From Chickens to Prospecting

 

Introduction

By W. E. Wardle

 

            The following document is unique in as much as the main subjects of the story are actually related to most of the Hartshorn List.

            First a little family history. Albert O. Smith was born in 1879 to Jabez Smith and Martha Woolman. Jabez Smith had been born in Basford Nottingham in 1839, to William Smith and Ann Hartshorn the sister of  Sarah Hartshorn my 3rd great grandmother, and Harriett Hartshorn 2nd g grandmother of  Joan (Rice) Pedley.

            In Feb 1842 William Smith & Wm Smith Jnr. sailed from Liverpool on the Ship Kalamazoo to Philadelphia. In Aug 1842 Ann (Hartshorn) Smith his wife, sailed on the Ship Susquehanna, with the remainder of her family. This comprised of Sarah, John, Jabez,& Robert.

            Now settled in the USA Ann gave birth to Ann Elizabeth in 1845, and Emma Louisa, in 1850.

            Needless to say, one of the main contrasts between the USA and England was the vast distances, not to mention the mind blowing opportunities compared with the confines of the Nottingham slums. William proceeded to take advantage of  any opportunity that came his way. Unfortunately he was to die only 13 years after his arrival in his newly chosen land.

            Jabez, the father of our two heroes in the book, married Martha Woolman in 1869, his brother Robert married Martha’s sister Charlotte Woolman in 1872.

Children of  Jabez and Martha were:-

Addie M. Smith 1872,    Milo Woolman Smith 1875,   Albert Horace O. Smith 1879 in Iowa,  Stanley F. Smith 1895 in Washington.

Albert, who died in 1967 in Hinckley, San Bernardino CA, never married.   Stanley who died in Waterford CA left a widow, Pearl A. Cummins.

Relationships to Hartshorn List.: These two prospectors  were:-

1st   Cousins     (2 times removed) of Sonya, Guy, Lynne, Wynne, Ray Hertzberg, & Susan,. (Smiths USA)

1st     Cousin      (3 times removed) of Tressie & Don Stevens.

(All direct descendants to Wm Smith & Ann Hartshorn)

2nd  Cousins      (2 times removed ) of Joan Pedley.           Related thro Robert Hartshorn & Elizabeth Holmes

2nd  Cousins      (3 times removed ) of William E. Wardle Related thro Robert Hartshorn & Elizabeth Holmes    

3rd   Cousins     (3 times removed ) of Zita, and most  of the group, Related thro John Hartshorn & Sarah Thornton.

 

            In June 2004 a copy of the book was sent to me by Hanna, wife of Dr Guy Grenny, one of Stanley’s 1st cousins (2 times removed.) they live in Fort Bragg, California. She had received it in turn from Lynne Logan (Symms).

  In order to ensure that the story was available to as many relations as possible I committed to scanning and  converting the document to editable text. Therefore there may be slight errors made by the OCR program, and no doubt some made by yours truly, for which I apologize in advance. The first error I came across was on the fly leaf of the book.: It mentions the name of Alfred (not Albert) being the brother of Stanley.  As the fly leaf was produced by the Publishers, this error is down to them and not to myself or Oscar Daloian the author. I leave the errors to stand. I have also produced a “Folded Book” version which can be acquired by emailing me.

 

 

 

 

From Chickens to Prospecting

 

FOREWORD

By Oscar “Shorty” Daloian

 

IF it were not for a series of unforeseen events and accidents, which occurred during the year 1955 this book, or whatever you want to call it, would never have been written.

First, after eighteen years of raising chickens, I went broke. Second, my cousin Bill unexpectedly showed up from Alaska and talked me into taking a trip with him out to the Panamints. Third, on that trip we got lost and wound up on the wrong road, and ran into the Smith Brothers. From them I contracted the prospecting fever. So there was nothing to do but go with them and get the fever out of my system. Fourth, my wife gave me a writing pad to write home on, but for some unexplainable reason I used that writing pad to keep a diary. Fifth, two weeks after I returned home from over four months of prospecting, I was working  at our new Grange hall and fell off a scaffold and broke my leg at the knee. Sixth, in order to help pass away the time for the next four months I made a stab at writing about our prospecting trip from the diary. Who knows but what one more unforeseen event may get what I have written into print?

 

O.C. D.

This book is dedicated to the hardy old-time prospectors and to the noble jackasses, their loyal companions, on whom they depended. It was through the hard work and co-operation of this sturdy animal that many of the trails were blazed over the mountains and deserts of the Old West.

This noble animal throughout the centuries, unlike man, has not decreased or increased its intelligence--so that makes them even.

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

            MY forty-second cousin, Bill, comes from Alaska every winter to visit me for a week or so at Hinkley, California. I am now retired from raising chickens. There are two ways to retire from any business. One is to make a lot of money and the other to go broke. In my case it is the latter. A chicken farmer is just another farmer with his brains knocked out. Mr. Barnum in his time said that a sucker is born every minute. But during this day and age, three are born every minute and two of them wind up raising chickens.

Hinkley is a small farming community producing al­falfa, poultry, dairy products, and the like. All the ranches, large or small, have their own drilled wells. It is located about 130 miles northwest from down below. When the in­habitants say, “I am going down below,” or “just got back from down below,” everyone knows that they are going to or have just returned from Los Angeles. The inhabitants of our desert region do the most complaining after return­ing from a trip from down below. They complain of the terrific heat down there, and when the people from down below come up to the desert they make the same complaint about the desert heat. The nearest place of any size is Bar­stow, population 9000-10,000. That's not the Chamber of Commerce figures; its estimate would probably be much more. The Mojave River runs through Hinkley Valley or at least the river bed does, and sometimes during the early spring, when the snow melts in the distant mountains, for a month or two water flows on its sandy surface. During the rest of the year, .for a hundred miles, water appears and disappears many times on the river bed. The amazing thing about this river is how it flows away from the ocean; and, as far is known, it just disappears into the vast desert sands.

The day after Bill arrived we went to Barstow, loaded up with grub, borrowed a Geiger counter, rustled up an old coffee pot and frying pan and were all set to go prospecting. The following day we headed northwest to the Harper dry-lake area, to a place called Lockhart, the Lockhart ranch where two or three thousand acres of alfalfa are under cultivation. Every year several thousand head of choice steers are fattened out. A large feed and dehydrating mill is located on the ranch and also a large ranch store where everything needed for daily living is available. The place is located in a small beautiful valley, if you consider the nature of the surrounding country. It looks like a little oasis that has been redeemed from the desert. The desert has thousands of dry clay lakes scattered all over it, some of them no larger than an acre or two and others that cover ten thousand acres or more. The surfaces of these lakes are as hard and smooth as a modern highway; the larger have been used as automobile racing tracks. During the war, the air force utilized these lakes for training fields, except during the rainy season. Then they become soft clay and slicker than greased lightning. From there, we traveled northwest up a dry wash in the general direction of Fremont Peak.

We were traveling on the flats opposite and north of its base, when suddenly a small dry lake about half a mile long loomed up before us. I cautioned Bill not to drive upon it, but he paid no attention, and the further out we went the softer the mud got. About halfway across the wheels began to spin, and at the same moment it started raining. He tried to back out, and with me pushing as hard as I could, we got it rolling backward. All the while it was raining harder. We managed to back up about a thousand feet, three hundred feet short of getting out of the mud, when both wheels began spinning again. I sprained a gut pushing, but it was of no use; the sides of the tires were covered with mud and when too much accumulated on them, it would hit the fenders and fly in every direction until both of us were wallowing in it. We got so much of it on our shoes and pants cuffs, that we could hardly lift our feet; with every step, we would sink five or six inches into the stuff. The only thing left to do was to walk at least two hundred yards through mud to higher ground where some creosote bushes, sometimes caned greasewood, grew. With our bare hands we tore branches down and hauled them back to put under the wheels. After three such trips, for all our efforts, we backed about forty feet more. By then it was five o'clock, still raining, getting colder and darker.

We could not sleep in the car, as the back seat was full of our paraphernalia, the front was full of mud from getting in and out of the rain, the nearest house was nine miles away so there we were. I said to Bill that our only hope was to try and find the old abandoned Hamberger mine tunnel about two miles to the north and west of us. I wrapped our blankets with a change of clothes in a canvas tarp and tied a rope around them. Bill took the frying pan, coffee pot, a gallon jug of water, some grub, rolled them up into another tarp and stuck the flashlight into his pocket. We lifted the packs onto our backs and headed northwest, hoping to find the tunnel.       We were wallowing in mud and water over our shoe tops, the rain began to fall harder. Our feet and hands were wet and numb from the rain and cold. We dared not stop to rest for if we lay our packs down everything in them would get full of mud and water. I felt like I was about, to konk out. We finally got out of the mud lake onto higher ground, fell on our packs exhausted, and lay there in the dark, panting like a couple of dogs. My ticker, the thing that keeps you alive, that's also the thing you're supposed to love with, was pounding like a piston.

Bill says, “Let's rest awhile longer; it feels like my heart is going to jump out of my chest.” Every two or three hundred yards we would rest, until we reached the mountain side. By then it was pitch dark. With the flashlight we tried to locate the tunnel entrance, walking back and forth, or you may say, east and west, all the while carrying our packs, afraid to put them down for fear we could never find them again in that inky darkness. I was really getting worried and all pooped out, as I knew that if we didn't find the mine tunnel, neither could we find the car again in that kind of a night. I took the flashlight from Bill, walked west about three hundred yards; by luck I stumbled onto a concrete slab that sometime or other had been used to set mining machinery on when the mine was in operation. Remember­ing seeing it before, I knew the tunnel was nearby, about a hundred yards straight north. We found the tunnel and entered it. When we flashed the light around, the birds flew in every direction. It was dry and warm inside. We found some dry wood and made a fire in a make-shift stove that someone had left, took off our shoes and changed into dry clothes, and having no extra shoes we walked around in our stocking feet. While we were frying eggs and boiling coffee, every time we lifted the lid off the stove to put wood in, the birds would try to fly in the fire, we were careful that none did so. The tunnel was about sixty feet long, five feet wide and six feet high. After supper we put a blanket over the tunnel opening to keep out the cold air and spread our blankets on the ground. Bill was toward the mouth of the tunnel and I about halfway back. Shortly the fire died out, and inside the tunnel it became as black as ink; the birds quieted down. Bill heard something make a noise near him, and turning the light in that direction, yelled back to me, “It's a rat.” I assured him that it probably was only a harm­less pack rat, maybe four or five inches long. He shouted back, “This one is a lot longer than that.” He spotted the light on it every few minutes and kept repeating, “Are you sure it won't bite us?” I assured him that it would not. He said, “How about killing it?”

I refused. “No,” I said, “anything that lives ten miles from water or any human habitation deserves to live.”

Bill said, “Guess you're right. After all it is his house we are staying in. Killing him would be just like killing your host.” He quieted down. After a couple of hours I thawed out and fell asleep.

            Next morning about nine o'clock we jumped out of our blankets almost frightened to death. Inside the tunnel it sounded as if a strong earthquake was taking place, as the walls began to vibrate with a rumbling sound that lasted for about ten seconds. A second is not long out in the open, but inside a tunnel under those circumstances it's at least two lifetimes. It was a relief to find out it was just a jet plane breaking through the sound barrier. Bill took the blanket down from the entrance and yelled back, “The sun is shining. Not a cloud in the sky.”

Then I noticed, about five feet from where I had slept, the largest pack rat that I had ever seen in my life. I knew it could not be there without having crawled over me some­time during the night. I will swear on a stack of Sears Roe­buck catalogs he was all of nine inches long without his tail, four inches wide and four inches high, and as fat as butter. While I was studying the pack rat, I heard Bill give out an oath of lowbrow English words. Asking what happened, I was informed that he had stepped on the egg carton with his big feet, breaking every egg. The eggs and coffee were all we had with us, the rest of our grub being in the car. Bill said he would carry the can of coffee and the coffee pot. I was carrying the frying pan and our table manners, consist­ing of two knives, two forks and two spoons, in my hip pocket. We headed for the car. Taking a jug of water and some grub out of the car, we walked to the edge of the mud lake onto higher ground, gathered some rocks and made a fireplace. There was plenty of sagebrush for firewood. After boiling water in the coffee pot, we found Bill had forgotten to carry the coffee and it was still in the mine tunnel two miles away. Anyway, we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. After breakfast, we collected more greasewood for two hours to put under the car wheels. For all our efforts, we managed to back up only about sixty feet more, and being very tired, we decided to give it up and go back to the tunnel and have dinner, and give the mud a chance to dry more. We took along a small mattress, figuring if we did not get out, sleep­ing would be more comfortable that night. Bill carried the frying pan and the grub again; after frying the bacon and egg's we realized the coffee pot had been forgotten where we had breakfast.

