Growing Up In Waterford, PA


A shocking incident
by the late Herb Walden

Fort LeBoeuf Class of 1956

Ah, summertime! The time of year we all look forward to. The season of fun. Good times. And the livin' is easy.

Just the thought of summer conjures up memories of picnics and swimming and fishing and vacation trips and, my favorite, mowing lawn!

Yes, mowing lawn. I really like to mow the lawn. Always have. I started way back with an old fashion push-type reel mower. It was a tough job, to say the least, and it's easy to understand why most normal kids hated it. But I've never been accused of being normal.

When I was about 12 years old, Dad bought a power mower. It was the reel-type, and it weighed darn near as much as I did. Mowing lawn became an adventure; those mowers had no reverse. You just titled them back on their rollers and hauled away backwards. That worked pretty well if you were a full-grown person. As for me, well, Mom's flower beds got thinned out from time to time. And a few of Dad's young trees came up missing. But the lawn sure looked nice.

Although I was a fair-to-middling grounds-keeper, I knew nothing about the engine that powered the mower. Oh, I could start it, stop it, and put gas and oil in it, but that was the extent of my knowledge. As the summer wore on, however, my curiosity about gasoline engines grew.

One day after I finished mowing, I parked the mower under our big cherry tree and sat down in my swing to cool off. While I sat there, looking at the mower, my curiosity got the best of me. My attention became riveted on the spark plug. See, it looked like an electric thing, what with a wire hooked up to it and all. But to shut the engine off, you bushed a metal tab down on top of it. It seemed to me that if there was electricity in the plug, you would certainly get a shock. Hmmm! Maybe there isn't any electricity in a spark plug after all.

Only one way to find out: Cautiously, I touched the plug. Nothing. Wait a minute! What if the engine is running? So I pulled the rope, revved up the engine, and grabbed onto the spark plug.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you in no uncertain terms that THERE IS ELECTRICITY IN A SPARK PLUG!!! A WHOLE LOT OF ELECTRICITY! An abundance of electricity! An excessive amount, I'd say!

In just the split-second that I was connected to the plug, I absorbed enough electrical energy to illuminate the entire city of Boston, including the harbor area and both lanterns in the Old North Church!

You've probably seen comedies or cartoons where a guy gets shocked and he stiffens, vibrates, has little lighting bolts flying off from him, his hair stands on end, and you see a flashing x-ray view of him.

Did you know all that really happens?

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