Renovation uncovers decades-old bomb in Spencer home
By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Vernon Shurtz had gone to the store Wednesday morning when he got a call from his wife, Tatyana.
“Honey,” she said, “guess what I found?”
The Shurtzes are restoring a house in Spencer at 512 Third St. It’s a beautiful old residence that the Shurtzes are trying to bring back to its former glory.
Vernon said he figured his wife had stumbled upon some creature that had crawled inside to die.
“Did you find a dead rat?” he asked.
In fact, what Tatyana had come upon was something quite different ó an aerial training bomb that likely dates to World War II.
The bomb ó painted blue and measuring at least 2 feet long ó was found atop an old roof inside the house. The old roof had been enclosed when the house was added onto decades ago.
Why someone saw fit to leave a bomb atop the old roof is anyone’s guess.
“You’d think someone might have left it in the basement or the attic,” Vernon said. “But sitting where it was? That makes no sense.”
Tatyana ó who, as the old-timers might say, “ain’t from around here” ó wasn’t intimidated by the sight of the bomb.
“I’m Russian,” she said. “I have no fear.”
Vernon hustled home and took a look at the bomb. Then he drove to the nearby Spencer Fire Department where he found a few of the volunteer firefighters busying themselves with station-house chores.
Vernon moseyed in rather nonchalantly.
“I said, ‘Guys, guess what I found?’ ” he said.
Vernon said that when he told them what his wife had stumbled across, jaws dropped.
“It was a priceless shot,” Vernon said. “You should have seen the eyebrows raised.”
Vernon led the processional back to his house.
“The next thing you know, it’s like a parking lot in front of the house,” he said. “We had the Fire Department, we had policemen, we had everybody.”
The house was cordoned off while emergency workers took a look at what had been discovered.
Spencer Police Chief Robert Bennett said there was no sign of a fuse on the bomb, and said rescue workers were “99.9 percent sure” it couldn’t explode.
But it was that fraction of a percent that got their attention.
Spencer police officers first called members of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office’s bomb squad to have a look. After that, authorities from the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Department’s bomb squad were called in.
Finally, someone picked the bomb up and carried it out.
Bennett said the bomb ó which came complete with “wings” and a gizmo by which it could be attached to a plane’s underside ó was likely intended for aerial training in either World War II or the Korean War.
Asked how long it might have been in the house, Bennett shrugged.
“Decades,” he responded. “Who knows?”
He said the bomb’s destructive power wasn’t excessive ó probably in the 20-to-25-pound range.
“Even if it had exploded, it probably wouldn’t have blown past the front of the house,” Bennett said.
Still, the Shurtzes agreed, had the bomb detonated, it probably would have ruined their whole day.
And it probably wouldn’t have done a lot for their efforts to restore the house, either.
According to Spencer historians, the residence is known as “The Perkinson House.” It was built between 1910 and 1913 by the shop master at Spencer Shops.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Vernon managed to laugh about the irony of the bomb’s discovery. He said he figures that at some time, it came from an antiques shop.
How and why it wound up on an old roof inside his house, well, Vernon can’t begin to guess.
He said he’s hoping that members of the Cabarrus County bomb squad don’t find anything especially dangerous about the creation.
If they’re too concerned, they’ll blow it up.
Otherwise, it’ll be returned.
“They said that if they don’t find any explosives, I’ll get it back,” Vernon said.
Imagine what a conversation piece he’ll have.