FROM READERS: Columbia author shares childhood memory

Thursday, December 5, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:21 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 5, 2013
An illustrated depiction of "Electrified" by Doug Ross.

Joe G. Dillard, a longtime Columbia resident, recently published his first book, "A Full Cup of Joe," a humorous autobiography of his funny life experiences thus far. This is a short story from his book.


When we were living in Blue Mound, Missouri, back in the late ’40s and early ’50s (that is, the 1940s and 1950s, not the 1840s and 1850s), there was an active rock quarry just south of our house. Most weekdays there would be a dynamite blast to loosen more rock from the vein of limestone. After the blast, my brother and I would go over to retrieve the discarded wire that they used to set off the dynamite.

We had collected quite a ball of it, and my brother got the brilliant idea to fly a kite with it so that he could attach a flash light bulb and then light it up by touching two wires together after he got the kite airborne.

A veritable little Ben Franklin he was.

Well, it just so happened that we were having some unsettled weather that day, and the winds were shifting, first one way and then the other. Up went the kite with the flash light bulb attached. Then with a wind shift it came zooming down and then back up under the bottom electric line (as you know, there is a top and bottom electric line). No problem. The wind shifted again and back up it went. Then it came down again, but this time it came down over the top electric line.

Well, as we found out the hard way, it is the top line that carries the electricity to us, and it sure did carry it to my brother. A ball of blue flame the size of a soccer ball came roaring down that dynamite wire and knocked my brother flat on his back. He remembers me going in the house to tell our mom that he was dead.

What I remember most was seeing him leaning up against the side of our garage looking dazed. I asked him if he was hurt, and he said, “No, but you need to go in the house and get me some clean underwear.”

Evidently, that blast of electric shock had caused some involuntary bodily functions! He did recover fully and only had a couple of burn marks on his hands where he had been holding the wire.

Note to self and others: Do not fly kites with wires near electric lines without packing some clean underwear.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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