Saturday, February 15, 2014

Small Town Punks II

Some folks like these stories, so here is a continuation, probably the last.

High School partner in trouble one summer acquired some 21,000 cherry bombs and M-80s for an (illegal) fireworks stand. He was able to sell most, but retained a good supply. We spent the next year disposing of them in inappropriate ways.

The local town speed limit was 25 mph with a two mile long main drag. We found that a cherry bomb lit by a cigarette lighter would explode when we were two blocks away if we adhered to the speed limit. This made for many interesting scenarios, usually with the town police behind us and a group of teens on the sidewalk. Often, we would offer up a surprise for cars following us.

There was a custom in the town of young couples parking outside the girl’s house for long periods. Guess that kept the parents at least somewhat mollified. Using wrist rockets, we would lob a cherry bomb under their car.

When things got too hot in our hometown, we would move our act to one of the adjacent towns for a few evenings.

It didn’t take too long for the local officers to refine their suspicions, but they never caught us. We seldom had more than three of four cherry bombs in our immediate possession. We didn’t have others riding with us. Most important, we kept our mouths shut. No boasting, always denying, not trying to make a name for ourselves. We let the gossipers do our work for us. We always let the police check our cars as there was nothing in them (again, three or four cherry bombs at a time).

Careful target selection helped. We restricted our targets to our own age group, at least in our town. Since nearly every adult was armed with a least a rifle, we felt bothering the adults was too dangerous. Also, the hue and cry might intensify to the point the authorities would “do something”. Along that line of reasoning, we restricted our activities to one or two nights a week.  In fact, we enjoyed the planning almost as much as the execution. Of course, we didn’t restrict our troublemaking to just this one activity. Every watch a skier trying to remove tar from their skis? I’ve written before about our garbage can campaign and how that caused a flood during spring runoff. Do you know when the temperature is in the -20 degree range, water poured around car tires freezes rapidly? The ice stuck on the tires makes a startling sound when the vehicle drives off (if the vehicle will move at all). Since few people bothered to lock their cars, we didn’t bother spraying water into door locks.

What we did was mild compared to a couple of cousins in Wyoming. They created scenarios with a mannequin, usually some form of a traffic accident, and macabre “rescues”. We couldn’t find a mannequin.

We didn’t always elude the authorities. One night my partner forded a stream in his Jeep. We had failed to engage the Warn hubs and bogged down mid stream. As we lay on the hood reaching into the freezing water to lock the hubs, the kindly officers on each bank shined their spotlights on the front wheels to assist us.

Three girls in our class were far worse offenders than us. Very clever, and with spotless reputations, they would pull stunts in ways blame would fall on  the town boys. After all, the class valedictorian, a teacher’s daughter, and Miss Nicest Girl would never do anything like that. Ha!

My sister, several years younger, often needed to point out, “I am NOT my brother”, in later years.

Our most serious prank involved tying the fuses of several cherry bombs to a slow burning fuse, then putting them in the school duct work. The thirty minute fuse turned out to be a twenty minute fuse, and we were as startled as any of the other students. Many years accumulation of dust was stirred up and came pouring out the various heat registers. The school officials were “suspicious” but we were only two out of about ten students “interviewed”.

Occasionally we were the target of pranks. I carried extra coil wires and rotors in a box in my trunk along with my hubcaps. Useless to have hubcaps as weekly someone would put rocks in them. Finding discrete parking places for makeout sessions required extremely careful consideration. Among our peers, ambushing couples necking was quite popular. For inquiring minds, only once, and it was very embarrassing.

In later years, my sister’s first car was a BMW Isetta. For those not familiar with one, it is a basic box with four wheels and a motorcycle engine. The entire front of the car swings open for entry. Light enough for high school boys to pick up and set on top of a snow bank, which they did.

The one thing we never did, and never would do, was damage anything with a firearm. We had, and still have, nothing but contempt for yahoos who drive around shooting road signs.

We weren't the first small town punks in that town, and most certainly not 
the last, to include several members of winter Olympic teams. I do believe 
we set a fairly high bar. No doubt folks in that town were happy to see the backs of us after graduation.