billy by keralaguest


									        The three of them peered over the rock with some trepidation.
        “That‟s pretty far,” said Reed. “Seems OK to me.”
        “Yeah but suppose it ain‟t far enough?” Dickie was always most cautious of the
three, which wasn‟t saying much.
        “Well, then we‟ll probably never know then, will we?” said Reed with his slight
maniacal giggle.
        The three contemplated the wires leading over the rock with a thoughtful gaze.

       Summer in the New Jersey Sourland mountains always had a slightly nutty feel
and the summer of 72 was nuttier than most.

        Billy Reed lived with his mother, a rather pretty but somewhat wifty lady of
patrician background, with eyes so dreamy blue that they have stayed with me all these
years. They lived on the top of the same ridge of worn, old hills that my parents did
which made up the what the locals referred to as the Sourlands (so named for the sour
smell of the land in the spring.) The houses were spread far apart in those days, several
miles separated my house from Billy‟s and yet we were considered neighbors. The ridge
was mostly second growth forest, thickly strewn with very large boulders and tangled in
thickets of grape vines and thorns. Bills mom, Phyllis, owned an old, rather European
looking, house which managed to be both very tony and slightly frayed at the same time,
in a sort of Rousseauish mix of upper-class and farm life. Dogs, chickens, and various
other animals (there was even a pet deer when we were very young) strolled beneath the
large oaks of the front lawn or wandered about the large garden behind the house. There
were numerous out buildings, all of which were filled with various fascinating items with
which to wile away summer hours and a back yard consisting of an abandoned grass air
strip, built by Phyllis‟s ex-husband years before. Planes had not landed on it since we
were small boys, but the neighboring farmers kept it mowed, and we used it as
motorcycle track and general testing ground for those projects which our parents did not
know, need to know, or care to know about.
        In those days the Reed house was a hangout for many young men in their late
teens to early twenties. Many of them came from the town of Flemington, which was
about 13 miles distant but in those pastoral days in Central Western New Jersey it was the
closest thing to a town we could muster outside of the capitol, Trenton, which few of us
had ever been to.

        In general, we stuck to a combination of sports of the times, (marijuana, beer,
assorted other hallucinogens, rock and roll and girls, pretty much in that order) and the
standard recreations of country boys. (guns, motorcycles, and girls, pretty much in that
order) However Billy, or Reed as he was generally known, had a genius for some of
these which transcended the ordinary. As an example, where most young men would
target shoot with 22s and BB guns, Billy had a .44 magnum and where most others would
stick to cans and bottles, Reed on occasion liked more lively targets.

        “I thought I told you to stay the fuck out of here,” he screamed at Bill Malok one
night, as Malok lay sleeping in the front of his pick up which was parked in Reeds
driveway. “Wahh?” said Malok rising sleepily to one arm as he came slowly out of his

drunken stupor. “OUT” said Reed, emptying 4 shots from the .44 into the engine of
Malok‟s pickup for emphasis. Malok, who was well aware of Reeds propensity for high
caliber fire arms and dangerous unpredictability, virtually ejected from the truck moving
horizontally at a high rate of speed. Reed fired a few more rounds into the ground for
effect, but the encouragement was unnecessary. Dickie Parsons, Bill‟s best friend and
partner, swore later that Malok accomplished the first 100 feet of his flight without
touching the ground, which may have been an exaggeration, but there was no doubt that
the he vanished into the woods very rapidly where he could be heard crashing thru the
underbrush for a few moments until his retreat carried him beyond earshot.

       “What was all that racket out here last night?” Phyllis asked the next morning.
       “Target practice.” said Reed.

         There were many days of wonderful wackiness spent on the Reed farm. His
mother had a marvelous knack for not only not knowing what we were doing but not
caring, which I must admit most of our parents shared. I remember stopping by the
house one afternoon looking for Reed and finding his mother weeding the small front
flower garden. I paused to ask her if she had seen Bill. No, she said, but as she spoke a
bright red dirt bike hurtled around the corner of the barn going like a banshee. While fast
moving motorcycles were pretty much the norm, (nobody drove anywhere at less than
full throttle) this one was made distinctive by a lack of a rider. We both watched as the
high powered machine lurched drunkenly around the driveway for a few moments, too
well balanced to topple over, narrowly missing various vehicles and animals, then righted
itself and disappeared across the airstrip. “He‟s probably out back,” Phyllis said as she
returned to her gardening.

