Ronnie Martin was a good friend of mine. He and his brother Billy were good friends to have. They lived behind our house just across the alley where we freely crossed into each others yards and houses to play as we would explore the neighborhood together. Then one day Ronnie had gone to the junk yard about a block away from our house which consisted of neighbors who would park their discarded cars until they rusted into the ground.
There were several of these old abandoned cars that littered the hill side that lead down to the run off creek from Lake Clair, near Baldwin hill. Ronnie evidently was checking out the cars as we often did. We would open up the doors, climb inside and pretend to drive them as we would jerk the steering wheel back and forth and make engine noises with our mouths to dramatize our play. We could barely reach the gas peddle. We’d open the glove boxes and snoop around as we played like we were driving. One time I opened a glove box only to discover a bumble bee’s nest. I got stung in the face as I clawed my way out of the car and ran home looking for sympathy. My eyes were puffed up until they closed and I got lots of attention from everyone that saw me.
Ronnie however one day decided that he wanted to know if there was gas in the tank of an old 1950 Pontiac.
So he lit a match and took off the gas cap. Then he carefully held it next to the hole to look down inside the tube when to his surprise the gas tank exploded in his face and caught the car on fire.
Ronnie was by himself and I’m not sure how he got away but he showed up at home with third degree burns over his entire face and chest.
Several days went by and he came home from the Huntington hospital and I was given the “ok” to go over to see him. As i walked in Ronnie lay motionless on the sofa in his parent’s living room, his face was charred and his face was covered with Vaseline as he struggled with the pain to talk. He seemed happy to see me even though i couldn't stay for long because he needed his rest. So for the summer Ronnie watched TV as his face healed the best it could even though it seemed as though he would wear the scars for life.