A couple of hours later we started to the car, and on the way found six pieces of bent metal lath that must have come from some of the old mine houses that used to be there years ago. We lay them down behind the back wheels with more greasewood, building a stretch about forty feet long. Bill started the car, putting it into reverse gear and I busted my guts pushing on the front. To our surprise, the car started backwards, gaining momentum fast, and I lost hold of it, falling forward with a resounding thud flat on my face in that oozy, gooey mud. By maneuvering the car on high ground we made it to the tunnel and at last we had the coffee pot and coffee together, and the usual bacon and eggs. But oh, what awful coffee Bill makes! Two cups of water and five tablespoons of coffee, boiled five minutes, and when it's poured out it comes to a half cup for each of us; strong enough to float a silver dollar or grow a tail on a guinea pig for sure. After supper it was still light. The birds started coming back into the tunnel. The pack rat was still there, so we threw some cheese and bread towards it; in a few minutes he was eating it. We went outside, set a: creosote bush on fire and sat on some rocks near by talking for a couple hours before going inside the tunnel for the second night.

            On the third day our host the pack rat had got much tamer. At breakfast, he sat between us eating off of a paper plate. After breakfast, we loaded the car and headed west across the Cuddleback dry lake to Red Mountain, from there we headed for Trona where the American Chemical and Potash Company have a large plant on the edge of Searles Lake. A fellow there told me water is pumped into the lake, where a lot of holes have been drilled for it to sink into, then pumped out to extract the potash and other chemicals. The process is repeated over and over. There were 1600 men working at the plant, he said. We looked the town over then, back tracked to a small place called Argus. We did some shopping, then went to a cafe called Lichas Place, which happened to be a Spanish kitchen. I ordered a hamburger steak, and Bill a chili verde. I asked Bill what a chili verde is, and he said it was peppers with meat. I figured it must be stuffed peppers with meat, which I like very much so I changed my order to chili verde. It was a half hour before the waitress brought it to us, but it was not stuffed peppers; it was chopped meat and peppers mixed together with some other gooey stuff. She set a half-gallon pitcher of water on the table. It was a cool day and we were not thirsty, so why so much water? I was not long in finding out the why, eating the stuff. It sure tasted good, but after every two mouthfuls I had to drink a half glass of water to cool off. It did not seem to bother Bill at all. When I wound up there was none of the stuff left on my plate nor was there any water left in the pitcher. But that was not the end of that meal; I will come back to it later on.

We paid the lady $1.08 each and headed for Balarat about 25 miles away. Balarat is a deserted place with about a dozen roofless dobie houses all in the state of deteriora­tion. A half mile east we followed a road south that runs parallel with the mountains intending to go to Early Springs or Layton’s Canyon, but it was getting late; in an hour or so it would be dark. We knew from experience that unless you know where you are and where you're going on the desert, it's best to make camp while there is daylight. About six miles further on, we saw three cabins on the mountain side to our left and drove up to them. Two men came out of the cabins, and we asked them if we could camp there for the night. They said, “You sure can.”

One introduced himself as Stanley Smith and the other one said his name was Seldom Seen Slim. He said he knew all the old-timers from Tehachapi to Bishop, Bridgeport, Tonopah, Goldfield, Beatty, Las Vegas, Needles, Barstow and Mojave, emphasizing by pointing in every direction that he mentioned. He took in a hunk of country larger than all New England. I asked him if he knew Ben Brandt, “Ya, ya, ya, sure, sure, sure, I knew him. They called him Arkensaw Ben, Dry Wash Ben, jackass Ben; sure he was a jackass, man. He's dead now.”

“Did you know Shorty Harris,” I asked?

“Ya, ya, ya, sure, sure, sure knew Shorty. Him and I lived together over at Balarat. He's dead too, over twenty years, now.” I asked him about several other old-timers, he knew them all. Every time it was ya, ya, ya, sure, sure, sure, he knew him. He's dead now, or he is at Bishop, or Independence or at Vegas now.

Asked if he ever found anything prospecting.

       “Ya, ya, ya, sure, sure, sure. A couple of years ago sold a fellow a gold mine, got a thousand dollars for it. The fellow worked it and took out twenty thousand dollars out of it,”

I said, “Why didn't you work it yourself instead of selling it?”

, “Well I'd a-hatta dug for it, wouldn't I” he answered. Then he pointed to his jeep, “Bought that thing in Los Angeles, and after I bought it was afraid to drive it. Cars were going every which way, was afraid I'd get kilt afore I got very far with it, so I says to the people at the place I bought it from they would have to get the thing out of town for me. So they got a young fellar and be drove me out to Pasadena and took a bus back, and I drove it from there to Mojave without stopping. Pretty good, huh? Got so I know all the triggers to pull to shove it into different gears. Here's my name painted on the spare tire rack, see it says, 'Seldom Seen Slim, Prospector: Pretty good, huh? You know I got a cabin across them mountains, ya, in :fact two of them,” He pointed west across a big valley to the opposite mountains, “I picked up a piece of hot uranium over there:'

I asked, “How do you know it's hot?”

       “The Geiger counter says so. But don't know just where I picked it up, got it mixed up with a whole lot of other rocks I picked up, Now I've got to hunt all over them hills again to see if I can find where it came from, Of course, there might be just a small pocket of it, but then you can never tell, might be something pretty good. Say, it's beginning to get dark, I'm going to the cabin and turn in. See you in the morning.” And he was gone.

While I was talking to Slim, Bill had supper ready. You guessed it, more bacon and eggs. After supper went to one of the other cabins to visit the other fellow while Bill washed the dishes, or rather, burned up the paper plates. I opened the door and walked in. To my surprise there were two men in the cabin, the man who had invited me over and another elderly man lying down on a bed. When I entered he sat up on edge of the bed, and Mr. Smith introduced him as his brother Albert. As I walked over and shook hands I knew I was going to like him. He was a fine-appearing man, with real blue eyes that sparked like diamonds and long bushy eyebrows. He said he was seventy-six years of age, but he ap­peared to be in good shape.

After the usual small talk, “Where you been? Where you come from?” and so on, without any warning, right out of a dear blue sky, he said, “You've heard about the big fire in Idaho that spread up into Montana and Washington?” I answered no. I never saw a man so surprised. When he got his breath back from the shock of my never hearing about it, he said, “You read about it haven't you?” Again I answered no, and asked when it had happened.

He said, “It was October 24, 1910 at 4: 15 P.M. when the fire hit where he was.” I told him at that time I was only twelve years old. Then the old gent perked right up and said, “Well then I'll have to tell you about it.” In the meantime his brother was catching up on the news out of a week-old newspaper I had given him.

The old boy started: “Yep, it was 1910, October 24, at 4: 15 P.M. I'll never forget it. It was a big fire. It was in the big timber country, a bunch of squatters or homesteaders had settled there and had taken up the country. There were several thousand dollars worth of timber on every section. It was said the government wanted to run them out of there to make a forest reserve out of that area, but the squatters and homesteaders said the big lumber company was behind it all. I don't know what the truth of the matter was, but it was a big big fire and hot too. Well, the government brought troops in from Fort Spokane to run the squatters and home­steaders out.

“Well, anyway, the people that lived there figured if they could not have it they would fix it so no one else could either. Yep, they got madder than hornets, so they got hun­dreds of big candles, stuck them in the ground ever so far apart, had it all figured out to light them at the same time and get out of the country before they burned low enough to start the fires. They lit the candles all right, but no one figured on the wind coming up that day and blowing the candles down and starting fires before most of them could get out of there. Then as the fire got bigger and bigger the wind got stronger and stronger and pretty soon the whole country was on fire. They saw it way over at Fort Spokane, a hundred miles away. The fire was seen at,” he paused, “I can't remember now. Anyway they saw it at this place too and four hundred colored cavalry troops came in on the dead run, rounded up everybody they could find, threw the old ones, the babies and small children on their horses and herded the rest of them on the dead run like cattle and got most of them out of there alive. Yes sir, them colored troops saved hundreds of people from burning up. Before them boys got there people were running around like a herd of stampeding cattle. It took a little rounding up and herding to settle them down.”

Then the old gent took three quick drags on his pipe and says, “Gee whiz, that was some fire,” and he continued, “and at the little west fork of the big creek of the Saint Joe there was the old bullion tunnel near Wallace, not too far from Coeur d'Alene Lake. There were a hundred and twelve men and a horse in that tunnel. Ranger Pulaski was in the forest service. He was at the mouth of the tunnel with the rest of them. He had the mouth of the tunnel covered with a wet blanket and inside they were fighting for air; they thought they were going to suffocate, so they got panicky and made a rush to get out. Pulaski got his gun out and warned them if any of them tried to run out he would shoot them.” The old gent paused again, took three more fast drags on his pipe and continued, “Doggone, I can't remember the fellow's name any more. Anyway, he tried to leave the tunnel, so Pulaski shot him.”

I asked, “Did he kill him?”

      The old gent said, “No, he aimed to scare him. Got a little too dose, skinned the high side of his nose, knocked out an eye and skinned his ear, otherwise didn't hurt him much. In the meantime, a big fight broke out in the back of the tunnel, them wanting air. When everything died down, there were a ha]£ dozen or maybe a dozen dead men in the back end of the tunnel. If Pulaski had not used his gun and let them get out none of them would of lasted over a minute or two on the outside.”

I asked what happened to the horse. The old gent said, “It got scorched so they had to shoot it at the tunnel en­trance.” Again he continued. “In the meantime I was six miles away with a whole bunch of other fellows in a creek about four or five feet wide and four inches deep. We were all scratching as fast as we could to make it deeper, so we could have more water to cover up with. We would keep rolling over and over to keep wet. My overalls would catch afire, my shirt would catch afire, even my shoes started to burn. I had on a straw hat, it caught afire, and the wind blew it off my head. I had on a black woolen sweater. When I got through I just had a little piece of it left; some of it burned off, the rest I tore off, soaked it in water and kept covering my face and head with it. Gee whiz, that was a big fire.

. “Of course, the big trees on the creek bank were really burning. The roar of the wind and the crackling of the fire sounded like a dozen freight trains were running side by side loaded with hell. The fire created such a wind that every now and then it would blow one of the trees down into the creek bed that we were laying in and sometimes squash someone. It was just like laying a big bull frog on a rock and then smashing him with another rock. That's the way they looked when a tree would fall on them. We lay in that creek for four hours before the fire around us cooled off enough so we could get out of there. There were forty-seven of us for dinner on that day before the fire started, after the fire blew over, there were only twenty-six of us left and most of them were badly burned. My eyebrows were gone, hair on my head was badly singed, my lungs were full of smoke, I was sick for a long time.”

I asked, “How come you were there?”

“I was working for the Forest Service,” he told me. “Did you get your doctor bills paid or any compensa­tion?”

The old gent said, “Not much them days. The ones that hired help were very much concerned about the horses and mules, they cost money. A man didn't amount to much; one died or got killed, you just hired another one and continued. That fire burned up the largest white pine forest in the world, maybe a million acres or more, it spread up into three states. I can go back there right now and dig up a heap of grub we buried when we saw the fire coming. I'll bet all the canned goods are in good shape yet. We got orders from the government not to give any information to news­paper reporters. But there was a smart young lady reporter from one of the Seattle papers come there dressed as a man and got all the dope and printed it. Gee whiz, that was some fire.”

In the meantime, Bill had come into the cabin and was talking mining and looking over some specimens of rocks with the old gent's brother. We talked about mining with the two brothers until about eight o'clock, then decided to go outside and flop. They invited us to bring our mattresses and blankets and sleep inside, but it was a beautiful clear night. We had already decided to sleep outdoors. We built a bonfire, arranged our mattresses and blankets to sleep on, sat around the fire for an hour and talked, then crawled in under the blankets.