        I have many memories of those halcyon days, now long past, dusty as yesterdays
album covers and although some have dimmed with the years, I must admit that one that
has stayed with me with startling clarity was what later became known as simply The

        All young men in my experience have a propensity for explosives, however Billy
carried this to extremes generally only practiced during war time. Our early trials were
with M-80s and what were known as quarter sticks, large fire crackers that we would buy
from truckers or from Dicky Parsons cousin Butch who owned the local motorcycle shop,
where such things always abound. When we first discovered these powerful explosives,
(which certainly transcended the tame small “mat” crackers which we were used to) they
provided hours of dangerous amusement. (So dangerous in fact that Dickie‟s younger
brother Rusty managed to remove most of his left thumb with one during an ill advised
examination of an M-80 which had failed to go off) Small craters appeared all over the
farm for a few weeks, but the firecrackers were very expensive, at least to us at the time,
and eventually Reed began to search for a better source than Butch.

      He found it in the unfortunate Mr. Iorio who ran an illegal fireworks business in
Flemington around every Fourth of July.

         My first hint of the new source of weaponry was when during a late night visit to
the Reed farm, my Volkswagen Bug was inundated a hail of in Roman Candle fire.
Roman Candles are long tubes that propel colored balls of burning pyrotechnics 50 to 60
feet. Few people I have known have ever fired a Roman Candle at anybody else much
less dared to set one off while holding on to it, but Reed not only discovered that they
could be used as antipersonnel ordinance by the simple expedient of holding to the
nonbusiness end and lighting it but that they could be duct taped into ten packs which
would produce a firestorm of burning magnesium and when used with a ten pack in either
hand the target could be virtually buried in a stream of incandescence.
         Eventually I managed to get the windows of the VW rolled up and the numerous
fiery balls which had flown in were either extinguished by beating on them with an old t-
shirt or simply burned themselves out and Reed had to stop and reload.
         “Holy shit” I gasped in awe as he proudly displayed the room full of fireworks in
the back of the old tool shed. “Where did you guys get all this?”
         “Old Man Iorio” Reed replied with his nutty grin. “Its where Butchy gets most of
this stuff.”
         I stared in amazement. There were box upon box of every sort of fireworks. The
room was filled with skyrockets of every description, boxes of M-80s, flats of
flashcrackers. An entire corner of the room was filled with stacks of roman candles.
         “You bought all these?” I asked, wondering where he got the money.
         “Nope” said Reed, with a machiavellian look. “Stole „em.”
         “Bet he‟s pissed.” I pointed out.
         Reed smiled. “Who‟s he gonna tell?” he asked. “The cops?”
         I was more than impressed. “How did you do it?”
         “Backed Dickey‟s three quarter ton pickup through the back wall.” Said Reed
with a self-satisfied look. He had a direct way of doing things.
         “Those are some pretty big skyrockets” I whistled, inspecting a 5 foot launch
vehicle that had more in common with an antitank rocket that it did a pyrotechnic display.
         Reed giggled his nutty giggle. “Yup.” He said. “Wanna see?”
         I did and he and Dickie proceeded to drag the monster out of the tool shed and
onto the old barn foundation that sat just off the driveway.
         “Aren‟t you afraid of where it might come down” I asked.
         “Oh it won‟t be coming down.” Reed replied.
         A few quick minutes of work resulted in the missile being set in a horizontal
position with the launch tube resting on a rock wall and the business end being pointed
down the driveway.
         “Tinleys on his way over.” Reed said with a grin.
         We smoked a reflective joint together as we contemplated the Awful Fate of
Tinley and in a few moments a set of headlights swung up the driveway and the
unfortunate Tinley made his fateful turn into the top parking lot.
         Reed lit the fuse with the coal end of the joint and, leaving me standing for a
stupid moment by the burning device, dove for cover behind a near by tree. I rapidly got
the message and dove with him and in a few seconds the large projectile took off with a
roar that would have done Cape Canaveral proud. The rocket, which was meant to go
many hundreds if not thousands of feet into the air, covered the distance across the
driveway in an instant and smashed into the side of the arriving car in a perfect hit. It was

