My family moved to Ennis, Texas when I was in the fifth grade. My best friend there was Mike Stanley. He lived a few doors down the block from us. One Christmas one of us got a chemical set. I don’t remember which one of us it belonged to, but we would spend hours each day in our “laboratory”, a small house in Mike’s backyard.
This small, white frame house was perfectly equipped for “want-to-be” scientists. It was well lighted with large windows and some cooking pans and utensils, including a heavy cast iron skillet. But the gem of the “lab” was in the middle of the room – a potbellied, iron wood-burning stove, exactly what we needed as we mixed and heated our concoctions.
We didn’t read any instruction book or manuals of any kind. Who needs those when you are an aspiring discoverer with hasty, pressing experiments? No time for that stuff!
Anyway, this particular day, we stoked the lab stove and skillet to a fine level of heat and began to add chemicals from the array that we had into the iron skillet, not having any idea what we were placing in the mix. And we certainly had no concept of the possibility of chemical reactions. Mind you, this was probably 1960. I think the off-the-shelf chemical sets then were much less regulated than today.
Mike’s elderly grandfather used to enjoy sitting there watching and being entertained by these two clueless chemists. He walked with a cane and smoked a pipe. So he was relaxing in a chair and taking in the activities around the stove, gently puffing his pipe. All was quiet as the two geniuses were at work.
Then it happened; the loudest explosion that I had ever heard. And it was right in front of our faces. That solid cast iron skillet blew straight up about 5 feet in the air, flipping end over end and returned with a crash. I think granddad bit his pipe in two and we were screaming bloody murder and running for cover. We all thought for a second we were dead!
Well, that scared the daylights out of us and we were transformed instantly from mad scientists into passive conformists. To my recollection, we never opened that death trap up again. It was safer to ride bikes and go fishing.
I’m sure we can all look back over our lives and remember close calls. This is just one of many I can remember. Some people would say, “Thank my lucky stars!” (Whatever that means) But I don’t believe in luck. I do however believe in my God who loves me and I know has protected me over the years. He promised to do that and I can testify that He is good for His word.