Archive for January, 2012

Mr. Winninghoff’s Trash Can

Submitted by Dave Herries:

One summer I spent a lot of time with Bill Horalek on the farm wondering around and up to no good. One day we heard a couple of loud explosions that caused us to investigate. We found the neighboring farmer was splitting large logs by drilling a large hole in the log and filling it with Potash (Potassium Cloride) and sugar, packing it with mud and igniting it with dynamite fuse. It made a great explosion and split the tree very nicely.

Inspired by this new found knowledge I was able to talk my grandfather, Clyde Colwell (pharmacist at Colwell Drug) into giving me the remains of a tin of Potash he had in the back room of the store (probably a couple of pounds of the treasure). I proceeded to create several “bombs” by mixing the material with sugar and filling large Coke bottles and inserting some dynamite fuse that I was able to get from Haas’ store. They made a fine noise and shook the windows of many homes in the area. They also worked very well under water and would spay water over a large distance.

One evening Bake and I decided that it would be fun to place a “bomb” in Mr. Winninghoffs trash can and set it off. However I was out of sugar and decided to mix the compound with Sulphur instead. I just had enough material to make one final device and enough dynamite fuse to last about 15 minutes +-.

It was a Sunday evening in the fall and all was very quiet. We inserted the “bomb” into the trash can (it was just a 50 gallon drum with no top) and lit the fuse and headed east toward the post office. Bake and I ran into the town constable, John Pope (lovingly known as Pope John) and were visiting with him when there was a large explosion, a flash of light and a large mushroom cloud that went skyward.

“Pope John” immediately pulled out his revolver and began running down the street toward the High School. Bake and I looked at each other and decided that it was time to go home.

Dave Herries


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Submitted by Bill “Duke” Snyder:

Mike Bacon was the instigator for the “Great Spring Chicken Escapade.” He lead us to the hatchery and I remember talking my parents into letting me get somewhere between 6 and 12 chickens.  I took over the front part of the garage and mostly ignored them after they were no longer cute.  My brother-in-law’s dog, a setter, managed to gobble up several and I can only guess he thought them tasty. The survivors became Sunday dinner at the Star Cafe.


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Mrs. Lang’s Broom

Submitted by Joyce Arlington:
At one time there were 4 grocery stores in PC. Jensens’, Langs, Farmers Coop (Niders now) and Warnke’s. Mrs Lang used to keep a boom behind the check out counter and charged as many people for that broom that she could. If they noticed she had charged them and said it wasn’t theirs, she just said “Oh, I thought the broom was yours”. Good racket in those days

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Smutz and the Wherry Alligator

Submitted by Mark Wherry:

My favorite Pawnee City story from when I was a kid: My great grandfather, D. E. Wherry, went back and forth playing practical jokes with one of his employees, George Frappe. One year he went to Florida for the winter and sent George a baby alligator. It was about 6 inches long.

George didn’t know what to do with it so he put it in the basement of the furniture store. He took care of it and fed it every morning. It grew…from 6 inches to 6 feet. One winter got particularly cold and they decided that the flower shop green house would be warmer so they moved it over there. (The flower shop was north of where the Union Bank sits now.) (I would have liked to have seen them moving an alligator from one place to the other in Pawnee City but that isn’t part of the story.)…

One day Edwin Smutz (should be Erwin – the barber) came over to visit Harry Sheely, the proprietor of the flower shop, and nature called. Smutz went down to the green house to use the facilities. While he was doing his business the alligator plopped into the doorway and made a loud hissing noise. Smutz jumped off the throne, ran up the stairs and into the street…with no pants on!

Mark Wherry

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