Author: Robert E. Gross
Author: Robert E. Gross
All you have to do is read the brief description on the back jacket of Robert E. Gross's Memoir& Misadventures of a Mad Inventor and I am sure you will want to know the details about his cockamamie inventions that he and his friends concocted when they were children as well as their chilling misadventures.
Gross grew up on a farm in Clinton, Indiana and according to the 2010 census, the population of this hamlet was 4,893. Perhaps, this is the principal reason why he and his buddies needed to involve themselves in all kinds of shenanigans that would keep their minds occupied and free from boredom. And after reading these essays, you have to conclude that they were creative and original with their inventions. Moreover, when you give it more thought, these youngsters did tend to seek out ways to solve problems and improve on existing ideas to produce a useful item that would fill their needs. At the time these ideas may have sounded silly, but in all likelihood they provided the seeds that would lead Gross to eventually become an Aerospace Mechanical Engineer and the owner of two utility patents.
Without doubt, Gross is a delightful raconteur who has put together a delicious collection of nine essays that in some instances may take your breath away due to the possible physical harm that could have occurred to him and his friends. Fortunately, it seems nothing very serious resulted other than bruised egos and scraped body parts. In addition, each of these stories is a perceptive and satisfying read which at times have offbeat slants on growing up and experimenting without any thought given to the consequences of one's actions.
Among my favorite essays is Slippery When Wet when Gross and his friend John decided that they wanted to develop an underwater breathing apparatus to explore the many strip mine ponds that dotted the area of their town. These ponds were very deep, crystal clear and full of large fish and other creatures that the boys were determined to discover. They did come up with an ingenious idea wherein they would use a huge hand-operated tire pump that was possibly once served to inflate large truck or farm tires. Without giving away too much of the story, the sight of him lying face down in the bath tub with a rubber hose protruding from his mouth and his friend standing there pumping him full of air was more than his mother could tolerate.
Another is when Gross's grandfather, who was inclined to drinking hard cider, showed him how he could get worms out of the ground with two pointed rods, each attached to one end of two wires. His mother was horrified and was certain that he and his grandfather would both be electrocuted. Gross couldn't believe his eyes when the contraption did the job and the ground, for about three feet around the rods was teeming with hundreds of worms of all sizes. After several months, Gross had the urge to reproduce the experiment which any budding inventor would do. He was quite convinced that his invention would be far superior to that of his grandfather due to the fact that he would be using an old hand crank generator that was once used in early telephones. I am happy to report that Robert Gross is still alive today to narrate his experiences that nearly fried his body!
Gross's escapades sounded scary at times, they certainly were a lot
of fun to read about, however, I would strongly discourage anyone
from trying to replicate them.
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