Vol. 12


The Explosion

c. 1948; Joplin, Missouri, USA"The Explosion" illustration: An alarmed boy peers into the blast site while his friends watch from a nearby bunker

It was a warm spring day in Joplin, Missouri, in 1948. The air was fresh and cool. Today eleven-year-old blond-haired and blue-eyed Charles woke with an idea that was eating him whole. He thought, “Why don’t I get rich by mining?” So he got up, dressed, and went over to his friend Clyde’s house. He woke up Clyde and explained his idea.

Clyde and Charles gathered their friend Bob, picked up their shovels, and sprinted to Clyde’s land. They decided to start in a small pasture. The friends dug until they had a medium-sized ditch. Then they reached a thick hard layer (clay). If you don’t know about clay, it is very hard to get past, and Missouri is full of it. So Charles, being the head of the group, decided they should get through the clay with explosives. Charles remembered seeing an old shack by an abandoned mine. The three boys decided they should go and see what, if anything, was in the shed that might help them.

The boys crawled around and found fuses, some gooey stuff, and explosives. They went back to the field and put the gooey stuff on the explosives and stuck a fuse in the heap of danger. They had enough sanity in them to construct a bunker for when the explosion went off. After everything was set up, they realized, “Who’s going to light the fuse?” The boys pulled straws, and Clyde lost. Clyde went down to the blast site and lit the fuse. Then he ran as fast as his legs could carry him, and hopped into the bunker. They waited and waited — until they were sure it had been a dud.

Then they were in a spot where they had to draw straws again. Clyde must’ve had bad luck that day, and lost for a second time. Clyde slowly inched toward the explosives. Just as he peered over the lip of the hole to check the fuse, he suddenly seemed to revive —and ran. Then an almost biblical pillar of fire burst from the dirt, and a ripple started. All of a sudden it seemed like Clyde was a puppet that was picked up by the puppeteer. Before Charles knew it, he was in the air, too. As soon as the moment had started, it passed.

Charles lay on the ground, eyes to the sky, and thought, “How did I get in this position?” He turned his head to see what was happening. He saw Clyde’s mouth moving, but all he could hear was the ringing in his ears.

For two straight weeks all the boys did was fill in the hole they had created. They did find out that the gooey stuff was nitroglycerin. This story is an example of a close call.

Charles is my grandpa, and he told this story to my mom, who in turn told it to me. The moral of this story is to not do dangerous things like this, unless your luck is extremely good.

Cori Boerner; Missouri, USA.

Illustrator: Eva Stern; Missouri, USA.



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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