Alex - the Serial BombmakerFriday, October 26, 2018
My school friend David Harris at the American School in Mexico City and I liked to make large explosions. There was a drugstore on Avenida Madero, downtown, called el Elefante where we bought kilos of potassium chlorate and sulphur. We began our bomb making with potassium nitrate but quickly found that potassium chlorate gave a bigger bang. At first we tried to mimic gunpowder and added ground coal to our mixture.
The way we exploded our divices, was to use large tin cans inside larger tin cans (packed with pebbles to make it tight) where we would insert a long electrical wire that at the end had a strand of a steel wool filament. After burying the can in my mother’s rose garden we connected the wire to a large 6 volt battery. The 6 volts were enough to make the filament glow.
That first explosion blew one of my mother’s rose bushes up into the air. We had buried our can under the bush. I was given a whipping with a Filipino slipper called a chinela. But a few weeks later when the rose (which my mother re-planted) bloomed nicely I remember that she smiled at me.
But David Harris, who was smarter than I was in chemistry, told me that there was a better formula for our explosive that simply combined the potassioum chlorate with aluminum powder. Aluminum powder was sold in what in Mexico are special hardware stores called tlapalerías. The aluminum powder was usually mixed (we purchased it on its own) with a solvent (perhaps linseed oil) and used to paint metal so that it would not rust.
We made a very large bomb with his combination of aluminum powder and the potassium chlorate but moved our operations to a nearby empty lot. The explosion was deafening and the crater about ten feet in diameter. Perhaps because we lived in a residential district (Lomas de Chapultepec) the police never showed up.
We were delighted and built a few more of these bombs until we became bored.
Weeks later David Harris arrived with a vile in hand and riding on roller skates.
Alex, “This is nitro-glycerine.” We were both disappointed when our aluminum bomb did not set off the vile. David told me that perhaps he had made a mistake in the combination of chemicals and that he would try it again.
A week later my mother and I moved to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila and I lost contact with David Harris.
Through these many years I have been attempting to find him but to no avail.