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When All Else Fails Try Duct Tape

September 14, 2014

The troubled space flight of Apollo 13 has been chronicled in a movie starring Tom Hanks.  A real-life drama in space began with the unforgettable words, radioed back to earth by Jack Swigert, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here!”

On route to the moon, the command module was shaken by an explosion. The crew evacuated the space capsule and entered the attached lunar landing module, using it as a lifeboat. The square carbon dioxide filters from Apollo 13’s failed command module had to be modified to fit round receptacles in the lunar landing module. The challenge was the proverbial problem – how to fit a square peg into a round hole. Without the modification, the three astronauts would have perished in space.

On the ground in Houston, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration responded. Ed Smylie, chief of NASA, and mission control engineers, designed the modification using duct tape. Following the directions relayed from Houston, the Apollo 13 crew made the repairs using their own roll of duct tape. The filters started working, saving the lives of the three astronauts on board. Later, Ed said that he knew the problem was solvable when the crew confirmed that duct tape was on board the spacecraft.

“I felt like we were home free.” Ed Smylie, a native of Mississippi, quipped, “One thing a Southern boy will never say is ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix that.'”

Among the nicknames for duct tape is “Jesus Tape,” derived from the miraculous properties of the silver adhesive. To some the nickname may seem sacrilegious. Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise may disagree. Duct tape saved their lives!

Duct tape, developed during World War II, originally was named Duct Tape. Used as a waterproof sealing tape for ammunition cases, the versatile product was also used to repair military equipment, including jeeps, guns, and aircraft.

Used as a waterproof sealing tape for ammunition cases, the versatile product was also used to repair military equipment, including jeeps, guns, and aircraft.

Postwar, the United States experienced a boom in the housing industry. The name duct tape evolved because of its application in heating and air conditioning installation. Duct tape sealed the air ducts.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, reports that Duck Products, a manufacturer of duct tape, produces the adhesive in a wide range of colors. The company annually sponsors a competition that offers a college scholarship to the high school student who creates the most stylish formal prom wear made from duct tape.

A previous competition of Duck Products was called Stuck in Traffic. Vehicles decorated with creative duct tape designs were judged and prizes were awarded.

Some people enjoy making novelty items out of the adhesive. At a recent youth group function at our church, I noticed a teenager sporting a duct tape purse! She had crafted the bag from her dad’s handy roll.

I have since learned that designer duct tape accessories are available for purchase. Love My Bag, known for retailing major name brand fashion designers such as Prada and Fendi, has begun retailing an exclusive line of duct tape handbags from the designer Vanessa Jean. Browsing her Web site reveals sixteen different handbag creations available in a riot of colors, all very affordable at less than fifty dollars.

A medical study that was announced on a major news network, stated that an application of duct tape can be used as an effective treatment for warts. The procedure even has a name – duct tape occlusion therapy! Please consult your physician before trying this method of wart removal.

The Duct Tape Guys, Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg, have written seven books about the many uses of duct tape. Their best-selling books have sold over 1.5 million copies. They coined the motto, “It ain’t broke; it just needs duct tape.” Their Web site features thousands of duct tape uses contributed from people around the world. Here is a sampling.

“The paint on my car was peeling, so I redid my entire car in duct tape,” reads an entry.

A teenager wrote, “I have an artificial leg, and out of pure stupidity, I broke it at the ankle. After about two hours of worrying about what my parents would say, I wrapped it with duct tape and walked on it for nearly two weeks.”

A high school student entered, “I’m in the marching band, and I broke my trumpet. We have no band budget, so we duct taped the horn back together.”

From an avid hunter, “My deer stand broke, so I duct taped myself in the tree!”

Its value is evidenced by its presence in most tool boxes.  A friend contends that a handyman needs two indispensable tools: duct tape for sticking things and WD-40 for unsticking things.

Last Monday evening I spoke to the Young At Heart Group at Spartanburg’s First Baptist Church. I told one of my all-time favorite stories from my years as the Senior Pastor at Morningside Baptist Church.

When a young woman and her mother showed up for Sunday morning worship, I quickly realized they were there to check us out. They were looking for a place to have a wedding. They wanted to hear my voice and see if I was a suitable pastor to officiate. They wanted to hear our church organist. Most of all they wanted to get a feel for the sanctuary to see if there was sufficient space for their guests. We passed inspection on every count.

They bride met with my secretary to make sure everything was in compliance with the wedding policy of the church. I then had several premarital counseling sessions with the couple.

The rehearsal went off without a problem. The day of the wedding came. I arrived at the church about forty minutes before the service. I went by my office, filled out the marriage license, and put on my robe.

As was my custom I went by the bridal room. I have never heard such sobbing and crying in all my life! It was not just the bride but two other women as well.

I knocked on the door and as I did the father of the bride came out. He was a huge man, about 6’5” and well over 300 pounds. I recall thinking how incongruous he looked in a tuxedo.

“Can I help?” I asked.

“No.” he replied. I’ve got three upset women on my hands. I have to figure something out.” With that he strode out of the church into the parking lot.

As he departed he mumbled, “We might have to call this wedding off.”

I found the groom and the best man, and we took our places outside the door where we were to enter the sanctuary. I did not mention the possibility of cancellation to them.

Through a small peep-hole I could see that the sanctuary was full. The organist played “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and the mothers were escorted in to take their places. Then the organ played Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” my cue to walk in with the groom and the best man. Then seven groomsmen, seven bridesmaids, and a flower girl made their entrances.

The organist chimed the hour and played “The Wedding March.” The doors opened, and there stood the father of the bride, that big man in his tuxedo. On his arm was his daughter, the bride.

Standing next to her father she looked like a petite young woman, but she was not petite. She was a full-figured lady, right out of her daddy’s gene pool. She was ample, stout, and heavyset.  You get the picture; she was a big gal.

There was enough room for them to get down the aisle together. The bride’s father brought his daughter right over in front of me, parking her like an eighteen-wheeler.

She was not a petite woman, but when she stood next to her groom, he looked petite.

The wedding service went as smoothly as any I have ever conducted. There was not even a smudge of running mascara. No problems at all!

We signed the marriage license, took wedding pictures, and proceeded to the fellowship hall for the reception. I went by the office to hang up my robe. When I arrived at the reception the bride was barefoot and was enjoying her second piece of wedding cake.

“I came by the bride’s room before the service.” I said. “I have never heard so much upset in all my life.”

“Oh, Dr. Kirk, I thought I was going to have to call off the wedding.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I was measured and fitted for my dress about four months ago. It never occurred to me that I should try my dress on again before the wedding. We’ve had so many bridal parties and wedding showers that I put on a few pounds. Just two hours before the wedding, I discovered that my dress no longer fit!”

“My mother pulled and tugged on the zipper. My aunt tried to pin it together with safety pins. Nothing worked. But my daddy knew what to do.”

“What did your daddy do?” I inquired.

“He went out to his truck and opened the tool box. Eureka! Buried under the jumbled contents was a roll of duct tape. Standing there in my slip, I reached for the ceiling. My daddy wrapped that duct tape around me again and again and made me the best-looking duct tape corset. You know what, Dr. Kirk? My dress fit perfectly! I love my daddy.”

“I can see why.”

I am sorry to say that I don’t know the rest of the story. I can only imagine what happened on the wedding night when that petite groom ran into all of that silver adhesive around his new wife’s midsection.

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