Special to the Mirror by Mike Jordan
Sometime in the mid to late ‘70’s, a Chief Petty Officer I worked for in the mid ‘80’s, named Dan, relayed the following story, which was confirmed independently to me by another Navy Veteran in the ‘90’s:
“Chief Dan” was stationed somewhere in Spain. He and his family lived on a small farm he’d rented from a Spanish landlord, who was also his neighbor and became a close friend. There was no trash pick-up at his farm and the garbage was piling up, so he asked his landlord what he should do with it. His landlord suggested dumping it down a dry-well located on the farm he rented. It was the typical wishing well design –round red brick, but very deep and the protruding round brick structure (tube) rose about three or four feet above ground and had long since lost its covering structure that had held the roof, winch, and bucket. After a year or two, he had filled the well with household trash and garbage that included table scraps and other organic material. Now that the drywell was full, he, again, had no place to get rid of his trash. He decided to burn the trash in the well to reduce its bulk so that he could once again put his trash down the well-tube.
So, one bright morning he walked to the well that was fairly close to his farmhouse. He’d brought a five gallon can of gasoline with him to pour down the well to assist in burning the trash. After pouring the gasoline down the well-tube, he decided it may not have been enough, so he poured another five gallons down the well-tube and went back to his home for a leisurely breakfast, giving the gasoline enough time to filter down through the garbage. On his return, he brought a box of wooden stick matches.
Keenly aware of the volatility of the paper trash, gasoline, and methane-producing organic matter mix, he, with great trepidation, hunkered down next to the round brick of the well-tube. Keeping his head well below the rim of the well-tube, he struck a match and tossed in…nothing. He lit and tossed another match into the well…nothing. Well, as is typical, the third time was the “charm”. While keeping his head well below the rim, he tossed the third lit match… The ground began to shake, and a great rumbling sound rose out of the well! Suddenly, the well- tube turned into the world’s largest “Roman Candle” spewing out flaming trash more than a hundred feet into the air. The upper winds captured the burning rubble and disbursed the flaming debris across the countryside; setting fields, barns and other structures aflame.
At some point, Chief Dan’s landlord arrived at the burning well and directed him to go into his house, hide under his bed, and deny any participation in the conflagration that decimated the countryside!