Friday, December 31, 2010

Probably last of the blow stuff up stories I will tell.

I think I'll keep the rest to myself.

Looking back on things, I figure my dad had a pretty punk childhood because of a lot of things, mainly the Great Depression.

I also think that he was hell bent on making sure we were taken care of and were permitted to enjoy our childhoods. I also think he enjoyed watching us enjoy our childhoods and maybe in a way by watching us have so much fun, he got to make up for his lousy childhood.

Dad knew boys well. He enjoyed watching kids make their mistakes and learn their lesson on the way to manhood. He was also a natural born teacher.

One day my mother went into a panic as she saw her two sons headed off toward the woods. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was carrying a heavy Jerry can, as was my kid brother.

My mother called my dad, who cheerfully said to her, “Anything to keep those two off the streets and out of the pool halls.”

When I heard that, I figured we were home free. I kept walking.

“Hey, wait up,” Dad said.


“What are you two up to?  Now fess up.” He demanded.

Page 14, Article 2 Amendment 8 subsection D paragraph 17c of the 1958 Official Manual of Being a Kid, revised 1964, says specifically “When asked what you are doing by your parents the appropriate response is “Nothing.”.

I went by the book for that one. “Nothing,” I said.

“Good,” said Dad. “Let’s do nothing together.”

And with that, he took the Jerry can from my kid brother and we headed down into the woods.

A can fell out from where it was hidden under my shirt. It said on it ‘DuPont FFFg Black rifle powder’.

Dad simply told my brother pick it up and carry it.

When we entered the woods down at the wood line the Old Man asked what the plan was. I told him that we were planning on sending a fireball up and he nodded.

“The well house?” he asked. I nodded.

“Electric ignition?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Just like we learned from you.”

Dad was a pretty good soldier and a good soldier knows when to fall back and regroup. He had done so some time back when my brother and I started blowing things up. He realized that simply forbidding something would drive it underground and make it even more dangerous than it was.

Or he could simply teach us how to do something in a safe manner. A year or more earlier we had survived a close call with something and Dad’s sharp eye had noticed an awful amount of singed hair on me. He immediately hauled me into the basement and got a confession out of me.

He asked me if I had learned my lesson, and I told him the answer was to use a longer fuse. He paled and the following Saturday it was off to the surplus store for yet another roll of commo wire. He also pulled a car battery out of the trunk, and a cheap charger to boot.

Dad told us that from then on anything bigger than a cherry bomb was to be set off electrically and from a safe distance. Our days of lighting homemade fuses and running like hell were pretty much over.

It didn’t take long for my brother and me to set things up in the old well house. While we did set things up, Dad commented that it was a good thing the well house was there.

The well house was built about 1925 as a water supply system to the house, yet it was pretty much abandoned long before we had moved there in ’54. It was a solid poured concrete structure, maybe 15 feet square. The concrete walls were almost a foot thick.

It had a well built hip roof that no longed existed, seeing that age had somewhat weakened them before my brother and I blew it off of there a year earlier. Don’t ask.

We went to a nearby partially filled up old well some distance from the well house and pulled out a pail containing a pair of long sleeved shirts that were soaking wet and donned them. My brother looked at my dad and explained, “Flash burns,” he said. Dad nodded approvingly. At that point I’m sure he felt a little proud that his lessons had been absorbed and built upon. We both also donned goggles.

I installed the niachrome igniter into a cup of black powder so as to insure a healthy ignition and the pair of us started pouring gasoline all over the concrete floor.

Dad noticed a hose of some sort leading into the house and asked what it was. “You’ll see,” I replied, and watched Dad look a little more worried.

My brother bolted.

“Where’s he going?” Dad asked.

“Neighbor check. He just wants to make sure Mister Wonderful isn’t home yet,” I replied.

Mister Wonderful was our next door neighbor and must have been related to Karpinski, another area chronic cop caller. Things in the neighborhood were coming to a real head and it was just a matter of time before Mister Wonderful went off his rocker and started big trouble for the neighborhood. More on him in a future post.

When I told Dad that my brother was making sure the neighbor’s Valiant wasn’t in the driveway, dad looked very pleased.

