Was my dad full of it? A story he used to tell

Not sure where this should go, I’ll try here.

My dad was a straight up kind of guy. No nonsense. Not a joker.

So anyway he told me this story once. As a kid he grew up during the depression. Once while exploring along a ditch in a field, he says he came across two small suitcases. When he opened them, they were were filled with electrical stuff (wires, tubes, lights, etc). It was also apparent that to two fit together in some fashion (I can’t remember the details).

He took them home, connected them and plugged them into the wall. And, according to my dad, blew out the power in a several block radius (at least). He took it all back to the field without telling anyone what he had done.

As a kid this seemed plausible to me. But now as an adult I’m not sure of the mechanism that would have caused this to happen.

Any guesses?

Did the device do anything when he plugged it in?

I think he found an pinch and pulled off an “Ella Fitzgerald”.

I don’t think he was deliberately lying to you.

People often have false memories. They seem real but are totally fabricated. (I’ve got one doozy of a false memory myself)

It was OBVIOUSLY a gonkulator!

They were all the rage up until the end of the second world war. The turbo-encarbulator made them obsolete.

I’ll agree with Grrrr. Real Belief but False Memory.

When I was six I saw a meteorite fall, and walked down to the gas station at the end of the block. There were several pieces of red glowing rock lying on the concrete, obviously too hot to touch, so I went back home and went to bed.

Obviously it could not have really happened, but if the details had been more plausible it might have solidified into an authentic false memory.

Exactly how most folks would describe my dad. Yet one time I was in a car belonging to some guy who was following my dad’s car to some destination (I was like 8, the details are lost).

Every time my dad was coming to a turn, he’d turn his turn signal on long ahead of time, and every time the signal was the opposite of what he did. He’d turn on his left signal, then make a right. Over and over.

The guy driving the car I was in noticed and pointed it out to me and his wife who was in the car. He began speculating about how/why this would happen, talking about shorts and fuses.

When we arrived at the destination he hopped out and started telling my dad about his car’s electrical issue. My dad caught my eye and winked so I could enjoy what followed along with him. The guy climbed into the engine compartment, crawled under the car, followed wires fore to aft.

He eventually tried the turn signal and it worked predictably. He figured he’d moved wires around and fixed the problem.

“What does it do? That’s the beauty of it! It doesn’t do anything!”

Here’s my guess: The story is true, but the power coincidentally went out and your dad didn’t do it. Otherwise, he might have had authorities knocking on the door.

In the depression? How would these authorities have known where the power outage originated? In-home electrical wiring hadn’t been around all that long even in cities (they got to 50% around 1925) and the infrastructure was probably not very robust yet, so neighborhood outages would not have been rare events.

Anyway, as with others I suspect conflated occurrences melding into one memory. Found something, plugged it in, nothing happened; at another time he innocently turned on a light or something, and the power went out coincidentally. Or something along those lines.

My dad taught me to read when I was 3, so I was reasonably good at it after eighteen months of practice. One day when I was 5 and in half-day kindergarten, my friend Eric (age 4) and I were chasing around a really big toad - that sucker was a big as my whole hand! - in his yard while we waited for his slightly older brother to finish a full-length school day. For some reason we looked up at the sky as a plane passed overhead. It was spelling out a word. First an H. Then an E. Then an L. Then last, a P. The plane needed help! Eric didn’t know what it said, but I assured him that it definitely said help, which was a plea for someone do do something. We were someones! We ran off and told grownups, but the contrails had faded into blurriness by the time anyone came out to look.

While I do think we actually saw a plane and contrails, it wasn’t until years and years later that it occurred to me that a plane that really was in trouble wouldn’t have been able to maneuver in such a way to spell out anything even if their was a stunt pilot flying it.

That makes the most sense I suppose. Although from the way he told it, I’m sure he believed it.

I guess you missed mine upthread.

I agree. Especially since it was in the 1930-40s. If the device was, I dunno(?), a powerful radio transmitter that backfed a bunch of crazy signals into the powerline, I’d almost buy it today. But the stuff back then was a lot more mechanical and probably less vulnerable to that sort of failure.

You can’t do this to us… please, tell the story!

You casually use the answer to the toughest question this board has ever faced (including the Mystery of Al Traina) as a commentary! I didn’t even know that had been solved. I still thought that scene was from the Berenstein Bears universe. I guess I missed the thread where it was found.

This was what my dad had supposed happened. But the coincidence of a power failure happening at about the same time would leave an impression.

Not related, but another funny story about my dad. I grew up in Texas and we went fishing a lot. We would walk off into the woods, way away from everything to find a secluded spot.

So one time we were out there and I spied a small metallic cylinder. Dad picked it up. It was surprisingly light. He wondered what it could possibly be. Some piece of ultra light weight metal must have fallen from the sky. Imagine the sheepish look on his face when he realized it was a silver crayon.

Catfish might bite on that. Worth trying.

Calling Gatopescado!