TRIALS: Four Boys & Two Dogs

On California's Monterey Peninsula, the meadows of golden poppies and blue lupine beckoned. It was Easter Sunday, and in the spirit of the day Jerry Edgmon, n, and his kid brother David, 9, left the tent where they lived with their migrant family, and started to pick some flowers for their mother. With their mongrel dog, Rocky, frisking beside them, the boys wandered across some dunes and crossed under a sagging, rusted barbed-wire fence.

A sign near the fence said:"Danger, unauthorized personnel keep out—entrance to heavy artillery impact area." But Jerry and David paid no attention to it.

Beyond the fence,...

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