I had just dozed off when I was awakened by the clank­ing sounds of pot and pans and the rustling of paper. I couldn't figure out what it was, flashed my light in that direc­tion and saw two eyes that sparkled like diamonds. It was a swift, sometimes called a kit fox. I got out of bed. Bill woke up and wanted to know what was going on; before I could answer, he saw the thing, asked what it was. “A fox,” I said, still keeping the light on it. Instead of running away it kept following up the light towards me, until it was right under my feet. I started backing off but it still continued coming towards me. I could have reached down and grabbed it, but I knew better, for years ago, almost under the same circum­stances, I grabbed one with my left hand and before I could turn it loose, it had chewed on every finger. When I shut off the light it went back to helping itself to our grub. We shooed it away, then it walked around the car several times; it just would not leave. We could easily have killed it, but there was no sense in doing so. Instead, we shot the rifle into the air; that frightened it away. We picked up the grub, put it inside of our car, then again crawled into our blankets.

A short time later my innards got to growling, that Mexican dinner of chili verde I had, was starting to take effect. The longer I lay there, the louder things inside my belly grumbled. For an added attraction along with the grumbling, the old belly began aching. Just about then, by in­stinct, I threw off the covers, jumped out of bed barefooted in that cold night air, ran up the mountain side for twenty yards, and in a sitting position, leaned against a big boulder. The sweat was pouring off me and I was losing weight fast. Well, that's the way it was for the next four hours. Run up the hill in high gear for obvious reasons, each time pick out a different boulder to lean against, then come down hill in low gear, crawl under the blankets, and lie there for about fifteen minutes, then jump out of the blankets, then throw myself in high gear again up the hillside. This went on until about two o'clock in the morning. By then the tem­perature had dropped to almost freezing, and that in itself was pretty rugged. The worst part of it was I felt as if some­ one had dumped a can of lye in my pants and it all had run down to one spot:. How I cussed for paying $ I .08 to get my­self in that shape.

About three o'clock I fell asleep. It seemed as if I had no more than closed my eyes when I heard someone singing in a booming hoarse voice parts of “Old Black Joe,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Swanee River,”- a11 the old-time songs ­and I stuck my head out of the covers. It was just the break of day. There was Seldom Seen Slim, who had a fire going, and the whole county was shrouded in black smoke. He was burning up old tires. I put on my socks and shoes, grabbed the rest of my clothes, and went over to the fire feeling tough. I told Slim about my experiences of the night. All he did was slap his hands against his thigh and guffaw, which did not make me feel a bit better. I wanted someone to feel sorry for me, at least I thought I did. A little while later Bill joined us at the fire. Slim explained my troubles of the night to him; then they both guffawed. It just goes to show you, your troubles don't mean anything to someone else.

I asked Slim what time it was. He said, “Six o'clock; you're at the mouth of Redlands Canyon; this layout is a gold mine and it belongs to Harry Briggs. Harry is over to his other mine, he won't be back for a week. Say, where you fellows headed for?”

I answered, “For Early Springs and Layton’s Canyon.” He said, “You fellows can't go there, that's all in a mili­tary reservation.”

He suggested we go over to Death Valley instead. We decided to do that. For the next hour or so we sat around the fire and shot the bull; after breakfast, we loaded up the car and bade the Smith brothers good-by. We shook hands with Slim, and took off for Death Valley, not having the slightest idea that I would come back there twice more in the next two months, eventually teaming up with the Smith brothers, prospecting over thousands of miles of desert and mountains in California and Arizona.

            After passing Balarat, the Indian ranch, we were on the main highway going through Wild Rose Canyon, upgrade into a high pass, for miles covered with deep snow. Soon the snow was left behind and we were in Death Valley. Next we came upon a high-falutin flop and grub house. It may have been Death Valley Inn. It was too rich looking for our pocketbooks so we passed it up. Next place of any conse­quence was a place called, I think, Furnace Creek Inn, which was also out of our class. At that place there was a forty acre date grove. Bill got all excited, as that was the first date grove he had seen since he left the old country. He drove into the grove. There was no one around, but several boxes full of picked dates. Right quick-like he borrowed a hatful, and we got out of there pronto. Bill went after those dates like a mad wolf, cramming them in his mouth as fast as he could. I doubt if a hatful of twenty-dollar gold pieces would have made him any happier. He said that's all the Arabs lived on in the old country and lots of them lived to be over a 100 years old.

We left the main road and ended up at a place called the Devil's Golf Course. There were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of weird shapes and sizes of pinnacles of earth, from a few inches to several feet high, as far as the eye could see, and no two of them alike. They were so. close to each other that there was hardly any room to walk be­tween them. It makes one wonder how it all happened.

We got back onto the main road again, headed south, getting more and more below sea level until we came to a sign saying it was 286 feet below sea level. It is supposed to be the lowest point below sea level on the North Ameri­can continent. We climbed down the embankment where the actual low spot is. There was quite a dab of shallow water there which tasted very bitter and salty. During the summer months, when the Amargosa river ceases to flow, the water evaporates, leaving chunks of salt. We picked up a five pound hunk and took it with us. Next we saw a sign “Green Springs,” and we camped there for the night among the sand dunes and dead mesquite. We sat near a big bonfire for a couple of hours in the moonlight telling each other lies, Bill about gold mining in Alaska and I about the money there is in raising chickens. We both slept like a log and in the morning hit the road again.

We came to a small place called Shoshone. There is a good-sized store, the post office is at the store, and out front are the gas pumps. On the opposite side of the road there is a restaurant and beer joint. An old fellow there said the town belonged to a man by the name of Brown, who was a member of the California state legislature, adding that he is a damn nice fellow. We loaded up with gas and went across the road to the restaurant for a cup of coffee. To my surprise, who should be there but Mr. and Mrs. Harry McAdams, neighbors of mine in Hinkley. We took off again towards Baker, crossed the Amargosa River and went off the main highway onto a rough, dirt road upgrade towards some high mountains. Soon the road ended and we were at a place called Sheep Springs.

There was a good-sized stream of water running down from the mountains and nearby were several cabins and a talc mine. We knew the mine was in operation because there was a large gas engine sitting on a platform and run­ning. At times the engine would idle, then it would growl as if it was handling a heavy load. There was a hose at­tached to it that ran up the hillside and into a tunnel; the engine must have been operated from inside the mine. We stayed there for half an hour listening and watching that engine do its stuff without anyone there to operate it. Prob­ably it was a simple thing, but I, being a simple man, looked upon it as one of the world's seven wonders. While we were preoccupied with the engine, a truck with heavy mine tim­bers drove up, and we asked the driver if there were any vacant cabins nearby. He pointed northwest and said, “Used to be two cabins over there about ten miles, up alongside the Amargosa River.”

We re-crossed the Amargosa, took the first road to our left running parallel to the river. The further we went, the more desolate it looked. Of course, no one lived there for miles around, so we thought. Lo and behold, around a bend, up loomed a large trailer-house parked near a hillside. An elderly couple were the occupants, and we made ourselves acquainted with them. Then we continued hunting for the cabins. Several hours and seventy-five miles of traveling over dirt roads later we found several talc mines, some of them in operation; but no cabins. We crossed and re-crossed the Amargosa river half a dozen times (it wasn't over forty feet at its widest and not over a foot at its deepest) and finally we came back to the big trailer house. They invited us to camp near by and have supper with them. We thanked them for their kindness and politely refused. We made camp in a nearby canyon, and next morning early, walked up the canyon. The sun was just beginning to hatch in the eastern sky and soon it was in full bloom. It was one of those days millions of people, rich and poor, dream about but will never see. Not a road, cars, houses, telephone poles, fences, also no bottles and cans, rags or all the other trash that goes with this so-called civilization. There it was just as God had created it, how many ages past only he would know.

Coming back to camp each of us grabbed a bar of soap and a, towel. A gentleman carries the towel on his arm; but we, being only men and not quite so gentle, stuck the towels in our hip pockets, walked down to the river, and for the first time in five days thoroughly washed our hands and faces in that cold water. It sure made us feel good. No, we did not shave, there was no percentage in doing so because Bill wasn't aiming to get married, and I already am.

That brings us to women. I can't figure them out. They make a man shave, comb his hair, shine his shoes, put on a suit, a tie, arrange the handkerchief in his top coat pocket. After an ordeal like that, I don't know how it makes other men feel, but it makes me feel like a peacock that has had everyone of its tail feathers plucked. After breakfast, we loaded up the car, drove out of the canyon, stopping to bid farewell to the folks at the trailer house. First thing the lady said was “Would you boys like to borrow a comb to comb your hair with?” Not wanting to insult or embarrass her we sure did.

            The man, walking over to our car with us, asked if Bar­stow was a good town to live in. I said it sure was.

“Well,” he said, “I am getting up in years and want to go live in or near some town, but I can't get that old lady of mine out of these deserts and mountains. Keep telling her that I will buy her a good home in town where she can have a decent washing machine, bathroom, electric lights, decent heat, TV or anything she wants. I got plenty of money and would like to spend some of it to live decent before time runs out on me. No sir, I can't get to first base with her. You know what,” as he pointed a finger towards a big sand dune, “she would live right on top of that thing if she could get the trailer up there or over onto that big mountain peak. Why, we don't even carry a radio. I keep telling her I would like to get the news and know what's going on in the world. You know what she says? She says, “What could you do about it if you got the news?”

I felt sorry for him. After all a man has a right to live where he wants to and as he wants to, but down in my heart, Y have a great admiration for that woman. If I were in the same elevator with her, I would take off my hat; and her being the type she is, she would probably grab it and shove it down over my ears. And for that I would admire her still more.

Next thing, we were at Baker and on Highway 66, headed for Barstow and home. Sixty-six from Baker to Yermo, ap­proximately fifty miles, is the most decorated of any high­way that I have ever been on. Both sides of it are littered with old tires, cardboard boxes, papers, beer cans, rags, bot­tles, thousands of pieces of broken glass, and what not; also hundreds of signs advertising beer, cigarettes, whiskey, auto­mobiles, hotels, motels, restaurants, and gambling houses in Vegas. Many of the roadside business places have signs stuck out one after another from a quarter of a mile to five miles before one gets to them. Most places the road is straight, and the drivers were pouring it on. The cars would swoosh by us; they sounded like rockets taking off for the moon. Home at last, some prospectors we had been-on the whole trip never examined a rock or took the Geiger counter out of the car. The trip altogether cost us less than $15. That's cheap enough for a million dollars worth of fun.

 

CHAPTER II

 

            A couple of weeks after our so-called prospecting trip, Jim Pickering, a neighbor, and I drove back to the Pana­mints and Redlands canyon to visit the Smith brothers. Seldom Seen Slim had left and was living at his palatial home at the Argus dump. Harry Briggs, the owner of the whole shebang, was there, so we visited for several hours. The Smith brothers said they were going prospecting the coming spring and Jim and I were welcome to go along. The idea appealed to me but not to Jim; he had a good job.

On our return, we took off across country. Unfortunately for us, we ran into no military guards to turn us back, which would have saved us a hard, rough ride over to Wingate Pass and up over and down Layton’s Canyon. Besides getting lost, we wound up at the pinnacles south of Trona, kept going on a dirt road for miles until we came to a paved highway. We turned left and drove for miles, then, up loomed a high wire fence and a steel gate across the road and beyond it, several large buildings. We saw no one around. We lost no time in turning that pickup Ford around and high-tailing it out of there. We must of backtracked for twenty miles before we hit the Trona-Red Mountain Road. There was a large sign which said, “Keep Out, U.S. Naval Ordinance.” In or around the whole area we never saw anyone.

On a Saturday a few weeks later, I made my third trip to the Panamints to see the Smith brothers and to accept their offer to go prospecting with them. My twelve-year-old stepson, Jerry, went along with me. He drew my attention to every jack rabbit, lizard, ground squirrel, bird, cow, etc., and wanted to know what's the name of this or that moun­tain or valley, why is that hill red, white or black; who does it belong to, how far are we from home, how far have we got to go? Not a peaceful or a dull moment, Children are like that. Things that they can see, feel, hear, smell or taste interest them whereas an adult knows something of most everything and not anything for sure. Kids may get angry and stick their tongues out at one another and five minutes later the incident is permanently forgotten. Not so an adult; they have to keep - harping on it until it could end up in a tragedy, one as big as a world war, when sides are chosen involving millions of people. No matter what side you are on; the other side is definitely in the wrong, During a war and after, from the man in the street to the top diplomats of the world, everyone has a definite idea of the how and why it happened, But they all happen to be wrong, the proof of that being that in a few short years a bigger one takes place.