fortunate for Tinley it was not an impact explosive device. The thing jammed for a
minute in front wheel well of the car, emitting a stream of hot gas as it roared angrily,
trapped between the tire and the auto body, then there was a tremendous explosion, which
normally would have scattered a number of pyrotechnic displays and some impressive
retorts about the heavens, however here on the ground, they were more than impressive,
they were titantic. The front end of the Tinley‟s worn Volvo leapt a good foot from the
ground as the initial charge let loose. There followed a number of brilliant flashes as the
display bombs detonated next to the engine compartment. Tinley himself could be seen
in the rockets red glare, clearly lit by the various explosions, wrestling desperately with
his driverside door in a frantic attempt to abandon his vehicle. Then several sudden
concussion charges ripped the front end of his car and the front wheel was torn violently
from its moorings and flung out across the driveway. The car itself flew sideways several
feet and almost flipped over before bouncing to back to earth. Tinley was finally
successful in exiting his vehicle and could be seen fleeing the scene, beating out various
pieces of smoldering clothing as he went.
        The skyrocket finally finished discharging its load and there was a brief moment
of silence as we surveyed the smoking Volvo.
        “Gee, cool.” said Dickey, in a happy tone.

        The fireworks lasted till the middle of the summer. The farm was literally awash
in burned out Roman Candle launchers as we battled it out in the front yard in what were
some spectacular summer fire fights. By then most of us were missing eyebrows and had
endured some severe burns (particularly Reed who had a burning ball exit the wrong end
of a Candle and work its way up the sleeve of his shirt resulting in a nasty first degree
burn) but eventually the haul was depleted. For a while Reed moved on to constructing
pipe bombs, starting with packing the small matt crackers that were left over from the
Iorio raid into a piece of plastic ABS pipe and then graduating to gun powder filled, two
inch steel plumbing pipe. In the beginning he obtained the gun powder by dissecting
shotgun shells but there was a bad moment involving an overabundance of Budweiser
and one of the shells discharged during the delicate operation. The result of the
unexpected detonation almost cost Reed a finger and came with in an ace of decapitated
Dicky and they moved onto to trips to Delaware where gun powder could be legally
obtained in an over the counter transaction.

        “You seen Billy today?” I asked Phyllis as she was feeding the various dogs in the
flagstone floored kitchen one hazy summer morning. A tremendous blast shook the
house, rattling plates and causing a small rain of plaster dust from the ceiling.
        The dogs, so used to explosions now that the noise didn‟t even cause them to
blink, continued to wait calmly for breakfast to be dolled out.
        “They‟re out back somewhere.” She said without looking up.

        The thrill of explosives had begun to pale by the end of the summer. Reed flirted
briefly with some related fields, most notably rocketry which was inspired by Dicky‟s
Uncle Butch, who, one sultry afternoon, rashly described building a makeshift rocket
launcher during his army days. Reed and Parson‟s immediately hurried home and began
construction of a launcher based on a combination of their experience with ABS pipe

bombs they had been building and Butchy‟s vague description. The first model used hair
spray injected through a hole in the back of a piece of ABS plastic piping capped on one
end. They loaded the makeshift cannon with a potato and managed to fire the tuber
several hundred yards, but with in a few days they had moved on to a three inch steel
pipe fueled by an acetylene tank that could send a number ten can of peaches close to half
a mile. There followed a brief period where wandering around the neighborhood was
fraught with danger as although the improved launcher was quite powerful, accuracy was
not guaranteed and peach cans reigned everywhere.
        “What do you guys want with thirty five cans of peaches, tomatoes and navy
beans?” asked a suspicious clerk at the local market.
        “Bomb shelter supplies.” Reed told them.
        . Eventually a can blew a three foot hole in a neighbors pool house and the
launching operations were suspended.

