Grandpa: Something’s Burning

Today’s post is inspired by three guest contributors—Aunt Ar, Aunt El, and Dad. We all have memories related to Grandpa and his passion for Allied Chemical and setting things on fire. He was constantly discussing Allied happenings while bragging about being unaffected by all the chemicals he was exposed to over the years. I guess he thought he was like Superman, but in the end, he wasn’t.

One day, he brought us all out in the backyard for a lesson involving matches, fire extinguishers, and a garbage can lids. As I explained in Motor Vehicle Musings, the purpose of the lid was not just to demonstrate how to pass the automobile emissions test or to contain unpleasant odors. To Grandpa, this cover also served as excellent receptacle for an impressively grand fire whereby he could instruct us on the proper method to use a fire extinguisher.

While this happened long ago, knowing Grandpa, I am fairly certain that gasoline was used to start that fire. Once the flames had erupted, he pulled the pin, squeezed a trigger, and began to empty the canister of its powdery white contents. This lesson was definitely more entertaining than learning how to iron a shirt or change a diaper—lessons I learned from Grandma.

Grandpa also had a unique approach to lighting the charcoal grill when lighter fluid was unavailable. Dad remembers that Grandpa explained to him that he could use gasoline as a substitute accelerant. Grandpa stood back about three feet from the grill, tossed in match or two, and KA-BOOM, the flames shot high into the sky.

Aunt Ellen recalled a classic Grandpa moment which occurred on her birthday. After cooking the burgers, “I believe he turned up the flame with the lid down to burn off the stuck food maybe, and when he opened it up, there was a flash in his face and his eyebrows were burnt. He looked stunned and Mart said, “Hey Dad, do you want me to throw you in the pool?” That was so Grandpa and so Uncle Mart. I can just picture the moment.

For Aunt Arlene, her Grandpa “fire memory” involved music. “One time this song played on the radio. When we sang ‘Something’s Burning’, Dad said ‘what, what?’ From then on, whenever the song played, we sang, ‘something’s burning what, what’.

I suppose Grandpa heard them singing the song and thought they were warning him of a fire somewhere, so now they associate that song with him.

Oh, Dad! I miss you!


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