I continued spreading the gas around and when my brother returned and announced the coast was clear, I propped a piece of plywood against the hole where the door used to be and looked at dad and told him that it would hold the vapors inside and not let them dissipate.

While my brother and dad led the way to the well, I lagged behind, tipped over a board, reached down and turned a valve. It went unnoticed until we were getting ready to set the thing off. My dad then noticed the green bottle.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“An oxygen bottle.” I replied. “It wasn’t too full, but it sure won’t hurt.”

Dad’s eyes grew about as big as saucers and my brother looked at me for his cue to flip the switch.

“Wait,” I said. “Steady…Not now; I still hear oxygen…OK….NOW!”

There a click from the switch in the well we were ducked down in followed by a loud Va-WHOMP in the well house and immediately a ball of fire shot about a quarter mile straight up into the air!

The look on my fathers face at the second he witnessed that fireball shoot up was something out of a history book. Prior to then, the look was last seen on the on the face of the Mayor of Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945.

A voice from the porch of the house cried out, “Oh, my God! What was that?”

My father quickly recovered and remembered the appropriate section of the Official Manual for Being a Kid, 1964 revised edition.

“Nothing,” he shouted up to the house.

The ensuing silence made it crystal clear that Ricky had a lot of ‘splaining to do to Lucy that night.

He looked at my brother and me. “Don’t do a damned thing until I get back,” he ordered.

He made a beeline for the house, went in for less than a minute, got into the car and was gone for two hours. Where he went, we never asked.

Many years later I asked my mom about where he had gone. She laughed herself silly for quite a while.

“He came straight inside, told me not to say a single word, poured about four ounces of Seagram’s down his throat, got into the car and went straight to St. John’s, put ten dollars in the offertory and made a Novena!”


In school in a private conversation with the chemistry teacher some time later I learned how lucky we were. He told me that the mixture had probably grown so unstable that even a shot of static electricity in the air could have set it off prematurely, and that we were lucky that it hadn’t caused an out and out explosion that would have leveled the entire well house foundation.

Three years ago, I was in the old neighborhood and I approached the people living in the house now and asked if I could take a look at the well house. They also graciously gave me a tour of the old homestead and it looks wonderful.

The well house, at the time mentioned in the story was fire blackened and cracked in several places. While, of course, the cracks are still there, time has bleached it out and the walls are now white. Surprisingly, there is still a piece of WW2 era commo wire between two trees after all these years.

While in the house, I asked to see if my secret hiding place was still there. Surprisingly, it was. There were two home made firecrackers in it along with some other odds and ends, including a Playboy centerfold of De De Lind.

The homeowner’s eyes grew wide and they profusely thanked me for ridding their home of my childhood stash.

I gave one of the firecrackers to friend of mine from the old days. He is now a well respected businessman in town.

I am expecting some day to hear that he cranked it off in Mister Wonderful’s front yard at 3 am.

As for the remaining firecracker that I kept for myself, it came home and sat on my work bench until the evening of the Fourth of July.

Old habits die hard and the sound of firecrackers off in the distance was beginning to give me a case of old firedog syndrome. I decided to crank it off as somewhat a retirement ceremony from the old days.

I was reluctant to light the fuse and throw it because I had no clue as to the stability of the old powder and I really want to keep all of my fingers, several of which actually work these days. I opted to use a cigarette running through a book of matches as a safe timer.

Once it was set, I poured myself a drink and waited.

I was treated to a blinding flash and a loud blast that I felt as well as heard a very satisfying loud BOOM!

I sat there self-satisfied and looked smilingly at the three-foot smoking divot.

Five minutes later, I saw a roving police car drive by very slowly, and paid him little mind as I knew that one loud bang would be overlooked on the Fourth. Still, it reminded me that there was no shortage of cop-calling do-gooders left in the world.

I sat here a long while and sipped my drink and bawled my eyes out like a little kid. My childhood was over.

Or is it? Only time will tell.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

It wasn’t all blowing stuff up and mail order pistols.

A lot of it was just simply the water. I grew up close to a pair of unpolluted rivers and only a couple of miles from the beach.

In addition to this, there were a couple of pretty good ponds between my house and the river and the river was between my house and the beach.