         Then Billy took his motorcycle ride and the whole thing took on a different tone.
         In those days, the top of ridge where we lived, (which we called The Mountain
all though in truth it was only several hundred feet above sea level) was crisscrossed by
logging roads. The logging had long since ceased, but the roads were maintained by the
local fire companies to some extent to allow access to the forest fires, which never
occurred. There was no traffic on these roads, which were little more than gravel paths
through the woods, and we would storm back and forth across them on our dirt bikes,
risking life and limb and disturbing the fauna. Reed had an ancient Ducati bike on which
the clutch had long ceased to be a meaningful part of the engine assembly. In fact, the
bike was so abused the gear shift had to be held in place with his foot as he rode it.
However in its day it had been a high performance piece of machinery (I never did find
out how it appeared one day at the farm, although I still have my suspicions) and it was
still capable of some extremely high speeds as dirt bikes go and Reed never rode it at
anything less than high speeds.

        One particularly sleepy summer day Billy was doing his normal high speed, post
first Budweiser run of the morning when he decided to take a slightly less used path
which took him by what was known to the locals as The Dynamite Shack. MacLinden
Brothers, a commercial demolition firm, maintained a small warehouse there, which was
widely believed to contain a store of explosives, although I don‟t think anybody except us
had ever given it much thought. It had been constructed years before, reputedly in the
1930s, by the original MacLinden, founder of the company and father of the MacLinden
Brothers, in the days before tractors became common and when The Mountain was
sparsely populated by farmers. The company‟s prime business had been blowing stumps
and other inconvenient items out of the ground and just general amusement for the locals.
However when World War II had ended, business had boomed so to speak, and the
brothers took over the operation, building it into a very successful firm whose work was
respected worldwide. The shack had been largely forgotten in the midst of the postwar
plenty, and had sat idle for some time. It was a peculiar building, windowless and
constructed entirely of thick plate steel, welded together at all points, with a large door
and a massive lock. We had examined it many times through the years, but all opinions
were that the only way in was with a blow torch and the risk of burning into a building

possibly full of explosives, was too high for even Reed. In reality, I don‟t think anybody
ever really thought that it was still used for anything and, after years of seeing it, the odd
little structure had become simply a part of the landscape.

        However on this day, as Reed sped by, something caught his watchful eye and he
downshifted (the brakes were long gone) his bike to a stop. He dismounted and moved in
for a closer look, and sure enough, the door was unlocked and ajar. Later bets were that a
few belts at a local bar had resulted in somebody turning the key on a door that was not
fully closed, but whatever the reason, the virtually impregnable building now stood open
to the world, and more to the point, Reed. He pulled the door open with a grunt, (it was
so heavy that he could barely move it alone) and peered in side. As his eyes adjusted to
the gloom, Billy experienced a revelation that was almost religious. Stacked about the
small building were various boxes marked BLASTING CAPS, BLASTING POWDER,
IGNITION DEVICES, etc, but, most wonderful, an entire corner of the building was
filled with wooden boxes clearly labeled DYNAMITE – HANDLE WITH EXTREME

       Reed stood transfixed, but only for a moment, then in an instant that differentiated
him from the rest of us, he hurriedly remounted his motorcycle and tore home.

       The three of them stared at the thin wires.
       “So suppose it isn‟t far enough?” Dickie asked again with a nervous laugh that
managed to convey both a mischievous glee and fear at the same time.
       “I don‟t care as long as I don‟t have to tell your Mom I blew you up.” said Reed.
“She‟d be really pissed.”
       They sat for a moment in contemplation of what they were about to do.
       “Fuck it,” said Bill. “Lets push the goddamn button.”

