The potato gun, and my brother

This is my brother’s story, and he reads here, so I may get corrected on some of the details, but it’s too funny not to retell.

My brother and his wife visited some of her relatives in a southern state. I’m going to obfuscate and declarificate the details here in order to protect the innocent guilty ridiculous er, in order to protect the identities of all involved, just in case you know them. Or just in case my brother might have hyped up the details just a teenie bit.

Anyhow, I believe it was after dinner and a few of the relatives had cracked open some beers. A few, including my sister-in-law, had gone indoors, but my brother remained outside with the rest, enjoying the night air and the company.

“Hey,” said one of his in-laws, “let’s bring out the potato gun!”

For my erudite readers who are wondering if you need a gun to hunt the wily potato, it’s not like that at all. A potato gun is a stupid an ingenious device made with PVC piping, hairspray or some other ignitable, and all sorts of mechanical goodness in order to launch a potato about a hundred yards.

My brother’s in-laws wanted to impress him. I guess he said something noncommital to them like, “Uh…what?” which they took as an endorsement of their fine idea. The potato gun was produced. Potatoes were procured. A launching area was cleared, and they proceeded to launch potatoes.

Much oohing and aahing. Much beer drinking. Much launching of our many-eyed spudly friend, Mr. Potato Bullet. A good time was being had by all.

They were shooting for distance, of course, and would try different angles of elevation, different amounts of combustibles, and different shapes of potato.

Then someone said, “Hey!” and remembered that Grandpa was on oxygen!

This is the point where my brother’s eyebrows shot up, and he thought, “This is not a good idea.”

I’m not wise in the mechanics of potato-gunning, but apparently they attached Grandpa’s oxygen line to the chamber of the potato gun and filled it with oxygen. And kept filling it. And kept filling it. And my brother, seeing they were serious, made sure he and his beer were a goodly distance away.

The canister was sealed. The spark was ignited.

My brother says that when the smoke cleared, the potato gun was in shreds of PVC plastic. And as the thunder of the explosion finished echoing off the houses and the hills, the family members could be heard heard to murmur, “Oh!” and “Wow!”

“And,” my brother added, his voice thin, “I think the potato is still going!”

O bounteous potato, denied your rightful future as french fries or hash browns but immortalized in orbit and in folklore and now on the internet, forever to be known as “The Eye In The Sky.”


  1. Lane in PA

    “Eye in the Sky” LOL!

    That was a great story!

    1. philangelus

      My Patient Husband was the one who came up with “Eye in the Sky.” 😀

  2. Wendy

    I’m sure when they got to the emergency room, “Grandpa’s oxygen,” “potato gun” and “beer” was all they had to say. 😀

    Was this particular southern state known for its natives uttering the popular statement, “Hey, y’all hold my beer and watch this!”?

    1. philangelus

      You got it! 😀

      By the grace of God Almighty, no one got hurt from this little venture. Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny, because I wouldn’t have laughed if someone had lost an eye or needed stitches.

      (Okay, I laugh about situations where *I* needed stitches due to my own stupidity. I wouldn’t laugh if someone else needed stitches. But then other people don’t want to laugh while I’m laughing about needing stitches due to my own stupidity, which creates this strange recursivity.)

  3. Scott

    I’m just thinking of the next story that occurred that night about three towns away when the potato lands through the roof of a conspiracy theorist who will now claim that aliens have begun their attack using our own crops as weapons. I can just imagine what the 911 operator heard that night.

    1. philangelus

      “ACK! It’s the invasion of the ALIEN POTATOES!!! Hide!”

  4. Bopper

    The Great Tater Toss!

  5. capt_cardor

    The other night I watched (about 10 minutes worth) of a show on the Science Channel called “Punkin Chunkin”. (It was actually a rerun from two years ago). In it supposedly intelligent people (males) hurl a punkin as far as they can. By that I mean they use catapults, ballistae and finally air cannons to hurl/shoot the punkin as far as possible. I actually listened to a fellow explain that in using a motorized truck mounted air gun the size of “Big Bertha” you had to fine tune the explosive force or else you wouldn’t Chunk a Punkin, but rather a Punkin mush, which obviously would never count.

    Argh!!!!!!! If they would only use their minds for good instead of…

  6. Slartibartfast (Wendy) from eHell

    capt_cardor, you can go to for the official website, including pictures. It really is the noblest of sports! (Okay, maybe not noblest, but it certainly stands out in some way.)

    1. philangelus

      “That’s my cousin, the champion pumpkin chucker. See him over there? He’s out standing in the field.”

  7. The Brother (name changed to protect the yada yada....)

    Hi y’all, just wanted to do a little clarificationalizing to this here tale. y’see, it was a hot and soultry day in a little ol’ town down south, in a town not a lot unlike your’s (if y’all have large pick-up trucks with gun racks and tires bigger than a 7 year old) and some of us folks got together to have a rootin, tootin good time to celebrate a fine young marm high school graduation. So we were hanging around in the heat and trying to replace all the fluids in our system by tossing back a few libations when good old uncle ole decided to break out his new contraption, the potato gun. It was a long pvc tube, about 4 feet long on a metal tripod, and just looking at it made you thank good old Thomas Jefferson for guaranteeing our right to carry large projectile firing weapons (just in case any of those commies come charging over the hill with a ginzu knife or some potato peeler or whatnot) and he filled the launchin’ chamber with a little ether and he shot that darn spud off onto the hill to a roar of laughter and the crack of a few miller’s. So he was thinking (he’s the good brains in the family, y’see) and he thought if it went that far with a little old barely combustable ether, i wonder what might happen if i broke the old acetalyne torch out of the workshed. So he did and poured a little old O2 into the chamber and launched that spud over the yonder hill into the daytime sun. We all laughed our butts off, and after a little scratchin, some more celebratin’, and a few shots of the worm, Good old ole decided he might just give that gun another whirl. So, armed with a highly explosive canister of oxygen, he figured he’d just put five seconds worth in. Well, the sun must’ve really been beating down, and maybe the worm was saying things in his head to distract him, cause I think he was filling that chamber for more than five seconds. So we loaded her up and were laughing when Ole hit the switch and proceeded to blow that gun into a thousand pieces, at which point he turned around and said “wow did you see that, i could’ve freaking killed myself, that was great!!” And yes, that potato is now somewhere in the heavans, no doubt followed by the echos of my aunt donna’s voice screaming orlando, what the hell are you doing??? So whoever reads this here story, don’t be distracted by people who may say that the moral of the story is not to drink too much, or not to create large guns meant to hurl vegatables or legumes at high velocity over long distances, but remember what the true moral of this story is: don’t graduate from high school!
    With all my love,
    The Brother

    1. philangelus

      All I can say is, thank God you’re godfather to two of my Kiddos. 🙂 I love ya, man!

  8. The brother

    i figured you’d change the name or we’d all have to go into some type of “witness to stupidity” protection program…thanks

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