Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back Yard Cave



My grandmother owned a small apartment building on Curtis Street in Bellflower. I think there were 6 units. My mom and my older brother and I lived in one of them (for free probably). Although we didn’t live there for very long, I have some fond and not so fond memories associated with it. Even as a first grader, I pretty much had free reign over where I went and what I did. Things seemed to be semi-sane here, I think that’s because my grandmother was pretty close by, and she probably wouldn’t stand for a lot of what my mom did. I don’t really know though…

The fond memories mostly involved caps and firecrackers. The resulting experiments and explosions were fun. I also enjoyed being around my grandmother.

The not so memorable item, had to do with our across the street neighbors. I think there were 3 or 4 boys living there. They had a long term project… Their goal was to dig a gigantic cave under their back yard. They had apparently started a long time before we moved in. We got to know them and they invited my older brother and me to “come and see something neat” in their backyard. There was a swing set there but nothing else of note. They took us to the other side of the yard and moved some boxes and a tarp out of the way, what we saw was amazing! It was a big hole. It was dug at an angle and you couldn't see all the way in. I didn’t really want to follow them into it, but I was glad I did. For maybe a minute...

There was a big cave under there. It was bigger than the metal swing set sitting on top of it. There were big wooden poles going from floor to ceiling. On top of the poles was plywood. Even then I’m thinking I should get out of here. There had to be at least 10 feet of dirt on top of the plywood. I didn’t like it.  When we got back home, my brother told me to never go in that cave again. (Okay, he did give me some good advice on that one).

You had to hand it to them; they spent a tremendous amount of time digging that hole. They were always in there; it must have been safe because their dad was helping. So I ignored my brother's advice and went into it often.

One day my mom told us that we were moving. I didn’t like that a bit, but off we went. We moved into a shack in another part of Bellflower. Looking back at it, the time spent living in that apartment seemed like heaven, compared to what was coming. After we moved into the new place all hell broke loose. My mom was absolutely out of control. An earlier entry “First Grade” outlines some of the stuff that happened there (more to come).

Several years later I heard that the “cave” had collapsed with a couple of the kids in it. They were killed…

All of that area was bulldozed a long time ago to make room for a freeway. I wish it hadn't, because it bulldozed away a "nice" part of my life also...

7 comments:

Copyboy said...

My sister and I used to spend hours in our sandbox trying to dig to china. We maybe dug up 5 inches of earth. Nothing compared to what you witnessed. Guess you don't have any pics? So sad that those kids got killed from the collapse.

Pat Tillett said...

I wish I did have pics. that neighborhood is now under the 91 freeway in socal... I always wondered what they did with the dirt...

Saumya said...

It's crazy how places literally contain slivers of our lives. That's really sad about the kids :(

Riveting blog, btw.

Pat Tillett said...

I think of it whenever I drive on that freeway.
thanks for reading and commenting! I've been to your blog also, I think I'm hooked...

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I suppose it is time to confess somthing to you that I can no longer hold back. I already knew of your 'cave' experiences. We are pretty thorough with our research here at the Cave of Cool. We sought you out to join the cause. Sad about those kids. That the reason why we move every decade or so to a new installation - stuff falls apart if it is firebombed or not properly maintained. I have dug caves of snow like that and they can be pretty cool but I agree. Sometimes being in a cave freaks me out. That is why we also have a balcony.

Pat Tillett said...

Caves can be pretty scary places. I hope when you abandon the "used" caves you fill them in so I don't step in a hole and break my ankle...

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Filled in and anything with a sharp edge removed.