We arrived at the Smith brothers’ cabin and stayed over­night, They and Harry invited us to sleep inside the cabin, but the kid wanted to sleep outside on the ground, like the TV cowboys. When I awoke in the morning, I was half frozen. All I had on me was some of the canvas tarp; and there was the kid lying next to me rolled up in all the blankets, sawing wood. Before I left there, it was understood that the Smith brothers would come to my place at Hinkley, and we would start from there.

On the way back home, we picked up a young lady hitch­hiking. She was sure feeling high on Four Roses, besides being wide and handsome. I asked her where she came from; she pointed towards the hills to our right. Said, “They are putting up a big building there and I was up there watch­ing them and got into a fight and walked down the hill,” I asked what they were building up there. She said, “When they get the place built, they are going to Los Angeles, and get a lot of working girls,”

      The kid said, “I know what they want lots of girls for, because it's going to be a big restaurant,”

      When the kid said that, she cocked her head, and with one eye closed, and the other half open, looked the kid straight in the face for a full thirty seconds and never said a word. After two drinks of Four Roses and twenty miles, we were in Trona. She said that was where she lived, and we parted company.

When the beginning of April came and the Smith broth­ers had not showed up, I surmised that they had changed their plans, and I got an irrigation job an one of the neigh­boring ranches. Lo and behold, about May first, they showed up. They had their 1934 Chevrolet roadster loaded to the gills. They had stuff tied onto every fender, the running boards, in and on top of the turtleback, and on the top of the car. I am not lying when I say they had it loaded down with at least a ton of weight.

I quit my job. We decided we would have to buy us a second-hand pickup to do the thing up right. We started reading the ads “Cars for Sale” in the San Bernardino Sun. Boy, we think, are we in luck, -all kinds of '42 to '46 Fords and Chevrolets for $200 to $300, all in excellent condition. Off to San Bernardino we go to buy a car. We went to every second-hand car lot we could find. Sure enough, there were plenty of '42 to '46 pickups, price $400 to $600; the $200 or $300 ones, most of them, were not worth driving home, providing you could get them started. We came home empty handed. The next night: we were watching TV. They were advertising some good looking cars in Bakersfield; some of them were within our $300 price range. After all, seeing is believing, and there they were being driven an and off the lot. “Sure, why not buy one and knock it down and convert it into a pickup? It's a hundred and thirty-five miles to Bakersfield, let's go to bed early.”

Next morning before nine o'clock we were in Bakersfield and walked into one of the places that we had seen on TV advertising cars. we told the man about a certain car we saw advertised on TV the night before. “Sorry, boys,” he said, “we just sold that one.” We went to two more outfits that had advertised cars on TV. Same old stuff. “Sorry, boys, we just sold that one.” Of course everyone of them had cars for sale just like the ones that they had advertised and sold. The only difference was they wanted twice as much for them.

We gave up looking for a car to buy. Instead we bought a hunk of baloney and a loaf of bread, entered a beautiful park, sat under the shade trees and feasted. After filling up our guts, we sat there and between us had a two-power con­ference; as to how we are going to get a sixty horsepower serviceable car with the finances available to us. Stanley suggested we go to Los Angeles and make a stab at buying a car. Next thing Stanley and I are on the double lane Highway 99 headed for Los Angeles, over a hundred miles away. The road for the next thirty miles stretches straight out, heading for the distant mountains, and somewhere beyond those mountains is Los Angeles.

Stanley had the accelerator pressed down to the floor­board and was whipping hell out of the tail of his little 1934 Chevrolet roadster. It was hard to tell if we were flying by the telegraph poles on the roadside or if they were flying towards us. Man, we were really barrelling down the road. The speedometer on the car was not working, but I would have bet my whole swag of two hundred bucks that I had in my pocket that we were making at least seventy-five or eighty miles per hour. It felt like we were flying. Then some big truck or car would whiz past us, and it would be hard to tell if we were standing still or going backwards. Most of the truck drivers when passing us would wave and laugh at us. We drove until we saw a concrete water trough that was kept full from a near-by spring. We walked across the double highway to the spring. A sign said, “For radiator use only. Not fit for human consumption.” Being very thirsty, we drank our fill and filled up a gallon canteen and took it along. Nearby was a hole in a fence, so we drove our car up and around an incline out of sight. Although it was still daylight, we retired into deep slumber.

Next morning we were in the Los Angeles area, on the lookout for a crummy looking restaurant. We finally found one, not quite crummy looking enough to suit us, but we walked inside. The place was loaded with customers, most of them truck drivers. We were served three big hot cakes, two fried eggs, and all the coffee we could drink and it cost us 45 cents each. Leaving there, we went to all the used-car lots we saw and finally wound up at one on Manchester Avenue. There were two salesmen on the lot; one was a white man and the other a colored gentleman. The colored gentleman showed us what he had on the lot: A 1938, three speed, three-quarter ton Chevrolet pickup, priced $290. He let us drive it around the block, and after beating the price down to $225 cash, we went to the office where there were two men.

The salesman said, “I just sold these two boys that red Chevrolet pickup for $225 cash.” We shook hands an the way around and then sat down and got to talking. Told them we lived on the desert and were prospectors, and that we had prospected in the Panamints, Piutes, Death Valley and several other places. It was the truth, as between the two of us sometime or another we had.

One of them says to us, “Do you fellows know that you have the world by the tail in a downhill pull. No chances of you getting ulcers, headaches or having a mental crackup and winding up in a booby hatch. Why, they can't build nut houses fast enough to hold them all” He finally grabbed a sales form. Before filling it out he says, “Boys, I am going to tell you something. I don't know anything about that car you are buying as I got it in a trade-in awhile back and never checked or looked into it, you know that”

We said sure, we expected to spend fifty dollars over­hauling one no matter where we bought it. He says, “Well, I hope you don't have to” Then he started filling the form out again and stopped and says, “I don't think you fellows are loaded with dough, so I am going to let you fellows have that car for $200, and there will be about $10 more for the Governor,” meaning taxes, etc. After we paid him, he reached up, grabbed a new tire tube and handed it to me. saying to the salesman, “Two of them tires on that pickup are not in too good shape. Throw a good retread in the pickup for them so they will be sure to get home without any trouble.” We shook, hands, then we walked out with the salesman to the car.

The salesman said to us, “You fellows must of charmed the boss. I never seen him do that before.” He added, “Maybe he is feeling good because his wife just had a baby.” Boy, we were feeling good, for up to that time we had not known how we were going to be able to buy a serviceable car and still have money left to eat on while prospecting. Running into the good man solved our problem.

For the next five miles in that sea of traffic, I drove the roadster, Stanley the pickup. We would catch sight of each other now and then but finally we lost one another com­pletely. Soon I didn't know where I was; I would stop at some gas station and get straightened around. As pre-ar­ranged, whoever got to the intersection of Highways 99 and 6 first was to wait for the other one. Stanley was there. I said, “How long have you been waiting for me?” He says, “I got lost and just got here.” The Los Angeles jungles were fifty miles behind us. We reached home, back to civilization, that night.

On June 2, 1955, Albert, Stanley and I loaded the pickup and headed for Baker. While gassing up there we ran into Mojave Dave, an old-time desert character. He is the owner of a fine goatee. Out of Baker we got on Highway 127, followed it out for approximately twenty-five miles, turned to right, and ten miles northwest of Riggs dry lake we made camp on a flat. Near by there were some small mountains. It would have been better if we could have camped near the base of one of them, where we would have had the advan­tage of some early morning or late evening shade. But the sand was so dry, loose and deep, we couldn't have gone ten feet off the road, before both axles would have been buried. Lord, but it was hot out there in the open with that desert sun beating down on us. Albert said, “Golly, it's hot. I can smell the dry sage smouldering, and if it gets any hotter, it will burst into flames.” I suggested to him that he take off his long-handled woolen underwear, his wool shirt and his coat and get into some lighter clothing. He said, “I see you don't know much about taking care of yourself in a hot country. The more wool you have on, the more it will keep the heat out,” and suggested 1 at least put on one of his wool shirts.

Next morning after breakfast, just as day was breaking, we left Albert in camp; and each carrying a half-gallon can­teen of water, a prospector's pick, an ore sack, we took off on foot to prospect the near-by hills. We returned to camp about 10 o'clock with empty canteens. Albert was nowhere in sight. He being somewhat deaf, it was no use of doing any yelling for his benefit. We both worried, wondering what happened to him and afraid he might have wandered away from camp and passed out from the heat and was maybe lying out somewhere in the sagebrush. It did not take us long to find his tracks in the sand leading west towards a small mountain about a quarter of a mile from camp. We followed his tracks into an old abandoned tunnel at the base of the mountain. There, inside the tunnel, was Albert, with his hat and coat on a jug of water, his pouch of to­bacco and his old pipe near by, lying down in deep slumber. With that long beard of his he reminded me of pictures I remembered seeing of Moses when he was leading the chil­dren of Israel out of the wilderness. It was nice and cool inside, so figuring Albert had the right idea, we joined him and fell asleep.

We stayed there four days. We would leave camp at day­break, return by ten and lie in the tunnel the rest of the day. Every day was just a little bit hotter than the day before. We had by then picked up almost fifty pounds of high-grade silver ore. Stanley figured it would run about a dollar a pound. On account of the heat, we were having a lot of trouble with our grub. Slicing the bacon was just like trying to slice a rag and the potatoes started drying up and getting wrinkles on them. Albert had the Nucoa in a Mason jar; it was as thin as water. What used to be a hunk of cheese, which was also in a Mason jar, would pass for soft butter. The only thing holding up was the dried beans and flour.

            Coming to the conclusion that it was the wrong season to do any prospecting on the desert, we decided to pull up stakes and to go over to Shoshone, maybe find some shade and lie around for three or four days, then go back home to Hinkley. Then from there we would go to the High Si­erras around Bishop and do our summer prospecting in the cool. We loaded up and took off back to the main high­way.

I had told Stanley about the good-looking country up ahead that Bill and I saw four months before up the Amar­gosa River, and he wanted to see it. When we got there, the river was not flowing any more. Most places the river bed was bone dry; some places, for short distances, there was a trickle of water, in other places there were small pools. At last we saw a stretch of water about a hundred yards long, five yards wide and from four to eighteen inches deep. We decided this would be a good place to take a bath. The whole thing was a funny deal. One end of the pool, you could see the water coming out of the ground and flowing into the pool, at the other end it was flowing out and sinking into the ground, and the rest of the river bed was as dry as a bone. But the thing that really interested us was that there were thousands upon thousands of little fish, none of them over two inches long or over a half inch wide. We picked some of them up and examined them and all three of us came to the conclusion that they were fully developed wide mouthed bass. How they got there, what they lived on, what made them so small, and how they could live in such hot water, was way beyond us to figure out.

By a roundabout way we got to the town of Tecopa; a few miles from there, we were at Tecopa Hot Springs. I have been told that if you take a few hot baths there, it will cure you of anything from flat feet to dandruff and all the other ailments in between.

Upon reaching Shoshone, we relaxed for a couple of hours under the shade trees near Brown's Store. We asked a fellow there if there was a place near by with water where we could camp. He directed us to the Pahrump Valley Road, less than a quarter mile out of town. He told us to take that road and go a half mile to a big clay hill near the road. There we would see a sign saying, “Dwelling of Clay.” We could camp there; near by was a good well. We had no trou­ble in finding it. There it was a large room, with shelves, benches, tables, on two sides, and in .front it had three windows and a door, all hewn out of clay. Some one had done a tremendous amount of work. There must have been other bums or prospectors who had occupied the place before us for the room was littered with debris. Not being neurotic, it did not bother us at all, therefore, we made no effort to clean it up; in fact, we added a little more to it. Inside that room there was no change of temperature between night and day. During the heat of the day it felt cool inside; at night when it cooled off on the outside, it felt hot inside, so we slept outdoors.

About two o'clock every afternoon, I would walk to Brown's Store, to buy yesterday's newspapers, the newspa­pers all being a day old when they arrived there. The mer­cury at the store registered 117 or 118 every day. The lady clerk at the store said it would not warm up till August. I don't know if she was kidding me or not. On the third day I walked to the store, bought a paper, and as usual sat under the shade trees to read awhile. Also as usual, there was the same Indian lady that I had seen sitting there every day on a Coca Cola box under a tree. She never smiled or changed her expression but always looked awful lonesome and sad. I felt sorry for her and thought, I will be nice and speak to her so I said, “Kind of hot isn't it?” She never changed her expression, batted an eye, or said a word. I asked, “You live here long?” It was the same thing, no change of face or answer. I concluded she did not like white trash, so I said no more.

