I had been visiting my cousin, JD, when he developed a sudden interest in chemistry after our firecracker supply from the Fourth was exhausted . I think this was the same year that we bought the hydrochloric acid for our experiments in generating hydrogen for “lighter than air” craft. Most of these “experiments” were trial balloons, so to speak, for other experiments preformed as young adults and generally yielded the same results — blowing up in our faces. Children back then were praised for having an inquisitive mind and most everything that we did as children in the late 50’s, early 60’s was regarded as a learning experience, although we kids regarded it as merely surviving another day. And a lot of my learning experiences did involve trips to the emergency room..They were builders of character or at least a tough hide… if you survived. Now these same “experiments” would get me incarcerated.
Our experiments in basic chemistry consisted of mainly trial and error–mainly error, but we were soon happily laying blackpowder trails across any fire ant hill that hadn’t already been vacated due to our continuous harassment with a variety of household weapons of mass destruction. It didn’t take long before boredom and “what if’s” turned our interest from homemade fireworks to projectile geometry.