My mother was a creature of the sea who loved the water. During season, she spent most afternoons at the beach with whichever of the 5 of us was deemed not old enough to be left alone. As a small child, I spent a lot of time at the beach.

During winter storms, we would both go to the sea to watch nature and all her fury. The both of us always got out of the car and stood there in the rain or the snow and walked the edge of the beach in awe and wonderment of the boisterous side of King Neptune.

She had earned sailing merit badge or whatever it is called as a Girl Scout and in the mid 80s a few years after Dad died she spent almost a week with me on my 25 foot sailboat being a bum of sorts. She took to it like a duck took to water, and spoke proudly of the time she had to anyone who would listen until Alzheimer’s tore her up.

Even then, the subject would come up. I guess it was one of the last things she forgot.

I guess I got my affinity for the water and eventually a career from her.

It was sometime around ’66 when I was considered Lord and Master of Rocky point, about a mile away from my house.

Rocky point was a little more than a mile inland from where the pair of rivers converged and entered the sea. There at one time had been a bridge from a long discarded railroad that had been torn down, but maybe 40 feet of it was still there and it was a place where a lot of people would fish and I would dive off of.

It was a pretty neat pace and you could expect to find someone fishing there at any hour, but it was seldom if ever crowded.

A friend of mine commented once that you’d never find an asshole fishing at Rocky Point at three AM.  He was right.

Most of the late night fishermen were there simply to think or mull things over and the fishing rod was just an excuse to go there. Over the years I would see countless men standing on the bridge just looking out seaward and smoking, deep in thought.

Jerks never fared well there as the kids would run them off pretty quickly. A man in his thirties or forties was really no match for a thirteen year old kid that swam well enough to give a codfish a run for his money.

I recall running one such dolt off. He was one of those people that was probably a wife and kid beater that thought he could get away with what he pulled at home.

He told me to do something that he really had no right to and I politely refused.  He called me up and gave me a pretty good dressing down while holding me by my shirt.

The minute he grabbed my shirt I knew that his dance card was filled up and I was going to have the last waltz.

I contritely went and ran his errand and politely put his tackle box down next to him. He growled,” That’s more like it.” When he turned and faced the railing, I simply picked up both of his feet and sent him tumbling into the drink and threw his pole and tackle box in after him.

He couldn’t swim very well and it was rather humorous watching him work his way piling to piling to get ashore. When he got ashore, he came up on the bridge and I feigned cowering fearfully until he was almost within arms reach and then I simply dove off the bridge and swam across the river.

While I had been going to run his stupid little errand, my pal had kicked the spare on his pickup to make sure it held air and then removed the valve stem from one of his tires. That way he would have a tire to change, yet because his spare was OK, he would leave after he changed the tire.

He never returned, of course.

The guy that unscrewed the valve stem later served as a medic in an airborne unit in Vietnam and later earned a PhD in genetic engineering.

A lobsterman, whom I later pulled gear for had witnessed the entire thing and when he was done with what he was doing (having watched me the entire half-hour he was working on his gear) came up to me and told me he was going to call my dad, but not to worry. The jerk had it coming.

I later figured that the lobsterman had been watching me carefully to make sure I wasn’t going through a punk kid phase and when he saw I wasn’t he went to bat for me.

That night as we were finishing dinner, the phone rang and as the voice on the other end spoke, and my father looked at me as he spoke, yet turned to chuckle, then returning to look at me. When he was through, he looked at me and paused for quite some time before he spoke.

“Next time someone lays a hand on you, you tell me and I’ll knock his jock off,” he said. “What you did is my responsibility and not yours.”

My mother asked what was going on and my father said, “Never mind.”

Later that night my father signaled me to the cellar and suppressing a smirk asked for all the details. Apparently he knew who I had given swimming lessons to because the lobsterman had told him.

He called the jerk up and told him that he had gotten off rather light. He said that had I come home and reported the confrontation that he would have gotten it a whole lot worse from him.

We were raised to be polite, but never to allow anyone to abuse us. That jerk had crossed the line.

