Thursday, November 25, 2010

Treasure Hunt

An early Sunday morning drive takes us out to my aunt and uncle’s house. A fall chill in the air, leaves turning.  I can see my breath in the outside air, and make puffs like I’m a dragon.  My sister and I are once again antagonizing each other in the back seat of the Ford LTD station wagon.  Thankfully for Mom and Dad, it’s only a short ride across town, and up the winding drive.  As we open the door we are greeted with hugs and kisses, the smell of turkey with inside the bird stuffing, and the sweet smell of fresh pumpkin pie.  Two of them.  I think I could eat a whole one!

“There’s something for you somewhere in the garage....”, my Uncle says to me.  He let me go on my own because he says I'm a big boy now, out to the detached two car garage behind the house.  I run across the back yard, nearly squealing with anticipation.  Gloves fall to the ground, I'll pick them up later. 

A leaf rake tips over as I fling open the door, like a rusty accidental booby trap.  It startles me, and I lean it back against the shelves where it was before I bumped into it.  I look behind the fan of the rake, to see if my treasure was hidden there.  I’m looking for a small, palm sized box. Dank and musty, sawdust, old paint, the lawn tractor that was far too big for their yard. The smell of earth and chemicals.  Every tool ever manufactured.  Table saw, radial arm saw, band saw.  All the tools of the serious weekend craftsman.  Clutter everywhere from past and current projects.  Nothing for me around the table saw.  I contemplate turning it on, just to hear the high speed motor wind up to hum.  I’m not supposed to play with the tools, though. Nothing under the paint rags.  Is it behind the rusty cans of wood stain?  No.... I know, it’s under the seat of the lawn tractor!  No, not there, either.....  The sun cuts lines across the work bench through the square windows in the garage door.  I have to squint to see in this gray afternoon light.

Look at all these cool tools!  Three different sized ratchet handles, big tin snips, a dozen paint brushes of different sizes and shapes.  What does this thing do?  I’ll have to ask my uncle to show me. What is that?  Is that it?  Buried behind some baby food jars full of nuts and bolts, all sorted by size.  Yes, that’s it!  A crisp cardboard box, with bright yellow and navy blue paint, and a picture of a car on it!  I found it! I found it!  Which one is it? I carefully pull open the box end flap and remove the little diecast car.  It’s an orange dump truck, I LOVE IT.  I can’t wait to take it in the house and show it to Mom and Dad!

My orange dump truck will join the rest of my Matchbox cars, in my carrying case with the Ford GT40 on the front. It won't leave my hands even when it's time for pie, though.  I will cherish my treasure hunt cars forever.
All these years later, and I'm fortunate enough to be an uncle now. I plan on sharing my love for pocket sized toys with my sweet little knucklehead nephews.  I’ll hide them around my place, and hopefully, they will enjoy the hunt as much as I did.  I still have those little metal cars......  I am also a proud collector of all tools, both power and manual.


  1. Oh. I LOVE this post. It encompasses all the things a child would remember and cherish. How incredibly sweet your uncle was. I so admire that...and it's a tradition that's so special and easy to replicate for your own nephews.

    Connor (my youngest) always had a thing for Matchbox cars...more than his brothers. At 13, he doesn't play with them anymore...but we still have a HUGE Rubbermaid container filled with them that we'll keep forever, thru move after move. Some of them are cheap knock-offs but I remember an orange dump truck.

    Such simple things, right?

  2. It's funny how those little simple things stick with us.... This is one childhood memory that I hope to keep, and have forever up there among all those pesky adult things that often get in the way at the front of our memory.

    My next post is another group of thoughts inspired by this post.... Thanks for being my only follower. You're a keeper!