The Park House Incident   Leave a comment

Coffey ParkIt was the summer of 1963, July 3rd to be exact and the Nite Owls were preparing for the greatest July 4th ever. The gang of 12 year olds had been working on it for a year. The plan was Roger’s it had come to him last year on Independence Day. The gang was getting bored with tossing packs of firecrackers around when Roger turned to Sean.
“I wish we had something bigger. We should try to get some ash cans or cherry bombs.”
“Yeah, they’re pretty good but I heard that the M80s are a quarter of a stick of dynamite.”
Herman jumped into the conversation, “Why don’t we get four M80’s and tape them together. Then we will have a whole stick of dynamite.”
Sean told him, “Nah, they won’t all explode at the same time. It would just be a waste.”
Now the rest of the Nite Owls joined in and the conversation turned serious.
Tommy asked, “How about we buy some real dynamite?”
Ronald laughed, “Who is going to sell us dynamite? They would be afraid we would blow up the school.”
That was when Roger had his brilliant idea, “Why don’t we get a big coffee can. We can start collecting the powder from fireworks and fill it up. Then we would have a real big one.”
Sean wasn’t too sure, “But wouldn’t that make it too big? I mean that sounds like trouble.
“Nah”, Jack said, “It is only fireworks powder but we better not use any M80’s they are real explosives.”
And so the boys started on their great July 4th 1963 project. They had named their giant firecracker the M8000. They were stripping firecrackers, cherry bombs and ash cans and the emptying the powder into a Maxwell House coffee can. They did keep their promise of nothing from inside an M80. They didn’t want to do anything stupid like that.
Herman arrived one day with six roman candles. After a spirited discussion and vote it was decided to empty the contents into the M8000. They were only fireworks after all and might make a nice show when they went off. They also found a few packs of sparklers. They were pulverized. The wires got thrown away and the rest emptied into the can.
By the middle of June 1963 the M8000 was ready. Now the boys were counting the days until July 4th. It was to be a great day, the unveiling of the M8000.
Finally the big day came. Everyone had arranged with their parents to stay at Ronald’s house. He lived only a block from the park.
At the appointed hour 11PM, the boys gathered at the softball field in Coffey Park. They were all there Sean, Ronald, Roger, Herman, Tommy, Jerry and Jack. They invited the girls and Laura, Candy, Lola, Maryanne and Steph came to watch the show. The boys had decided not to tell anyone else. It was their project and they didn’t want to share it.
The plan was to set it off on second base but the girls were afraid it was too close and were going to leave.
Sean said, “Ok, how about we bring it out to left field and light it off.”
Now the guys were complaining that it would be too far away.
Jack jumped in to save the day, “I know I’ll light the fuse and toss it onto the park house. Then it will be high enough for us all to see it.”
Everyone agreed that was a good plan. The park house is a building just beyond the left field fence that is used to hold the maintenance equipment for the park.
Finally the appointed hour came. Jack carried the mighty M8000 out to left field. He lit the fuse and ran back to watch with the gang. The whole group was smiling waiting for it. After about ten seconds there was a huge flash and tremendous boom. The group started to cheer when the shock wave hit and shingles from the roof of the park house began to rain down.
The cheer ended and the group stared in shock at the park house. There was a hole in the roof you could have driven a VW through.
Sean exclaimed, “HOLY SHIT.”
Now it was a mad dash to get the hell out of the park. They made it to their basement club house in seconds. Soon afterwards the sirens started. None of them wanted to go out and see what was happening.
In the morning the boys came out and went to the park. The bombing of the park house was the talk of the neighborhood for a week. It was the general consensus that outsiders from Park Slope or Cobble Hill had done it. The boy agreed those dirty bastards had probably done the evil deed. They never told anyone what really happened that night.


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