Many years ago – sometime in the 70s I think, some of my cousins came with little cannons they had built. I remember seeing a little cannon one had. My dad – as was common with him – said I can do that, and I can do it bigger. So he ordered two barrels special cast.
Then my dad built a couple big cannons, and not just decorative! He built working cannons to shoot every year. We would load one up and take it to the family fourth of July party to shoot off, at my cousin Kristi’s every year.
When friends would come over I would love to ask “Do we have gunpowder?”, “Can we shoot it?”. My dad made sure I know exactly how to load it too. I still remember the instructions include a dixie cup of gunpowder mixed with flour – it was years later that a chemist friend explained to me why the flour was added. My dad somehow knew….. (Flour when put out into the air like that is explosive – don’t ever put flour on a fire)
At my cousins especially we would then search for anything we could find to ‘load’ into the cannon after the paper was tamped in. I remember everything from sand to even a frog once. As kids we would run around searching just grabbing anything we could find. I’ve seen the little holes that sand put through all the tree leaves and I could swear I remember a story about something someone else loaded putting a hole through something once.
As kids we would laugh at all the people who had too much to drink weaving as they were trying to light the fuse, and I’m amazed that no one was hurt as it would jump back several feet in recoil when the cannon would go off.
After shooting the cannon people would drop by from miles away to find out what had exploded. I think my dad enjoyed shooting it as much as we as kids enjoyed showing it off. It’s one of the things we can say my dad built himself. I’m sure whoever took it either had no idea how much it meant to us or didn’t care. They also are not aware of the history of the cannon.
The cannon itself was in my mother’s yard away from the road. It weighs a lot, so whoever took it had to have come up her driveway and taken it down the driveway to the road and gotten it into their truck. It would take at least a couple people.
The cannon does have wheels and a bolt area to allow for it to be towed, but it hadn’t moved in years. I think the last time I remember my dad shooting it was when my in laws visited almost 15 years ago.
Of course the other thing I see when I look at this camera is how amazing my dad was with just a high school diploma. My dad could engineer most things given the desire. He would see them and put them together, the house we grew up in was in a continual state of remodel as doorways moved and relocated as my parents changed their mind.
My dad would also change his mind about where a stocked pond was and decide to move it.. I still remember waking to find our swimming pool filled with bass and catfish one morning (and dirty pond water). He would clear areas to turn them into fields – including railroad…. So many stories that I’m sure he could tell.
How to get our cannon back though…