Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How I bought my BB gun – part 2

How I bought my BB gun part 1

by Tom Gaylord

Out in the lake there was a diving platform that pretty much belonged to the older boys. If you were a kid like me and you tried to climb up on the platform, some older boy would probably throw you off again. We learned not to tempt fate by going out there in the middle of the day.

The boys did all kinds of crazy antics to impress the girls who came to the lake. At any time of the day, there would be boys doing handstands or headstands on the platform, or else belly-flopping to see who could make the biggest splash. These boys were in their late teens, and many of them had summer jobs that paid real money. Sometimes, one of them would catch a girl's eye and he would swim in to buy her a lemonade or something from the concession stand, until her mother called her away. It went on all day every day, and everybody just accepted it.

One day I happened to hear a boy tell his friend that he had lost two quarters from his swimsuit. There were pockets with buttons in them in those old-style swimsuits, but if you weren't careful, things could fall out. He said they had fallen out while he was doing a handstand on the platform, and that started my head to spinning. If he had lost money that way, I wondered how many other boys had lost some, too?

That evening, I asked my father just how long the swimming lake had been there. He said he went to it when he was a little boy back in the '70s, so he supposed it was older than that. I then asked him if the diving platform had been there, too, and he smiled and asked whether I had ever been thrown off. He said the platform was the same one he had played on as a kid, except they had rebuilt it a few years back when the boards rotted out. That was when I got my idea.

If the platform had been there all those years and if boys had been doing the same crazy things all that time, there must be a bundle of money at the bottom of the lake. All someone had to do was go down and get it. At least that's how it seemed to me when I went to bed that evening.

The next day I went over to the lake, but there was no way to try out my idea because boys were diving off the platform constantly all day long. If they saw me bring up money from the bottom, the jig would have been up and I wouldn't have been able to go near there. So I had to do it all in secret.

The following morning, I went to the lake at 6 a.m., a full three hours before it opened to the public. I had my bathing suit on under my clothes, and I changed in the bushes. I had to sneak into the lake because the caretaker would have pitched me out on my ear if he had caught me. In the cold water, I swam out to the platform, where it first dawned on me—I didn't know how deep the water was. What if it was a hundred feet? The only way to find out was to dive as deep as I could and to try and feel for it.


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