While I had been spanked or cuffed by a neighbor or two before, this was entirely different. The man had abused me. The neighbors, on the other hand, had been looking out for me and it wasn’t abuse at all. Under those circumstances I simply took my medicine and shut up about it and prayed the neighbor in question didn’t call my parents lest I pay twice for the same deed when I got home.

A couple of weeks later I was at the Point when a station wagon pulled up and a Navy petty officer and four guys I knew that had graduated from high school got out. The wagon was followed by a pair of sailors in a pickup with an eight-foot pram.

The four guys were getting ready to enlist and were going to try out for UDT duty. The SEAL program wasn’t quite up and running yet, at least not at full steam, yet Underwater Demolition Team duty was open.

Seems the four were there to take an informal swim test.

It was figured by the petty officer that if they could swim from the point to the Highway Bridge and back they were good to go.

I told him I could do that easily and he scowled at me and told me I was too young. The man obviously wasn’t yet a father, as he had just unknowingly issued a challenge, although not much of one. I did that regularly, it was easier to swim to the bridge than walk to it. Or at least for me it was.

I patiently waited until the test got started and dove in and caught up to them quickly. I changed course and using the back eddies and the bends so as not to fight the current beat the boat which was now carrying one of the two that had washed out. When the boat was about 150 yards away, the other guy gave up and I continued, touched the bridge and rode the center of the river (and the current) back to the point.

I think I tied the boat in returning.

I treaded water and waited for the other two and the whole picture repeated itself. I had just taken the informal UDT swim test twice, back to back and had passed it. The petty officer looked a little embarrassed. The four guys looked ashamed.

I guess one of the guys gave the sailor my name and address because for the next decade we had our PO Box stuffed with Navy recruiting literature. Its part of the reason I later joined the army.

A few weeks later, I saw the Navy guy again, along with 2 more recent High School graduates. One of them was a pretty good guy that treated younger people with respect.  I liked him, so I took him aside and told him to swim with me instead of follow the boat.

He passed, and later made it through the UDT School. He’s retired now. After he got out of the Navy he went back to school on his GI bill and did well for himself. He later bought a house in my neighborhood and every time he met my mother at the post office, he would ask about me until we moved her out to the retirement villa.

I wasn’t much of a student, my sister was and one day she grew a little too cocky over dinner. My father intervened by reaching over the table and taking our plates away.

He ordered us both into the bathroom and weighed both of us and told us both we were not to come home for three days and no mooching food from the neighbors. He gave my sister a knife and a few odds and ends and told me to grab mine and beat it. I took off like a shot, grinning ear to ear.

My sister cried her way back into the house a few hours later, I wasn’t to be found and my mother grew worried.

Dad wasn’t.

Three days later, I reported in and when my mother started carrying on, my father sternly ordered me to weigh in.

He looked at my mother and triumphantly announced I had gained a pound.

My sister never rubbed my nose in the dirt again.

The Point had everything a guy needed. The river was full of fish; there were clams to be dug, lobster to be had
Simply for going for a boat ride and pulling gear for local lobsterman. I could trade clams I sold and always kept the neighbors fed in return for either steak or a couple bucks.

 When I reached age, I dug clams commercially and made $72 a week back minimum wage was $1.25/hour and paid $50 a week. It was fun work.

About two or three years ago I went back and visited the Point. The bridge I used to fish and dive off of was torn down, the dock wasn’t the same, and parts had silted and parts had washed a little deeper. My eye missed little. The shack across the river was still there, same as ever.

An old man came by walking a dog, obviously a local. I looked carefully and recognized him. Last time I had seen him he was about thirty-five. I hadn’t seen him in as many years. He was young and now he was old.

I looked at him and grinned. “Thirty-five years ago, this place was mine,” I said to him.

“Oh,” he said. “You must have known Piccolo and his kid brother! Why, those two were in the water St. Patrick’s Day and never got out until Thanksgiving!”

“I do know them both,” I replied, evenly.

“I wonder what ever happened to those two?” he asked.

“The brother has a heating and air conditioning business,” I said. “Remember how Piccolo said he was going to run away to sea with the Merchant Marines and become a hero with a chest full of medals? Well, he did. He’s Captain Piccolo now.”

He looked curiously at me and his face lit up as he recognized me. I remembered he was an old school New England character with a pretty sharp wit. I wondered if he still had it.

