Sam and I were on the way to visit the Plunketts. Their farm was on the other
side of the Wallace’s farm, bordering ours to the northwest. We had walked that
path many times before and every step of the way was as familiar to me as the
back of my hand. At least I thought so. This day Sam strayed a little off the
trail and as he walked through waist high grass he suddenly disappeared as if
the earth had swallowed him up. |
I ran to the spot where he was last seen
and looked down into a black hole. I could barely see the top of his head in the
faint light below. Sam was his usual nonchalant self as he peered around in his
new surroundings He was completely unperturbed about his surprising plunge into
an undiscovered chasm. “Boy, oh boy, look at this!” He kept chanting over and
over again. I eased my way down into the hole to see what he was talking about.
A few feet below the surface were a network of tunnels going in all directions.
This was in the middle of a prolonged drought and every few feet big cracks had
opened in the ground. The fissures allowed pinpoints of light to illuminate the
small caverns enough for us to explore them. It was necessary to crawl on our
hands and knees because the ceiling was so low. As I think back on it I get chills
up my spine but that day we were completely fearless as we ventured on. Soon we
found that some of the branches of the tunnels were pitch black and we could go
Sam suggested we go back to the house and get some sort of
light to so we could continue our exploration. We knew that there was no flashlight
at the house. Who could afford batteries in these depression times? Sam remembered
how people would punch a hole in a snuff can lid and run a rag wick through it
into the kerosene in the can below. It didn’t take us long to find an empty snuff
can. They were everywhere. Without saying a word to our parents we returned to
the caves with our improvised lamps. The temperature was probably 100 degrees
above ground but down below it was pleasantly cool. As we inched out way through
the maze of passages I remember the excitement and joy as nothing we had ever
experienced before. The thought that at any moment we could have come face to
face with a rattlesnake never occurred to us. The fact that the ground above us
could have collapsed was far from our thoughts.
This was too good to
keep to ourselves so we ventured on to the Plunketts to tell them about our discovery.
In a short time we returned to our wonderland to share the attraction with our
friends. We made them promise not to say a word about it to the grownups. Such
a revelation would bring a sudden halt to our underground activities.
The word finally got around and before long the tunnels were crawling with kids
from all over. As expected, the adults found out about it and put a stop to it
right away. When our father learned about the caves he mentioned it to Sam and
me. He wanted to know if we had been down there exploring with the rest of the
kids. I still remember the innocent look on Sam’s face as he answered. “What caves?”
A few years ago Sam and I went back to Spunky Flat to stroll around the
old farm. The once fertile farm land had grown fallow and now was only fit for
cattle grazing. A sea of grass now appeared where hearty crops once grew. It was
difficult to find familiar landmarks but we wanted to see if we could find the
caves again. After much exploring we finally came to the conclusion that the caves
were no longer there. They had evidently completely collapsed. As we stood there
gazing at the featureless sod I suspected Sam was thinking the same thing I was.
We were very lucky boys indeed.