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This story originally appeared in the March 2009 RA Newsletter.

A “Blast from the Past”
by Lanny Netz

Blast from the past, literallyI know we have all heard this phrase, usually referring to one of the good old songs from our era. Recently that expression took on a different meaning to me, it became a reminder of something that happened almost 50 years ago.

I was 16 years old and trying to be a bad-ass kool guy. I had the hair slicked down with Palmaid, a cigarette between my lips and, of course, a real black leather jacket. My car was a 1947 Ford coupe with a built flathead and twin carburetors. In my mind at least, I was kool.

Now if you are familiar with the interior of a Ford of that year you might remember that they included two ash trays mounted high on the dash. The covers of these ash trays slides sideways to open or close. It is hard to believe that people really used those things, but I guess it was just a different time.

Well, somehow I figured out that if you put a firecracker in there and then closed the lid the blast would just be a big “PHETT” and some smoke. Kind of neat and always good for a laugh.

One night I had a date with a girl that I really wanted to impress. I picked her up at her house, knocked on her door and met her mother,etc.. Hard to say what her mother thought of the punk with the black leather jacket and the clapped out hotrod car. But, she let her go with me.

So we take off for our date, she is dressed in a real nice white dress, hair all done, looking sharp. Of course I just had to do something to impress her. So I pulled out a cigarette and lit it up. She did not smoke (church girl ) and probably preferred I didn’t either. But she didn’t say anything. Of course she wasn’t ready for what came next. I calmly pulled a firecracker out of my jacket, lit it on the end of my cigarette and dropped it in the ash tray. I snapped the lid shut and enjoyed the look of disbelief on her face. Of course I had done this before, so I wasn’t worried. Well, maybe that was just one too many for the lid, maybe it had a little more powder in it than the others, I will never know.

The blast blew the lid right out of the dash, and of course it was half full of old butts too. She screamed “Are you crazy!, Take me home right now!” Her hair had cigarette ashes in it, her nice dress was covered in old butts and ash. I probably didn’t look too good either, she was looking at me like I was a murderer. I don’t remember if I managed to salvage that date or not, but she did eventually go out with me again.

Recently I was cleaning out my downstairs closet. Just not enough room for all the stuff in there. Among some of the things I removed was my old leather jacket. I was struck by how small it was, it looked like it should fit a 12 year old. Was I ever that small? It still has the scuff marks from the time I flipped my motor scooter and slid down the road on it. My son looked at it and said “are you really going get rid of that?” I said “yeh, gotta make some room”. So he said “anything in the pockets?”. With that he reached into one of the pockets and pulled out an old firecracker and a book of paper matches. A 50 year old firecracker -a blast from the past.

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