Featured Question with Forrest Fenn and The Thrill of the Chase Treasure Hunt: Catsup

treasure hunt forrest fennMr. Fenn, you were in the military for twenty years and most of us never served. There must be incidents from those days that still stick in your mind. Can you share a few with us?~Thanks, Romnella

 

Sure Romnella, there are many.

Sometimes my memory harkens back to an incident that happened in 1950. I was a new private in the Air Force and was totally overwhelmed by high ranking sergeants. Officers didn’t bother me because I rarely saw one.

In the mess hall one day I opened a new bottle of catsup. When I did, the rim broke in my hand and small fragments of glass fell in on top. I was justifiably appalled and quickly realized that my destiny was at hand. When I approached the Mess Sergeant the six stripes on his sleeve truly intimidated me, mostly because I didn’t have any. And his many battle chevrons glared at me with impunity. I was also overawed by the knowledge that he was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

But I was duty bound and focused on my mission. “Look Sergeant,” I pronounced with malplaced authority, “This catsup bottle is full of broken glass.” His look told me I should have eaten it anyway.

“Well Private, what the h— do you want me to do about it? Throw the d— thing in the trash.” I was slapped in the face by his words. I didn’t think I deserved a medal necessarily, but it could be argued that my alertness and quick action had saved a few lives, and in wartime no less.

Eighteen years later I was a major in war ravaged Vietnam, when I observed a Master Sergeant dump a fifty-five gallon drum of expensive hydraulic fluid on the ground. When I asked what the h— he was doing, he told me that he needed the barrel to make a BBQ pit for the troops.

Well, I didn’t know what the h— to say. It was a war zone, and morale was important. I decided to shut up because I was just a Major and he was a Master Sergeant, and I wasn’t completely sure who ranked whom. f
Best of luck with all that you seek!  And always Treasure the Adventure!

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113 Responses

  1. HeadedDown says:

    there it is again.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Thanks Forrest and Jenny and Romnella! Interesting stories.

  3. Jake Faulker says:

    What the…..

  4. Jonsey1 says:

    I imagine who out ranked who would depend on how the vegetable oil was labeled….
    As far as the Catsup…I wonder what Newton would have thought. Nah. To many acids on base. Lol.

  5. GEYDELKON says:

    I am reminded of working at a special spot where I could hear the children of the past play. I was working at radar site #351 where I would keep track of missiles and satellites. Sometimes it seemed the down range chief was ready to act if my joystick started to drift. When we had a mission hold, I would go to this spot located at the foothills on the west side of the range near the site. There I would wonder of its past. There was this old post maybe 6 inches off the ground that was showing its age and purpose. I would find pottery shards and many other tools. I would just sit there with the sun beating down on me and I could hear the children of the past running and playing. Little did they know I would be there listening.

  6. Sparrow says:

    Thank you Forrest, Jenny and Romnella. I relish stories having to do with Catsup. 🙂

    • GEYDELKON says:

      Maybe he talking about its time to “catch up”. I think the grass is growing under my feet.

      • GEYDELKON says:

        I am surprised no one caught what 6 stripes represent. Each strip on the cuff represents 4 years in service. 24 years. 18 years later =42. Just sayin.

        • pdenver says:

          Thank you, GEYDELKON. I did not know this.

          • pdenver says:

            I’m a little confused right now. I can understand 6 stripes/4 years equals 24, but, if one takes 18 years times by 4 years, doesn’t that equal 72? Maybe it’s too early for my mind to be thinking about Math right now.

        • tighterfocus says:

          GEYDELKON, I think that bringing our attention to stripes is a little teaser
          that relates to the location of the TC (for those who have a good solve).

    • JC1117 says:

      I relish these stories too, Sparrow.

      But it’s difficult to know what to make of them…so I begin by smearing a little ketchup on my shirt.

      I like to practice safe reading by wearing a condiment. :/

      And Geydelkon…I’ll have to catch up later. I have some court-mandated mental health screenings at the mayo clinic.

      Thanks for the glimpse into military life, Forrest. Thank You for Serving, Sir. God Bless You…and All Others who have Served.