        I have to admit that I was more than stunned when Reed first displayed his haul to
me that morning when I arrived at the farm. I could tell immediately he had something
special going on. His normally maniacal grin was even more maniacal than normal.
        “Come see what I found,” he said, stretching the legal meaning of finding far
beyond its ordinary definition.
        He and Parsons led me around the back of the barns and quite a distance out into
the woods. Just the fact that what ever he had found (Reed could “find” some impressive
stuff, and it was seldom his.) needed to be this far from the house was cause for alarm.
        He swept some leaves, (camouflage, he later explained) away from a number of
4‟x8‟s of plywood lain over a hole in the ground, and, with the air of a paleontologist
revealing a recently discovered fossil find, he proudly pointed to case after case of high
        The revelation left me speechless for a moment.
        “Holy fucking Jesus on a brand new tricycle” I gasped. “Where the fuck did you
get this?”
        The nutty grin became even nuttier and he recounted his recent trip past the
Dynamite Shack.

         “How much did you take?” I asked in awe.
         Reed looked at me much like a mother regarding a simple child.
         “All of it.” he answered, as if any other response would have been foolish. “Had
to borrow Mom‟s Wagoneer and make a couple of trips, though. I figure its about 250
lbs of dynamite, but there‟s plenty of blasting caps and water proof fuse too.”
         That was no lie. The hole had been dug with the bucket on the farm tractor and
was quite deep but even so it full to the brim. There was no denying there was plenty of
everything. Box after box of ordinance lined the earthen pit.
         “I had it under my bed for awhile, but then we read in the book that the fumes are
toxic, so I moved it out here. Good in case of an accident too.” said Reed. “Wouldn‟t
want to damage the house.”
         “Damage the house? Christ, if this goes off, you‟ll level the mountain.” I said,
however I couldn‟t help but admire his scope. “What the hell are you going to do with
it?” as we admired the haul.
         Something bothered me. “You read this in a book? What book?” I asked.
         “We got a book.” Reed told me.
         He proudly displayed an already well-thumbed volume with the unlikely but apt
title of “The Dynamite Handbook”
         I‟d never seen Reed with a book before (actually I wasn‟t completely aware he
could read) but there was no denying that the text covered all phases of demolition.
Written for the less than moderately literate, page after page of illustrated explanation
covered every aspect of fusing, setting, deploying and mostly exploding munitions of
every kind.
         “Where the fuck did you get this?” I asked wondering who would be foolish
enough to sell something obviously this dangerous to a nut like Reed.
         “County library.” he said.
         I couldn‟t help but be intrigued. “Where you gonna do it?”
         The duo giggled briefly.
         “We dug a hole on the airstrip.” said Dickie, pointing to the ancient John Deer
tractor that had dug the pit. A post-hole digger mounted on the back had replaced the
bucket that had done the digging. “Got it down ten feet.”
         Reed pointed to the wagon on the back. “Wanna come?” he asked.
         I couldn‟t help myself. “Think it‟s safe?” I asked.
         “No.” Reed said firmly.

        Reaching into an already opened box, Reed handed out two sticks of ominous
looking explosives. They were bright red cylinders composed of thick red plastic, maybe
two feet in length and about four inches across, with a threaded male and female end,
obviously intended to allow them to be screwed together to make a larger charge. A
CHARGES lying next to the dynamite boxes was pried open and a small metal cylinder
with two long wires attached was handed out of the hole, along with a small box with a
plunger handle at the top.
        Reed fired up the tractor and we loaded the various implements of destruction on
the tractors wagon and set off up across the airstrip to its most distant corner where a
small circle of disturbed earth revealed the location of the hole.

        Reed proceeded to screw the two sticks together.
        “You really think we ought try two the first time?” I asked as Reed set the
blasting cap in the top of the second charge checking the example in the Dynamite
Handbook carefully.
        “Yes,” he said unequivocally. “Got to know if it works, don‟t we?”
        Parsons agreed.
        “What, are we only going to blow half of ourselves up?” he asked.
        “If it doesn‟t work right, I don‟t want to be here to deal with the mess.” said Reed.

