‘The Three Investigators’ books were fairly popular with my mates back in the 1970’s. Written by Alfred Hitchcock, they were mystery stories involving three Californian lads who worked out of a cubby house which had electricity, an office, a laboratory, a printing press, and possibly a spa.
The trio were always solving crimes involving kidnappers, spies or smugglers. After ingeniously besting the baddies, they usually received a huge cash reward, or the Mayor awarded them medals, or the keys to the city. Did we believe this rubbish? Of course we did, we lapped it up!
So imagine our excitement when one of our gang announced that he’d found a cave on the side of One Tree Hill near the Drive-in! He showed us where it was, and peering into the gloomy depths, we could make out boxes stacked against the back wall.
My mate, whose imagination ran on hyper-drive in its’ relaxed state, immediately deduced that we had stumbled upon a counterfeiting ring, and that we should stakeout the cave. Thanks to those damned Three Investigators books, it never occurred to us that there might actually be another, simpler, explanation for the boxes being there.
We split up, one group watching from the Drive-In side, while the rest of us dug in on the Philip Street side. Just before sunset, as we were discussing giving up, several shadowy figures appeared through the long grass. Suddenly, being a hero lost all its’ appeal for me.
But my mate was made of sterner stuff. Gripping me under the arm, he leaped up and shouted, “This is a citizens’ arrest! Don’t move!” Then all hell broke loose.
The ‘baddies’ were teenagers who had come to their hideout to smoke, and gawp at the smutty magazines they’d stashed in the cave. The last thing they’d expected was our covert sting operation, but once they got over their initial shock, they got mad. Real mad.
We escaped the pummelling of a lifetime only by leaping off sheer cliff faces during a desperate downhill flight. I eventually made it home, where I gathered up all my Three Investigators books and tossed them into the bin, before hobbling off to find a First Aid kit.
Since then I’ve stuck to the only true literary hero, The Phantom. Mind you, I’ve often wondered what he’s got stashed away in all those boxes at the back of his Skull Cave.