  7. Woody Bogg says:

    I wonder if the catsup was HEINZ or some off brand !! Heinz declares Only the best tomatoes will do!!

    • JC1117 says:

      Good call, Woody Bogg.

      I’ve tried some off brands…that left a bad taste in my mouth.

      There’s a good reason why they say “Heinz sight is 20/20″…

      https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2162/2257156672_0d53b0981c_b.jpg

      …although I have yet to learn who “they” are…and why they say that. :/

      • colokidd says:

        Just Kethch’n up. 😉
        I wonder what the price of catsup was back in the 50’s, probably pennies. Today I can get a 40 oz bottle of Great Value catsup for 2.79 at my local Walmart. It’s just as good and cost much less then a major brand. So with it being the military and all, I would have instantly thrown the broken bottle away and not have thought twice about it. I have to believe that there is something else going on in this story besides f’s concerns over military waste.

        • tighterfocus says:

          I believe that FF has included another teaser here that won’t be recognized by
          anyone who doesn’t (yet?) have a GREAT solve. A “good” solve isn’t sufficient
          to get a searcher within 500 feet of the TC — and I mean the shortest actual distance, in a straight line, in 3 dimensions. This teaser to which I refer is in
          the anecdote about the catsup bottle.

          He’s just havin’ fun with us, although some of his teasers are only appreciated
          by a relatively VERY small audience . . . but that audience appreciates FF’s
          teasers, cleverness, and sense of humor.

  8. Snider says:

    Forrest,
    That must have took a lot of courage to approach that sergeant.
    So much information in the last couple of weeks. I am still trying to figure everything out.
    I am in the process of getting the courage to use my quarter.
    Thank you Jenny
    Thank you Forrest
    Thank you catsup bottle?
    “Please don’t through me away”

  9. Madesquare says:

    Dad discovered that he could clear the mess hall tables a lot faster with a push room before wiping them down. Unfortunately the sergeant didn’t appreciate the innovation.

  10. Mindy says:

    Romnella and the missing ells….lol

  11. Chesney says:

    Thank You Mr. Fenn, and Ms. Kile…. I did manage to pull some of the “Catsup”, from the glass further down which was not contaminated with any glass. 🙂

  12. Woody Bogg says:

    Forrest Your stories are fun to read and sometimes you make me wonder . Did you expect the Sergeant to give you a new bottle of catsup or did you just want to see his reaction to it!! We love you Forrest Smile.

  13. PL289 says:

    Happy Pi day everyone!

  14. 23kachinas says:

    When in Roma?

  15. 23kachinas says:

    Write 3.14 on a piece of paper and turn it towards a mirror to spell PI.E!

    Happy birthday Einstein

  16. Lia says:

    Do mess Sargents have 6 stripes? IDK, but guessing anyone stuck with mess hall duty would have less stripes on his chevron. Speaking of Chevron, how about a connection to petro companines…EXXon, Standards Pegasus, Conoco (concy; on c) ShELL, Phillips 66. Just my rambling, random thoughts…Broken glass seems important to FF’s story, and oil drum. Are Ell and AMN the new missing D & E? Back to the BINGO game to figure that one out too. Not enough time in my life to figure out Forrest’s new posts, but fun to see he and Peggy so young and in love.

    • Jonsey1 says:

      I might throw Monsanto into that mix…or out of it….

    • tighterfocus says:

      Lia, you mentioned something that relates to a good solve, in my opinion. But I don’t want
      to say too much, because I don’t (yet) have the TC in my hands. Good luck in your solving
      and searching.

  17. Ken says:

    Is there a link where I can submit a question for Mr. Fenn?

    Thanks

  18. Lia says:

    Hmmm, is catsup considered a condiment? Catsup is typically branded by Hunts & D”el” Monte. If ff meant catch up, he would have used ketchup. Plenty of references to cats in ttotc. Referring back to Jenny’s visit to San Lazaro Pueblo, Medicine rock is said to resemble a mountain lion/cat up type rock. Now, Mr. Fenn I am once again chasing my tail rather than purring like a kitten. Your posts are infinetly entertaining, and apt to confuse me :-).