         The charges were dropped down the hole (Bill explained the book said that
dynamite was immune to rough handling although I wasn‟t sure the theory needed
testing) and the excess dirt was pushed in. For some reason never explained, Reed piled
several bales of straw on top of the hole and then added six old tires that were lying
around “as an experiment.”
         The thin wires, one blue and one yellow, were run back about seventy-five feet.
(we had to add a second set to cover the distance described in the Handbook for a two
charge blast)
         Parsons looked at the picture in the book dubiously.
         “These sticks in the book look a lot smaller than the ones we‟ve got.” he said.
         We peered at the manual. The sticks in the picture did indeed look much smaller
than the ones we had buried.
         “You worry too much.” Reed told him.
         We hunkered together behind a large boulder at the edge of the field and Billy
attached the blue wire to the terminal on the plunger. There was a nervous moment as he
attached the second wire, but the Jersey summer day continued undisturbed, and we
contemplated the wires running over the top of the rock.
         There was a brief period of conversation as we discussed our proximity to the
blast site, but eventually talk petered out and the moment of truth arrived.
         “This is it.” said Reed.
         He took the plunger in hand and we crouched as low as possible. There was a
moment of anticipation and he jammed the plunger handle down.
         Nothing happened.
         The three of us gaped at each other.
         “Shit.” Billy muttered.
         The idea that the charge might not detonate had never occurred to us, but the
dilemma posed was obvious.
         “Go see if the wires are still connected.” Reed told Dickie.
         “Fuck you.” said Parsons. “You look. I thought you didn‟t want to tell my Mom
you blew me up.”
         We sat for another moment.
         “Shit.” said Bill again.
         He fingered the plunger gently, then pulled it back and jammed it down hard.

        I have been in a few major disasters in my time and they have all been
characterized by a hypnotizing moment in which time seems suspended. I recall being in
a tornado in Des Moines once, where we watched as a tractor trailer was blown sideways

across a parking lot straight at where we stood stupidly watching the storm. (the natives
had long since fled to the safety of the basement but being Easterners we didn‟t get the
message until the danger was over) There too, time seemed to stand still and I can recall
the picture of the moving truck, the flying debris, and the thick, yellow tinged sky with
postcard clarity to this day.
        But it cannot contend with that instant in Reeds back field.

         Suddenly the three of us were airborne, blown skywards and backwards by the
force of the blast. In that frozen moment, the air was filled with rocks and dirt hurtling
past us. Stones the size of large watermelons and huge clods of earth literally filled the
air, streaking by us on all sides and overhead.
         The blast was deafening.
         I can remember seeing Dickie and Reed in a frozen tableau; suspended in mid-air,
mouths open, eyes wide, staring at each other in awe.
         The movement of the air alone ripped the buttons off our clothes, blew one of
Billy‟s sneakers off, and completely knocked the wind out of me.
         I was deafened by the blast. I could see Dickie‟s mouth moving but I could not
hear him speak at first. However in a few seconds I began to hear him as if he was talking
at a great distance.
         “AHHHH AHHH AHHH,” he said, “AHHH, AHHH, AHHH.”
         Reed was the only one apparently not particularly upset by the course of events.
         He lay flat on his back with a huge grin on his face, looking for all the world like
a man watching a beautiful sunrise.
         There was an immense crash as a rock the size of half a car landed next to us
suddenly and then a tremendous rain of debris began. Boulders thudded down all around
us and we were inundated in a wave of dirt, and small rocks. In an almost instinctive
moment of self-preservation, we flung ourselves at the base of the boulder behind which
we had taken such inadequate cover. Rubble fell everywhere. Rocks that would have
smashed any of us flat landed on all sides and in one odd moment I remember seeing a
pulverized night crawler sitting on Dickie‟s head. One of the amazing things was how
long the rubble continued to fall. It seemed more like a rockstorm than the results of an
explosion. How long we actually lay there I couldn‟t say, but it seemed ages as rocks
continued to land on all sides, hitting so hard they would shake the ground.
         Finally the hail of disturbed earth abated, and we shook several inches of dirt off.
         There was a long moment of silence.
         “Maybe a little further back next time.” Reed pondered.
         We peered over our makeshift bunker and were duly impressed by what we saw.
         The hole created by the blast was a good twenty-five feet across and at least
twenty feet deep. Thin wisps of smoke emanated from the craters walls and the
landscape was littered in all directions with dirt and rocks of every size. Trees on the
edge of the field were stripped of their bark and leaves, and a circle of flattened grass
extended into the field in a circle at least one hundred feet in diameter. As we gazed
down the airstrip in wonderment, rocks could be seen littering the ground almost as far as
the eye could make out.
         As Dickie and I stood surveying the scene, I noticed Reed staring into the sky.
         “I think they‟re coming down.” he said.

