Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I must be stranger than I thought.

I was in Wellcome last night and just got totally lost in thought while buying grapefruit that was on sale. (For those not in Hong Kong, Wellcome is a grocery store chain that misspelled the word Welcome on purpose so they could trademark it) I don't know why I remembered this incident last night, it isn't that I haven't purchased grapefruit many times before.

When I was a about 11 or 12, I helped some of my cousins build an air powered cannon that we used to shoot moldy grapefruit across a pasture.

My grandfather had a air-compressor that ran off a 30 horsepower motor that he bought from a factory that closed down. This was a compressor that was designed to power 10 or 20 air-tools at one time. It had just a huge tank that was about 10 feet tall by 5 feet in diameter and could store air at just enormous pressure. It had a brass multi-connection point air line that ran down one wall of the barn and you could hook up a 3/4 inch rubber line to the brass line. Among other things it could drive an air powered table saw with a 15 inch blade. (Isn't it interesting what kids used to play with when I was young?)

Well, we found a 4 foot length of 5 or 6 inch iron sewer pipe that was new. Mike who was the oldest and knew something about welding, welded the end cap shut. We then drilled a hole in the back of the pipe and placed an air-hose fitting through the hole which was secured on both sides by a washer and nut. It was then a simple matter to charge up the compressor tank to a ridiculous level of pressure and connect up the cannon to the hose. Because there were cut-off switches on the brass feeder line we had a ready made trigger.

We'd place a wad of old news-paper in the barrel and a grapefruit on top of the paper then another wad of paper to hold the grapefruit tight. Two of us would hold the cannon up at an angle, one would count to three and the fourth kid would quickly open the cutoff valve.

Pow! A moldy grapefruit would fly 200 to 300 yards out into the pasture. We had a 20 lb bag of old grapefruit that we were supposed to feed to pigs but this was way more fun. The best part was that Mike kept turning the compressor higher to get more distance. This meant that some times, if it were a particularly moldy grapefruit it wouldn't fly at all but disintegrate when the air hit it and we'd all get doused in moldy grapefruit juice.

We finally over loaded the rubber air hose that connected the cannon to the brass feeder tube and it blew up with a bang that caused more than one of us to wet our pants.

Kids can't have fun like that anymore

After an unknown period of memories I suddenly remembered that I was in Wellcome. I looked up and only saw one or two odd looks. Sometime memories are worth it.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
Who Sometimes Wishes He Could Be 12 Again

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