  19. jl says:

    Catsup~~~~~~~~ i give up f is obviously too far out there for me to walk.

  20. Passenger says:

    Very enlightening Forrest — Thank you.

  21. Lia says:

    “…I was just “A Major” could be a musical reference. The “Trout Quintet” is written in A Major; composed by Schubert at age 22; written for piano and stringed instruments including the cello and double bass. Of course I would assume that ttotc key references would be in F major. All just for fun; different ways to look at Forrest’s information; usually just sends me down the rabbit hole.

  22. Strawshadow says:

    Thank you Jenny, Romnella and Mr. Fenn.

  23. Jeremy P. says:

    I think this thread has some good explanations of why the chest remains undiscovered. You have some really smart people missing really obvious things. On one hand, people are creative and notice that the missing letters in D– and H– anagram the emailer’s name to Roman L. That’s really clever in my opinion. So then everyone’s wondering what 50 might mean. But then no one mentions that there is, in fact, three Ls.

    It’s weird. People are really good with obscurity, apparently, but miss obvious things like that.

    So if 50 matters, it could be 50 + 50 + 50, or 50 X 50 X 50, or even 350, or what have you.

    It’s like if you were to say, I dunno, something like: “I’m going to tell you the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Then you hide a ‘C’, an ‘A’, and a ‘T’ in it, and everyone gets hung up on “cats” and totally forgets about the bears. That’s probably a bad analogy, but you get the idea.

    • Kedar's Mom says:

      Why the chest remains undiscovered..because of the outrageous dare to retrieve it..who does that..haha ff. Darn, I’m out of catsup. : )

    • ace 340 says:

      Ding🙂 g

    • Zaphod73491 says:

      Hi Jeremy — there is ambiguity over whether Forrest is hinting at three L’s or four, or even eight. You have the triplet of h— and the “ell” in Romnella’s (fake) name, plus a second instance of her name in his reply, and one “fell” and two “Well”s. So is it the L’s that matter or their Roman L numerical connection to 50? The latter is perhaps more likely since he says the incident occurred in 19*50*, plus there are almost a dozen references to 50 in TTOTC.

      • Jeremy P. says:

        You forgot “or none”, as in maybe he’s not hinting at anything 🙂

        Maybe he likes to anagram. Maybe he never did before the Chase but he sees everyone posting anagrams on here all the time and thinks, “That looks like fun.” So someone actually named Romnella writes to him, his imagination reads it as a Roman L, and he works a little creative writing into his answer to her. Maybe it has nothing at all to do with the Chase. That’s actually the safest assumption.

        I think if you did want to tie it as a hint related to the Chase, it would most certainly correlate to something in the poem or the book. Another safe assumption would be that everything you need to find the chest would already be in there somewhere. So if three L’s, four, five, or what have you matters, it would be in the original material and wouldn’t need hints here except as maybe a reminder.

        • Zaphod73491 says:

          Hi Jeremy — yes, could just be a coincidence that Romnella anagrams to Roman Ell, and that he chose to dash-out the h— and d— for reasons other than that those 6 letters are all in the Romnella name. However, irrespective of whether L or 50 has any connection to the poem solution, the likely-fictitious Romnella name combined with the MacGuffin of this story happens to provide the same clue *for me* that Forrest has hinted at dozens of times in TTOTC, TFTW, the Scrapbooks and elsewhere. If you get the same answer over and over again using a wide variety of delivery methods, it gets pretty hard to dismiss it as random chance. I think Forrest intentionally provides variable hint types figuring that no searcher will recognize them all, but many searchers will at least catch one or two of them.

          But I recognize that many searchers won’t accept that Forrest might continue to provide subtle hints outside of what appears in the poem, TTOTC and TFTW, even though they are useless for solving the clue. But they really aren’t “hints” at all; more like Easter eggs for people on the right track.

      • Lia says:

        Zaphod – may also relate to the ancient Roman mile or Roman ell. Question then becomes…how many ell’s and are they distance or gps related numbers. I give up. Perhaps someone here can make sense of how to apply. http://www.unitconverters.net/length/mile-roman-to-ell.htm

        • JC1117 says:

          Good catch, Lia.

