Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It is not the opening line to a corny joke.

Did you hear the one about the pastor who had a treasure hunt announced at his memorial service? That is exactly what my father did at his memorial service. At the end of our time together, the pastor presiding over Dad’s service announced that anyone wanting to participate in a treasure hunt put on by my father could arrive at his church the following morning at 9am to receive their first clue.

I woke up that next morning planning on winning my dad’s final game. I looked around for my brother, but only found my kids and my mom. So, I checked my phone and found my brother’s Facebook status update, “Let’s get this Treasure Hunt started.” It caused me to gather myself and jump on the road quickly. When I arrived, one of the Sunday School rooms was filling up with ready and willing participants. We each received a postcard with a clue on it.

Clay asked the most appropriate question: “What are the parameters for our search?” Having had these kinds of searches as a part of Dad’s Easter Egg Hunt on Steroids and even as a part of finding our own Christmas presents, I, too, should have known to ask clarifying questions. But Clay had taken care of it. (It was always good to know if our treasures would be found inside or outside of the house – if presents would be hidden or would simply be at the end of a long line of riddles. This, by the way, is why you might have heard the entire front row laugh when the hunt was announced at the memorial service. ) Luckily for us, today’s game would be played within the boundaries of the town of Rochester, Indiana.

This first clue was pretty cryptic. My brother had been a state diver in high school, so was the board a diving board? Was Dad thinking of the leadership model of the Wesleyan Church, the Local Board of Administration? I personally thought swimming team divers would have more fans than administrative boards, but I couldn’t get over the “wall that is not wet” part of the clue. That is until I simply said out loud that a not wet wall is a dry wall. It clicked that drywall is a building material, just like a board is. I found out that Fansler Lumber Company is in Rochester, got directions on my phone and headed right over. Drove past it. Turned around and finally found it.

Besides getting a notepad, the owner threw in a pen, too, and my next clue.

I was totally excited to see that I was the first one to arrive on race day, but then I checked out the back of the card for the clue… nothing! Just before re-entering the building, I realized that I wasn’t being congratulated, but it was the next clue. My own days of working at Lowe’s in Marion flashed into my mind. All the poking fun of our manager, W.T. Buchannan, from the other workers was all of a sudden valuable. I wasn’t a race car fan, but several of them had been. First On Race Day would have been W.T.’s favorite acronym for his favorite brand although I had heard many others: Fix On Race Day, Fix Or Repair Daily, Found On Road Dead, and Fast Only Rolling Downhill. All of these are car acronyms for FORD. I went for the dealership right away.

You should have seen the receptionist’s face when I asked the salesman to see a horse. It was priceless and let me know that no one else had been there that day to talk to a man about a horse. I claimed my clue and departed quickly.

I came back in and asked where the library was and then I was back on my way.

[When I came to this part of the story as I recounted it for my uncles and aunts, my uncle Phil asked how I knew it was the library. I told him because I had read that joke on a Laffy Taffy wrapper many times. It was the kind of corny joke my dad was the king of, too.]

I arrived at the Fulton County Public Library at 9:30 a.m. They open at 10:00 a.m. I tried to convince a cleaning lady to let me in. It did not work. I looked up the library’s website, called the number and talked to a worker and a supervisor. Neither of them could be convinced to let me in either, even though they were all in the building. I poked about the website some more and found the library’s floor plan. I discovered the closest entrance to the Indiana Room and deposited myself there.

Other people drove by on the hunt. Some recognized me. Some did not. One stopped and talked to me and I walked toward the small park and asked questions about this being Pontiac Street until she drove on. It was a few minutes before opening time when I saw Clay and some others at the other entrance through the building. I gave him a call.

After we caught up, we decided on a plan. I would go in and decrypt the phrase while Clay went into the religious section and played decoy as he pulled random books off the shelf and made a quiet spectacle of himself. Then Rose, who had refused my entrance earlier, let us in.

I bolted for the Indiana Room, inconspicuously. I was tickled to find that IND220BIB was the family-sized version of The Precious Moments Bible. Inside its protective box I found a paper with a list of Bible references and word numbers. So I looked up the stated passage, counted to the appropriate word and then wrote it down. I was about two-thirds of the way done when I was joined in the room by another hunter. We chatted. I kept looking up words and typing them into a text message to my brother. I finished and pushed the book over to my competitor.  (In everyday life, Brad Thornton would have been more than someone to call a competitor, but there was serious gaming going on.)

My brother said that some of the librarians, who were oblivious to the hunt, had turned several people away. They sent them to the court house and bought us some time. But was it enough? Here is the second part to the third clue:

Jogging through the library on my way out, I ran into a couple who wanted to give their condolences for my father’s passing. I hope it didn’t seem too awkward on the outside, but it felt conflicted on the inside as I listened to them and wanted to go win his treasure hunt.

It was awesome to pull into the church and race up the stairs with my brother. We were on our way to the sanctuary to meet someone at the sound board. I still had not pushed send on the text message with the phrase. I wanted to be first and he couldn’t win without the phrase. Aren’t I a nice big brother?

I got first and he got second. It was a great treasure hunt, the prizes were wonderful and it was an even better way to remember my father. Thanks, Dad, for encouraging us to remember Who you lived for. (The winning phrase was: May All Who Come Behind Me Find Me Faithful.)  By the way, any chance my Christmas present from 1987 is still around and does anyone have a clue to help me find it?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Full House

The Papa, the Nana, the kids and grand kids are in the house.  That's everyone!