Friday, July 28, 2006

How I bought my BB gun – part 5

How I bought my BB gun part 1
How I bought my BB gun part 2
How I bought my BB gun part 3
How I bought my BB gun part 4

by Tom Gaylord

I was trying to think of a good excuse to tell him when he shared a secret with me. He said that he walked along the beach every morning to look for valuables and money people lost. That must have been what he was doing when I saw him earlier that day.

I decided to tell him what I was doing because he had confided in me, so I did. I told him the whole story, including the part about wanting a great BB gun. He said he would help me. He said he would tell my folks I was working for him doing some cleanup jobs, and I could then tell them that the money came from that. Half would still have to go in the bank, but at least I would be able to use the other half. It meant that I was now just over halfway to my goal, but I figured I could get the rest in a few more mornings.

The next morning, I showed up bright and early, and Mr. Carpenter was there to greet me. This time I didn't have to sneak around in the bushes taking off my clothes. I swam out to the platform and began diving. But this morning, for some reason, all I found was twelve cents. I would never get my gun at that rate.

When I showed Mr. Carpenter my meager finds, he asked where I was diving and I told him. He said he thought the best place to check might be about twenty feet to the left, because that was where the first diving platform had been. When they rebuilt it, they moved it to a deeper place. Because it was getting late in the morning and I didn't want my secret to be discovered, I left the lake, but the next morning I was back, ready to try the new place.

On the first dive, I found that the bottom was less than ten feet deep, so I could really scoop up some mud. I brought up a whole can full and sloshed it around at the surface. To my amazement, there was a dollar and ninety-five cents in that load, plus something else I wasn't quite sure of. It was round and coppery looking, so I dropped it into the sack tied on my waist and continued diving. That day, I brought up a total of six dollars and seventy-seven cents. And, when I got back to the shore, I looked at the other thing I had found and it turned out to be a 2-1/2 dollar gold coin! That pushed my total for the day to over nine dollars! I was ecstatic, but of course I couldn't tell my folks that Mr. Carpenter was paying me that kind of money. That was almost what my father made in a week!

I returned to the lake many more times that summer and eventually pulled out sixty-five dollars in good cash money. Besides that, I found three gold rings, fourteen silver ones, nine religious medals on chains, one gold anklet with a name on it and a set of false teeth!

I brought home a much smaller amount of cash on a weekly basis, and eventually had enough extra saved up to buy my Daisy. Once I got it, what remained of the summer was spent in the fields and vacant lots rather than in the water. I still went back, and the finds continued to come in, but the initial thrill had long since worn off. The extra money I hid and only dipped into sparingly, so nobody would notice. It lasted several years.

The next year, the lake was put under stricter town management, and my deal with Mr. Carpenter was over. They put up a high fence around the beach, which made getting in to dive very difficult. I still went there during the day, and I even managed a few "hands-only" dives on my secret hot spot, but the days of bringing up real money were over.

Still, every time I looked at my Daisy, I couldn't help remembering all I had to do to get it. I never told that story before now, because even as an adult I was afraid of what my parents might have thought. I kept that gun throughout my youth and into adulthood. We sort of grew up and old together. Today it needs a little more oil than it used to and the shots are not as powerful as they once were, but I can say the same things about myself. But even in my old age, I can still hold my breath longer than three minutes, and I sometimes dream of diving for treasure again.

Maumee, Ohio, 1951


At 1:52 AM, Blogger stormdrummer said...

What's to disapprove of? Personally, I'm full of admiration for your industriousness and ingenuity.I wouldn't mind a bit making that kind of a living.


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