Great, but risky, fun


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Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: b.a.hoarder (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: December 26, 2012 07:00PM

My dad was born in 1912 and I remember him talking about one of the crazy things they used to do BITD. There was a deaf mute in his circle of friends and that fellow was fearless, anything the guys wanted to do he was "in" for sure. In particular was the merriment for the Fourth of July when they would gather a few regular items and have a real blast. They would take a wheelbarrow filled with sand, next a large milk can (were those about 8 gallons?) complete with lid and a 1/4" hole drilled in it down near the base, some water, matches and calcium carbide. Oh, and the most important thing was a large empty prairie.
Prop the can in the sand on a moderate angle, place a chunk of the carbide in the can, place the lid back on, add a little water through the small hole, cover with finger and wait a bit. When a quantity of gas was formed you light it off at the small hole, launching the lid of the can a block or so with the resulting explosion and loud report. The deaf mute knew what it was all about but was the only guy willing to set it off and to him it didn't matter anyway, he couldn't hear it.
The crazy thing that made me think of this was an after Christmas ritual in Garfield Ridge. The small village of Forest View borders Chicago at 51st St. Today there are factories around 6600 W. but in the early '60's it was just open prairie south of the GM&O rail yard. Christmas trees would be gathered up from the alleys and held 'til the appointed day and then piled really high and set ablaze. There was no danger to area buildings, they were not close to the bonfire, but regardless I look back today and it all seems pretty risky now.

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: Mornac (---.dsl.chcgil.ameritech.net)
Date: December 26, 2012 07:30PM

Yeah I knew of a similar homemade explosion that may have been a bit risky (I'm not really sure). We'd take one of those one gallon milk bottles used for home delivery. (They were kind if square-ish so that four of them could share a milk crate.) We'd fill it with one element - can't remember if it was water or bleach. After that we'd dissolve some Lewis Lye in it and add little bits of tin foil. The foil was pretty instantly eroded by the mixture and it let off a gas. When it was doing a pretty good fizzle, we'd place a large balloon over the top and let it inflate with the gas. It was lighter than air so when you tied it off with a string it floated like a helium balloon. It was a good idea to make the string as long as was practical. Finally, we lit the bottom of the string with a match and let 'er go. The thing would continue to soar until the flame hit the balloon at which point the flammable gas would let off a BANG! with a bright orange flame. (This was best done at night). It wasn't foolproof and took a lot of trial and error. I have no idea what we were playing with but I have an idea it wasn't a smart thing to do. At any rate, I'll be fifty five next week and I haven't noticed any ill effects yet (or have I?)

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: nordsider (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: December 27, 2012 05:55AM

b.a.hoarder,

I lived on Merrimac,just south of 52nd, from 1952 to about '65. An old dilapidated shack stood mid block, on the east side of Merrimac, between 52nd and 51st, with the open prairie surrounding it. Despite its run-down appearance -- it probably had been in existence since the earliest days of Garfield Ridge -- a man lived in it alone. One day, sometime in '53 or '54, it was mysteriously destroyed by fire, and the poor man lost his home, however humble. I often thought that someone in the immediate neighborhood had torched it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/27/2012 06:40AM by nordsider.

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: bowler (---.chipublib.org)
Date: December 27, 2012 04:52PM

You both may be interested in the photo on our website for the Clear-Ridge Historical Society (it's still very much under construction). Check out the photo, 5th one down left side, it's a late 30's early 40's photo of 51st and Merrimac showing the Clorox Plant. It gives you a good idea of the openess of the area at the time.

[clearridgehistory.weebly.com]

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: nordsider (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: December 27, 2012 08:04PM

bowler,
Thank you for the interesting photographs. The old shack that I commented on, seems to be shown in the 1930s photograph. What a radical change of environment Garfield Ridge was for me in '52, as compared to my old homes in Lincoln Park.

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: Lance Grey (---.hsd1.il.comcast.net)
Date: December 27, 2012 08:49PM

Recipe for a mischievous kids' Cannon:
We connected 5-9 empty soup cans with electrical tape, making an open-ended tin tube with the top open; leaving the bottom end intact.
So a tennis ball would roll through to the bottom...

Take the 'cannon' out to the alley,
poke a tiny hole in the center of the bottom...
squirt some lighter fluid in the hole, swirl the cannon around to spread the fluid evenly along the barrel...

One person held the cannon while the other put a flame to the tiny hole and...

KABOOM!

Basically you got a decent loud explosion, with very little 'kick' as the fire ignited & erupted out the open end.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/27/2012 08:53PM by Lance Grey.

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Re: Great, but risky, fun
Posted by: Mornac (---.dsl.chcgil.ameritech.net)
Date: December 27, 2012 11:03PM

One year a kid moved onto our street from the Taylor street area and showed us how to make what was apparently called a “birthday cake” in the old neighborhood. Basically, you un-wrapped two or three bricks of firecrackers and laid them out end to end into a long strip so that all of the fuses were running up the middle. Next, you re-rolled them very tightly in the form of a two layered cake with the help of some friction tape. A little extra tape around the outside was useful in keeping the thing intact for the duration of the event. Afterwards, you placed it by the convent door… er…um… in the alley, and lit it just about anywhere you could find a fuse sticking out. It was good for about thirty seconds of nonstop noise.

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