Ken Pollitz: Going on a treasure hunt
We were not in possession of any ancient or mysterious card frayed in the margins. No dated parchment, inscribed with a large red “X” marking the spot, had been unearthed in our backyard.
This laborious quest would not be so simple!
Our common adventure had been in the making for months, a mutual agreement between my wife and me. Push came to pushing, or should I say “shovel,” and we finally found the time to get down to business with determined digging.
Extremely confident in the plethora of treasures to be discovered, we were nevertheless extremely unsure of the details. Any price tag was unquantifiable.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, we had accumulated many Southwest Airlines travel points, but no plane tickets were necessary for this unprecedented expedition. This place was almost right under our noses.
While we did consider texting Indiana Jones for some experienced navigation advice on our quest to be a novice in antiques, we chose to go it alone!
We weren’t sure if the local Walmart stocked metal detectors, but we thought the depths of our research would be well out of reach.
We chose not to use a shovel or pickaxe, but figured we would do most of our digging by hand. An archaeological enterprise requiring tools somewhere between a toothbrush and a backhoe, we should have brought a wheel barrel.
Crossing slightly east, then through a small opening, we headed north briefly. At the bend of a small bend, we made a U-turn to the west. Knowing the terrain, we came across the secret entrance. Courageously, I offered to take the first steps in this miniature world of the vast unknown.
Both calculated and spontaneous – yes, we know that sounds incongruous – we realized that our vision was somewhat diminished due to the delay in our departure. With agility, we found and turned on spotlights nearby and began our much anticipated exploration.
The first steps through the threshold and into a vast cave almost seemed as if we had opened the wardrobe like Peter and Susan once did in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis. There was a door, but it wasn’t a fantasy novel, and it was more than just a free-standing wardrobe!
I had entered the “twilight zone” of the “historic” dressing room of our twin sons, Timothy and Eric. Yes, I am talking about the adult twin sons who were married and moved over a decade ago. What were the many gifts they had forgotten?
We, like perhaps many of you, own the strategically placed “dumps”, infamous known as the “garbage drawer!” What you may not have, as we are well endowed with, is the presence of many “garbage closets” in our humble domain. Don’t tell my wife I said that!
Despite our master bedroom, with all of our kids long gone from the Ottawa farm, most of our countless closets are cluttered with captivating content.
Precariously, I started to open the mismatched tubs stacked haphazardly on top of each other. Inside were thousands of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, programs, statistical prints of games and seasons, photographs and wall posters. On raised shelves stood a collection of autographed basketballs encased in plexiglass squares.
We found shoeboxes filled with every imaginable wallplate game player imaginable with enough wood to start a small bonfire. Decades-old training shirts hung from mesh bags. While searching, we found what appeared to be hundreds of frames, in every configuration imaginable, some of which even still contained photographs.
The scrapbooks were everywhere from several periods of history, including their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Few, if any, books were ever completed, but the pages that were completed were professional and invaluable as we both took a quick peek. Some were unused while a privileged few would never be opened again as they had been beautifully designed by old girlfriends.
And speaking of books, most of them were children’s books, frequent gifts from their late grandmother. In no particular order, “The Wolf’s Chicken Stew” stood right next to “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Is Your Mama a Llama?” and “The Polar Express”.
Neither of the twins tended to open books on their own until much later in life. In fact, the story is told if Eric hadn’t started paying attention to a student on the University of Miami campus, he might never have learned the location of the library. In his first year, after school one day, he took her there. Almost shockingly, she ended up becoming his wife!
Adding to the confusion of our diligent reorganization dig, the contents of the Cavernous Closet weren’t limited to a wasteland exclusive to twins. Somehow it had turned into a warehouse for our four now grown children.
Together we have been extremely overwhelmed by the endless array of beloved treasures. It became evident that there had been many attempts – valiant as they were – to categorize and organize the thousands of images, elementary artwork, and graduation awards and certificates. year, but unfortunately to no avail. Files, envelopes, boxes and bins, now scattered throughout the room, each held literal lives of precious family memories.
It would take years to consolidate the treasure chest of history inside. Appropriate display for the growing mass of grandchildren would be a laudable effort.
And my wife was wondering how she could fill her days considering her recent retirement last month! Keep digging, my girl! I’ll join you soon!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as the Mission Developer / Pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His bi-weekly column provides ideas and perspectives from Putnam County. Contact him at [email protected]