I really dug up our past

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By W.B. Evans

My wife wanted some nice, fresh sand around a flower bed. 

It was a simple request, and just as any well-intentioned man of the house would do, I managed to postpone it as long as possible. 

However, my excuse well had run dry. This was one honey-do task I was not looking forward to. 

At first, I considered a trip to Porter-Belk Lumber Co. for a couple bags of sand. But, hey, that costs money. 

These days, with all of this green-thinking, recycling is back in style. 

As usual, the light bulb above my head started to glow brightly. I decided to reuse the old sand pile.  

Now, anybody with children, grandchildren and a backyard surely has an old sand pile. We are no exception. 

Grass won’t grow beneath the big water oaks in the front yard, but it will surely take a likingto  some old sand pile sand. 

Sometimes, the most usual task can take an unusual turn. 

In one sense, our garage has grown into a nesting ground for all kinds of stuff other folks throw away. We hang onto these things in hopes of saving a couple of dollars.

There were a couple of old wire storm window screens tucked out of sight in the rafters. I decided to use the screens to sift out the impurities from the neglected sand pile.

I know from past experiences that a covey of cats can take to a sand pile like wild onions take to grass. I figured the screens would be a good way to handle the sifting.

I pulled one of the window screens down, lugged out the shovel and headed out to the miniature back yard beach.

I was grudgingly approaching this DIY project, by my mind was set. Away I went to the task at hand, one scoop at the time.

Placing the screen over a large 5-gallon bucket, I began to shovel sand. 

By the way, it didn’t take but a couple of shovelfuls to realize I was right about the cats. After loosening and moving the pile, I was able to eliminate their buried treasure. 

However, I unearthed some buried treasure worth keeping.

My homemade sand pile window sifter had opened a window to the past. 

A plastic shovel and several pieces of an old toy tea set emerged from the diggings.

I smiled as I wiped sand from a pretend tea saucer, while recalling my granddaughter playing in the sand on a hot summer day. 

Suddenly, the shovel hit something big.

It was a very rusty old toy fire truck my son must’ve hidden away years ago.

That wasn’t all I uncovered. 

I looked down at the window screen to find several seashells that were undoubtedly picked up years ago during a shoreline walk on frequent trips to the beach.

Finally, the bucket was full of freshly-sifted recycled sand from generations ago. 

My wife was smiling and I was pleased, but that experience brought back other memories of sifting sands.

Boys of all ages love to bury stuff. That even prompts some to become undertakers, but that’s another story.

Me and Billy Pipkins would dig big holes, place old bricks inside making a tomb, so to speak, and then place a couple of pennies, some marbles and a dog-eared funny book into a metal oyster cracker tin and cover it up, hoping some future explorers would discover it.

Of course, as growing boys, we couldn’t leave well enough alone, especially if we needed the money. After a good rain and a couple of days, we’d carefully find the “X” and get to digging.

The result was always the same. Our efforts to preserve treasure were in vain. The elements had taken a toll, but we pretended it was a real discovery.

Some of us boys used to visit areas where soldiers on maneuvers had rested or bivouacked. Someone once said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Bless Pete, we had hit the mother lode.

We found all kinds of good stuff from canteen cups and open C-Ration biscuit cans and discarded can keys to dropped metal badges and shell casings. 

Years later, while stationed at an air base in Japan, some general decided to dig a hole in the middle of a huge field to construct a swimming pool. They brought in bulldozers and steam shovels to do the work, and lo and behold, they uncovered bunches of army jeeps, trucks and building materials.

Someone said most of the vehicles were buried brand new. Another soldier said military equipment was buried all over Japan because it would cost too much to bring it stateside. 

That’s why Toyotas last so long, they are built with good old unearthed Pittsburgh steel.

Using that same logic, if I do some digging in the old pasture, I might unearth a Bantam Blitzbuggy. 

You know, anything is possible; soldiers camped out all around the Charlotte Road. 

I can recall overhearing some of the old-timers at Rankin’s Store discussing the time a cache of Civil War swords and accouterments were discovered  near Cane Creek bridge by the Ford place.

Now before you run down there pretending to be interested in an automobile, those same fellas at Rankin’s claimed that old site is haunted.

You, know, I guess it’s a good thing that young boy of today isn’t nearly curious as I was.

The old county landfill is liable be a treasure trove.