On the fourth day we left the dwelling of clay for home; it was either the eighth or ninth of June. I mention that because it was such a hot day. About twenty miles before we reached Baker, a bad growl developed in the car's differ­ential. From then on we would drive slowly for five miles. then stop and let the differential cool off. At Baker, the mercury read 120. Between Baker and Yermo, on Highway 91, there were many cars pulled off to the side of the road cooling off boiling radiators. When we reached the Yermo bug station, there were at least a dozen cars stopped there doing the same thing. It took us, stopping and starting, twelve hours to drive the hundred miles home. Next day we checked the rear end of the pickup. It was all shot. We went to Barstow to a second-hand yard and bought a complete four-speed differential for thirty dollars. The deal was, we ourselves had to take it off another Chevrolet pickup. It turned out we had bought a hermaphrodite rear end. It took us several days of hard mental and physical work before we got everything to work right. At last we are ready, and all set to start on our one hundred and twenty-six day prospecting trip.

  

 

CHAPTER 111

 

June 24, 1955.

            Left home today. Took Highway 395 at Kramer junction, passed through Red Mountain, Inyo Kern, Olancho, and camped on a creek nine miles out of Lone Pine. Near our camp there was a lady fishing. We struck up a conversation with her. She asked us if we were miners. We said we were. She said she had a uranium mine she wanted worked. She looked us over real carefully, then said, “I cannot get any vibrations from any of you fellows.” You never know when you will run into something new and up to date.

 

June 25.

Went to Keeler and picked up some silver ore out of an ore dump. We got acquainted with a man there. He told us that in the old days, silver was mined fifteen miles away. high up in the mountains and brought down to Keeler on a tramway. The ore was loaded on barges, then taken across Owens Lake to Olancho. He said it used to be a large, beautiful lake at least ten miles across when the Owens River ran into it. Since the city of Los Angeles diverted the river over the mountains for its own use, twenty-five or thirty years ago the lake has been dried up. A narrow-gauge railroad runs as far as Keeler and one can see the old tramway at Keeler for miles running uphill and over into the mountains. We came back to Lone Pine and 'had lunch at the city camp grounds. After lunch, we drove to Independence, which is the county seat of Inyo County. Out of Independence, we drove up the hill on Independence Creek road to a public camp called Grey's Meadow.

 

June 26.

Stayed around camp, got acquainted with other campers and watched other people fish. We met a fellow, camped near by, whose name is Gildersleeve. He has his own trailer and is an artist. He showed me some of his paintings. He must be pretty good for he gets from $20 to $100 for a paint­ing, but he was kind of down in the mouth just then on account of his little woman leaving him. That's the way it goes, some people have all the luck and don't know enough to appreciate it.

June 27.

It is nine miles by a switchback road up to Onion Valley from here and half that distance by trail. Stanley and I walked up and back on the trail. Grey's Meadows, where we are camped, is at about 6200 feet. At Onion Valley it is 8400 ft. we left camp at seven o'clock and were back at noon. After lunch, I took off from camp to do some explor­ing. About a mile from camp I found some kind of a metal. I did not know what it was, so I took some of it back to camp to show Stanley. He said the prospectors called it Molly-be-damned, rightly molybdenum, used in hardening steel. Stanley went back with me to look it over and said the vein was not rich enough to fool with.

In the afternoon an elderly man with a built-in house on a pickup camped next to us. We immediately got acquainted with each other. He is a very nice man; I think he must be a Dutchman. During one of our conversations he told me, “1 kam to Pomona 1902. I buy 320 acre farm. After while I see I cannot pay for it. I try sell it for $30 acre. Nobody buy. I go to Los Angeles; get job in blacksmith shop, shoe horses. Sixteen years I vork dere, pay for the dam ting. After I pay for it, everybody vant to buy. Oh cheeses, dat make me matt. It make me so damn matt to tink I koon't sell it ven I vanted to and den ven I don't vant to everybuddy vant to buy it. I says to hell vith dem, I keep the dam place till 1 die. And den a couple year ago some crazy real esdate ouch fit offer me five thousan' dollar acre. I figger if I don't sell I vould be Joost as crazy as the people dat vant to buy. So I sold it to the damn fools.”

 

June 28.

Gildersleeve, the artist, had been telling us about a silver ledge with a spring near by in Mazourka Canyon. We thought it would be a good idea to look into it, so, we left Grey's Meadow and came down hill to Lone Pine. At the edge of town, we got onto the Mazourka Canyon road. Came to Kearsarge Station, which is not in use and boarded up. Across the narrow-gauge tracks from the station are a few dilapidated railroad houses occupied by some Mexican fam­ilies. We continued upgrade until we were in Mazourka Canyon proper. All up the canyon there was plenty of evidence that in the past there had been lots of quartz and placer mining on the canyon walls and in the canyon wash. Suddenly, a small oasis with cottonwood, willow trees, a very small patch of alfalfa and a comfortable little cabin sitting in the middle of it appeared; you would never expect to find anything like it in such an out-of-way place as Mazourka Canyon.

We were on the lookout for a green spot in a small side canyon where the spring is supposed to be. Soon we saw such a place about a quarter of a mile off, of the road. Albert stayed in the car while Stanley and I walked up to it. There was a small cabin about half completed which someone had started in the past. There was no shade there and only a trickle of water. It would have taken some work to have cleaned out the spring. I walked back to the car and Stanley continued on .foot, thinking he might be able to find a bet­ter water hole. Albert and I watched Stanley walking up and down the hills, then we lost him from sight so we got in the car and took off on uphill, figuring we would meet him up ahead. We drove about half a mile and saw another shack about a quarter-mile off the road. In front of the shack there was a lady standing watching us come slowly up the canyon.

We drove up to her cabin and when we stopped the car, a large dog ran out, trying to jump up in the car to eat us up. The lady called him off. Without getting out of the car, we asked her if she had seen a tall fellow walking around in the near-by hills. She said, “I sure did. He was standing on top of that ridge about five minutes ago. He looked like he was about eight foot tall. How tall is he?” We told her about six feet, two and a half inches. We asked her if there were any springs near by we could camp at. She said, “Sure, right over this hill is Barrel Springs. Lots of water and willow shade trees. A little to your right is a road; follow it over the hill for a half mile, and you will run right smack. dab into it.”

After we left there, Albert said, “Did you notice that woman had the door open, and she never got away from that door?” I said, “Now that you mention it, that's the way it was. What about it?”

     Albert said, “That woman had a loaded shotgun right inside the door, and  he was taking no chances.” We found the place. Stanley was already there explor­ing.

  

June 29.

We parked our car as far as we could go up the wash and Albert set up the old wooden stove in the willow bushes close to the car. The stove is one that Albert made years ago out of stout tin for the sides and bottom, and then welded a top of a regular stove to it. The top of the stove is two feet by sixteen inches wide, and sixteen inches high. It weighs about twenty-five pounds. There was plenty of wood to burn from the remains of some old shacks. On a little higher ground. about fifty feet from our car, was a quarter-acre willow grove; under the willows is a very luxuri­ant growth of tall green grass. The soil where the willows and grass grow is rich black loam; the rest of the surround­ing area is of the poorest land I ,had ever seen, just rocks and gravel. Our beds were spread out under the willows. There evidently had been a lot of placer mining here a long time ago. The wash is all pockmarked with old diggings and the remains of a huge water tank are scattered up and down the wash. The wooden staves and the rings that held the staves are scattered everywhere. The spring is five hundred yards further up the wash in the middle of an acre of willows. From the spring, a two-inch pipe line, about two hundred feet long, carries the water into a fifty-gallon steel barrel. Another two-inch line is connected to the barrel which carries the water downhill, then out of the wash over a big hill, then downhill to the house that the lady we talked to yesterday lives in. The water line is a mile long. It passed within a hundred yards of our camp; it spills out of a half-inch opening from a two-inch T.

In the afternoon, while Albert stayed in camp, Stanley and I walked down the canyon to where the cabin is among the trees. We got acquainted with its one occupant and owner who .has been living there for many years. His name is Philip Pleasant Day, better known as Phil. He is seventy ­five years old, is heavy set, in excellent physical condition and of a jolly disposition. He was glad to have someone to talk to. We sat under the shade of the trees and had a long chat. He has been a prospector and miner all his life. He said he had made and lost several fortunes in the prospect­ing game.

He gave us information about several old mines and the most logical places to prospect in that area. He pointed out several lead-silver diggings near by that belong to him. Said we could help ourselves if we wanted to work them as he did not intend to do any more digging. He also showed us an are rock loaded with high-grade lead and silver that some deer hunters picked up a couple of years ago out of an old digging. He said they left it there never realizing what they had found. He said it was found up pretty high in the timberline, up one of the canyons west of Barrel Springs. He put in quite some time looking for it, but never found it. He thought maybe we could find it. He told us where he had looked for it, and suggested we prospect further north. He got us all fired up, so we decided to start off looking for our first lost mine early the next morning.

Near by his cabin is the entrance to a placer tunnel that goes up under the wash, three thousand feet long. The end of the tunnel is two hundred feet under the wash where there is a big flowing spring. The dirt and gravel out of this tunnel was dry washed for the gold, and the tailings were dumped in one big pile. Mr. Day said he leveled the tail­ings down with shovel and wheelbarrow, and on the top he built his cabin and set out the trees. He cleaned out the cave-ins in the mine and laid a two-inch steel pipe line all the way inside the tunnel to the spring. The water runs continuously out of the pipe into his yard and irrigates his place. “He said it took him seven years of hard work to ac­complish it all, and that he intends to live there till he kicks the bucket.

 

June 30.

Early this morning Stanley and I, each carrying a can­teen of water, a pair of binoculars and small prospector's picks, started off to look for the lead-silver mine that Phil Day was telling us about yesterday. We walked up the wash past Barrel Springs, veered north a couple of miles more or less over open country until we came to the mouth of a large canyon. Stanley suggested that we get on a ridge and walk up towards the mountains. I insisted we keep going up the canyon, which was easier walking. Stanley reluctantly agreed saying, “You might as well learn now as later,” which I did not get the significance of at the time. The farther we walked up the canyon, the rougher it got as the boulders got larger and larger. Soon our way was blocked by a sheer fifty-foot rock wall, almost straight up and down. It was either try to climb over it or go back three miles to where we had en­tered the canyon.

We studied the situation over for quite some time, Then Stanley started to climb it, and I started up right behind him, Stanley has long arms and legs. In about fifteen min­utes he had worked his way to the top. In the meantime, I had climbed halfway up, and there I was, afraid to go back down or up. With some advice and encouragement from Stanley from above, I worked a toe and foothold here and there and managed to get up on top. From there we climbed a hundred yards more up the canyon side, and onto the ridge. By then we were in the timberline on the lookout for any old diggings that might be the old lead-silver mine that we were looking for. With our binoculars we looked over all the small and large canyons and ridges as we continued climbing. The higher we climbed the thicker and larger the pinion and juniper trees were. Ahead of us we would see what must surely be the highest peak, until we got to the top of it, and lo and behold, there would be another peak up ahead which was much higher. Surely that one must be the tallest of all of them. When we climbed to the top of it, again out there ahead was another one much higher. And so it went; we never did reach the highest peak.

About one o'clock, we sat under a tree and ate our sandwiches, overlooking Saline Valley that stretched out there before us like the ocean, as far as the eye could see. Behind us, the way we had come up, it looked as if we were a mile higher than Barrel Springs where our camp was, but I doubt if we were over two-thousand feet higher or eight­ thousand feet above sea level.

I told Stanley that while he was resting, I would take the binoculars, go over to the other side of the ridge to see if 1 could locate any diggings. 1 did some walking and ex­ploring but found nothing, and I started back to where Stanley was. I could not find him. I started to shout out his name, but there was no answer. I realized that I was lost. All the trees looked alike. I got to thinking what Phil Day said yesterday, that these mountains are full of deer, and that the mountain lions make an easy living killing deer. I remembered that we had been seeing deer tracks for the past hour; even where I was standing there were deer tracks every­where. Then I imagined that there was a mountain lion behind every rock and bush and up every tree. Then I really got to shouting for Stanley, getting no response. In my imagination, the mountain lions got bigger and bigger. About ten minutes later, I heard Stanley answer my call; he sounded as if he were a mile away. I kept going in the direction of his sound. By calling his name and listening for his answer, I found him at last. Boy, was I glad to see Stanley. I know now how a small lost kid feels when it has found its mother.

