John Steward of Jesus
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Who Dug the Hole?

(written in November, 1962)

Imagination can become quite real at times. Let me describe for you one such time.

It was an ordinary August evening in Iowa a few years ago when my friend and I decided to turn an ordinary someone’s imagination loose. But, to carry out our plan, we needed to find a farmyard where no one was home. While driving through town, we noticed that Uncle John and Aunt Gert, who now lived on my grandfather’s home place, were visiting with him in town that evening. The stage was set for getting the relatives involved. Uncle John’s farmyard it would be.

After driving out to his place, it didn’t take us more than ten minutes with our shovels to dig a hole behind a shed on his yard. It wasn’t on any special place, and was just an ordinary hole--about three feet deep and three feet wide, with no special shape.

At five o’clock the next morning the drama began. The hole happened to be near enough to the outhouse to catch Aunt Gert’s attention. After reflecting for a few minutes she rushed to the house and broke the news to Uncle John. Together they inspected the hole, and together they became more concerned. The theory that a former outhouse location had settled was immediately discredited by the mounds of fresh dirt.

Telephones began to ring. Uncle Pete and Aunt Alice came over to have a look. Aunt Minnie came and brought cousin Hank along. Everyone wondered whether anything, and, if so, what had been dug up. Had the hole been deeper? Uncle John used a heavy steel rod to test the bottom of the hole and found that it was solid.  After more inspection the mounds of fresh dirt were used to close the hole.

The realization that someone had been digging on the yard was frightening for Aunt Gert. She had taken the walk alone in the dark for forty years, but the next few evenings Uncle John had to escort her to the outhouse.

When my grandfather heard the news he insisted that the sheriff should have been called. After all, someone might have had a "kid” buried there. However, the general opinion was that some kind of treasure had been recovered. The relatives regretted that the home place was worth less than it had been a week before.

The hole soon became the talk of the town. Everyone was eager to learn whether any more had been learned about the digging on the Addink farm.

No new developments were seen until a month later, when Mrs. Ten Napel from California visited the area. Her husband, the late Pete Ten Napel, had been a distant relative of the family, and often visited with them during the prohibition days, when be was a bootlegger in the area. Pete and his wife had returned to Iowa a few times since moving to California and were always faithful to visit with my grandfather.

Mrs. Ten Napel made her first trip to Iowa after the death of her husband during the week the hole was dug but didn’t visit my grandfather. The reason was soon clear to him. Pete had buried the money he had made with his bootlegging on the farm and she had returned to recover It. She would have felt too uneasy about the matter if she had stopped in for a visit.

Aunt Gert went back to the site of the hole and found to her surprise that it was perfectly marked off. It was directly in line with the north side of the chicken coop on a line between two old elm trees.

A bit of reflection soon revealed that the Ten Napels had always acted somewhat strangely on their visits to the family. Pete never was a man who could be trusted.

The truth was revealed at a family Christmas gathering to protect the innocent. My grandfather’s reaction was simply stated--”! don’t believe it.”