         It took a minute to realize what he was talking about. At first when I looked into
the air I could see nothing but the blue, hazy Jersey summers day, but as my eyes
adjusted to the distance I could make out several tiny dots far up in the firmament.
         I had forgotten the tires we had piled on top of the blast site completely, but Reed
had not.
         The tires were so high that the holes in the middle could not be discerned. But
even more amazing was that they seemed to be going higher yet. In fact, as we watched
they passed virtually beyond our perception, seemingly disappearing into the pale blue
sky. For a moment we sat mesmerized by their disappearance, but as we watched the
four small dots (the other two tires were completely vaporized apparently) reappeared.
         “Oh, shit.” said Dickie.
         There was a brief moment of panic as we dove back behind our faithful boulder
         The tires plummeted out of the heavens with a peculiar whistling sound and
bounced a good thirty feet into the air, thankfully missing all of us.
         We re-emerged and I stared about the blast site in awe.
         “You know,” said Reed, examining the manual, “It says here that dynamite is

        A steady series of blasts rattled the Mountain that summer. Reed discovered that
the sticks could be slit open and the contents removed (“looks a lot like dogshit” Billy
told me as he was about demonstrate the process.) and molded around trees. (it would
snap a three foot tree off nicely) This provided hours of amusement as the blast was not
quite so monumental and groups of us would gather for afternoons of beer, marijuana and
explosions as the summer wore on.
        Dickie and Billy set a two stick charge off on the bottom of Amwell Lake which
was pretty spectacular. I wasn‟t there for the actual detonation, but Reed provided a
gleeful recounting of the expedition.
        “Jesus,” he chortled. “We touched it off and at first nothing happened, then there
was huge, kind of muffled WHUMP, and a geyser of water two hundred and fifty feet
high blew out of the lake. Every fish in the pond floated to surface for about fifteen
        In fact, this blast was so impressive that the Mrs. DeMott, the Science teacher at
the local grammar school, some 3 miles distant, called the Trenton Geological Service
and reported an earthquake.
        The unfortunate Tinley, in a dispute over some miniscule amount of money owed
in a drug deal, had his prized Studebaker Lark bombed so thoroughly that the hood came
down two blocks from his house. (fortunately he wasn‟t in it, although I‟m not sure that
figured prominently in the planning of the demolition)

        But this was 1972, the summer of Vietnam, Nixon and the Radical Left, who (the
Left, not Nixon) showed up from the college campus in Princeton to try to buy some,
such was the fame of The Dynamite, which turned out to be the end of the fun. The FBI
appeared the next week, asking questions of various neighbors who all professed
ignorance, and immediately called the farm and warned Bill.

         Late one night we backed the faithful Wagoneer up to the storage pit, and loaded
all the high explosives into the back. There had been some debate as to how to dispose of
the stash, (Billy had been all for taking it somewhere and setting it all of at once, but we
dissuaded him, thank goodness.) In the end, we drove to a park on the Delaware River
(these were still the days when the Delaware was deserted at night) and carried all the
cases of red sticks and blasting caps out to the middle of an abandoned railroad bridge.
There had been heavy rain the night before and the normally peaceful river was at flood
tide. We heaved the cases of dynamite over the edge one by one and watched them float


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