Remember now, those of you tuning in to see Catherine LeDuke tributes have been given a couple of days off. What follows is just for those who can stand to witness stupidity personified in the form of one of Catherine's children.
I don't know how many kids that lived around LeDuke Street even knew about the "Hole". The older ones of this Street Gang, Bart Smythe and John Taft Yates, I know would not have had anything to do with this project as they had already begun to grow "brains" by the time Jerry Cooper and I began the "dig". Bob Donnell was the right age to have been a part of this activity, but until I talk to him, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was intelligently absent.
The "dig" took place in a large field that was about three houses down from and on the same side of the street as my house. The field was behind Jerry Coopers' house and was a popular place to play a wide variety of games. It had a tall growth of some kind of weed that produced a golf ball sized seed pod on its top. The stem of the plant was very sturdy and when cut at the bottom provided a perfect weapon for "konking" opponents on the head; you know like little brothers. Richard has to this day a large knot on the back of his head from repeated "konks".
The football sized field was the perfect place to play war games, tag, cowboys and Indians, and cops and robbers. Year round the reeds and other grasses were taller than any of us could see over. We had a maze of paths worn through out the field and one could get lost easily were it not for the houses and trees that remained in sight at the edges.
I remember that it was late summer when Jerry and I got the bright idea that what we needed was a hiding place in the field that would completely conceal us from everyone else. It was to be our secret and would give us a great advantage in times of "war". So we very carefully found a spot in a thick stand of reeds off the usual paths and began digging.
At first we dug down about 3 feet, just enough so that we could lay down slightly below the surface. This was so cool. We could not be seen by anyone as proven by several victorious battles with our rivals. But kids get bored quickly so we decided to make improvements to our hiding place. We widened. Then we deepened. Then we brought in by cover of darkness no doubt, lumber to cover the "hole".
By the time we finished we had dug at least 6 feet deep, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet long. Had any local businessman had need of such a hole, and had asked us to do the digging, we would have looked at him like he was crazy. But this was our "hole" and we dug it with gusto. A ladder was required to get out. I know what some of you are thinking. We did realize the need for this beforehand.
We managed to conceal the short pathway to the "hole" that ran off the maze of paths that already existed in the field. And for several weeks we dominated all game playing that involved the field as part of the venue. We finally had to share our "hole" with the others in our group as it became obvious we were "cheating" somehow and no one would play with us. So we finally shared our "hole" with the gang.
The "hole" became the center of attention and whole new games were devised because of its existence. We dragged a large beam into the field and managed to position it across the open "hole" and began walking across it as if it were a tight rope. We imagined crocodiles were in the "pit" and falling off the beam meant a cruel death being eaten alive. Of course in reality, falling off could have meant a broken leg or busted head, but we didn't consider that possibility.
You may recall I stated earlier that it was late summer when we began this project. By now it was early winter and life around the "hole" was chilly. So, let's put a more complete top on it. More lumber was brought in to cover all the cracks of the first roofing job. A trap door of sorts was fashioned. Candles were used for light in the darkened cave.
Were we satisfied? We were not. And here comes the scariest and most insane part of this story.
We decided since it was cold and getting colder we needed a fire place. So in one end of the "grave" we dug a fairly large hole about 3 feet wide by 3 feet high by 3 feet deep. We even dug a small hole up through the roof of the fire pit to act as a chimney. And most astonishing of all, we actually built a fire in the "fire place"; on several occasions.
Have you got this picture:
A six foot deep hole,
hidden in a field covered with tall weeds,
unknown to any parent,
with a semi-solid roof on it,
with a fire blazing in the make do fireplace,
with about 5 kids inside,
filling up with carbon monoxide gas.
And can you visualize the Headline in the Banner.
I'm telling you we worked those "Guardian Angels" nearly to death. Thanks to them we are all still here today.
And as Richard and I were just reminiscing; the "hole" is still there in that field.
And no parent has ever been told this story---until today; but then my beautiful mother does not even know what she had for breakfast this morning.