With Stanley in the lead, we walked up to the summit of the next mountain. Suddenly Stanley stopped behind some bushes and motioned with his hand for me to come up to him. He pointed ahead of him. I looked through a small opening in the bushes and there about one hundred and fifty yards away, and coming towards us, was the largest deer I had ever seen in my life. The wind was coming from him to us. He was slowly grazing and getting closer and closer to us. I watched him through the binoculars and brought him up so close that it seemed as if all I had to do to touch him was to put my hand out and do so. His head was just one mass of antlers, and he looked as big as a cow. Stanley whispered that he was a mule deer. For five min­utes we watched him until he was within thirty yards of us. When we jumped out from behind the bushes and shouted at him, he threw his head straight up and stood frozen for three or four seconds, then bounded off into the brush.

When we had worked our way down the mountains, we were still four miles northwest of camp. We pulled into camp just as it was getting dark. Albert had supper ready for us, and was glad to see us; said he was beginning to get worried. We figured we had hiked at least twenty miles.

 

CHAPTER IV

 July 1.

OH, my dogs are killing me. The muscles in my legs ache all the way up to my hips. I lay on the mattress under the willows all morning. I would have lain there all day, but Albert said I should keep walking around to limber up my muscles, so in the afternoon, he and I hiked a couple of miles for my benefit, so Albert said. I'm not so sure about that. I might have been that Albert was having some fun at my expense. for as we walked, he had a mischievous sparkle in his eyes, and I could see a kind of a jolly grin through his long beard. Maybe I did derive some benefit out of that short hike, but I certainly can't tell it.

 

July 2.

My legs felt pretty good, so we took off up grade again to do some more prospecting and look over a couple of lead mines up at Badger Flats that Phil Day had told us about. It happened to be a lot further than we had figured on, but it was easy walking. We found one of the mines without any trouble. Stanley said it was fairly rich silver, if it were free, but it would have to be roasted to burn the sulphites out of it in order to get the silver. And it was not rich enough to pay to do that. We saw hundreds of small diggings or prospect holes all over the hills. At one place we saw a Gov­ernment Bench Mark showing the elevation as 7225 above sea level. Above and below Badger Flats, the country is dot­ted with pinion and juniper trees. As we came over a small hill, we unexpectedly ran into an elderly couple in the woods. We were only twenty feet apart when we saw each other at about the same time. Neither they nor we expected to find anyone within twenty miles. We scared each other almost to death. That poor woman really got frightened when we popped out of the woods dressed like a couple of bums with a ten day growth of beard, and Stanley with a gun and holster on. They were rock hounds. They said their car was parked on a dirt road four miles west. We made a wide circle around Badger Flats and followed down a big wash for miles, then hit open country, and reached camp just at dark. We figured we had walked twenty-four miles in thir­teen hours. More beans and fried potatoes, then to bed.

 

July 3.

Albert stayed in camp. Stanley walked down the canyon to visit Phil Day and I took off for the St. Margarita Flats. Near by a spring and mine, there were three deserted cabins. I explored the place for an hour. As I was leaving, I glanced north and saw a car slowly winding its way down the moun­tain. When the sun struck it just right, I could see the re­flection off the windshield. It was a mile to the road where they would pass and I judged the car was five or six miles up the mountain. I started walking as fast as I could to get to the road, hoping to get a ride back to camp and save myself at least a six-mile hike. I was about a hundred yards short of reaching the road when they got opposite me. They had “already seen me and stopped the car to wait for me. They were two young fellows from San Francisco, but they had been living at Independence for the past six months prospecting, without any luck. When I got back to camp, Stanley had not returned from Phil Day's. Just before dark, a Ford pickup pulled into camp. A man and his wife by the name of Gilliam brought Stanley home. Mr. Gilliam works in Bishop; ,his wife is the lady that lives over the hill in the cabin, whom Albert and I first talked to a few days back, Mrs. Gilliam happened to have a jar of pickles and two jars of home-canned fruit in the car which she gave us.

July 4.

Stanley and I walked down the canyon about a mile when we ran into the same two young men who gave me a ride to camp yesterday. We had a long chat with them, all about mining. They know their minerals and must be graduates of some mining school. They told us about an old horn silver mine almost at the top of Kearsage Peak on the opposite side of the valley going up towards the high mountains from Independence. They had tried to climb the peak, which is over 12,000 feet high, a couple of months ago, but the cold and wind had driven them back. They are going to try again soon.

 

July 5.

We did a good job of loafing today lying on our mattresses in the shade of the willows. Stanley read an old magazine while Albert stuffed his pipe with George Washington tobacco and puffed on it. All day long he blew the smoke in my face. I smelled like a smoked ham. Albert being kind of hard of hearing, I had to sit up close to him and get smoked or sit a little ways from him and holler at him. It was much easier on me to take that smoke than to shout at him all day.

 

July 6.

Left Barrel Springs. On the way down we stopped at Phil's. A Government man checking on wild life was there. He had a big spotted dog with him. On account of his dog, the chucker birds near by were afraid to come up to the yard and drink water. Phil finally told him to get himself and his damn dog to hell out of there so that the chuckers would come up and drink. The man and dog left in a jeep. After he left, Phil says, “I wonder if I made him mad?” In a little while a mother chucker with a brood of a dozen young ones came up to the yard for water. A chucker bird full grown weighs a pound or more. They have been introduced in that area in recent years by the Wild-life Service, and are strictly protected by law.

We left Phil's place and went downhill towards Inde­pendence. Being two thousand feet lower than where we had left, it was hot down in the flats. Before we reached the Kearsarge Station, we stopped to do some exploring near by an old shack and mine. I saw two fifty-gallon oil barrels buried almost level with the ground. In the bottom of one of the barrels were two dead chuckawallas. I reached down and brought one up and laid it on the ground beside me. It was light and dried up like a piece of bark. I brought the other up and laid it alongside the first one. I began ex­amining them and thought I detected a movement in one. Then I said to myself it was only me seeing things. How could there be any life in a narrow bone about sixteen inches long with a dried-up withered hide over it? I de­cided it was probably just a drop of perspiration on my glasses that made it seem to move. Besides, nothing could live in a steel barrel very long in hot weather, with the mid­day sun shining straight down upon it. It would be almost as hot as an oven, inside a steel barrel.

By golly, while I was thinking this all over, it moved again. I started massaging it, and it moved again. I started handling the other one and got a slight movement out of it also. I picked both of them up and carried them inside the shack and laid them on a bench. Albert got the water can­teen and started pouring water over them, saying, “Poor fellows, poor fellows.” The water revived them a little more. We left them on the bench and went outside; sat in the shade of the shack for the next ten or fifteen minutes. Then I went back inside to see how the chuckawallas were doing. They were gone. We looked all over the inside and outside of the shack and never found them. How they could have recuper­ated so fast was beyond us. Before we left, I put a long board in each barrel so that if any more chuckawallas should fall in, they would be able to climb out.

We drove to Independence, bought ten pounds of bulk beans, twenty-five pounds of potatoes, a fifty-pound sack of flour and a newspaper. Then we drove a couple of miles out of town on the Mazourka Canyon road and made camp under some shade trees near the big canal. With all that grub, we are sitting on top of the world.

 

July 7.

We are camped in a pasture. There are about a hundred cows and two cowboys, better known as bulls, sharing the shade with us. Albert is sitting on top of the load in the pickup truck with a long stick in his hand trying to keep the cows away from our grub. Near by is a flowing well where we, and many others from the town, come to get drinking water. This afternoon, I walked to Independence and back to kill time and buy another newspaper. I went to the park to rest in the shade and got to talking to some of the town's retired capitalists who were also taking advan­tage of the shade. The State of California furnishes seventy five or eighty bucks worth of capital to them every month.

 

July 8.

We moved again, back in the same direction up into the lower end of Mazourka Canyon about five miles below Phil Day. Our idea is to do some prospecting in the lower end of the canyon. This is our first dry camp, which means there is no water near by, only what we are carrying with us. We are camped at the entrance of an old mine tunnel. The opening is eight by eight feet. Both sides and the ceiling are of solid timber for five hundred feet up the tunnel. According to the writing on the timbers, the mine is, or was, known as the Pierson. The last operation in 1923, and it is a patented mine. I took a flashlight and walked back into the tunnel for fifteen hundred feet. I have no idea how much further the tunnel goes. I played it safe. A flashlight cannot give any warning of foul air, so I gave it up.

 

July 9.

Stanley and I walked up the canyon about a mile and got on a newly built road that zigzags to a tungsten mine that is being developed far up in the mountains. I have been told the road is nine or ten miles long, and several rumors have it that it cost from forty thousand to a quarter of a million dollars to build. Thousands upon thousands of tons of rock have been blasted out of the mountain sides. If the road was not already there and someone told me that there was a road to be built there, I never would believe it could be done. We walked up on it for three and a half miles. Then we sat down on a rock to rest. As we sat there, we looked down the mountain side and thought we detected a small green spot in a depression, and up ahead for miles we could see the switchbacks in the road. We decided it would be much easier to climb down the mountains and investigate what looked like the green spot. It was about a two-mile hike downhill to reach the green spot we saw from up above. There were several springs, lots of willow trees and other vegetation, and deer tracks everywhere.

Everything was just as it had been left there, Lord knows how many years ago. There was a large pile of two ­inch steel pipe, a big stamp mill and ore crusher, a concentration table complete with chutes, a couple of barrelsful of Diesel oil, old water tanks, etc. The only building left was ail outdoor privy still in excellent condition. Inside of it were about fifty sticks of well-preserved dynamite. The rest of the buildings had been burned up or down-suit your­self as to that. We found an old board sign on which we could barely make out the words, “Black Eagle Mill.” We found no mine nearby. Evidently, the mill was built there on account of water being available. We looked for a road out, but could not find any. Wondered how so much equip­ment was 'hauled in there without a road. At last we found a trail out. It was much wider than the usual foot trail. Stanley said it was an old mule or donkey trail, and all the machinery etc. was hauled there on mule or donkey back. We followed that crooked winding trail down the mountains for at least three miles, to the end of it, and there we found a pile of dismantled old-time mining equipment lying in a pile. It had been hauled that far by wagon some time in the distant past, from there to have been hauled by mule or donkey back up to the mill. A couple of more miles and we reached camp. There was a pot of boiled beans and a frying pan of fried potatoes on top of Albert's homemade wood stove, also a panful of biscuits in the open oven; and Albert was stretched out on the ground inside of that cool tunnel catching himself forty-thousand winks. I am begin­ning to think that Albert is the most intelligent of us three. Just as we got through slopping up, he awoke and said he would wash the dishes. The way that is done, he sets the dishes out in the sun for an hour to dry up what's left on them. He then takes some sand and rubs it off.

 

July 10.

This morning Stanley lit up the carbide light and all three of us started walking back into the tunnel to find out how long it is. About a thousand feet back we came to a large room that had been hewn out of solid rock. It was about a hundred feet square and the ceiling about fifty feet high. In the middle of this room is a deep shaft with a big hoist derick over it. W e could not see any stapes, but there must be some there, because there was a nice cool draft circulating in that big room. We came out of it and continued further up into the tunnel, another thousand feet and then started to run into some small cave-ins. Albert suggested we turn back. He said the air was getting foul, and the further we continued the more dangerous it would get. To be frank, I was getting kind of scared. But curiosity killed the cat, and I just had to go on. I gave Albert my flashlight. As I have said before, being the most intelli­gent of the three of us, he started back. I ran up ahead and caught up with Stanley. He warned me not to holler or raise my voice for the vibration of a loud sudden sound could start a cave-in. As we continued on, the walls of the tunnel got damper and damper; soon water was seeping out of them. Next thing, we were walking in an inch or two of water. A little way on, it was running or flowing on the tunnel floor. We kept on going until we came to a big cave-in that had blocked the tunnel completely. It must have been a surveyed tunnel, for it was as straight as an arrow. As we looked back, the eight-by-eight-foot opening looked round and no larger than a baseball. On the way back, we stepped it out to get an idea how far it was back to the mouth of the tunnel. I stepped out 1244 steps at two and a half feet to a step 3110 feet; Stanley, 1040 steps at three feet to a step 3120.

