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Potted plant

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"Beep. Beep-beep. / Marty shook his head and reached for the cordless phone by his bed. / "Hello." / "You didn't fall asleep, did you?" Doc Brown asked on the other end. / "Uh, no. Course not." / "You sound like you just woke up." / "I was thinking," Marty said. "What's up? I don't have to leave for a while yet." / "Uh-huh," Brown replied. "I was just wondering. I forgot my video camera. Could you stop by my place and pick it up on the way to the mall?" / "No problem, Doc. Key still in the same place?" / "That's right. Under the potted plant.” / “That's not a very good place,” Marty said. "First spot a burglar would look." / "I haven't been robbed yet. Anyway, the place looks so junky. Nobody'd ever suspect there's a billion dollars' worth of research in there." / "O.K., Doc. I'll see you in half an hour or so." / "Right.""
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 43 and 44)
"He [Marty] looked down, noting that the same potted plant, much smaller now, stood outside the door to Doc's garage. / "Is it possible...?" he smiled. / Bending down, he lifted the pot and found the key. He put it in his pocket and walked away. It was his plan to wait until dark when the DeLorean would be less obtrusive. The machine itself would be sure to impress Doc Brown and contained several articles from 1985 that would serve as evidence."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 120 and 121)

A potted plant stood outside Emmett Brown's garage in 1955 and 1985, beneath which he kept the key.

In 1985, Marty McFly pointed out to Doc — who had asked Marty to stop by the garage on his way to Twin Pines Mall and pick up the video camera — that this was the first place a burglar would look. However, Doc said he hadn't been robbed yet and that nobody would ever suspect the garage contained a billion dollars' worth of research due to its looking somewhat dilapidated.

In 1955, when Doc didn't believe Marty's story about having come from the future, Marty discovered that Doc kept his key under the same, much smaller, pot plant. He borrowed the key and used it to let himself and the DeLorean time machine into the garage after retrieving the car from its hiding place.

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