The Find

I found a dinosaur bone.  It was half uncovered in the schoolyard.  I was quite the scientist then.  I vacillated between astronaut, archeologist, and chemist as dream jobs.  I was surprised that a dinosaur bone was lying there in the outfield of the softball area of a Kansas elementary school.  I had heard that most dinosaur bones were found in places like Montana.  But you never know.

I showed my friends my find.  They were excited, of course.  It was not always easy to pay the dinosaur bone a visit.  You had to line yourself up with a particular house on the opposite side of the creek that divided our play area from the houses to the south.  We would have to dig it up.  I was concerned that The Authorities would not approve.  So we would have to be clandestine.

One by one, I tucked my mom’s spoons into my backpack and brought them to school.  We had two sets of silverware, one with fan-shaped ends (the “good” silverware) and the other with plainer, chunky handles.  Of course, I brought the chunkier ones.  They would be less likely to be missed, and they were sturdier.  Though not so sturdy that they wouldn’t bend when you tried to pry up a dinosaur bone.

One or two of us stood guard, stood between the digger and the teacher supervising recess.  I watched the progress of my crew and tried to figure out how long the entire project would take.

I brought my camera to school.  It was a long, thin Fisher Price camera, blue and black, that used those barbell-shaped rolls of 110 film.  I took photos of the dinosaur bone, which was slightly more uncovered.  I took photos of the surrounding area, and photos of the house that helped us line up where it was located.  Archeologists did that kind of thing.

I had read every book about ancient Egypt in our school library.  I had seen how Howard Carter had carefully catalogued every find in King Tut’s tomb, and taken photos with strings pulled out to show measurements.  I planned to send these photos to Someone Important.  Possibly the Museum of Natural History in New York.  I had been there.  I knew they were interested in dinosaur bones.

The bone was shaped like a femur.  I didn’t know that word, then, but it clearly had a leg bone shape to it.  What kind of dinosaur?  Not a t-rex.  It was too small for that.  Still, it could be a significant find.  This could make my reputation, unlike that disappointing incident when I kept the tube with the dirt and the dead roly-polys, waiting for it to turn into coal until I learned that the process would take more than my lifetime.  I would have to pass that tube on to my great-grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.  Sigh.

Sometimes people wanted to play HORSE instead of digging up the dinosaur bone.  Sometimes they wanted to climb the tiger’s eye jungle gym.  I got frustrated with our slow progress.  School ended for the year.  And the dinosaur bone remained snug in its bed, waiting for another explorer to yell eureka.

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