Wasps, Propane Bottles and Me

Wasps, Propane Bottles and Me

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At the house Dad built on Sikes Rd. there in Rector, AR., we used propane for the cook stove and water heater.  Still in use today is propane, easily distinguished by the large white tanks..  Usually these tanks are set apart at least 100' from the house.

But those are for the rich people who can afford to have them filled.  We had the small vertical tanks set right next to the house.

These could choose the most in-opportune time, usually right in the middle of cooking a meal or the middle of a bath.  Since we weren't well off enough to have a shower, we took baths.  So it wasn't too bad if you ran out of warm water.

On one sunday afternoon while Momma was cooking dinner the stove flame went down.  Mom hollered "George, you need to change propane bottles, we're out."

So, Dad got up to change the bottle and I went along.  The task consisted of unscrewing the tank top, similar to the oxygen tanks of today.

Then, a crescent wrench was used to unscrew the fitting from the tank, move to new bottle and reverse the process.  After the full tank had been tightened and turned on, then the lines had to be bled, pilot lights lit, and all the windows opened to allow the gas to vent.

So, here Dad and I go to take on the task.  He unscrewed the top, handed it to me, and I promptly stuck my hand up the middle of it, and begin to twirl it around.  Suddenly my whole hand was on fire!  I screamed and slung the lid off my hand down to the ground.

My whole hand was on fire!  I didn't even know what happened until Dad started laughing his head off . . . there I am in mortal danger and he's laughing!

It turned out that a wasp nest loaded with red wasps had built a nest on the inside of the lid at the top.  At the introduction of my hand, had attacked it with full fury of two dozen angry wasps.  Wasps can sting numerous times . . .

Instantly my hand begin to swell, and in short order, my hand looked like a rubber glove blown up.  No way could I close my hand or bend my fingers.

But it was a lesson well learned because from that day forward, I ALWAYS looked where I put my puppy patters!

George Cavaness

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