For most of his life my Dad always had a moustache! He would spend a considerable amount of time trimming and shaping it. He always looked very spiffy and for some people, it was the only way to tell Dad and his brother Gordon apart….Gordon shaved his off because people were always confusing him with Dad.
About 1958, Johnny Vanderburgh bought a piece of property out at Vaseaux Lake…a beautiful lot on the lake but pretty congested with weeds and trees. Johnny had plans to build a house on it so he had to clear the land and level it in order to start building. Dad and Bill Grant offered to help him clear it one Sunday.
On that Sunday, the fellas took their saws and shovels and headed out to Vaseaux Lake. They each had packed a lunch and a thermos of coffee and plenty of cigarettes…all three were smokers!
By mid afternoon they had cleared a considerable amount of debris and Johnny thought maybe it would be a good idea to burn this pile and come back the next week to finish up.
It was decided to build a trench close around the debris and pour gasoline in the trench and on the actual pile. Once this was done, Johnny struck a match and threw it in the trench…nothing happened! He tried several more times with no luck.
Now, my Dad was usually a very careful man when it came to fire and all we could think of was that he must have been tired when he decided to light the fire. He straddled the trench and squatted down to strike the match. He had a cigarette in his mouth at the time and decided that maybe throwing it in the trench would work better…it sure did!
There was a huge explosion which blew Dad on his back and fire raced around that trench. Dad jumped up and raced for the lake with Bill in hot pursuit. Johnny wasn’t sure what happened but he stayed back and made sure the pile caught fire and everything was safe.
About ten minutes later Dad and Bill walked back up from the lake. Johnny took one look at Dad and after making sure Dad was okay; he sat down and started to laugh! Dad and Bill joined in! Dad’s nylon jacket was melted in the front; his hair at his forehead was singed back about 2 inches and half…yes only HALF of his moustache had been blown clean off!
When he came home, Mom saw it right away and was pretty mad at Dad after he told her how it happened. He went into the bathroom and shaved the other half off and tried to fix his hairline…nope….still looked singed!
It wasn’t long before Dad had his moustache back. His hair took a little longer to grow in and his jacket went into the garbage…and yes, folks, they went back to next weekend to finish the job….safely this time!