School’s almost out ... don’t set yourself on fire

With the advent of summer just around the corner, I find myself thinking back to some of the unforgettable (and probably dangerous) stunts my friends and I used to pull as we were roaming the hills and forests of Pratt Road.

Did I say probably?

I can’t tell you the hours we spent camping, hiking, cooking over a fire, throwing frisbee, fishing, playing football or just hanging out. And compared to kids today, who seem to think there’s nothing worthwhile to do ... ever ... I can’t remember a time we lacked for something fun, exciting and – typically – quite imaginative to occupy ourselves with.

To put it simply, we were never bored and we always found some way to amuse ourselves, even if the end result was possibly (or probably, as I said) dangerous – or just plain stupid.

What can I say, we were teenagers (actually, most of the Pratt Road Gang were teenagers ... I was only 12), but there is one early summer evening that will remain forever etched upon our minds.

And considering I was the youngest member of our little gang, it’s no wonder I was often the, how shall I say, center of attention when it came to our more ridiculous (and often idiotic) behavior.



It’s a wonder I’m even alive to write this column, to be honest.

Regardless, there is nothing we did all those years ago that compares with the Amazing and Stupendous (or just plain stupid, once again) Flaming Scooter, navigated by – of course – me.

You see, one of our crew members grew up with an extremely intelligent father, who just happened to have his very own shop behind the house (he worked for IBM, I think). And in that shop? All manner of strange, exotic machinery; nifty gadgets and such that we couldn’t get enough of. Needless to say, we spent hours in there, raising hell.

And then we found The Juice. And no, this is not a story about boozing it up in my buddy’s shop.

The Juice – I can’t think of a better name for it – smelled terrible, for one thing, and had a strange, purplish hue. Even better, there were gallons of the stuff lying around. And I can just imagine those of you reading this wondering why we were so fascinated by the stuff.

It was extremely flammable, of course.

Even better than that, however, was the fact that The Juice, once ignited, simply burned off until it had evaporated. In other words: dip your hand into The Juice, light it on fire, and the stuff quickly burned out ... without burning your hand in the least bit. We were awestruck (hey, I was 12), and immediately our plan began to form.

This is where the scooter comes in.

Back in the late 1980s, scooters were not as you see them today. They had bicycle-type tires, for one thing (if on a miniature scale), complete with a bicycle-type brake system. I, of course, was the only one in the gang to own such a scooter and was quickly nominated stunt driver.

Now all we needed was a ramp. Considering my own father was in the process of building the house, wood – and tools – really weren’t a problem.

So there we are, our little gang, with a scooter (mine), a driver (me), a ramp and our mysterious, ignitable liquid.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

Regardless, what followed was – quite possibly – one of the more ... creative ... diversions we ever came up with.

Here’s the breakdown ... 1) Set up ramp halfway downhill, check. 2) Douse ramp with The Juice, check. 3) Douse the road leading uphill (probably 50 feet or so) with even more Juice, check. 4) Douse the tires of the scooter with ... you guessed it ... more Juice, check. 5) Light everything on fire and enjoy, check.

Unbelievably, it worked.

We lit the tires, covered with an extremely flammable liquid, of my 1980s-era scooter, following which I raced downhill. When the flaming tires hit the doused roadway, of course, it too burst into flames, flames which roared down the road ahead of me.

The timing, I must say, was dramatic.

In the end, I hit the ramp just as it burst into flames, flew into the air and landed perfectly.

Five seconds later, with The Juice evaporated, the flames were gone.

Even more unbelievable, I wasn’t even singed.

Such was the kind of “trouble” we got into when we were young and school was out for summer. There were no cell phones or laptops, no Facebook or YouTube. There was only the five of us, having fun and – as I said – raising hell.

And a flaming scooter, of course.

Kids ... if you’re reading this ... don’t try this at home.

Follow me on Twitter ...@evesunbrian.

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