Posted on Wed, Jan. 19, 2005
Looking for the medallion this year? Don't start here.
A fellow called me and insisted that not only should I give him a heads-up on the location of the medallion for this year's Treasure Hunt, but that I most certainly had a hand in writing the clues. I think the same guy called me last year.
"I don't write the clues," I told him.
"Sure. That's what you say."
"If I wrote the clues, they wouldn't be so obtuse," I told him.
"Nah, you write 'em."
"No, I don't. Look buddy, I'll tell you what I tell everybody. The treasure is usually found in St. Paul, in a park or something like that. In 1955 the medallion was found under a mailbox at Seventh and Robert streets. I've always liked that one. Are you still with me?"
"That is the sum total of my knowledge on this matter."
Last year there was a bit of an internal dustup because I accepted the role of ombudsman and went to bat for the public who were lured to Phalen Park soon enough but then stood there in a growing mass of humanity until the final clue. I suggested that maybe the clue writer could dish out a little more of the 411 on a clue-by-clue basis rather than wait until the last clue, which was about two pages long.
Well, that didn't go over too well, and I'd already been called Clueless Joe in a previous clue. What a weird fight this is. I don't even know who I am arguing with. Somebody in this building writes the clues, but, I swear, I don't know who it is.
One of the 2005 carnival buttons was in our mailboxes here at the Pioneer Press. The button features three people with shovels and ice choppers: man, woman and child. They might be a family, or they might be friends who are caregivers to the child, whose gender cannot be determined. But they do stride smartly across the face of the button, looks of grim determination on their faces as they seek what could be as much as $10,000, plus $1,200 in groceries and a trip for two to Mexico.
When you think that for about the first 40 years or so treasure hunters froze to death for about $2 and the chance to hear the explosion of a Speed Graphic flashbulb, $10,000 is in a different league entirely. And yes, that amount does bring out quasi-professional bounty hunters with GPS technology and various charts and graphs and usually cell phone communication with a partner at the James J. Hill Reference Library who is quickly trying to complete the bio on Miguel de Cervantes.
In the end, though, it is often a guy who picks up the last clue,
drives to the location and then trips over the loot.
You've got to be coy when that happens. One year in Como Park, looking for the Holy Grail with my mother, I lost my glasses in the snow. My mother dug furiously and found the glasses, raising them aloft while shouting, "I've got them!"
Only to stare in horror as the park tipped under the weight of the advancing pitchfork-wielding heathens.
"No, his glasses. His glasses," she said.