Bottle Rocket Launcher               


Ok I'll admit it, this isn't exactly a radio project, but it is very much related to CB, or at least to a few of the people on it.

It started off, like most things do, rather innocently and small, and then mutated into something hideous and frightening....... Well, not really, but it sounded good in a metaphorical sense. All I need is a Rod Serling narrative and I'm making an episode of the Twilight Zone.  But I digress..... Anyway, back in 1982, it was a common practice for many of the Channel 30 CB group to frequently spend time over at "Uncle" Chuck(ie)'s. We'd hang out shooting the B.S. and having a few beers.  In the warm summer months, Chuck would run a coax cable lead out to his front porch and put a radio there. That way, we could hang out in the sultry night air, while still keeping touch with the rest of the gang over the radio.  Chuck also, at that time, had an antique Coke machine which he had modified and kept loaded with 16 oz cans of Schmidt's beer which we all availed ourselves of. At that time, I was driving a 1972 Ford F-100 pickup, and Chuck thought that it was funny to toss the empties into the back of my truck.  But hey, I'm not one to get mad.  Instead, I looked to turn it in to some fun of my own.  So when I went home later at night, I would take those empties and place them upright on the front of Art's 14' boat, which he kept parked in the street in front of his house.  On the first night, it was 2 or 3 cans, and the next night it was a few more.  Finally one night, after Chuck had shamelessly convinced everyone to toss their empties into my truck (He knew what I was doing with them), I left about a dozen cans all around the perimeter of the boat's bow.  Art, as wild and crazy as he was back then, and after figuring out who was doing it after the first few times, would try to catch me in the act.  It then became a game of stealth, and I had to park away from his house and sneak up very quietly, in order to place my cans undetected.  Well, one night he devised a plan to deal with me.  He fabricated a multiple bottle rocket launcher from scrap parts, which he could then use to fire a half dozen or more rockets within seconds of each other.  He then lied in wait and when I came to deliver my load of cans, he unleashed a barrage of bottle rockets from his window aimed in my general direction.  I was taken by surprise and had to duck down behind the boat to avoid being hit by the volley of whistling, sparkling bottle rockets.  Art was quite literally almost overcome by the smoke, which had accumulated in his radio room from the exhaust from all the bottle rockets.  His wife wasn't all too happy about it either and I could only wonder what the neighbors might have thought, considering that this all happened after 2:00 AM. 

 But I wasn't one to be outdone, and I quickly formulated a retaliation plan of my own.  After I finally recovered from Art's version of "Shock and Awe", I drove off and "obtained" a blinking street hazard light, from one of those road work barricades.  I then returned with my prize and left it on the front of his boat.  Hey, the boat was a hazard and I was just "marking" it!  Art was not expecting me to return, after blasting the heck out of me with the bottle rockets, so he was not watching out for me and I was able to plant my blinking light without being seen.  Then, as Art was getting ready for bed, he became aware of the flashing light outside and looked out.  Imagine his surprise (heh heh!), when he realized what it was.  Not wanting to leave it out there like that, he then went out and retrieved it.  He could not figure out how to turn it off (I had put the security bolt back in), so he now had this thing flashing brightly in his dimly lit house, which was quite annoying to someone wanting to sleep.  He finally had to put it under a bucket in his radio room in order to contain the bright flashing light. The next day I came up and disabled it, and we both had a laugh over the whole thing.

All of this madness set the stage for what would become a "naval" battle later that summer. Art commanding his 26' Pacemaker, and me in the 14' boat, in the middle of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.  On a warm night adorned with a gentle breeze and lit up by a full moon, we would stand off with bottle rockets blasting at each other. I had built a launcher from an old CB antenna mast mount, and about a foot of aluminum mast. Art was using fishing rod holders. We'd retreat to a "safe" place, reload, and make a "strafing" run at each other.  Nothing like an impromptu 4th of July fireworks display, to spoil what was otherwise a quiet night on the bay. I look back on it now and wonder what the heck we were thinking then, and just how warped alcohol influenced thinking could be.  There were more than a few safety issues created by our less than responsible behavior, not to mention the fact that the Coast Guard would likely have taken a very dim view of the whole thing had we been caught.  But that's what happens when you're young, impulsive, and living on unemployment compensation, with too much time to spend enjoying life.  I have never, at any other point in my life, had both time and money at the same time and haven't since.  Besides, it was a lot of fun. And that's what makes for the best memories.