Chapter 1 - Can the Floorboards Keep a Secret?
In the summer of 1945, Bob Kringel returned home from the war to Kearney after serving as a Navy photographer aboard an aircraft carrier.
As a teenager, Bob was a quiet kid, but he possessed a quick wit and adventurous curiosity. This made him the favorite, albeit only, employee of Walter, who owned a small camera shop in downtown Kearney.
Bob had spent most of his summers sweeping the floorboards and tinkering with cameras at Walter’s shop until he was old enough to join the war effort overseas.
Upon returning home with a lifetime of memories and a stack of black and white photos, Bob and his new bride, Kitty, were heartbroken to learn that Walter had died. They were also surprised and grateful to learn that Walter had bequeathed the shop to Bob.
On an unusually sultry and quiet September evening downtown on the bricks, Bob began his normal routine of closing up for the night by sweeping the floorboards. On this particular night, he decided to finally attack the dust bunnies under an old cabinet.
Bob leaned down and poked the broom under the bulky cabinet, trying to reach the bristles all the way back to the baseboard trim so that he could draw out the clumps of dust.
“Get over here you little devils!” said Bob to the dust blobs.
Creak . . . snap!
“Dang!” said Bob. The floorboard had broken. Bob lifted it out and placed it to the side where he planned to fix it in the morning.
But something shiny caught his eye from under the floor.
A metal hinge.
Bob worked up the loose nails of a few adjacent floorboards and popped them off with a small pry bar. He was surprised to discover a curious wood and leather box.
He opened it.
What he saw made his eyes light up and his heart pound. Through his round glasses, and with the help of a dim lantern, he could barely make out a dusty map . . . and a whole lot more.
Bob’s heart beat louder. His quiet night just got a whole lot more exciting.
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