Written by Eric Moore with the aid of Beth Moore
The Moore boys were in elementary and junior high school when they first discovered they could blow up things with TNT, dynamite and other explosives. Through ads in comic books you could order fireworks via the mail that came in a wooden box that measured 12 inches by 12 inches by 4 feet long. It was loaded with all kinds of firecrackers, M-80 is, Roman Candles, Eighty-Eights, Cherry Bombs, Lady Fingers, and TNT. One of their first discoveries was that they could fish without using fishing poles. They used explosives but quickly figured out Dynamite had just too much punch and totally blew up the fish. As it turned out, firecrackers had a special coating on them and held up better under water with a lot less of an impact. Their summer family vacations were usually spent in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico where they fished in crystal clear water. It was easy to spot where the fish were nesting so they threw the Eighty-Eights and Cherry Bombs over their nests, waited for the explosion (which stunned the fish and give them a concussion!!), and used nets to scoop them out of the water. Triple the catch in a shorter period of time!!! All the better eating!!!
Charles realized that if you emptied the gunpowder from various fireworks into an empty toilet paper roll, connected it to a fuse, and lit it, that it would explode. Soon they got tired of the small stuff and decided it was time for something bigger. They found a huge tree stump and theorized it would make a significant explosion if they blew it out of the ground. Charles knew he would have to do his calculations carefully for this one due to its immense size (about 4 feet across and 2 feet high). He guessed they’d probably need to place SEVERAL toilet paper rolls in the lower area of the stump and if he put a 5 minute fuse on it that should give them plenty of time to run and find cover. Soooooo„. once the stump was sufficiently loaded they lit the fuse and ran as fast as they could for cover!l It wasn’t long before the KABOOM!!!!! Never in their wildest imaginations did they think it would be this great. What happened next was astonishing to the three of them!! Not only did they blow the stump completely out of the ground and up into the air, it literally and EXPLODED blew EVERYWHERE – into millions of pieces!!! WOW!!! All they could think of was what they would blow up next….
Charles continued to experiment, build, create, tinker, invent, and explore, and his discoveries got bigger and better! The greatest discovery of their lifetime was Charles finding out that if you fill prophylactics up with acetylene gas they get HUGE and can extend up to 4 feet long and almost a foot wide. He took a test tube (beaker), drilled a hole in the bottom of it, ran electrical wire through it, filled the beaker full of water, and attached a cork to the wire at the bottom of the test tube so that as the water drained out slowly, and as the cork made its way to the bottom of the beaker the connection would cause a spark, igniting the explosion. They just had to make sure that once the prophylactics were released into the air that the water dissipated slowly enough from the test tube that they got high enough in the air before all the water ran out and they exploded.
They couldn’t WAIT to try out Charles’ new invention! One night they decided “tonight’s the night” and filled up several prophylactics and headed toward the city limits to set them off. They had to go a long way because they had to be sure no one was living in the area. Of course, not knowing what to expect since this was the first time, it seemed to take FOREVER for the prophylactics to get high enough. All they could think of was that they hoped this was a big success. All of a sudden – PPH HOOFF!!!!! As the prophylactics started to explode the sky between Midland and Odessa lit up in a ball of flames that stretched for MILES!!! WHOA!!!WOW!! All three jumped up and down, yelled, hugged each other and congratulated themselves on their success! YOO HOO!!!!. In unison the three of them decided they HAD to do that AGAIN, so they jumped in the car and headed home to make more bombs.
However, as soon as they got back on the highway and had driven a short distance, they heard sirens blaring – tons of them!! They passed fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, and numerous other rescue vehicles. Uh-oh!! Maybe it wasn l t such a good idea to do that again, especially not tonight. They made a quick decision to head straight for home since it appeared the entire town was headed out to see what in the world happened. On that drive home the three boys made a pact to NEVER EVER TELL ANYONE what they had done. Not one person, and they all agreed they would take their secret to their graves. As far as Eric knows, the police and fire department never knew or suspected it was them. The next day they heard everyone talking about the plane that had blown up over the Midland-Odessa Air Terminal. YIKES!! They had no idea they were that close to the airport. Oops!!! Well, at least no one got hurt and there was no damage done, right? Nothing was ever mentioned again about the night a plane blew up over the airport among the three Moore boys…
As far as Eric knows, Charles and John lived up to their end of the agreement and never told anyone what they had done. However, a few years ago Eric let the cat out of the bag and told some friends about it. We agreed it was just too good a story not to tell. Eric gets a huge kick out of telling it every single time he does. It truly is one of his best ones because people laugh like crazy, especially when you actually get to hear Eric tell it. This is the story I had in mind when I said earlier that I hoped I could capture Eric’s humor and tell his stories well enough to do them justice. After all, a story this great HAS to be told. Besides, it happened 60 years ago and if the truth be known most everyone that saw that explosion has either died or can’t remember it.
So cool! Can you just imagine the extreme level of youthful joy these boys experienced with all of the components of this event. Just HAD to be the greatest time of their lives…so far. Great job writing it, too!
Bekki Maier Welch
That was a great story. Boys and their toys! Lol
Wow what a family!! John