“That damned Piccolo always had a dry sense of humor. He was never known for being bashful.” he said. “How are you doing, Pic?”

In many ways, the Point hasn’t changed a bit.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!!! Blow it!

One of the things I grew up in was the shadow of World War 2.

Before the last shot was fired in the Pacific, the government was already surplussing off B-17s for sale as scrap. I would imagine that even now small amounts of old WW2 stuff hits the surplus market, but the real heyday for me was in the early 60s.

Without the surplus stuff running around there never would have been the Great Raid of 1966.

Now, I grew up near the ocean and had this wonderful river to play in, and that is always a good thing. When I was about 15 a Navy recruiter brought 4 potential recruits down to MY personal chunk of the river to take the (then) UDT swim test. I took the test twice, back to back without leaving the water and passed it both times to the amazement of the petty officer.

One of the four that flunked the test gave the sailor my name and address and for the next decade the family PO Box was stuffed with recruiting flyers, which is another story.

Anyway, Old Man Karpinski was a jerk. He didn’t get it and was a chronic cop-caller. He hated kids and kids hated him right back.

I tangled with him once. He lost. His pride and joy hand made Genuine New England stone wall suffered immensely.

Now, the Great Raid of ’66 was over a bush eater, a 1949 Plymouth that had been given to us by an old lady. It had been sitting around in here yard for a few years and she said we could have it if we made it go away.

A ’49 Plymouth was a pretty solid car and it took us a couple of afternoons and a Saturday to get it running well enough to sneak it out of her yard and into the woods.

We did this by having a couple of us raise hell with cherry bombs down town. While the cops went to see what was going on down there, we drove it down the street and on to a fire road where it was OK to drive.

Back then a lot of kids learned to drive and keep cars running on bush eaters.

They were old cars, parked in the woods that kids snagged somewhere along the line that they tinkered with and drove until they finally gave up the ghost and then Giavoni (Any junk car removed free) would haul it off.

To almost everyone this was acceptable because it kept us busy and out of trouble. A lot of pretty good mechanics wound up getting started this way and after you had owned a bush eater for a while Driver’s Ed became a snap. Coach Lewis, the Driver’s Ed teacher would actually ask how many bush eaters you had torn up. If you had a couple under your belt, he would visibly relax.

Of course, about the first thing to get knocked off any bush eater was the muffler and from out in the woods Old Man Karpinski heard the quiet tone of an un muffled engine and knew there was a bush eater out there so he instantly called the cops.

The police showed up and they were really quite apologetic as they called Giavoni to haul the car off.

Of course, the Cops wouldn’t tell us who had ratted us out, but we knew it was Old Man Karpinski. The cop was a lousy poker player. When we brought his name up, he tipped his hand.

Payback started that evening with a council of war, an inventory and an assessment of funds. It was decided that he would pay for his stupidity with his beloved stone wall.

When I asked how, one of the guys looked up, smiled and said, “Bangalores!”

We still had ten or fifteen pounds of fast burning shotgun powder left that  I had scored one trash day some time ago when the widow of the former president of the local rod and gun club had cleaned out her basement.

Her late husband had been a big time skeet shooter and reloaded his own shotshells.

It had cost me an hour after school for being late as I had singlehandedly rescued over thirty pounds of the stuff from being carted off by the trash guys.

I looked at the other five and stated that I’d go with Bangalore torpedoes if and only if we had a safe place to duck behind. About a year earlier I had briefly earned the nickname ‘Doc’ because I pulled a jagged piece of steel out of one of the other guy’s ass with a Boy Scout knife. I didn’t want a repeat performance.

It was agreed.

It was also agreed that since Karpinski lived on a cul-de-sac so close to the river, that the river would be our entry and escape route, as it was a no-brainer that the police would block off the street and evading through the woods could get a little dicey as the area was pretty settled.

The following day preparations started. A lot of little things started disappearing from around the neighborhood and we seemed to be pretty industrious for a change.

I think my dad knew something was amiss because one evening at dinner he commented that he was going to write a letter to Charlie Chan asking him to pay a visit because there seemed to be a whole lot of mysteries going on in the neighborhood.

