By Norris Chambers

Clifton and I were in the middle of the ‘possum hunting period of our growing up era. We spent much of our leisure time tramping through the woods and climbing trees to look in the hollows for bedded down ‘possums. A hollow was the name applied to decayed holes in the upper portions of trees. These openings were often about the same diameter as the tree and were usually not over a foot deep. These shallow pockets formed an excellent place for ‘possums to bed down for the day. We learned where many of these trees were for several miles from our headquarters and we could easily spend most of the day examining them. We usually found from three or four to a half dozen sleepy-headed ‘possums on one of these trips. We skinned them as we found them and carried the skins with us in a tow sack.

It was on one of these trips that we noticed an assortment of rocks arranged in a peculiar pattern almost hidden by the brush in and around it. The stones were arranged in the form of a cross with an oval border around it. It was obvious that it had been there many years since the rocks forming the border were half buried and the heavy brush had grown up around it. The arrangement was about five feet in length and a foot in width.

We wondered about it for a few minutes and we were trying to decide if we should do anything about it. It might have been an artistic arrangement some kids made many years ago just for something to do. We had been guilty of doing things similar to that with no real meaning attached to the project. On the other hand, someone might have buried something valuable there. We thought about that for a little while.

“If someone were burying a treasure I don’t think he would have marked it so prominently.” This was Clifton’s opinion. I had to agree with him. I suggested that we might dig down a little bit and see if we could determine if the soil had been disturbed. That wouldn’t take long and would not be a lot of work. We agreed and it was not long until we were back with a pick and shovel. Getting the hole started was not easy. We had to grub up some pretty hefty brush and move the rocks.

We could not determine if the soil had been disturbed but it was easy to dig. We continued to move dirt, expecting to find something any minute. We got a bit of encouragement when, at a depth of about three feet, we found a piece of very old looking wood about a foot long and about two inches in diameter. By its apparent age and condition we decided that it was not a recent tree root and must have been there a long time. We continued to dig with a renewed vigor.

After digging about another foot we were again excited by finding three or four long pieces of timber. Just below the wood our shovel scraped on a long metal object.

“What do you think it is?” I asked. “It seems to be a metal object of some kind.”  Clifton didn’t answer, he just shoveled faster. The dirt was loose and I pulled the prong of the pick down each side of the long metal treasure. It seemed to be in pretty good condition and at the end we had unearthed it was round and about three inches in diameter.

I lifted the old shriveled boards with the pick and we pulled them out of the hole. The object was lying on top of another three boards. Apparently it had been in a box when it was buried. With a little more prying and shoveling we were able to see what we had found.  It was composed of rusted and dented metal and was about three and a half feet long. The narrow pipe-like end that we had first discovered increased in size toward the other end and appeared to have a handle of some sort attached to the side. We carefully pulled it out of the hole and scraped the dirt off so we could carefully inspect it .

“It looks like an old well pump.” Clifton observed. “It has a handle and a rod at the top.” Although it was corroded and rusted, it was obvious that he was correct. It was an old hand operated well pump!

“Why would someone bury that?” I asked. “Do you reckon it’s got something valuable inside?”  There was nothing valuable inside the old pump and all we found in the hole after a close inspection were a few more scraps of old wood. Clifton answered my question with another query, “And why would the burial spot be marked with such a fancy arrangement of rocks?”

I had a quick answer to his question. “Just to April fool people like us who just had to dig it up to see what it was!”

Was robbing the pump grave a lot of fun?  Not as much fun as those who made the grave would have had if they could have seen us digging it up! You could have some fun by burying an old computer in some unlikely place and marking the spot with an artistic arrangement of whatever you have the most of!