The Treasure Hunt


22 June 2006






I grew up in the small town of Winchester, Virginia, which is at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley.


In those days, there was never any concern over child molestation or kidnapping and so my brother and I were more or less free to roam anywhere we wished on our bicycles. Only about 6 city blocks from our home was a huge city recreation park with swing sets, little league baseball diamonds and software diamonds, which hosted adult league games under the lights at night and which were always fun to watch. The park also had an above ground swimming pool. Yep, a concrete box sit on the ground, painted blue, that you had to climb up stairs to get into. Learned how to swim in that pool. Rode my bicycle there everyday during swimming lesson season. Anyway, one day, there was posted on the shower house a sign, which read “It has been learned that a pirate’s treasure was buried somewhere inside the park and that anyone who wished to join the hunt for the treasure was free to join in on such and such a day.” Pirate treasure! Gold coins, those long swords, rubies, diamonds, gold bracelets, all sort of riches and I could share in it just by joining the search? Count me in.


So, the day comes for the search and about 30 kids show up besides me and the leader is this 20 something man and sure enough, he has this map and all we have to do is follow him. So off we go walking and up one dusty road and then down another and it is like 100 degrees that day and 99 percent humidity and of course, no one has any water as no one said anything about bringing water and on and on we walk. I am too far back in the pack to actually hear what the leader is saying about where we go next but having come this far, I don’t want to drop out and miss all those gold coins, emeralds, jewels of all types and sizes and so on and on we walk.


Really do not know how far we walked that day but know it was miles and miles and miles and at the last marker on the “pirate’s treasure map,” we were in eyesight of where we started that day! What is this?


Finally, we come to the small stream or run, which ran through the park, which was only a stones throw to that above ground pool, and there on the bank of the creek were all these shovels. “X” marks the spot the leader of the pack now said and told us to start digging. We walk a million miles and now we have to dig? Ok, diamonds, emeralds, pearls. What is a little digging? So we begin to dig and just about everyone takes a turn with the shovel and we go down and down, deeper and deeper in the creek bank until finally, about 5 feet down, we hit something. The group’s excitement is now at a fever pitch. What will we see when we open up that chest? What a story this is going to be for our folks and at school. Show and tell with a real pirate’s sword.


Slowly but surely, we uncover a rounded top chest and dig it out. A real pirate’s chest! Have never seen one and it is unbelievable. Wonder how long it has been buried there?


Finally, the chest is lifted out of the hole and up onto the field above the creek. Funny but there is no lock on the chest. Thought there were always locks on pirate chests. We all gather around for the first peak at all the treasure, the leader opens the lid, and there, inside is all these little gold things all wrapped in cellophane. Gold coins! No pearls or diamonds or swords but at least gold coins and the leader begins handing them out, one each to everyone standing around and then, and then, one kid yells, “Hey, this is just a piece of candy!” What? Miles and miles of walking without any water in 100-degree heat and then digging and digging and one piece of candy? Could not be but when I get my piece, sure enough, a piece of hard candy and what was it? Butterscotch! Butterscotch candy? Add insult to injury: I did not like butterscotch candy.


No diamonds, no emeralds, no pirate swords or parrot feathers, no eye patches, no rings, no nothing except one stinking piece of butterscotch candy.


Don’t know if the parks people tried the “pirate’s treasure hunt” stunt the next year or not but know I never trusted those people again.




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