After dark a couple of recon parties sneaked into the Karpinski front yard and noticed that there were drainage pipes under the stone wall at about three foot intervals, but they were plugged up with leaves and dirt. The street side ends were quietly cleaned out and the ends re plugged up with a false cover of dirt. The ends facing the house were left plugged so as to push the force of the planned explosions upward.

One of the guys showed up with a couple of long chunks of two-inch pipe which was cut up into length and both ends were threaded. Two inch end caps were scrounged and Estes model rocket engine igniters were ordered and arrived.

A spool of WW2 commo wire mysteriously appeared in my  basement one night and was instantly stashed in the old well in the woods, and the GI surplus store noted that business was up a little as various supplies were accumulated, including Navy watch sweaters, watch caps and British Commando knives.

One day Nick, who ran a local garage, commented that he found it rather odd that every night for about a week a couple of the old batteries from his scrap pile would disappear, only to be returned the following night to replace the next two that disappeared. He told me he figured some kid just got his first car and needed one and said that if I found out who it was to tell him to help himself to the one in the recently wrecked Valiant out back.

Three nights later the battery in the Valiant showed up missing.

A couple of days later he commented that his trash was being checked out nightly and commented that he expected to see a lot of slingshots going around because a junked-out truck inner tube was gone.

Spring turned into summer and things went on as usual and the six of us chipped away at our little project from time to time. Mysterious things stopped happening and the neighborhood lulled through another summer.

Black pants from a Goodwill store were purchased for about a dime a pair.

A date was set carefully as we slated this event to coincide with a scheduled camp-out in the back yard of a local judge the next town over.

Way upriver, where we would be unseen, we practiced ‘sling shot’ pickups on a Boston Whaler until we got so we so good that there would be no mistakes when the real deal came.

At the last minute, about fifteen gallons of gasoline was hidden in the bushes of the local Coast Guard small boat station.

The night was fast approaching. Things were hidden under a certain bridge. At the last minute, a batch of Lennon lights from Navy life preservers showed up at the surplus store for a nickel apiece and four were snapped right up instantly.

We got to the judge’s back yard and set up camp and enjoyed a cookout with his family. The reason we were there was because two of the guys were his favorite nephews and the other 4 of us had tagged along.

The judge and his wife were childless and always spent as much time as they could with those two, as I suppose they felt that being around kids was the next best thing to having them.

This was early August, if I recall.

The campout and cookout involved four of us. We were the actual raiding party. The escape committee was slated to sneak out of the house and man the Whaler, which belonged to the family of one of the guys. The other kid was a big, fat kid that was pretty damned strong, as it was his job to jerk us clean out of the water and onto the Whaler.

Now, I am a former GI and have been a Merchant Mariner for well over twenty years, but I’ll say that the most professional operation I’ve ever been party to, legal of otherwise was the raid.

One of the guy’s big brothers had a car and hated Karpinski with a passion, having lost HIS bush eater to the jerk a few years earlier. He agreed to be the wheel man.

We went to the judge’s place, enjoyed the cookout and sometime after dark we turned in to our sleeping bags in our tents.

About an hour later we heard the car horn signal in the distance and we were out of out sleeping bags and running. Shortly thereafter, we were dropped off at the bridge where the escape committee was already in position. The Whaler was in position, under the bridge tied to the cribbing.

The next portion of this soggy saga of a misspent youth is brought to you by the good people at the Crunchy Cookie Company. Remember, if it isn’t a Crunchy, it isn’t a cookie. Tell your mom to pick you up a box next time she goes to the supermarket.

Now we return back to out regularly scheduled story.

We got changed instantly into black pants, Navy watch sweaters, watch caps and applied burnt cork to our faces and stashed our street clothes in a plastic bag in the whaler and climbed below the bridge and retrieved all of our gear.

The truck tire raft went into the water and was loaded.

Bangalores, commo wire, the battery and a few other odds and ends went into it carefully. The Commando knives had actually had their sheaths sewn onto the thigh of our pants. We were good to go and the fat kid was hidden just below the railing where he would not be seen in the darkness by any passing motorist.