          Maybe there’s a link between Roman ells and Forrest’s “66,000 links north of Santa Fe” comment…no pun intended.

          Is Forrest taking some kind of Poetic License there?

          Maybe…maybe not. You don’t get to be a fighter jet pilot without being very precise.

          An example of poetic license might be Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Most everyone’s first thought when they read that title is…”Wow! That must be really deep!” Which it is. In fact…1 league is 3.45 miles. So 20,000 leagues is actually 69,047 miles! That’s pretty deep…especially considering that planet earth is only 7,917 miles in diameter.

          Well…long story short…Jules Verne is referring to distance traveled “under the sea” (submarine) and not actual depth.

          You’re welcome. Now you don’t need to read the book.

          Just throw that one right in the ol’ dumpster. 🙂

          Just kidding.

          The point is…we have to find out the hidden meanings that Forrest is concealing…and not just what his words seem to mean on the surface. I suppose that goes without saying. LOL!

          http://idolosol.com/images/captain-obvious-1.jpg

          • Lia says:

            A”Good scratch” of the surface is more accurate Jc1117. To be honest I’ve spent 3-4 years just scratching the surface of what forrest fenn might be intending layers in his poem to mean. Have officially decided I won’t be the one to solve it or find the gold. Taking a girls trip to Santa Fe to punctuate my ttotc journey’s end with a smile and move on. Best wishes to you.

        • Jeremy P. says:

          I didn’t know “Ell” was a unit of measurement.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ell

          Yikes. This does not bode well. I don’t know what Forrest hints at, if anything, ever, but one thing is pretty certain. The only real reason measurements would matter in a treasure hunt is if the thing is literally or practically buried. 🙂

          • tighterfocus says:

            I am at least 99.994% (number chosen arbitrarily and almost randomly) confident that any measurements of any kind — or any numbers of any kind, for that matter — are not part of a “winning” solve.

            People are over-thinking the poem. I don’t think enough folks are
            showing the poem to children. And speaking of children, do y’all
            remember that FF has said that he thinks of himself as a thirteen-
            year-old? This info could be helpful to a searcher, if properly applied.
            But only if bearing in mind when FF was born. It relates to American
            culture . . . a tiny(ish) hint, I admit. And this also (weakly) ties into
            one of FF’s recent Scrapbooks about bells, IMO. Good luck, y’all.

      • Sher says:

        That was fun. Do it agin!

      • Sher says:

        Yay!!!!

  24. astree says:

    I think there are a lot of things you can do with the name (including reading it backwards, and ALL N MORE, but am missing where the D, H, and extra L come from?)

    Shifting the letters in GLASS give KP..EWW – does that count? :)

    • astree says:

      Oh, you were talking about the cursive words that he blanked in his narrative? Still missing how they anagram to ROMAN L.

      • nmc says:

        RomAN ELL. There were 3 ELLs altogether. H_ , H_ and RomnELLa.

        • Buckeye Bob says:

          There’s also a D_, so A, M, and N are missing too.

        • Buckeye Bob says:

          nmc, I’m replying here for more room. About your “ALL MEN” question…
          No, that’s not the way I see the Fenn hints working.

          Think mirrors (glass) here.
          M and N divide the alphabet.
          If you are stuck in the middle (between the mirrors as two halves of the same alphabet), go back to the beginning (A).

          We’re talking “aberrations” and “dichotomies” here.

          I hope this doesn’t help TOO much, 😉 .

          • nmc says:

            Nope, you’re safe 🙂 I’ve been more about looking for aberrations on the edge, but could certainly apply to one “in the middle” as well, or if you want to anagram catsup, one “at cusp” (horn of a crescent).

  25. Wensley Dale says:

    80% of you are nuttier than squirrel dung….anagrams…catsup/catchup indeed!

    All this says to me is that his character is such he’s told a few inconsequential fibs in the past.
    He’s a quick thinker and fast mover…catch him if you can!

  26. pdenver says:

    Thank you for another “Featured Question,” Jenny, and Mr. Fenn.

  27. Buckeye Bob says:

    It seems to me that people are playing catchup again, and that means there’s someone in the lead.
    Also, just noting that mirrors are made of glass.
    There might be more because ff doesn’t like to miss the bananas.

