Munitions in the Woods

Munitions in the Woods

When we rolled into Seattle that summer of 1968, my dad had a place to work, but no place for us to live. There was a bit of a housing crisis in the area at the time. Led by Boeing, the economy was booming and homes were in demand.
As it was we headed south to Tacoma, then a little further south than that to Spanaway (where my life’s journey had all begun), where we stayed with my mom’s sister and her family (they were the ones we had visited in Dover, DE).
Our cousins were all glad to see us, and took us over to Lake Spanaway to go swimming. Which was okay with me, despite my not knowing how to swim. I tagged along and just watched.
The lake was a bit distant from their home. We had walked there via a series of paths through a heavily wooded area. The trees were close and so thick they shut out a good deal of the sunlight. So come time to leave and retrace our steps back to the house, it was even more murky in those woods.
I kept a close watch on our surroundings as we hiked back. On account of this wariness, I made the following discovery.
Off the path under some pine trees I noticed what looked to a be a stash of something. Being curious, (and not knowing what treasure might be there), I left the path and went over to the mysterious pile. What I saw looked like it had been there a while. They were metal and rust showed on each of the many objects. I picked one up to get a better look. The shape was familiar. They looked like those German stick grenades, called “potato mashers.” The kind I had seen in WW2 war movies, or more particularly in the TV series “Combat.” (They were probably rifle grenades). More of them were scattered across the forest floor. Then I inspected what looked to be a stack of firewood. They were bullet-shaped, but much larger. They had to be artillery shells of some kind.
My brother wanted to toss one of the “grenades” and see what would happen. I dissuaded him. We gently set down what we had picked up and resumed our hike. As we continued on our way we saw more similar stacks here and there under the trees off of the path.
We reported our find to our uncle upon our return. And he called in some authorities to look into the situation. We later learned that there had been enough high explosives to convert those woods into a good size crater, and blow us half way to Seattle.
Which, oddly enough, was where we finally found a house, down by SeaTac airport.