There was just something about being a kid in South Korea, on a US Naval base. When I was there, we had no TV, there was an occasional B movie that played that we did see, but most of my time was spent on adventures, or misadventures, depending on your point of view.
Each day during that summer, my small group of friends would meet up. We had secret plans, that our parents never knew. Each day was different and we would pick a theme. We were not sophisticated enough to know we were picking themes, but looking back that's just what it was.
Theme picking would start out something like this:
"What you want to do Bob?"
"We played roll the boulder down the mountain yesterday."
"Lets do some treasure hunting."
Then Joe would say, "Great," with that drifting authority of some old TV commercial that we saw eons back.
Our treasure hunting experience set us on a certain plan. We had a clubhouse hid in the woods, with stores of previous treasures, from old Japanese helmets, to even a rusted gun, we had found in an abandoned tunnel, from the war days of WWII.
But one of what we considered our greatest treasure, was the rocks of broken green jade, that we pounded off a rock, on a secluded beach, where trespassing was forbidden. This filled the adventure with an adrenaline high. Our finds were our secrets, and we buried the jade in the ground, under the dirt floor.
When you went up the mountain, you would come across a wire fence that penned the Navy base in. Our parents thought we never went beyond the fence, little did they know. We had our ways.
There were those "hoochie boys," who slipped in the base and would lift things that were just not nailed down. Well, being the bright boys that we were, we found their paths, and the the holes that they cleverly hid in the fence. Their entrance was our exit, and we would climb the mountain to the top. Then we would make it down to the ocean on the other side.
The other side of the mountain was a South Korean Naval base. There was one part of our journey that was chancy. We had to cross the backside of a target range. We never knew the target range was there, until that day. I guess we were just lucky, to pick the days it was not in use.
The shots were muffled by the trees, some were single shot, some were automatic. If you never been behind a live shooting range, there are some things that strike you as amazing. It was in the trees.
The bullets would hit the limbs, and they would fall around you. You really did not feel the danger, but the crack of the limbs, and branches, falling down would leave you in awe.
And for some reason, perhaps foolish, we kept going, going to the rock of green jade, we would pound our treasure. We would smash it with nearby rocks. Our secret rock of green jade, one day we knew, would make us rich.
We soon made it to the beach, we saw our green rock waiting for us. We made our way to the rock, but then, Joe said, "Look at this."
We never knew how it made it to the beach. Perhaps it washed up. Perhaps it was always there, but there it was, something that plays with the imagination of boys. It was about as tall as us when we stood it on end, a rusty cylinder that had a bull dog nose, and a tail with fins. This was too much to pass up. This was "Great."
It took all of us to drag it up the mountain. It was heavy enough to cause us some hardship, but we managed. We knew when we reached the top, we could roll the sucker and watch it fly down mountain.
And it was about as much fun as prying the boulders loose, and watching them bounce down the mountain, taking out trees. Each time it stopped we ran down. And rolled it again, till it would fly down the mountain slope.
"Great, " Joe would say. And we would run down again, to where it stopped.
Months later, we referred to this as the "great miscalculation." It was that last roll toward our clubhouse, the thing just didn't stop. It powered on past the clubhouse, and with a mind of its own, made it to the road right out in front of the Captain's jeep.
At least we didn't make a direct hit, but Joe was saying, "This is not so great."
We ran, but we could not hide. We all had to go home. And they were waiting for us. Now, my father wasn't ones to mince words over this. There's something about a red hot butt that just let me know, how he felt about our misadventure.
Later, my dad told me it was a hedgehog, left over from World War II. It was armed and dangerous, an anti-submarine charge, like a depth charge. How we escaped, setting the darn thing off was a mystery to him.
After that misadventure, Joe and I talked. We couldn't sit on our butts, but we talked about how we were rich. We still had that green jade buried, hidden under our clubhouse.