  28. 23kachinas says:

    Condiments version of Rock-Paper-Scissors

    A1 beats ketchup on steak
    Mustard beats ketchup on sandwiches
    Ketchup ties mustard on hot dogs
    Veganiase beats mayonnaise
    Ranch beats ketchup and mustard on fries
    Plastic beats glass when it comes to condiment containers

    Ok that didn’t work as well as I had planned, good thing it was just IMO

    Help!

    • GEYDELKON says:

      How about ketchup on your hash browns. I earned a few stripes while I was in the Navy. They are also called hash marks. Just sayin.

  29. JDA says:

    When Forrest was a private, I am sure that ANY sergeant was impressive.

    As a Major, Forrest was smart enough to know that he couldn’t fly were it not for the Non-coms (Non commissioned officers – the Sergeants – E5 – E-10)
    Sure he “Out ranked” the Sergeant, but did it really matter? Probably not.
    JDA

    • Hear me all says:

      JDA – I would say that the rank did and does matter. Without understanding what he means it could turn into just another vacation.

    • Brad Hartliep says:

      Non-Coms don’t keep the airplanes flying, the Airmen do. And a gaggle of unkempt non-gigged, hydrazine-encrusted Enlisted Troops are three hundred times more important to a Fighter Pilot’s Success and Safe Return than all the over-starched NCO and Senior Officer Bus-Drivers combined. As an E-1 with 6 months experience I knew more about the P&W F100 then anyone else in the Squadron, except the Pratt&Whitney Tech Rep (and, as an E-3 – with Direct training from General Electric Engineers in Evendale – the GE F110) — at all three bases I was stationed at — and the E-4s, E-5s and E-6s (and ALL the Eagle and Viper Drivers – including the Commander) came Directly to me if they wanted their engines fixed right and fixed properly, with the least chance of turbine-wheel shell-out or compressor blade failure .. Non-Coms are middle-management not mechanics .. and the vast majority of ’em were, and still are, over-bearing, self-indulgent “career” paper-pushers with zero qualifications to be a mop-pusher, let alone a supervisor .. The “Time In Rank” Promotion Privilege” — with Zero opportunities of advancement for talent, experience and knowledge — made me get the double toothpicks out as fast as I could. There was no way in hell I was gonna tolerate spending 20 years taking orders from dumb****s who know less about airplane performance and safety than I do – especially when their moronic actions kill pilots and they try to blame some poor enlisted schmuck who happened to be in the wrong place so they can keep the chrome-plated epaulets. I’ll take an E-3 who knows his or her job and a Captain who knows how to fly, and not bitch about “not receiving a salute” in the middle of a fuel-drenching engine-control change, over an E-8 desk jockey and a slap-happy Article 15 Bird Colonel any day of the week ..

      Brad

  30. Sparrow says:

    Hey Stealth, you still around? Another post you might be interested in.

    overWHELmed.
    ..The glass FELL IN.
    “Well, Private…..”
    “Well, I didn’t know….”

    Your theory about a well is beginning to make more sense. 🙂

  31. ace 340 says:

    Well, he certainly was courageous.

  32. JohnR says:

    “Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
    I swore — but was I sober when I swore?
    And then, and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
    My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.”

  33. Nate Beck says:

    I love military stories. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  34. Madesquare says:

    “Ell” could be instructions. The final form of the anagram is L shaped, as in scrabble. You get an extra letter to work with, 9 instead of eight.

  35. BW says:

    Reading about the Bataan Death March is unbelievably gut wrenching. I’m guessing Mr. Fenn felt respect more than fear for the Mess Sergeant.

  36. Sparrow says:

    You can mess with the Sergeant just don’t mess with the poem.

  37. Snider says:

    It is safe to say that Forrest knows when to face his fears and follow his destiny. Spring into action and save maybe a few lives.
    It is also safe to say that Forrest also knows when to keep his mouth shut.
    I find this very comforting.

  38. Heidini says:

    6 stripes… 6 chevrons… chevrons are inverted v’s. Could it be a V6 engine??? Maybe a “chev-y” V6?

