Dynamite Whups My . . . Posterior
(Burnt Run CC 1971)
The explosions were blamed on me, even though it was Dwight, Dad’s youngest brother, who produced the dynamite. It was a cold day in March, the folks were down in Florida where Dad was playing a tournament and Momma had gone with him. It wasn’t golf that made them travel, they were just trying to get the hell away from me and another cheap, Pseudo-Country Club with members convinced they rightfully belonged on the roster at Augusta National. Dad had left us with instructions to dig out and hack up—using an axe and shovel—a stump the size of a pickup truck buried nose first. Within the first six minutes, we hit the surrender point and that’s when Dwight, an ingenious type with the mind of an engineer and the physique of an NFL offensive lineman, had an explosive idea.
We practiced on small stumps, wiring in blasting caps, putting a stick of dynamite in a hole dug under the stump and then touched off on a golf cart battery. As we progressed to bigger stumps, we discovered it was necessary to move the cart further from the site of the explosion, in order to prevent an unexpected trip to the dentist. After blowing a dozen small stumps, Dwight announced it was time to attack the big one. I was 15 at the time and totally convinced Dwight was Theoretical Physicist material, so I agreed and helped place three sticks of dynamite in holes tunneled beneath the big stump with a post hole digger, or PH.d as they are known in circles where actual work [redacted]
We backed off 70 yards and touched the battery. The shock wave was visible, screaming across the ground, flattening the dormant bermuda and knocking the air out of my lungs. It would have loosened my dentures, had I possessed any. The stump was untouched. It sat there, wrapped in a wreath of smoke . . . taunting us. Enraged at this inconsistency in applied logic, Dwight made the decision to go with 12 sticks on the next try.
“More dynamite,” I agreed, eager to see the effects of half a case of the stuff. It has to be said at this point, that I was not the most rational thinker, given a number of concussions from running the football and the recent proximity to a number of minor explosions. Dwight probably should have consulted with someone else, perhaps an adult, but we went immediately to work, wiring, tamping and moving the cart way back. Maybe 200 yards? I don’t know for sure. Dwight left to make sure no golfers had slipped out onto the course, as it was Monday. Back in those days, Monday was still a holy day for golf courses, a rest day or project day, in that golden time before accountants took over everything. The only chance that golfers might have snuck out onto the course would have been if a few local pros had decided to take advantage of Dad’s absence . . . and if we accidentally killed a few golf pros, well, what was the harm?
I was given the honor of touching the wires to the battery and before I could look up, the turf rushed up to meet me, knocking the absolute hound out of me. The shock wave did not restrict itself to dormant grass this time, it came straight through the air. Hot, solid air, pushing toward me at warp speed; all the oxygen on the golf course vanished. I couldn’t breathe, see or think clearly. I do remember watching the giant stump leap from the ground and perform a lazy somersault, making a 3/4 flip before hitting the turf with a thud I could feel but not hear. All I could hear was this odd high pitch against that feeling of clogged ears. I then became aware of wood chips flying through the air. All sizes of splinters, flakes and shards of brittle baked oak sprinkled down like hail. Dust floated in the air as if I was caught in a dark snowstorm. We had made a tiny mushroom cloud. I was so proud.
As the smoke and vapor and dust began to settle, I realized a new set of problems: Everywhere, as far as I could see, were splinters of stump shrapnel and along with all the small stumps, we faced a massive cleanup ordeal. The next problem was Dwight disappearing over the hill at high speed. I had skipped school to witness this epic day on the golf course and now, I was alone, with a mess of battlefield proportions, fully aware that Dad would return the next day.
I had to figure out how to get a stump the size of a small camper trailer off the golf course and, without a blower or a vac—just a rake—hide the evidence. It took the rest of the day to drag, push and finagle the massive stump off the fairway and into a ravine. Because it weighed more than our little Ford tractor, it pulled the tractor partway into the ravine and in the dark, I rescued the tractor with the Jake F-10. I camouflaged the stump with pine branches and went home to write my obituary. *
*Note: In the event any statues of lamentations are still in effect, none of this is true.