The Boys of San Joaquin

Paolo calls Rufus “a Mack truck with no one driving.” Rufus is the O’Neil family dog, and he shows up one morning with part of a twenty-dollar bill in his teeth.Paolo, age twelve, figures that there must be more where that bill came from, and since his cousin Billy needs to repair a bent wheel on his bike, there’s a reason for looking. He, Georgie, and Billy end up in the monsignor’s garden behind the Cathedral of San Joaquin, but it’s not exactly treasure they find, it’s a hand that shoots out of the undergrowth to grab Paolo’s neck. The search for the stash leads the boys — sometimes scared spitless — on many a byway around Orange Grove City, California, in the summer of 1951. And onto the byway of conscience.”Suppose you found a treasure. Couldn’t you keep it?” Paolo asks his uncle. “I mean, say you know who it belongs to, and they probably need it….But when you find it, nobody has it. Isn’t nobody’s property in particular, then,” he reasons. “Well, maybe somebody has it, but it isn’t theirs. It would be yours, wouldn’t it?”No answer. “How in the heck is a guy supposed to be somebody in this world without any money?”