Today we are going to Muse about youthful adventure and the secret of the mystery pole. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
Adventure and the Mystery Pole
My first two years of high school were spent in Guam. This was in the mid 50’s when the times were simpler. Guam was still recovering from the effects of the war and our life style was pretty much removed from that of the mainland. I remember there was one television station. It played reruns six months old. That didn’t matter. We did not have a TV.
What we did have was an innocent freedom and the chance for adventure. I think today I will tell you about the cliff and the mystery pole.
A mile or so from where we lived, through the jungle, the vegetation which was thick and lush suddenly ended revealing a large flat area that extended right to the edge of a cliff. The cliff rose out of the ocean. The cliff was vertical and tall. I remember it as about 20 stories in height. Not far from the edge of the cliff, a cave opened down into the plateau like a mine shaft and had a second opening in the side of the cliff over the ocean. Stories were the Japanese stored ammunition in the recesses of the cave during their occupation of the island.
The top opening to the cave was framed by a cement housing that had an I-Beam in the middle. We were told that the Air Force had decided to build an officer’s club on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean. They intended to have an elevator descending into the cave. That was the reason for the cement housing and the I-Beam. The story went that one night seven officers who had been drinking were fooling around at the top of the shaft and they fell in to their deaths. I do not know if that is true, but the beam had the initials and ranks of seven officers welded into it. Whatever happened, the plans for the officers’ club were scrapped and the cave was left unsecured.
Now you can imagine this was pretty interesting to a kid: Japanese weapons, guys falling to their deaths, the unknown. Wow. It drew us like a magnet.
Several of my friends and I had scouted out the area. We wanted to see what was in the cave. But how? One option, and in retrospect probably the best, was to climb up the cliff from the ocean below and enter the cave from the side. But, boy that seemed like a lot of work. A second option was to lower someone down the shaft. No one seemed eager to be the point man on that and, besides, we didn’t have a rope.
After much discussion we decided to light up cave so we could see what we were dealing with. From home we brought bottles filled with gasoline: molotov cocktails. I remember standing at the edge of the shaft and dropping my flaming incendiary into the darkness. It fell away for what seemed like a very long time. In the process the burning rag came out of the bottle, fluttered in the air and went out. There was the sound of shattering glass and of metal, like a steel drum. Darkness.
We took a tree limb we found nearby and wrapped it with a large rag which we soaked liberally with gasoline. We lit that and it became a fireball of a torch. Into the darkness it went. We watched it tumble and twist on its way down and then there was a FLASH of flame followed a second or so later by a muffled “Poom”. And the cliff lurched and shook. We nearly fell in. Swarms of bats poured out and large billowing clouds of black smoke. And that is all we saw: bats and smoke.
Later when I told my dad, a civil engineer, about it he commented that a bottle of gasoline ignited in a confined space could have the explosive power of several sticks of dynamite. He wasn’t real happy with our adventure.
But the attempt to uncover the secrets of the cave led to a second adventure. The area around the cave opening was flat and clear, but it was surrounded by dense vegetation growing in volcanic rock, rock so sharp and glass like that it was perilous to walk on. In the distance, but visible from the cave shaft, a pole anchored with guide wires poked out of the jungle. There was nothing else anywhere near it . . .just jungle.
Now, you know a kid won’t let that get a free pass. There had to be a reason for the pole. We talked about it and we came to a consensus; it was a marker for a crashed Japanese Zero. And we wanted to get to it. Actually there were two groups of us determined to get to the pole. The goal was to be the first.
A couple of days later, I set off with a buddy, Jeff. He was not too smart but he was loyal and he was willing.
Jeff and I headed out one afternoon going in the general direction of the pole. First we went through fields of six-foot tall grass, guessing at the direction because we could not see. Eventually we came to an old war road and made better time. We were talking about general concerns when Jeff brought up the subject of iguanas. He had heard of iguanas and was afraid of them.
“Do you think there are any iguanas out here?” He asked.
” Dono. I’ve never seen an iguana.”
Just then we came around a bend in the road and there before us was a large iguana. HUGE! I’ve seen many since over the years, but this one still holds the record.
Jeff screamed, turned on his heel and went thrashing away through the jungle. The iguana ran in the opposite direction. I ran after Jeff and finally caught up to him and got him to stop. He stood there panting and shaken.
I looked past him and saw about two inches from his face the largest ugliest spider I had ever seen. If he had gone one step further it would have been all over his face. Creepy.
Eventually we got close to pole and that passage was the most difficult. The rock was like glass. Heaven help you if you tripped and fell on it. The vegetation was nearly impenetrable. We inched our way along, parting the branches and carefully placing our feet. All of a sudden Jeff starts hollering and thrashing around and went flying past me nearly knocking me over.
” Wasps” he screamed.
Any they had him. I think he got eleven stings. I got one on the tip of my little finger and I wanted to bite the finger off. They were bad.
We made it to the pole. And that is what it was . . a pole. Why it was there I do not know. However, to prove we had been there, we tied a white cloth to the top . . . and we told everyone it was indeed a Japanese Zero. We said you could see the bullet holes and everything!
We figured, “Why should we be the only ones to enjoy this?”
On the return trip, we gingerly worked our way through the razor rock and thick vegetation.
Jeff said to me, “You go first. The wasps are already stirred up. I don’t want any more wasps.”
So I did. Suddenly I heard Jeff screaming “Wasps” and he thundered past me.
Just one more adventure.
More to come
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