  39. tighterfocus says:

    Forrest has provided a couple of (minor) hints here that support a correct solve of the poem, while
    not helping anybody who isn’t “in the know”. I apologize for anything I’ve said here that offends
    or bothers anyone. Forrest is teasing (some of) us, and having fun at the same time. And if he has
    referred to anyone in particular, I think he’s barking up the wrong tree, because I don’t think that
    particular person has much chance of finding the TC.

    • Buckeye Bob says:

      No offense meant, tf, but just to point out that that person you think doesn’t have much of a chance would be the same one the rest of us are playing “catsup” with…right?
      I’m hoping you are seeing the humor here. 😉

      Actually, it occurs to me that wintertime is a “catsup” period for everyone so maybe there’s no one person implied.

      • tighterfocus says:

        If FF was implying that most of us are “way behind” in our solving — compared to a
        certain individual, then it appears that FF believes that this individual is “closing in”
        on the TC. I have a specific individual in mind here, but don’t think that this individual is capable of a complete, correct solve before the TC is found . . . despite having/displaying an ambitious “can-do” attitude toward this chase.

        I don’t mean to always seem “negative” toward others. Although I don’t wish for
        each and every searcher to find the TC, I genuinely hope that all searchers in this hunt do enjoy it, and are rewarded with pleasure, adventure, and rich memories of it all. So far, it’s been this way for me.

        • C.M.R. says:

          Are you referring to this scenario:

          Do you think that someone who is sure about the location of the home of brown could reverse engineer where warm waters halt? ~Ben Raylor

          Thanks for the question Ben.
          If you are sure about the location of home of Brown why are you concerned about where warm waters halt? But to answer your question, sure you could and a few searchers might throw in some gas money for a percentage of the take. Good luck.f

          Is someone doing this now and you don’t know it?

        • Buckeye Bob says:

          Tighterfocus, I think you are right because this quest is loaded and it all won’t be found even when the treasure is.

        • Jake says:

          Hey tighterfocus,

          I’d like to think this person is me. I took a slightly different approach to solving the poem, and my solve is complete. I hear people claiming they are going to get it next week… if they truly had it solved, they would be patient and wise. Good luck in your search, everyone. 🙂

  40. Buckeye Bob says:

    Has no one looked up the meaning of “ell” yet?
    There’s an obvious meaning that I didn’t see yet, and it always scares me a little when those things don’t get mentioned.

  41. HappyThoth says:

    Ideo.. the Sin of All Losing the T
    March forth (2016 HODI)..
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october/you-are-manure-of-earth.html?start=1

    Forrest, I would definitely enjoy a beer with you.. and BBQ ham spear’dribs 😉
    Holy cow, what a beautiful day!

    • Buckeye Bob says:

      I didn’t sign up to read the entire article, but I think I can get a gist of it unless I’m wrong.
      Looking up salt, I’ve learned a few things on top of what I already knew about salt.
      First, salt is as we all know a preservative for foods. (I didn’t know that ancient people used to salt grain too.)
      B) Salt kills bacteria and thus used on wounds. I learned that Gen, Custer brushed his teeth with salt, which I’ve rinsed my mouth with salt at times when my gums hurt a little.
      3) Salt is a symbol of a pact, an agreement. I’ve learned that there has been a world wide symbolism of salt and bread to confer this meaning in a polite way. I wonder if salted bread in various forms in those free baskets in restaurants is related to this? Seems very likely.

      That “pact” part seems like what your article was gonna be about. A pact between God and people. When we pass on, we go back to the earth. I’m sire there’s a lot more to it than that, but that strikes me as the basis.

      In this treasure hunt, ff has made a pact with us.
      I wonder sometimes if his claim that he was going to leave his cold form at the spot of the treasure isn’t more symbolic than not.
      Regardless, the symbolism is unmistakable.

  42. Sher says:

    Amazing. My father, Harvey Boswell, was the the Air Force. He entered service vet young. He wound up workin in the mess. His grandfather, also Harvey Boswell, didn’t some time in TX with uncles who remained out west.
    It’s a small small world … and I indeed did “look”.

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