Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Should Have Known Better

One of my duties as a 21 year old laborer for the maintenance department at a resort hotel in the Carmel Highlands in 1969 was the daily disposal of the trash collected by the house- keeping staff.  My partner and I would haul by truck barrels of paper trash  to the upper lot, and burn it a large brick incinerator situated between the small garage and the wood shop at the edge of the Monterey pine forest.

The incinerator looked something like this, although the firebox was larger.

It had a great iron door similar to this.

Since we weren't required to sort through the trash, empty aerosol spray cans were tossed into the firebox along with the rest of the trash and would  explode in the fire.  I got the idea to collect  and lash a number of them together for a big explosion, and that's what I did--fourteen, in fact.  I used wire coat hangers for my bomb, and when the fire was roaring, I tossed it in, swung the door closed and latched it.  My partner Francisco and I stood back and wondered.

It took about 30 seconds, but at last there was a terrific explosion, and a ten-foot flame shot out the top of the 12 foot high chimney right up there with the lower branches of the pines.  Puffs of mortar shaken loose around the firebox from the explosion also gave us pause.

Somehow I didn't lose my job that day, or worse.