“The Big Bang-The Truth”

If you are reading this thinking, you will find something scientific- Stop! If you are searching for an explanation of how the Earth was formed, you are in the wrong place. If you want the truth about a summer night in the sixties when there was a “Big Bang”, then read on friends. You have come to the right place. This event in my life took place on July 4, 1969. Well 1969 is as close as I can get to the year. Those who were involved will remember the time if not the year the event took place. We began on the patio of Susan’s grandmother on N. Pearl St. in Trenton, Texas. It was after dark and we had celebrated the fourth by shooting off some bottle rockets, Roman Candles and some firecrackers. We had run out of everything except for one package of Blackcat Firecrackers. I don’t know how much thought, if any, was put into this idea. The plan was to un-wrap the one hundred-count package of firecrackers and empty the contents into the already fired Roman Candle. This was going to be the biggest firecracker ever assembled. As Susan and I were working on the firecracker, her cousin, Rob Washburn, sometimes joined us. Rob came out for a smoke and to check on our progress. He would stay long enough to un-wrap about ten Blackcats, then go back inside to watch television. He didn’t think “our” plan would work. That didn’t matter to us, we just went right on working, one firecracker at a time. It was the same old thing, un-wrap a firecracker, pour the contents into the candle and reach for another. This little project was going to rival the nights when Lewis Trusty or his brother, Larry, would bring one of the Smoke Hand Grenades to the square, pull the pin, and then throw it down the square. We would watch as the smoke filled the night air with different colors of smoke. I don’t think we ever gave any thought as to what these things were intended to do in real life. Lewis would bring some of them home with him from his weekends with the National Guard. They were just toys for us and each of us enjoyed playing with them as they meant nothing. Lewis never told us what the different colors meant. I found that out later in my life. This night was going to be one our friends would remember for a long time! I was going to be the star of the show. There would be some noise instead of just the pulling of the pin, throwing some object down the blacktop and watching smoke fill the air. This night would have some sound added, if the plan worked! That was the key to the plan- would it work? We spent several hours un-wrapping and then pouring the powder into the candle. There was no big hurry as I was going to wait until mid-night to light the fuse. As we poured the black powder into the cylinder, I would take the stick from a dud bottle rocket and pack the powder down making sure it was tightly packed.

When the candle was at about half filled, I took out my Old Timer pocketknife, purchased years before from Charlie Richardson at Y. B. Reed’s Hardware Store, and “drilled” a hole for the fuse. The fuse would consist of several of the fuses from the emptied firecrackers wound together to make one very long fuse. I needed time to run after I lit that fuse! Finally, the firecrackers were all peeled and emptied into the Roman candle and for the final steps in making this giant; I put some of the waste paper from the firecrackers in the open end. I then packed everything as tight as possible. With two of the fuses already installed, I then took about ten more and wound them into the giant firecracker. It was finished and ready to fire! Now for the hard part of making this thing: the wait! I had to wait until just before midnight before I could test this beast. Susan, Rob, her uncle, O.C. Robinson and I spent some time talking about this plan. O.C. had experience with dynamite and offered his advice. That was some advice I should have taken. O.C. said it was going to be loud. He said it was going to be a real bomb. One hundred Blackcat firecrackers in a hollow Roman Candle could not be that bad. It was now time for me to leave there and head for the square. I don’t know why we always called it the square when it was actually a rectangle. I guess it was because we only used half of it for our games and such. I got there about ten minutes before midnight, which gave me enough time to display the firecracker. There was a crowd already waiting. I proudly showed the thing around to everyone. I think everyone had something to say about if it would work. It was about 50/50. I was somewhere about 90% sure because of what O.C. had told us. Around two minutes until midnight I made my way to the center of the square. That put me somewhere in the middle of the square, about thirty feet from the bank and the same distance to the cars parked on the east end of the square. I laid the firecracker down and took out my Zippo lighter, lit a Winston and began the countdown. It was time! I put the Winston’s red glow to the wound together fuses and after seeing the sparks shooting from them, I began to run. I ran back to my ’57 Chevy, dove head first onto the hood, sliding up to the windshield. I lay with my back against the windshield with my head resting comfortably in my hands for a pillow. All the time, watching, waiting and hoping that this thing created just hours before would give something to talk about for a few days. The fuses burned together as planned. The sparks drew closer and closer to the body of “my fourth of July firecracker.” Everyone was either standing or sitting on the fenders of their cars watching and waiting with the same anticipation as me. Then, just before the clock hit the midnight hour, the sparks hit home. Then and only then did I realize the magnitude of what we had created.

The firecracker was no longer a giant firecracker-it was now a bomb! It was loud and it was so loud and full of power it set off the burglar alarm at the bank. The smoke was rising, the alarm was ringing and we were all jumping off our cars, starting the engines, burning rubber and getting out of there as fast as possible. Some of us parked our cars at home and went back to the square. We hid behind the fence out of sight from Lewis Donaghey, who came because of the burglar alarm at the bank. I think it must have been the first time the alarm had been set off at the bank. I know it sure drew a crowd. Nobody ever talked about that night as far as I know. Susan, Rob and O.C. said they heard it very clearly. I think it woke the entire population of Trenton. If the bomb didn’t wake them then the burglar alarm did. I read in the “Trenton Tribune” last week that the police department was going to be serving outstanding warrants. There were over four hundred dating back to 1997. I am sure the statute of limitations has run out by now on this event. I feel safe in writing this story. I have finally confessed to setting off the bomb that shook a small town in the sixties. This is the real “Big Bang” story. It is the only “Big Bang” story that I know is true. It is not a theory as most of you have read. Sure, there were some science involved but there were no neutrons crashing into protons causing an entire universe to evolve. The only thing created that night was laughter, wonderment, confusion, burning rubber from our cars leaving the sight. Oh yes, one last thing created that summer night-The Big Bang!

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