Tracy K. Lorenz ...


Blowing Stuff Up

One of life’s little joys that isn’t being passed on to today’s youth is the thrill of blowing things up. I spent a good portion of my youth devising ways to blow things up and I gotta say, it was quite therapeutic.

It started out with caps, those red strips of paper with a drip of gunpowder every inch that you were supposed to put in cap guns except cap guns never worked.  I have a mild case of tinnitus to this day thanks to pounding caps with a hammer.

The next step up were cap bombs. Someone figured out that if you took a roll of caps and a straight pin, accordioned the caps so the straight pin went through each cap individually, removed the pin, taped a match on for a fuse, you could blow your fingers off more efficiently. The “cap bomb” fad took a hit the day my friend Mark Crandall tried to remove the safety pin with his teeth, the thing blew up, Mark started gagging, reached into his mouth, and pulled the pin from the back of his throat.

The next step was to blow up “things,” not just make noise. We used to take GI Joes, pull their head off, drop a firecracker inside the torso, put the head back on real quick, and, if done right, the head arms and legs would leave simultaneously upon ignition.  This could be repeated a number of times as opposed to when we’d put GI Joes in the neighbor girl’s Easy Bake Oven or as we called it, “The Interrogation Chamber.”

I had friends who would spend DAYS building model cars only to ceremoniously blow them to smithereens on the baseball field at Lincoln Park.

But we were nothing compared to the teenagers that lived on my block.

There were two brothers that lived down the street (I won’t mention their names because they may still be alive and I don’t need to feel apprehensive every time I start my car) who decided they were going to make a smoke bomb, not some gyppie little smoke bomb, but the kind they found the recipe for in some anarchist handbook.

As the story goes, one brother was cooking the ingredients on the kitchen stove while the other brother read the instructions.  When the reading brother got to the part where it said “DO NOT STOP STIRRING” the cooking brother didn’t hear him and stopped stirring to say, “What?” at which point he bomb did what bombs do. Smoke was POURING out of the house, fire trucks and police were dispatched, and the brothers became instant Castle Avenue legends.

But my most memorable explosion took place up in the dunes. Some local teenagers made a bomb and word spread fast that they were going up in the dunes to detonate it at noon.

My friends and I were younger so we had to sneak up there and watch from the bushes while the Hippies tried to kill themselves.

They dug a hole in the sand, placed the bomb in the hole, and put a metal bucket over the bomb. That thing went off like Hiroshima, the bucket must have gone 200 feet in the air, but the explosion blew the sides of the bucket out like a daisy. The daisy bucket returned to earth spinning with bad intentions. No one got hurt (unless you call 80% hearing loss “Hurt”) but after that the bomb making slowed down considerably, it seemed like the envelope had been pushed and this was a good place to stop. Once the daisy of doom made an appearance it was obvious that we were out of our league.  From that point on when anyone asked me to build a bomb I steadfastly ... refused. 

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