“Ten plus two more.”
“Ten plus two more, that’s the answer, ten plus two more!”
– “That’s the answer to what, what the heck are you babbling about?”
“That’s the answer to the question the little boy asked in the story, “The Ransom of Red Chief” by that O. Henry fella. He asked this guy ‘How many does it take to make twelve?’. I read that story last night, I laughed and laughed, but I’m glad I read it now. He was asking a bunch of kid questions and that was one of’em. ‘How many does it take to make twelve?'”
– “How many WHATS does it take to make twelve? You ain’t making no sense. Anyway, this ain’t got nothing to do with what I was talking about, you didn’t let me finish what I was talking ’bout.”
“You ought to try reading sometimes, Lester. How many ANYTHING does it take, that’s what he was asking, how many ‘things’ does it take to make twelve ‘things’. And I just figured out the answer, that’s all.”
– “No thanks, I’ll watch the movie. But I’ll bite. How many DOES it take to make twelve? You’re so smart, I can’t wait to hear this!”
“I just tol’ja, ten plus two. It takes ten plus two more things to make twelve. He was just a little kid see? Look Lester, the kid in the story was only 8 or 9 years old. That means, he probably only knew how to count to ten. This was a long time ago. He probably could only count to ten, so he needed to have things explained in units of ten, something he knew about. So he needed to hear ten plus two more in order to understand how to get all the way to twelve from ten? It’s not like giving directions, you can’t just say ‘you can’t get there from here’. He’s young, he’s looking for answers.”
– “Units of ten? What are you some kind of doctor? Since when did you start speaking in units? Now I gotta find out what a unit is. So it can’t be nine plus three? I don’t get it”.
“No Lester, we’re Americans, Americans count by tens. Everybody counts by ten. That’s the answer we been trying to figure out all this time. OK, lets start over, we were talking about that old wive’s tale legend of the lost treasure, you know, (he cupped his hands over his mouth to make an echo) ‘The Lost Treasure of Piney Ridge’ w-o-o-o-o!”. Then Parlo wriggled his fingers on each side of his face to emphasize how scary it all must be.
– “Yeah, that’s what I was talking about, you were supposed to be just listening”, Lester reminded him.
Piney Ridge School.
Lester Pinkney and Parlo Silby, both long-time residents of Remington, Virginia, both aging as expected, were standing at the bottom of the old Piney Ridge schoolyard staring at the ground. A pile of fresh dug dirt was about 10 feet behind Lester, as they talked Lester would walk over and look at the pile of dirt then walk back and survey the ground again. “It’s got to be here, it just has to”. Parlo walked over and patted Lester on the back, “Look, we know its here, we just haven’t figured out where. Now, you know the story, you’ve heard it a thousand times. It all started way back in the early 1900s when Julius Rosenwald realizing that Negroes weren’t being given a fair shot at getting a good education, collaborated with Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee Institute to build schools for Negroes throughout the south, everybody knows that. This was a shared funding program, Rosenwald’s philanthropic fund provided half of the moneys to construct the schools and teachers homes where needed, the labor and the rest of the funding came from the black community and in some cases the local school board”.
– “OK, OK, move along, you sound like you’re reading from a book or something!”, Lester was getting anxious. “Any self respecting American with one of those schools in their county would already know the history of how those schools came about. Don’t let you tell it, it’ll come out all screwed up. Now get to the good part.”
Parlo continued, “Well we already know that part but, as the legend goes, turns out for some reason old Julius Rosenwald, himself, took a special interest in the Piney Ridge school, the one that was being built in Remington. In 1925, when construction was just getting started on land donated by the Davis family, word got around that Mr. Julius was planning to make a surprise visit to the construction site, just to see how things were going. No one knew when, or even if he’d actually be there so people just started hanging around the property during the day, they wanted to get a glimpse of the man building colored folks schools all over the south. This guy was president of Sears and Roebuck, the same guy they ordered clothes from in the catalog, he was coming to Remington!
Except one fella had heard that Rosenwald was known to show up at all hours of the day or night, even when nobody was there. So what he did was camp out down across the road on what later became “The Government Place”, now known far and wide for spying on foreign embassies and such. Fleabite Gaskins has been dead for 50 years but they say he claimed that one night while he was sleeping in that field, he heard a car drive up. He swore that right at the stroke of midnight he saw a white man get out of the car carrying a shovel and a vase or a urn or something. This man walked directly over to the southwest corner of the building, stood right at the cornerstone. He placed his back against the building so he was facing due west. He stood there in the pitch black for a minute, then started walking straight ahead counting as he went. “One”, “two”, “three” and on and on. When the man got to about eight he went out of sight behind a big oak tree. Fleabite was afraid to move for fear that the man would hear him so he kept still and just listened… “Nine… ten… eleven… twelve”. He stopped at twelve, the next thing he knew, Fleabite saw the man’s gray suit coat come flying out from behind the tree and hit the ground and then he heard what sounded like digging. That white man was digging in the school yard, I mean he was going at it. He must a dug deep because he kept at it for a good 30 minutes or more, until Fleabite heard what sounded like the man struggling to climb out of the hole he’d dug. He heard the man filling in the hole, that took a while too. When that was done he came back in view all sweaty and dirty carrying nothing but the shovel. Sweat gleaming in the moonlight, he was so wet. The man got back in his car and left. Fleabite crawled out from under his covers, went over to where he thought the man had been digging but couldn’t see any sign of where the ground had been disturbed, no sign at all. It was like the man had never been there. And that’s it, that’s the story of how the legend got started. Nobody has been able to find any treasure or any sign of a hole since.”
“Somewhere in this school yard is buried treasure, waiting to be discovered. All anybody has to do to get it is figure out where it is by using the information we already know. They say that some students at Liberty High School in that Bealeton, Virginia made a video of how Piney Ridge school came to be and if you watch that video carefully it shows you exactly where that treasure is. It shows exactly where to find it, all you have to do is watch it, study it, they say.”
Parlo got down on his haunches and started doodling in the dirt as he spoke, “We know he did go 12 paces west, taking about 3 foot strides, according to Fleabite Jenkins or was it Gaskins? We also know that, because of the dimensions of the tree shown in the video, he would have come out on the other side of the oak tree and back into Fleabite’s line of site. So that means we know he didn’t keep walking straight the entire time. He must have turned either north or south somewhere between steps 8 and 12. I say he turned at ten, then took two more steps in a different direction. Ten plus two more, if that’s right Lester, ten plus two more if that’s it. Quick! I got it! Fill all that dirt back in, we should start digging right there!”