|When they had built the fit trail through the old Doc’s resort, they tore down the water tower. When I was little me and that ass next door would play in a pit behind the tower with Tonka trucks. My fire engine and his Army Jeep and Construction vehicles. But my truck shot water. So there!
So now it has been thirty years and I started thinking about it again. So off with shovel in hand. The town thinks I am strange digging all this stuff up. The foundations of his house. The Hotel. Not to mention the pump house and water wheel on Docspond.
But today I dug up the foundation around the water tower. Only one post is still standing. Which is enough to give me a marker of where to dig. The dirt came off like rolling up a carpet. The four post holes are uncovered. But wait. There was more!
To the North of the square concrete slab with the four post holes is more concrete. Another square. But it is not solid. There is only a square rim. Some of the side walks next to it turn out to be the cover. The cover that sat on the rim.
Now I always thought the Doc got his water from the electric pump within the pump house. I have been seeing the pipes poke out of the ground since I was a kid. Was it not enough to provide water on the third floor of the hotel? Ok that was what the Water Tower was for. But a well?
In the eighties, New York City was in negotiations with New Jersey to create a large pipeline from the Cohansey and Kirkwood aquifers to alleviate their draughts. When New Jersey refused, the mafia just sent illegal trucks from the city into our dump. Along with Garbage scows dumping hospital waste that settled upon our shores. If they could not use the water, they would be dammed if we could. Or least safely.
It could be said that Doc Eppolito could of tipped his hat. He lived in Brooklyn and sold them spring water. He did own the United Spring Co. We already know about his other clients. Now are people from the city much different than Martians any way? Well lets just keep that too ourselves, the Doc has a bad enough rap already.
So I dug out the well. They had dropped piles of long foot high cement block lengthwise into the hole. Surrounded by clay to sure up the footing so kids would not fall in. In the Southwest corner, about two feet down the course of bricks, the suction pipe comes out on a forty five. A foot and a half off the corner behind the well rises the pipe to the tower. Cut off at two inches above the surface. This pipe is in line with a trowel in the first square with the post holes. The down spout piping from the barrel emptied there and went out under ground eighty yards to a valve that sat on top of a T that sent the water to the house to the east and the Hotel to the west.
Now that is just trivial matters. The beef of this story, is what was at the bottom of this well. No I did not find a small China man looking down at me offering me a bowl of rice and a Big Mac. Even stranger.
But why should I tell you? You would not believe me anyway.
So I took all that brick and built a retaining wall to hold all the dirt that I dug out of the hole. One slab I placed on the top even has the builder’s mark on it. A size twelve foot print.
Ok, I will tell you. Now listen all the way through before you make a decision. Yes it is incredible. But most inventions are, and they are sold to millions around the world. Do you think that the Creators of the Babington Machine ever thought there would be the day that their computer machine drawn behind a mule, would fit in your hand and accomplish things they never dreamed of. They would never believe you. But it was true. Or that we would ever put a man on the moon?
So believe me.
About a hundred feet down, still not finding water, I hit a thud. Toward the top thuds were common. But for the last fifty feet it has been all dirt. I had to set up an old block and tackle to that remaining post to carry buckets of dirt out. At the top I set up an ingenious tripping device to empty the bucket. Occasionally I would look up and find an eye full of dirt. But for the most part it worked fine.
The thud. The Thud was nearly the whole floor of the well. Well, it was the whole floor. But there was a square seem. I brushed away the surface in parts and filled the bucket with the rest. Until it was cleared. In the center I found an old iron hoop. A handle. But there was no where for me to stand out of the way in that hole to open it. So I climbed out on my ladder. Removed the bucket and sent the tackle down. At the bottom I tied the tackle to the hoop and climbed out. With great effort, I hauled up the cover.
I would not say I regret opening it, but if I was a wiser man. Not a wiser man, but less curious. Then and only then I would of been a safer man. Arguably wiser.
I climbed back down the ladder. At the bottom of my ladder, I found a wrought Iron set of steep stairs that went way beyond the pale.
In Lynn Ma, I once entered a Pirates cave that was excavated in the 1800’s by a spiritualist Father and Son team looking for his gold. In the dark with my hand remaining firm on the wall I proceeded down two flights eight hundred yards under this massive Glacial disturbance. So I did not think twice as I entered this dark that out weighed any Country dark with no moon. Foot preceding foot.
An hour into my ascent, just as I was discovering other senses common to grubs, light started illuminate my shoes. I was as surprised as the Nephew with the Mad Uncle as he followed the Icelandic Duck hunter into Mount Sneffels. I am not going to tell you I had found dinosaurs as Wells claimed in his story, Just a mule faced, cloven hoof, serpent tail, dodo with odd bat wings. Its legs looked like two drumsticks straight out of a KFC bucket. Smoking a cigar.
Out of all of it, the question that stuck with me the most was. Where did he get the cigar? As he inhaled it smoldered smoothly. Far different than Danny Devito’s glass case cigarette he smoked after an a failed attempt of seduction by Kathlene Turner. He spoke like a truck driver?
“May I go first” asked this little thing. I fell into believing this may have been the Devil. Not Satan, but Jersey’s own mysterious imp. The Jersey Devil.
The Last Jersey Devil sighting was in 1983 that ran from Tuckerton to Philadelphia in one night. A whole string of reports where followed. About 1983 Joe Portash, who robbed the town blind, did a rush job building a fitness trail to explain a variance on a State Bond he accepted. Was there more to this story then the removal of my tower and Tonka toy pit? Hmm..
“After you, um , yah, yah you see” He went on.
So I started climbing up the stairs. As the light eclipsed under us, he took one last audible drag on his cigar. The chamber lit up once more from the tip of his Havana. Cuban Cigars, no less.
Thousands of people struggle to get these into our country against the embargo with little results. This little imp dragged a box of them over his shoulder as he climbed. Occasionally it clunked on the wrought iron steps.
“How did you keep them moist?” I asked
“The Cigars. The Havana Cigars.”
With a smirk he answered,” Yah, the well is a natural Humidor.”
We kept on climbing for another hour before I asked “ Why don’t you fly out?”
“Well, I, share the curse of the Ostrich, Penguin, and Emu. We even had a coalition to persuade, to entice, the Bumbles to tell us their secrets. Failed each time. Those little bastards.” He answered as he moved his cigar about jabbing in the air as he was pretending to singe bees.
I asked him about Mother Leeds and her thirteen children, which I supposed he was the last of. He knew little of them. But he remembered a strange lad who wondered alone around Tuckerton in the woods. “ Awful face he had. Well, I , would guess it was a face not even a mother could love. But hell of a fellow, but no devil. I shared a nip many of times with him. Yep.”
As we stepped over the rim as we exited the well, he paused and looked both ways and then straight up for some considerable time.
“I do not know what is worse. Those men in the bad black suits or those inky black eyes.” He staggered.
I asked what inky black eyes. “Those nudist from Mars, Yep. They loved their Havanas. I um gave them some lip one day. Yep! And they swam down that well and tossed me into their humidor. It was chock full, all 5,00 feet. Little bastards only left me this box that fell out of their net. Twenty God Den it years and no oxygen to light a match to smoke any of it. Till you crack the top and I lit up. Yep. That I did.”
After he made sure the coast was clear, he thanked me and went on his way.
Sometimes I catch sight of him. But he never stops. But if you have a nip to share, he might stop for you to talk for a space of a moon shadow. But I swore off alcohol, I sware I did!