My first car was a hand-me-down, my fathers 1962 Ford Fairlane. It was a straight six with an H pattern off the steering column, bench seats, Drab green and built like a tank!
4 of us we would pool or financial resources, buy a few gallons of gas, in 1968 it was about $.35 a gallon and cruise around town endlessly, the radio blasting, looking for a party or some other type of social event to crash. The four of us were close friends and we called ourselves The Bowery Boys, we even had business cards that read "The Bowery Boys", Huck, Chick, Bonjo and Berger. The slogan on the card read, "our numbers are small but our spirits are high". Back in those days, alcohol was the drug of choice and the police when pulled over would take the car keys and call our parents.
I have always had an affection for fireworks and spent a lot of time attempting to build them. I used to use the powder found in ammunition as the explosive. What I didn't realize back then was that the powder in ammunition was a propellent and not an explosive so I made these smokey low noise "for effect" devices which were always disappointing.
During one of our Saturday night around town cruises, we found a party in our home town that had spilled out onto the front lawn. We also noticed a rival who was dating the same girl that Bonjo was. This presented an opportunity which could not be missed.
We pulled up in front of the house and I removed from my pocket a home-made M-80, complete red tube, green waterproof fuse and glued ends, it looked very imposing. There were four of us in the car, Bonjo behind the wheel, Huck on the passenger side me and Berger in the back seat. Berger was going to light the fuse and I would throw the device towards the crowd hoping to scare off the interloper. A match was struck, I cocked my arm for the throw, the fuse was lit and the backseat window was NOT rolled down. The M-80 bounced off the glass and landed between the front seat and Bonjo's back. Me and Berger hugged the floor, Bonjo was oblivious to what was about to happen. In about 12 seconds, we heard a modest pop and the car filled up with smoke. The front seat was burned along with Bonjo's CPO jacket, his sweater and his shirt.
We drove away as quickly as we could so as to avoid embarrassment, windows cranked down to vent the acrid smoke that had filled the car.
I still see Bonjo and we have recounted this story endlessly with some embellishments and we are both thankful that my chemistry background was still in it's infancy.