 We nodded and one of the guys jerked the end of the slip knot and the raft took off like a shot. The tide was running at max ebb and we were on our way!

It didn’t take long for us to reach our appointed entry point a couple of bends down and a couple of Lennon light flashes were returned with the flashes  - - -/-.- Morse code for OK.

We went ashore and dragged everything into place and started setting things up. The bangalores were placed carefully, wires carefully fastened, the battery put into position and everything was ready to go.

We had safe cover and the moment of truth arrived. The button was pressed.

Nothing happened.

We quickly tested the battery by shorting the two terminals with a Commando knife and there was no spark. Somehow the battery had died. My guess all these years later is that it had probably gotten wet somehow.

Of course, if nothing else, we were pretty flexible.

We saw that Karpinski had parked his two cars abreast, so we simply opened the hood of the far car. This way the forward car would act like a buffer if we had screwed up and things were thrown our way  when the charge cranked off.

 We cut a chunk of wire off and fastened two leads to his battery and ran the wire over to behind the car. Then we twisted one lead to the main wire, gave the high sign and touched the two remaining leads.

There was a blinding roar as about twenty-five feet of stone wall went 356 feet into the air.

Now as any good reader knows, the story gets bigger with each retelling and the rocks gain about a foot of altitude each time the story is told. I have told this story over the years about 306 times. Do the math.

Every single light within a half-mile went on almost instantly.

By now the dead battery was headed back to the raft, and before the rocks even finished falling, the commo wire was being spooled in. We wanted nothing left behind.

One of the guys flashed the escape committee the mission complete signal and it was acknowledged with three dots and a dash, V for victory.

It was later reported to me that the fat kid dove off the bridge executing a perfect jackknife and hit the water with nary a splash and swan over to the Whaler and boarded her effortlessly.

When we hit the raft, two of us grabbed it and swam it out to the middle of the river and made quick work of it with our commando knives. It sank like a stone.

The four of us spread ourselves out about fifty yards apart in the middle of the river and waited until we heard the outboard of the Whaler. We turned our Lennon lights on and placed them in our right outstretched hand and listened to the boat throttle back.

The fat kid was in the bow, tire ready to snag us.

I was first and the damned hookup practically tore the arm off of my shoulder so I told the coxswain to throttle back, which he did. The other three were plucked out of the water flawlessly and we hammered our way downriver as fast as we could go.

A bottle of Joy soap came out and we scrubbed the burnt cork off of our faces and we changed our clothes quickly back to our camper shorts and shirts. At intervals the commando gear was ditched. Pants, sweaters, caps and knives went over the side at long intervals.

Now we had an obstacle to face. The tide was ebbing and there was a pretty strong incoming wind. The mouth of the river was a lump and we had to deal with it.

The boat was actually somewhat overloaded and handled a bit sluggish. It was really what we called a South Boston drowning party after the people from Southie that would rent boats and cram them full of relatives until there wasn’t any freeboard left.

It was close to touch and go for a bit, but we did just fine and once we got into the open ocean it wasn’t too bad. We headed north towards the Coast Guard station and the gasoline cache where we refueled the boat.

Then we were dropped off on the beach at the judge’s house without even getting our feet wet and returned to our sleeping bags where we shook in fear for hours before falling asleep.

The following day our asses were dragging as we had to pretend we were well rested and go along with things as the judge doted over his favorite nephews.

That afternoon, we went home.

A day or two, our names were brought up in connection with the deed, but it was determined we had overnighted at the judge’s and we were quickly ruled out as being possible suspects.

As you can well imagine, Karpinski never learned his lesson. He was stupid. He kept up his ways and the rest of his life was a living hell as we passed on the stories of his stupidity on to our younger brothers who continued the battle until he died an embittered, nasty old man.

The incident taught me a very valuable lesson. Karpinski called the cops on me a couple more times over the years, but I simply ignored him. Truth is, so did the cops.

I later heard that the local police thought about calling in either the Feds or the State Police into the investigation of that particular evening but didn’t because they simply figured it was a case of kids getting even with Karpinski and I guess they figured he had one coming.

When I learned that Karpinski hadn’t changed his ways after all we did, I then realized that no matter what you do, you can’t fix stupid.

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