"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

3 amazing Dad stories by Ken Neher

By on May 30, 2018 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments



Editor’s note: We asked our readers to send a story about a favorite moment with Dad. Most who entered did just that. But Ken Neher couldn’t choose just one, so he submitted three stories. Since they are all fun — you might say explosive fun — we are sharing them all.

“Dad never ever stops teaching,” said Ken Neher. “This is with great-granddaughter Reagan several years ago.”

1) This old dynamite is too dangerous to leave laying around

By Ken Neher

It all began at the bottom of a talc mine somewhere in Death Valley.

My Dad and his three young sons had carefully maneuvered down the slanted shaft, and we were now negotiating the tunnels that led off in two directions at the bottom.

As we neared the dead end of one of the tunnels we found a crumbling cardboard box full of brick red sticks of very old dynamite.

My Dad said it was much too dangerous to leave it there, where someone might get hurt, so he had us all fill our pockets with the dynamite sticks and carry them to the surface.

He told us it would be safer if we disposed of the dangerous material ourselves. But how?

Maybe we can blow it up? So, he packed 8 or 10 sticks into an old rusty coffee can and inserted a shotgun shell right in the middle to act as a detonator.

Then he placed the can — open end toward us — on the bank of a dry riverbed and we took up our positions on the other side. Each of us took turns shooting the .22 rifle at the shotgun shell in the middle. Pretty clever, eh?

Well, it didn’t work.

After 20 minutes or so it was pretty clear that no one was going to hit the end of that shotgun shell from a safe distance. That evening around the campfire, we tossed the dynamite sticks in one by one and burned them up, while a small shimmering trickle of nitroglycerin slowly wound out from beneath the fire and disappeared into the sand. We really loved those great trips with Dad.

The last time I talked with my father about that outing, he said it’s probably good we never were able to set it off. Yep. That’s my Dad.


2) With a road trip this fun, who is thinking about stopping?

By Ken Neher

A test drive seemed like a good activity for a Saturday afternoon outing to my Dad and his young three boys.

Dad found a Toyota dealership having a sale, and a red sedan of some kind caught all our eyes. We were all buckled up and headed out to “test drive.”

I’m pretty sure now that we weren’t looking for a new car then. We didn’t usually buy the next car until ours was well-used.

I think my Dad was just entertaining his three young wards.

We headed out of the lot and up to Baseline, a road that was laid out perfectly east to west and rose and fell over the alluvial fans of rocks and soil that had streamed for hundreds of years from the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains. This was a fun road.

As the test drive unfolded, the speed over the rises and falls began to grow. We boys squealed with delight as we began to go weightless over and over and over.

Dad was holding tightly to the wheel, while our speed continued to grow. Just as we topped the next high hill, the car left the ground and my brothers and I went crazy! We-e-e-e-e!

About then, no, exactly then, my very sharp father noticed that just ahead at the bottom of the hill about 30 yards away was a four-way stop.

I can’t verify what our speed was that day, but I’m pretty sure that it exceeded our stopping distance. Just as Dad hit the brakes and we all were jerked forward and back by our seatbelts, cars pulled up to the other three stops facing the approaching intersection.

I can’t tell you what the other drivers were thinking, but I remember them sitting mouths agape, as we skidded into the intersection, slowly turning to the right, and coming to a stop in the exact middle of the four-way.

Dad calmly downshifted and drove slowly out of the intersection and back to the Toyota dealership. The whole way back we debated if they would notice a flat spot on the Firestones.

We really loved our trips out with Dad. Best Dad ever.


3) You kids stand back while I teach you a lesson on safety

By Ken Neher

It probably would have been smart to have our mom along on our weekend trips with Dad because she was a registered nurse.

But, as it turned out my Dad and his three young sons usually headed out on mountain and desert outings on our own. Such was the case one hot day during summer vacation.

We were jeep campers. Dad would load us up in the jeep with some gear up on top and in the back seat between my brothers.

And, of course, there were always two combat cans of gasoline clamped on the back. These two cans were a source of fascination for my two younger brothers (and me), who poked at them with sticks, drug them around campsites, knocked them over, or hit them with rocks and pebbles.

After witnessing this too many times, my father thought it was about time he impressed upon us just how combustible and dangerous gasoline can be when mishandled.

So right after lunch, he found an appropriate size mesquite bush about six feet high and four feet across for the example.

He stood us back about 20 feet away and said, “Stay right there where it’s safe.”

Then he opened the gas can and shook out perhaps a half gallon onto the bush. He set the can down, and struck a match.

The miscalculation was… it was 90 degrees and the gasoline had instantly vaporized into the hot desert air.

After the huge fireball and explosion the only thing left of the big bush was a small six inch smoldering stump.

My father stood there with a surprised look on his face, a lit match in his hand, singed head of hair, and an open combat can of gasoline by his side. We were impressed. Very impressed.

Ken Neher and his wife Marsha have lived in a morphing Sunnyslope farmhouse for their entire 40 years of marriage.

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