Lighten Up Folks
Confession Saturday: I recently read an article about the difference in arguably mischievous acts in high school in 1970 versus now. So I’ll fess up, since the statute of limitations has long since expired.
I went to Avondale High School (east of Atlanta) and was, inexplicably, in the higher learning courses. My senior year I had physics class and convinced the teacher to let us have “rocket” day where we would all build rockets during lab and then fire the rockets on a pretty day. The teacher agreed, as it was a good physics project and used up some lab time. I, however, had ulterior motives. I wanted to do something spectacular.
I built an Estes “Egg Scrambler” rocket. It had a clear payload chamber big enough to carry two eggs. The stated object was to launch and land the rocket without breaking the two eggs inside the clear payload. I however emptied out two eggs and filled them with gunpowder from hundreds, maybe thousands, of firecrackers, as finding gunpowder back then was tough. I then glued the eggs in place so you couldn’t see the fuse that went into the bottom egg. Otherwise, it was a fine rocket.
On launch day the entire class went out to the stadium and began to launch the rockets. As the ringleader of rocket day, I was given the closing launch. My rocket was so heavy from all that gunpowder that I used 3 Class “D” engines to launch it. I think the teacher knew something was up when I and my fellow conspirator ran like crazy after lighting the fuse. I ran because if that thing blew up on the launch pad, I didn’t want to be close by.
The rocket started upwards like an Apollo rocket. It rumbled and roared and struggled, but the rocket was so heavy that it was only maybe thirty feet off the ground when the internal bypass fuse made it to the eggs full of gunpowder. BOOM!
Rocket pieces went everywhere. It was a spectacular explosion. My classmates are rolling on the ground laughing when the teacher asked me what happened. I said that there was some sort of malfunction apparently, but he just laughed and walked away, shaking his head. I got an “A” for the class.
Today, I would have been arrested, suspended from school, indicted by ATF and imprisoned for some period of time. My felony background would have prevented me from law school attendance, and I’d probably be working as a carny at some carnival trick basketball booth. We are too tough on kids today when they do stupid stuff. We ought to lighten up.