SHORT WAR FOR THE OLD TIMERS!
By Norris Chambers
Clifton and I learned many things that are
not taught in elementary school. We were fortunate enough to have a brother and
a father (my brother was Clifton’s
father) in the auto repair business in a very busy little wide place in the
road. Some referred to it as a town, some preferred village but to most folks
it was a mess. Its real name was Cross Cut, one of the wildest of the wild oil
field towns of the twenties and early thirties. To Clifton and me it was a place to go to school
and a place to buy just about anything you had enough money to pay for. Its
greatest asset, to us, was the huge junk yard below the hill.
We were comfortably “lollygagging” behind the garage when I heard Clifton complaining and
rubbing his left leg from the ankle to the thigh. “What’s wrong?” I asked. I
knew he had a problem.
“Something is stinging me!”
he replied, at the same time pulling the pants leg up as far as it would go.
There were five of six big red ants crawling around and apparently searching
for a place to sting. A little slapping, brushing and kicking soon removed the
intruders, but they apparently left their stings behind. Clifton was extremely unhappy and was still
rubbing his leg vigorously.
There was no reason for
that!” he complained. “I hereby declare war against this den of rogue ants!”
“He turned to me and
continued, “Do you think it is necessary to go through any preliminaries, or do
we just jump in and start stomping?” I gave it a moment's thought and said, “A
war is a serious thing. I think we need to plan a campaign and be properly
prepared when we start fighting. We wouldn't want to lose the war, you know.”
he rubbed his leg again and answered, “I guess you're right. Where shall we
I suggested that we build a
new weapon and catch them without a defense. After a quick agreement by the
injured party we retired to the blacksmith shop to prepare for war! Like two
engineers we sat on the work bench stools and began the first phase of the
great war between Clifton
and Ant Hill No. 13. We named that group No.13 because that is thought of as an
unlucky number and we wished that fate on our enemy. My first suggestion was
fight them with electricity. To my mean-thinking mind that meant a Model T
ignition coil. A one inch spark from a coil, powered by a six volt battery,
would stop a mad bull in its tracks! What would it do to a red ant? Clifton agreed quickly
and we got busy. He took a coping saw and began sawing a three-quarter inch
board into of pistol. He mounted a switch where the trigger is normally
installed and connected it to two small wires. A thin nail was connected to the
from of the pistol barrel and a long ignition wire connected to it and emerged
from the bottom of the handle, along with the two switch wires from the trigger
switch. A little putty and paint made it a beautiful little weapon. The two
switch wires connected to a portable battery and the long ignition wire
connected to the high voltage connection on a Model T Coil. The two wires
connected to the input terminals and were controlled by the trigger. Every time
he pulled the trigger on his pistol a long, hot spark jumped from the point of
the nail to any item connected to ground.
He approached the ant trail
and shot one of the busy workers with his new weapon. If any of the ant could
be found, it was definitely dead! The trail was not busy at this time so
waiting for an ant to zap was a slow process that might become boring. This
prompted an idea for my weapon. I decided to try a simple process.
I took a length of the ignition wire and after peeling about five inches of
insulation off the end I mounted it between two wooden supports directly across
the trail. I adjusted the height so an ant passing beneath would furnish a
ground for the high voltage. If this system worked properly I would not have to
press a switch to get an ant! Two ants approached and ignored the obstruction.
As they walked beneath the electric arc there were two sharp cracks and two
more ants disappeared.
As the afternoon progressed
the ant traffic increased. I had zapped hundreds on my trail and I knew that Clifton had accounted for
many with his electric pistol. I asked Clifton
if he were about ready to postpone the battle until another day. He agreed and
said that he was well pleased with the way the war was going. “I haven't
received another sting.” he said. “The new weapons work well. We can probably
win the war in a short time if something doesn't change!” Clifton disconnected his gun from the battery
and coil and prepared to leave the battlefield. I started toward the battery
and coil to disconnect my equipment. Just as I reached for the clip I saw Clifton fall forward on
his face and start using some unacceptable language as he struggled to regain
his standing posture.
Clifton had stumbled across my execution wire
just before I disconnected the equipment. I tried to apologize but he was too
upset to hear me. Maybe we just weren't meant to be soldiers.