It was the summer of 1928. My dad would turn thirteen in a couple of months, but for him that was far away. At the moment, he and his friends were trying to think of something fun to do. Then one of his buddies walked up with an iron pipe that was an inch in diameter and a little over a foot long. The pipe was threaded on both ends with an iron cap screwed on one end. “Robert, do you think you can make a cannon out of this pipe?” Dad’s friend asked. Dad looked it over and decided he could do it.
The gang headed for my grandfather’s workshop. The first thing they found was a piece of 6″ by 6″ lumber nearly as long as the pipe. This would be perfect for the cannon mount. Dad couldn’t find a pipe clamp to fit, so he hammered several four-inch nails into the wood and bent them over to hold down the pipe. Next, Dad drilled a hole in the back of the pipe near the cap to insert a firecracker fuse. Finally, he swiped four of his dad’s twelve-gauge shotgun shells. Dad cut open the shells, poured the gunpowder into the pipe, packed some paper down the barrel to hold the powder in, poured in hundreds of pellets from the shells and stuffed in more paper to hold the shot in place.
The cannon was ready to be fired. But where could they set it off? A quarter of a mile down the road, was a large field with a small tin storage building on it. The building wasn’t used anymore and was rusting away. It would make a great target. Excitement rose as the small gang of boys hurried toward the field with their cannon. Once there, Dad put a rock under the front of the cannon to get it positioned right and a big one behind it. Before Dad lit the fuse, he told everyone to get back at least a hundred feet or behind a tree, because the cannon might explode and hurl metal in every direction.
After lighting the fuse, Dad ducked behind a tree just as a loud explosion occurred. The pipe was torn loose from the nails and sailed backward past the tree. Dad peeked around the tree and stared at the tin building. He said it looked like a screened door. Dad found the pipe. It was hot, and the end was split open.
The cannon was sort of a success. It did fire and blow something up. Everyone left for home satisfied with their adventure. They would meet tomorrow and try to think up something new to do.
Granddad never missed the shotgun shells. Dad dodged a bullet there.