In the afternoon, we all drove up to Phil Day's. 1 shaved for the first time since I left home. I did not shave my upper lip. Think I will raise a mustache. And there's nothing the dear wife hates more than a mustache. Also took a bath, washed some clothes. We sat under the grape arbor shade in Phil's yard and talked. Mr. and Mrs. Gilliam were visit­ing Phil, and Stanley gave Mr. Gilliam a haircut. We told Phil about walking into the tunnel. He said originally the tunnel was two miles long.

 

July 11.

Stanley and I took off early this morning. A couple of miles west of camp we came upon an old abandoned mine. With 'our prospectors' picks we chipped on the walls. By luck, we uncovered a small vein of about twenty pounds of pretty good silver ore. It did not take us long to dig it out and stick it in our ore sack. We left there and walked further west. There are no mountains where we were, only small hills .with big dry washes in between. After climbing to the top of the hill, we saw the glare of the sun beating down on a lot of shiny objects lying in a dry wash. We walked down hill to them. Of all things, there was an electric clothes washer and dryer, two large electric clocks, leather hand­bags, a large carpet and many other household items. They were all pretty much battered up and deteriorated from the cloudbursts and desert sun beating down on them. From the looks of things, they must have been there for several years. There was no sign of a camp ever being there. None of the articles were anything that prospectors would carry with them. We could not figure why or how come they were there. Next time I see Phil Day, I'm going to ask him about it. From there we headed further up the wash for four miles and ran into some old placer diggings. We found four old dry gold washers, one of them was still in pretty good shape. We returned to camp about two o'clock; I figure we hiked about twelve miles. It is a very hot day. I have had a problem since we have moved into this tunnel. It is so cool inside I can stay in only fifteen minutes at a time. Then I have to walk out, but it gets so hot outside, I can only take it for five minutes. Got kind of tired running in and out. I complained to Albert about it. He said put your coat on and stay inside. Now why couldn't I have thought of that? Albert has the wisdom of Solomon. He has no business prospecting; he should start a school for the higher educa­tion of university professors.

 

July 12.

We loaded up and pulled out of there, stopping at the flowing well to replenish our water supply, then drove into Independence. We bought a newspaper and an went to the park. I sat down on a bench beside a couple of shabby-look­ing Americans. They were talking in American, and I could not understand them. I spoke to them in English and we struck up quite a conversation. Pretty soon a couple of American women showed up and the two American men went away with them. In case you do not exactly know what I mean by American man or woman, it is an adult female and male Indian of the Western Hemisphere. We left the park, and took off on main highway towards Lone Pine. Four miles out we turned left onto a dirt road, with intentions of prospecting near the old Reward Mine, but: instead we wound up at an old shack sitting out in the open flats, and there we made another dry camp. It was excep­tionally hot today, not a breeze stirring, just the hot sun beating down on this shack. The doors have been broken off, and it is almost the dirtiest place that I ever camped at. There is plenty of evidence that the cattle have been inside of this shack to take advantage of the shade. There are old dirty mattresses, old rags, cans, bottles, piles of old maga­zines, dating as far back as 1932. On the outside and inside there are piles and piles of dried chips, and I don't mean potato chips, but dried cow chips. Seldom Seen Slim, poet laureate of the Panamints, was here in 1927. He has left evidence of his literary genius written on cardboard box paper nailed to the walls. Found some old letters in the debris. I gather this was known as the Skinner ranch. Albert said that he would have to be careful and not touch any­thing clean or we might all get contaminated.

This afternoon Albert and I walked a couple miles up the hill and looked over some deserted cabins and diggings. After we returned, I took off again, this time with Stanley. We walked three miles and examined another old mine on the mountain side where a continuous stream of water runs out of the mouth of the tunnel from a spring somewheres back in the tunnel. The vegetation is so rank at the tunnel entrance we had a hard time getting inside of it. Just a little water on the hot Mojave Desert and things will grow faster than any other place on earth. With a lot of water, it could be made to turn into a jungle.

 

July 13

Stanley and I left very early this morning before it got too hot, to go to a nearby mountain looking for a silver ledge that Seldom Seen Slim had told Stanley about. We did not find any silver ledge, but we do think we found Seldom Seen Slim's filing papers, dated April 19, 1927. Located by C. or G. Terge. We think that is Seldom Seen Slim's alias or otherwise given name. We ran into some pretty good out­cropping's of barium that had already been filed on. This afternoon I shook the varmints out of an old mattress, lay on it inside the shack and read some of the old magazines, especially two magazines of 1932 vintage. The author of an article in one of the magazines went on to tell his readers that there was plenty of work available to those that were go-getters and willing to work, and the author of an article in the other magazine went on to say that hundreds of thou­sands of people were living on canned dog food and in lots of cities the poor were trapping rats to eat. I guess one had a job and the other didn't.

It is just too hot in this kind of weather to do much prospecting. Man, am I dirty! I stink so bad from sweating 1 can smell myself, and at that I am supposed to have a bad nose. Can't take a bath for we only have enough water with us for cooking and drinking. I could go to the canal a couple miles away, but it's all posted “No Bathing or Washing” by the City of Los Angeles, and being I am a law-abiding citizen, I will keep on stinking.

 

July 14.

Stanley and Albert as usual slept on the ground; I slept on an old cot that someone left here. Every time I tossed, the whole cot would wiggle. From now on it's the ground for me; when I roll over it's solid and nothing gives. Some kind of varmint during the night bit Albert twice on the arm and me once on the cheek and elbow. The spots are deep red, and where we have been bit, it burns like fire. Stanley says we were bit by Spanish bedbugs. That's a new one on me.

We loaded up and headed towards Independence, but on the way we stopped at the town dump, this being the second time we have inspected this dump for whatever we can find. We never pass up a town dump or any other. When we left home, after tying up our load with a long rope, we had ten feet of rope left over. Now we have picked up so many old tires and other junk out of dumps that the rope is hardly long enough to make a tie. Besides we have caches of odds and ends picked up out of dumps alongside of the highways in the sagebrush from here to Barstow, about a hundred and fifty miles. At Independence, we bought gas and a newspaper and went to the park as usual; and as usual, there were several Americans there, two of them were nursing a jug of wine. We read the paper, I the sport pages, Albert the financial pages, and Stanley the ads. None of us ever bother to read the world news or editorials. But them parts are not exactly a waste. They come in handy when we clean fish to put the fish heads in them to throw it all into the garbage can or we can use them to wipe the grease off our hands. And besides they take the place of non skid, otherwise known as toilet paper. We left the park. Stanley threw that old 1938 Chevrolet pickup in gear and we started uphill, really burning up the road, headed for Grey's Mea­dows intending to camp at the same place where we had camped before. All of a sudden the old car hollered geeerrr­upp three or four times and came to a dead stop about three hundred yards short of our destination. The universal had gone out. With the help of the nearby campers we man­aged to push it backwards into their camp grounds.

Sure are some nice people here. One of the ladies invited all three of us to have dinner with them. We politely, in our uncouth way, refused, but she poured out a cup of coffee to each of us. That's the way it goes. For a long time you will go along beating your brains out trying to get along until you finally get disgusted with yourself and the whole world. Then you meet people like that, and all of a sudden the whole world takes on a new look to you. That lady's kindness taught me more what a human should be than if I had read a hundred books on human behavior. In my humble opinion, human behavior hasn't anything to do with how to slurp your soup in silence or how to spear a steak on your plate. All that amounts to is how to fight nature. The lady's husband drove Stanley to Independence to buy another universal. He could not find one there, and the man drove him all the way to Lone Pine, over twenty miles, where he managed to buy a second-hand one for the same price as a new one. I guess some things get more valu­able with age. We built a bonfire, heated water and took a bath and then sat around the fire and listened to Albert telling me about his mining days almost sixty years ago.

 

July 15.

      Stanley worked all morning replacing the universal. He said there was only room enough for one man to work under the car. All I did was lie on my belly, stick my head under the car, and every time he did any heavy lifting I gave him my moral support by doing the grunting for him.

It's cold and cloudy today. It tried to rain a dozen times this morning, nothing happened; but this afternoon it really turned loose. We got soaked through and through and so did our beds and grub. Finally we managed to stretch a tarp over a big limb; that was the same as closing the barn door after the horse got out. For a couple of hours after the rain we stood around all humped up like three cold, wet barn­yard chickens. Then we crawled into our damp beds and all three of us slept like logs.

 

July 16.

This morning we all have some more sores from what Stanley calls Spanish bedbugs. Stanley has three bites and Albert and I already had two each. Now we each have one more. Albert got another one on his arm. I am not going to say where I got my other bite for the censors would not pass it.

Today a very tragic event took place. When I returned from fishing, Albert had shaved his beard off. For the life of me I could not believe that the fellow shoving wood into the stove to cook our dinner was Albert. I walked over to where Albert's beard is laying on the ground and poked through it with a stick at least a dozen times thinking I will surely find his head in it. The other fellow just can't be Albert. Even his voice don't sound like Albert's. All the dig­nity of the bearded Albert is gone. I feel downcast, just as if Albert had died. Some campers pulling out gave Albert a half-dozen eggs. About an hour before supper, Albert said he had the potatoes all ready skinned to fry and had the eggs setting on a boulder near the stove all ready to butcher.

 

July 17.

      This morning we headed upgrade for Onion Valley. The old car ran up the mountain and around them switchbacks like nobody's business. We passed seven brand-new cars stopped along side of the road crying their hearts out, or you may say, boiling. It is a small valley with a camp ground. Three small creeks from the higher mountains further back run down into the valley and join together into one body of water, called Independence Creek, which rushes further on down the mountains into Owens Valley and into the big canal. There are a lot of wild onions growing here. There are also two pack stations that have pack animals for hire with or without a guide to take you and supplies further back into the mountains to the many lakes where there is good fishing. Stanley went fishing, caught nine trout. I went fishing too, but fell into the creek and got as wet as a dish­rag.

One of the packers delivered a message to me from my good wife informing me that my good friend Jim Corbett had passed away and I was to be a pall bearer. Fortunately the wife had just received a letter from me that very day telling her where we would be by the time she received my letter. 1 found a man in camp who is going to Red Mountain in the morning. From there I can catch a bus home.

 

July 18.

Left early this morning with Mr. Griffin. We had tire trouble. Had dinner at Johannsburg. At Red Mountain, Mr. Griffin wanted to buy a post card to write his wife. Had a hard time finding the postmistress. The post office there is about the size of a horse stall. While there, we looked over some of the abandoned mines. Mr. Griffin decided he had seen all he wanted of the place, so we came on home. He figured he could do some prospecting with his Geiger counter around Hinkley.

We reached home about three o'clock. About six o'clock it started to rain and the electric power went off. The wife used Mr. Griffin's gas stove to cook supper on. Mr. Griffin had supper with us.          .

The neighboring ranches have poison set out for rabbits. Tonight the dog ate one of the poisoned rabbits. Had to take it to Barstow, to Doc Linnell the veterinary. Got back home about ten o'clock. The wife has been after me to shave off my mustache, and I ain't a-goin to do it.

 

July 19.

Attended services for Jim Corbett's funeral. The wife made me buy a sack of rolled barley for the chickens, a new belt for the water pump, groceries, and pay the vet for the dog. All together coming home for one day has cost me forty bucks. Mr. Griffin never got back from the hills till after dark.

 

July 20.

This morning Mr. Griffiin left for San Bernardino and the dear wife drove me out to the highway to catch the bus for Mojave. While waiting for the bus, she asked me how much money I had on me. I thought she was going to re­imburse me, and I with the little brains and big mouth told her sixty bucks. Before the bus arrived, she had talked me out of twenty dollars more.

At Mojave, I caught a bus for Independence and arrived there at 4: 15 P.M. Fifteen minutes later a man came along and gave me a ride to about a mile above the Grey Meadows camp. Still I was nine or ten miles from Onion Valley.

With my grip in my hand, I started walking up the mountain road. It was cloudy, cold, and a light drizzle was falling. I had walked about twenty minutes when I heard a car chugging up the mountain behind me. It rounded the bend and stopped beside me. In it were a colored gentle­man and his wife. They had a 1930 Ford roadster with a mother-in-law seat packed up high with their camping equipment, bedding, etc. I climbed up on top of all that stuff, and hung on. My head was at least three feet above the top of the cab. It sure was cold riding, but it had walking' beat forty ways from Sunday. As the old car kept chugging up the mountain, every five minutes the lady would stick her head way out of the car window and look back up at me and say, “Hey, Mr. Shorty, how far have we got to go yet?” Was I glad when we got there. I helped them good people set up their camp and rustled up some wood for them. Believe you me, they were nice people. Albert said while I was away it had rained every day.

