Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pillar of Fire - It Runs in the Family

Fire. It can save your life or it can kill you. But it will always entertain. Recently I wrote three stories about my experiences with fire. A 'Fire Trilogy' of sorts:

It's Not On My Resume But I Am a Skilled Pyromaniac
Nothings Wrong, I'm Just Watering The Patio
The Conclusion of the Fire Trilogy (For Now)

The story isn't over though. There's a prequel, one that explains how I became Darth... what? Oh wrong trilogy, sorry.

When Dad was telling his Hungarian funeral stories a few weeks back, he talked about some of the outrageous things he got into as a kid. He lived in Hungary between the end of WWII and the Hungarian Revolution in '56. Life in Hungary during those years was scary and dangerous. Also, they didn't have X-Box and Collectible Card games hadn't been invented yet, so they had to (gasp) play outside and use their imaginations.

Unfortunately, being surrounded by war, their imaginations ran to, well... war. One of their favorite pastimes was hunting for abandoned munitions. Artillery shells were their favorite. They would bang the shell casings together to loosen them (It's a miracle I was ever born) then unscrew them and remove the detonators. Apparently the detonators are tremendous fun when ignited. They also collected the gunpowder from the shells and carried it around in their pockets or made their own makeshift fireworks with them.

One time they hit the jackpot. They found an abandoned Russian ammunition dump hidden in the side of a hill under a camouflage tarp. They collected bags and bags of gunpowder, as much as they all could carry. But someones dad showed up and freaked out. You know how unreasonable parents can be when kid's are just trying to have fun. He wasn't afraid for their lives because of the gunpowder though. He was afraid of what the Russian soldiers would do if they found a bunch of kids carrying gunpowder.

So he told them to collect up what they'd found and take it out back into a field behind the town. They stacked bags and bags of gunpowder together in a huge pile. Once they'd moved all the gunpowder, he told them to go away while he destroyed it. He decided the best way to get rid of half a ton of gunpowder quickly was to burn it. He lit a match and threw it in the pile.

Dad, while telling the story said, "Da pillar of fire da Israelites had leaving Egypt was a veak bonfire compared to da pillar of fire from that gunpowder." Mr. Brilliants plan to discreetly dispose of the stuff resulted in a beacon of flame that could be seen three towns away. The Russian soldiers noticed. Everyone noticed. It was glorious.

After I heard that story, I didn't feel bad about my own experiments with fire anymore. Now I know who I got my pyromaniac leanings from. My Dad, the firebug.

P.S. Guess what dad became when he grew up? A Combustion Technician. Go figure.

Next Story: Adventures in Cuba - The Bus Driver From Hell

Previous Story: Everybody Wants to be Famous


Anonymous said...

ahem, your father became a combustion engineer

Anonymous said...

ahem, your father became a Combustion Engineer