim. He made a good throw, but it was hair off.

He hit the left wing. In fact, he knocked it right off! The toad came out of the tree flying with just one wing. He was in a dead spin! Still, he had a small amount of lift. He looked like a pine seed falling down to earth, whirling as he fell. I have no doubt that this spinning decent saved his little life. He hit the ground and sat there unable to move. For a moment we were afraid he was dead. Then we observed that he was still breathing. It seemed that he might make it.

We decided to remove the wings and leave him alone for a few minutes. We walked around the yard talking of the stunning flight for perhaps fifteen minutes. When we came back to where we had left him the toad he was gone. He had hopped away having lived through an adventure such as few toads ever have. So you see, at least once, a toad did fly!

I hope you all got a laugh!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Triple J

There were a lot of Js in my childhood. There was Jeremy, Joshua, Jim, Jason, Jermain, Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Joshua, Joshua, etc... (Yea, there were two Jeremiahs and three Joshuas) This particular story concerns Jason Stapleton, Jim Melvin, and myself. I believe it was during the summer. If not it was very close to it. The day was warm and the weather beautiful. We three had been friends since the first grade, but it was very rare that the three of us were together at any place other than school. We were around twelve years old and had gotten together early so we would have the whole day to do whatever we wanted with. I'll start the tale nearer the end and then wrap it up with the beginning, just because I'm sorting it by humor.

By the afternoon we had already had a bit of a day, but we were looking for something more to do. When we considered our resources we found that we had several packs of bottle rockets. At the time you could still get the small, cheap, flying fire crackers known as bottle rockets. As we were considering what to do with them Jim grabbed an old pipe and decided we should use it as a rocket launcher.

This was a common enough entertainment for us so Jason and I readily agreed. One of us would hold the pipe and aim while another lit the fuse and jammed the bottle rocket into the pipe. The one aiming tried to hit something or nothing as the mood struck him. After a few minutes of this Jim got bored and decided to shake things up a bit with a practical joke.

It was my turn to hold the pipe and Jim's turn to load. As he prepared the bottle rocket he broke the stick off of it without my knowledge just before loading it. Now, for those of you who don't know, the stick on a bottle rocket does more than just provide something to hold the fuse off the ground when you light it. It also makes the rocket fly in a semi-straight line. The idea behind breaking the stick off was that the bottle rocket would go crazy when it came out of the end of the pipe.

However, Jim overlooked the fact that because there was no stick on it the bottle rocket would just be sitting on the loading end of the pipe and not really shoved down in it. He set the shorty bottle rocket in the end of the pipe and lit the fuse. “Fire!” I had decided to go for a long shot so as soon as I head that I pointed the pipe up at about 45 degrees. As a result the bottle rocket fell out of the pipe just as it started the fly.

It hit Jim in the chest and flew around in circles all over him before it blew up in his face. Fortunately he wasn't hurt at all, but there was a pattern burned into his shirt. He looked down at his chest and saw a perfect trail laid out in melted man made fiber. “This was a new shirt...” Jason and I busted out laughing. The joke had fallen on the joker. There's a bit of philosophy there!

That whetted our appetite for more bottle rocket fun so we decided to have a bottle rocket fight to wrap up the day. We spit the bottle rockets between us and dished out ways to make fire. To Jim a lighter. To Jason a lighter. To Jeremy.... I got a box of matches. It was all we had left. It's hard to imagine having a bottle rocket fight against lighters with a box of matches unless you've done it yourself.

Still, I wasn't discouraged. The battle does not always go to the strong. After our supplies were handed out we spread out and started our little battle. It was a kind of three way standoff, but Jim and Jason did seem to target me more than each other. There was a lot of running around and bottle rockets flying everywhere, but no one had been hit. Finally I decided I was really going to have to aim.

At last I got a chance for a real target. Jason had stopped to try to get a good shot at me. I was standing right by the old dog house and figured it was now of never. I placed my rocket on the dog house feeling certain that Jason would get the drop on me or have time to get out of the way. Lighters were faster than matches, that's just the way it was. Still, often it's the guy with the coolest nerves that wins the gun fight, not the one with the fastest draw.

I took careful aim at where Jason was squatting. He was having trouble getting the lighter to light. His gun was jammed! I took out my match and lit it. I stuck it to the fuse. Jason was still crouched down trying to make fire. My rocket flew and my aim was true! It blew up right in Jason's face and knocked him over. I couldn't do anything but laugh for a few minutes. That was really the end of the rocket fight. We all felt like we couldn't do any better than that.

As I said I started at the end, now let me unfold the beginning. We started the day off by going down to Nana and Papa's house. There wasn't a great deal to do, but we did have a bull whip. It may not seem like much to most of you, but I always loved cracking a whip and I'm fairly good at it. In fact, I can make rope crack if it's the right kind and have cracked several whips completely in half. I can make them sound like thunder. It's a simple amusement, but I've always loved it.

We decided to walk up down the road down by Papa's while we talked and I cracked the whip. As we were doing just that this kid came out of one of the trailers in the trailer park across the street. He started cussing at us and shaking his fist like some old man with kids on his lawn. We ignored him and walked along cracking the whip as he cussed at us about making all that noise.

After we got back to Nana's I decided that I was offended by being cussed at. The kid was a few years younger than us though, so we couldn't just go beat him up. I sat there thinking for a few minutes and thought about what we had to use for revenge. We had a pack of firecrackers and a toy gun and the whip. After considering this I formed a plan. We discussed it and we all agreed. We would do it.

Jim and I started walking down the street in front of the kids trailer again. I was cracking the whip as loud as I could and Jim was holding the toy pistol. Jason was standing in the woods along the road with the firecracker and a lighter at the ready. Within moments the kid flew out of his house again cussing us with all he had. Jim pulled out the toy gun and pointed it at him. “Hey kid!” Jim shouted which was the cue for Jason to light the firecrackers.

The kid looked at Jim and realized it was gun just as the firecrackers started to go off. He shrieked as if he has been shot and turned to open the door. It had locked behind him! He stood there screaming and beating on the door. “Mama! Open the door! They're shooting at me!” He pounded and screamed, but we didn't wait to see the result. We all three ran for it. To wrap the event up we took it in turn to imitate the kid as the others rolled around laughing.

All in all it was a great day!

If you got a laugh from all this be sure to share it with your friends!