There are parents who object to their children playing with toy guns for fear that games of war might lead to a reckless disregard for human life. I understand and maybe I agree, but my grandparents had no such qualms with war toys. Even real war toys. In truth, my younger brother and I had our very own hand grenades.
At this point, a couple of disclaimers are in order. First, my parents had no idea John and I knew of, much less played with, the two hand grenades hidden away in our grandparents' cellar. And to this day, my brother and I will insist that our grandmother, in spite of allowing her school-age grandsons to play with high explosives, ranked among the best grandmothers in the whole world!
How she came into possession of the World War II era hand grenades is unimportant, but she and Grandpa had them stashed in an old brown paper bag in the corner of the dank cellar of their west Louisville home. I thought the grenades were wonderful. So did John. Having hitherto played only with plastic grenades, the real ones seemed nice and hefty and, well, real!
They looked a little like green pineapples; a spring-loaded lever locked in place by a pin followed the curvature of the steel hull. A ring was attached to the pin. Even though I didn't understand long division, I knew how to detonate a hand grenade. Gripping the bomb with the lever secured against the palm of the hand, the pin is released by a quick yank of the metal ring; when the grenade is tossed, the spring-loaded lever activates an internal fuse. In a matter of seconds, the exploding grenade sends enough flying shrapnel to kill a dozen enemy soldiers. Or two grade school boys.
Maybe it sounds horribly morbid, but my brother and I were very careful not to blow each other up. I don't think we actually played with the grenades; we would simply take them out of the bag and handle them while Grandma folded clothes from the dryer. Once the laundry was finished, John and I would lose interest in the grenades and rush outdoors to play. Besides, the hidden landmines buried in Grandma's flower garden were far more interesting. Only kidding!
Why did Grandma allow us to play with live munitions? I think she had a rather elevated view of her grandchildren. In her estimation, we were the smartest children in the world. We could do no wrong and that included blowing ourselves to smithereens. Had someone suggested that little boys should not play with explosives, Grandma would have laughed saying that might be true for ordinary children, but her grandsons had more sense than to pull the pins on live hand grenades. In a strange way, I suppose Grandma was right, for no real harm came from our play, but now that I am grown and have a child of my own, I am an advocate of keeping children out of arsenals, munitions plants, and the likes. Grandma's opinion of her grandsons was entirely too lofty. She should have given us Tinker Toys instead.
So is there a moral to this rather ridiculous rhapsody? Can I tie in a verse from scripture and transform this cheery little yarn a Bible lesson of sorts? No, I simply like telling people how my brother and I played with hand grenades. That should be enough.