Here’s my favorite story about my Grandpa Fisher, my Mom’s dad. Through most of my childhood my sister Kirsten and I used to spend at least a week pretty much every summer out in Ohio, and usually longer than that, visiting the extended Hamilton and Fisher clans. I loved going to my Grandfather Fisher’s house. He was a hunter and gun collector and had a pool room upstairs with hundreds of guns mounted on the walls. Most were hunting rifles of one kind or another, but he also had antique weapons and a large handgun collection, and I was allowed to play with them to my heart’s content, while my sister and cousin Heidi were not. Most summers we’d also bring a few out into the back yard and practice shooting. I could almost always bring a pellet rifle down, but occasionally he would also bring down one of the muzzle loaders, or the blunderbuss, or some of the handguns. I even got to fire a .357 once with my Grandfather helping me to keep my arms steady. The girls never got to shoot unless my Aunt Sandy was around and got on my Grandfather’s case, and even then it wasn’t a sure thing. Such was the generational gap – my Grandfather had been raised in a different time and with different rules.
Anyway one summer when I was in my mid-teens I was in the yard shooting at cans with a pellet rifle and thunderstorms began to roll in. This area of Ohio (Akron-Canton , in the Portage lakes region – basically the northeastern quarter of the state) was prone to violent thunderstorms and even hail in the summers. My grandfather asked me to stop shooting and come up on the porch but I resisted, asking him if I could wait until the rain actually arrived. My Grandfather got cross and told me to come on up before I got hit by lightning, then joked about me with a lightning rod (the gun) in my hands. When I kept arguing he complained that the gun would rust what with the moisture and insisted I come up onto the porch, but allowed that I could continue shooting from the porch if I moved the targets in closer, which I then did.
The rest of the family was sitting around on the porch and I took a seat and started shooting as the thunderstorm rolled in. It was a powerful storm and pretty soon it was coming down hard and lightning was cracking, and my grandfather joked again about how I was a lightning rod and was going to get electrocuted. I said something mocking about it and kept shooting.
Suddenly as I lined up another shot a huge bang went off seemingly right at my feet, and I screamed ‘holy SHIT!’ and threw the gun out into the rain, thinking I had just been struck by lightning. My feet also felt burned. Meanwhile everyone on the porch had begun laughing and I came to realize that my grandfather had tossed a lit cherry bomb at my feet as I had been lining up the shot. I had never sworn in front of any of the Ohio relatives before and this was half the joke to them. Meanwhile the old coot had scorched my feet with the damned thing, but even so I also started to laugh. He had gotten me but good.