The Fire Grenades

The salesman was sitting in our kitchen, and we were all gathered around the the table, my mother, father, the salesman and me. I guess my sister had already been put to bed. She would only have been about one or two years old at the time.

A fire grenade in its wall mountA fire grenade in its wall mount

This must have been in 1956 when we were still living in the Great Stone House on my grandfather’s farm, and I would have been six or seven. That’s my best guess anyway.

The salesman was pitching a fire prevention device, specifically a fire grenade, although I don’t know if that’s what he called it. It was a sealed glass bulb, about the right size to fit in an adult’s hand, and it was filled with a bright red liquid. The idea was that if you saw a fire starting, like if the electric range caught on fire, you would grab one of these fire grenades from the fixture on the wall and throw it at the fire to put it out before it spread. Presumably the glass bulb would shatter, releasing the fire-extinguishing chemicals to the outside.

I hadn’t thought about it at the time, but given that the farm was so far off the beaten track, the salesman must have gotten some sort of invitation in order to find us. Maybe a referral from a friend or relative?

Anyway, my parents ended up ordering a box of six fire grenades along with the wall mounts. I don’t think they were too expensive, perhaps somewhere between $25 and $50, but of course, that’s in 1956 dollars.

Well, the box of fire grenades arrived and we never unpacked them. They sat in their box the entire rest of the time that we lived on the farm. My father never put the mounting fixtures on the wall.

When we moved, I remember seeing the box lying around either in the cellar or the attic for a while, but eventually it disappeared.

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