The Explosive Bowling Ball

One summer night in July of 1968, I got it in my head to try another “fun” stunt with an M-80 and a bowling ball.

Earlier in the week I had hauled all of the plastic models of ships, planes, and tanks that I had made as a “kid” and set them up in the creek behind my girlfriend’s house. We set up my plastic army men as if they were storming Omaha beach. Jamie, Lamont and I lobbed M-80’s at them causing destruction and sending plumes of water into the air from the creek. The young neighborhood boys spent days salvaging the pieces down at the creek. For the unwashed in the technical side of M-80’s, they had waterproof fuses, and when you taped rocks to them they sunk and exploded underwater. I am sure someone MIGHT have tried this at Fremont Lakes speeding up the process and boredom of traditional fishing, but I could not imagine who would do such a thing.

Of course, we NEVER put M-80’s under tin-cans as they did not get blown into the air as intended, but exploded sending shrapnel in all directions. My dad warned me about that one so we never did that unless of course we were well behind a suitable bunker. It was much more fun to take a heavy metal bucket and launch it into the air. We did this over and over again until the smoking and deformed piece of metal would lose its ability to carry water and we got bored. I suspect that my wife’s mother might read this so I must apologize for ruining your bucket… and also for messing up the water in your horse tank in your back-yard. You should have warned your daughter about me. But then again if you did warn her all it would have done is made her want me all the more.

But I am sure most of you are saying - what about the bowling ball? Being creative, someone got it into their head to put an M-80 into a bowling ball finger hole and see what would happen. Surely, such a thick and massive thing as a bowling ball would not blow up so that would not be much fun. BUT, what if we rolled it into the Dairy Queen parking lot and scared everyone? Wouldn’t that be fun? Sure it would!

We didn’t have a bowling ball so Jamie drove to the Western Bowl where it was nice and crowded with league bowling and borrowed one. We carefully duct taped it into the finger hole and Jamie, Lamont, and I walked under cover of darkness the few blocks from my girlfriend’s house to the Dairy Queen at 90th and Lake. At the edge of someone’s yard we looked down about 15 feet to the parking lot below. Like an Edward Hopper painting the light from inside the building flooded the parking lot, and the lot was full.

Someone lit the fuse and we rolled the ball down the embankment. Just as the ball rolled into the middle of the lot the M-80 went off. Instead of a loud noise as we expected, the bowling ball shattered into small pieces hitting the cars and windows. We could hear the “tinkle, tinkle” as the plastic hit the glass and cars. The blood drained from our faces and I am sure a few cuss words were uttered. We ran as fast as we could the few blocks back to safety. Lamont went in his house and Jamie and I sped away in his VW bug.

We did not get caught and luckily there was nothing about it in the newspaper and we were relieved no one was hurt. The reality of what could have happened scared us and this was the last of our explosive adventures.

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