An unexploded bomb was probably the last setback that CHS science teacher Kevin Buran expected to encounter while recently installing his new hot tub.
But on Feb. 21, as he was digging the trench for the tub’s electrical line, Buran uncovered an unused mortar round in his yard. The metal-encased cylinder, rusted and with a green tab on one end, immediately aroused suspicion and speculation.
Kevin’s wife Brenda, an English Language Development and Strategies for Success teacher at CHS, thought it was a tin “shaving cream can,” while an electrician who was present hypothesized it was a bomb used by local fisherman to scare off seals. The landscaper nonchalantly suggested TNT as a possibility.
The Burans, however, thought it was time to call the police.
An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was brought in, and the whole neighborhood was evacuated while the mortar, which did seem stable, was removed by a robot.
“It was incredible, actually,” Brenda Buran says, “how helpful everyone was, and polite, professional. It was cool to see how proficiently and seriously they handled the situation.”
As to why the bomb was there in the first place, hypotheses continue: It might have been buried when foundations for their 1940s house, located near the Presidio of Monterey, were laid, or when, in the late 19th century, the Navy used that whole hill to launch rockets.
But neither of those explains why it was found with a trove of trash that contained, according to Kevin Buran, “broken bottles, broken glass, some porcelain, an old leather shoe [and] some really nice intact old bottles from the Prohibition era.”
Although it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, both Burans acknowledge the situation’s very real danger.
“It’s been buried for 70 years, and the number of times my dog and my own wife and kids and I have walked on that spot is uncountable,” the science teacher remarks apprehensively. “In retrospect, [we] were pretty dang lucky that nothing happened.”
But now the Burans’ hot tub, installed without further incident, is being enjoyed each night under a waxing or waning Monterey moon.
– Michael Montgomery