 

July 21.

Stanley and I walked three miles to Gilbert Lake, which is at over ten thousand feet elevation, and did some fishing. He caught fifteen, the limit. As usual, I never caught one. A lady from our camp came there to fish. She told us we had a surprise waiting for us when we got back to camp. The surprise happened to be a very pleasant one, four carloads of Boy Scouts and their leaders from Long Beach had camped alongside of us. They were all very well-behaved boys, some of them were hauling in wood from the mountain side, others were chopping it up, the rest of them and their leaders were as busy as bees getting their camp organized.

Albert and I had a barrel of fun kidding those boys. Their leaders were long-time workers for different oil com­panies at Long Beach. Some of them owned stock in the companies they worked for. You can always get a buzz out of Albert if you mention mining or oil. Albert agreed that they were working for some pretty good oil companies, but he advised them to sell their stock and buy into the Continental Oil Company for that was the coming oil company of the world. He went into his battered-up suitcase and brought out all the dope on Continental Oil for those fellows to read, besides giving them a long spiel on Continen­tal Oil. He said as soon as he made another good strike mining, he was going to buy some more of that stock. “Yes, sir,” Albert says, “since that fellow L. F. McCollum has got to the head of Continental, the company has been going places.” He almost convinced them fellows that Standard and Shell Oil would eventually be swallowed up by Continental Oil.

One of the men said, “Shell Oil owes me two weeks wages. I probably should have collected before I left Wilmington. The way this old boy talks, they may be broke before I get back.”

 

July 22.

This morning Stanley and I headed for Golden Trout Lake, elevation 11,200 feet. It was five miles steep climbing or ten miles round trip. The trail crosses and re-crosses a creek at least six times. On the way up we overtook a Chi­nese family, an elderly and a young couple. They were not making very good time because they all had large packs strapped onto their backs. We stopped and had a pleasant chat with them for a few moments, then continued on till we came to a lake. Stanley got onto a large rock and started fishing. I continued upgrade another half mile, and ran smack-dab into another lake that was almost as round as a circle. It set in a deep depression, surrounded by several high mountain peaks. It was a very deep lake, being the real Golden Trout Lake.

I could see Stanley half a mile away and a thousand feet below me, still standing on {)he rock fishing. I thought I would yell for him to come on up, but I doubted if he could hear me from that distance. I figured there was no harm in trying, so I hollered, “Stanley” as loud as I could. He almost fell off the rock. The name “Stanley” took off up the can­yons and ridges; the echo came back to me as loud as thun­der. We found out that we could talk to each other at that distance in an ordinary voice and we could hear one another just as if we were standing side by side.

Stanley came on up and started fishing. About fifteen minutes later a man and his eight-year-old daughter showed up. The little girl's name was Tony. While Stanley and her father were fishing, the little girl and I had as much fun as a barrel of monkeys, yelling just as loud as we could, just to hear our echoes make a big circle in the mountains and fifteen seconds later come back to us like thunder claps.

The clouds kept on getting thicker and lower. It was cold up there and it looked as if it might rain any minute. The little girl and I rustled up a lot of dry wood. In no time flat we had a big fire going. Stanley and her father were not having any luck at fishing. They changed to spinners and started catching fish. Then, without any warning, an the clouds in the sky broke loose and put out that big fire in less than fifteen seconds. There wasn't even a little bit of smoke left. We started down the mountains for camp. The creek had swollen too, at least ten times its normal size. It was slippery walking. Every few minutes one of us would slip and fall. We saw the Chinese family huddled under a large pine tree. They were just as cold and wet as we were. I felt sorry for that poor elderly lady.

One place the creek was quite deep and really roaring on down the mountain. There Stanley waded out to a large boulder in the middle of it. The girl's father handed her to Stanley. Just as Stanley grabbed her and set her on the rock, her hat flew off. Stanley made a grab for her hat and in that split second, the little girl started slipping off of the boulder into that raging torrent. Stanley had to make another quick grab for her. For an eight-year-old, she sure was a brave kid. She hardly ever cried or got too frightened. The only thing she complained about was being cold. And so were the rest of us. When we came to a high ridge, I pointed out Onion Valley and our camp to her over two miles away. Through chattering teeth she said, “Oh, that looks wonderful” She said to her father, “Daddy, aren't you glad  that I was with you or you never would of got home.”

At camp we all changed to dry clothing. Albert is very much worried about the Boy Scouts, wondering how they rode the storm out.

 

July 23.

Every time I woke up last night, I wondered how that Chinese family made out. I just can't get that poor old lady out of my mind. I could still see her standing under that pine tree soaking wet and shivering. Today the sun is shin­ing. I have clothes scattered all over the brush to dry out. Albert and I went up the mountain side a half mile for wood. He would rather walk a long way for wood than to use that new-fangled gas stove. A big six-prong buck deer came to within seventy-five feet of camp and chewed on some brush. I talked to a couple of swell-looking women camped about an acre away from us. All they had on was shorts, bras and sandals. Man, they looked good.

After dark, we built a campfire, sat around it and talked to Albert. I got up close to Albert's ear and sang a song to him. .When I got through he says, “Golly, I like to hear you sing, because you sound so good when you stop.”

 

July 24.

Seven o'clock this morning, Stanley and I took lunch, water and prospectors' picks to climb Kearsarge Peak, 12,650 feet above sea level. Some old-timers at Independence had told us that there is an old rich silver mine on the north slope within a couple of hundred yards of the peak In the seventies, there was another rich silver mine up a ways on the mountain side where several miners were working. The town known as Kearsarge was at the foot of the mountain. One day an avalanche or landslide came. It rolled down the mountain, covered the mine with thousands of tons of rock and earth, continued rolling down the mountain over the town, wiping it out and killing several people. What remains of the men are still in the mine.

A mile from camp we found a trail that leads up. From the word go it was steep climbing. Every three hundred yards or so we would sit down and do a little resting and panting. That's the way we worked it all the way up to the top. I have climbed mountains with ten to fifteen-year-old kids. It does not seem to bother them at all. They scamper and run up like wild goats, and I am always bringing up the rear. It's been said, “Life begins at forty.” Maybe so, maybe 50.

Beginning at its base and up the mountain, lying on the ground for over a mile, is an old heavy-duty cable. All the way up there are many old mine tunnels, shafts and roofless rock houses. The last half mile is strewn with large square rocks, just as if someone had cut them and laid them down.

 

61

The rest of the way to the peak we made it on all fours to keep from accidentally slipping into any openings between the rocks. The highest point of the mountain happens to be a large flat top boulder, and lying on top of it was another flat rock. Underneath it was a bottle with pencil and paper inside, which had the following writing on it:

 

13,250 feet elevation, Kearsarge Peak.

A. J. Reyman, S. C., King Beach, Calif.

Mary De Decker, Carol De Decker, Joan De Decker,

        Independence, Calif.

Jim Moore, Palo Alto, Calif., 1953. Engaged in

        geological mapping.

Glen L. Campbell, 201 W. Cullen St., Whittier,

        Calif. Ox. 68240

Jack Skelton, June 21, ]955, San Diego, Calif.

 

We signed our names on it, and set it back.

It was a clear warm day. One could see a hundred miles in any direction. In the distance, I counted eleven lakes. Onion Valley looked beautiful with the three creeks rush­ing and tumbling down into it from higher ground. We could see our camp, almost straight down below us. If we had wings it would have been a mile or less to fly into camp. About four thousand feet below, it looked like a long ways down, and when we were in camp looking up at the peak, it looked as if it were less than five hundred feet high. We looked over into Owens Valley. There was the town of Inde­pendence, almost nine thousand feet below and fifteen miles away.

Stanley wandered down the slope and out of sight. I sat there and did some thinking, and it's not easy for me to think, just a little bit of it makes me dizzy. I am not a very religious person, but as I sat there looking out over those endless mountains and valleys, I had a feeling that I was close to God, that He was somewheres near by. I felt very humble and small among all that wonderful creation of the almighty. Sitting up there for a while sure ought to take the wind out of the sails of any man who thinks he is the cat's whiskers. It makes one wonder how it all happened. Then again, it may not affect others as it did me.

I started down and caught up with Stanley who was chip­ping on a ledge with his prospector's pick. From the top of the peak going down on the north side must be a small underground stream of water. You can hear the water run­ning just as plain as if it was above ground. It was not from melting snow, the snow being melted off over a month ago except at the entrances of some of the old mines. At last we found the mine we were looking for, or it seemed to be the one, from the description the old-timers had given us. The entrance faced north. The opening was almost covered full with snow. We beat the snow down enough with our feet, with shoes on of course, to be able to look inside. As far back as we could see, it was half full of solid ice. We could also hear water running somewhere way back inside. We took no chances of entering. Near by were several roofless stone houses and some small mining equipment scattered around. By then it was almost four o'clock. We got on a trail and started down on the double to get down before dark. Soon we ran into two main trails. Stanley suggested we take the right:. I held out for the left. We took the left, which happened to be the wrong one. We had to leave that trail, cut across the mountain sides for a mile to get back on the one Stanley wanted to go on in the first place. That is the third time I have gotten Stanley into a mess. I don't know why I do it. He has been in the mountains for forty-three years and I, put all together, not over two. We reached camp at 8:30. Albert had the beans, fried potatoes and warm biscuits waiting for us.

 

July 25.

A month ago after a long hike I felt tired and ached all over. Now it does not bother me. We spread our bedding out on the ground and aired them out. Albert and I rustled up more wood. A small doe deer with a collar and a brown dog, who are inseparable companions, came into our camp and paid us a visit. We talked to two young geologists who are of the opinion that within the next fifteen or twenty years it will be possible to capture and get the same energy from the sun that we now get out of uranium. Also talked to an airplane pilot who has a lot of gadgets in a plane that detect uranium deposits on the ground below him as he flies along. His plane is down at Independence. He invited me to fly with him tomorrow. Not me. Flying is for the birds.

 

July 26.

Stanley has a severe toothache, and stayed dose to camp while I took off towards Golden Trout Lake looking for a shorter route back to Kearsarge Mountain and to do some more exploring. I could not find an opening of any kind. In most places it is just one solid, straight up-and-down high wall of rock. On the whole ten mile trip, I never met a fisherman or hiker. On the way back I counted twenty six different varieties of flowers, and I did not know the name of even one of them. They were pretty flowers and some of them have a nice stink to them. A game warden came in the area checking up on fishing licenses. He and Stanley were acquainted with each other, having met in the Panamints. He caught one guy with forty-one trout, and the limit is fifteen. I have been told every fish caught over the limit costs five dollars per fish. If that is so, it's going to cost that guy one hundred and thirty bucks.

It's going to be cold tonight.

 

July 27.

We packed up and left Onion Valley. Stopped at Inde­pendence, bought a newspaper and six cans of Prince Albert vitamin tobacco; received a letter from the dear wife. Stan­ley's tooth still aches, but there is no dentist at Independ­ence. We got on Mazourka Canyon road, intending to set up camp at Barrel Springs. On the way up, we stopped to say hello to Phil Day. We got no further. He insisted that we camp there. There is a fellow from Pomona by the name of William Sanderson staying with Phil. We call him Sandy. I asked him what his occupation was, and before he could answer, Phil blurted out, “He is a preacher, and a g--d­---good one,”

Sandy is a very likeable courteous person and has a wonderful personality. He sure would make a good clerk at some big department store. He is a jehovah's Witness, and is very much interested in Bible study. Phil and Stanley talked mining all afternoon. Albert lay in the grape arbor shade and caught himself forty thousand winks. At 6: 30, Lyle Gilliam came by on his way home from work, We flagged him down and Stanley made arrangements to ride to Bishop with him tomorrow to have his tooth pulled. After the rest went to bed, Sandy and I sat on a bench outdoors until one o'clock in the morning talking about the Bible, This guy Sandy is really interesting,

 

July 28.

Early this morning the ex-sheriff of Inyo County, Charles Kline, and his wife, small boy and another man came to visit Phil, who introduced us. We had quite a chat, they all being nice folks. Lyle came by on his way to work and picked up Stanley. Albert and I wandered a couple of miles up in the hills. We picked up four or five pounds of lead­-silver ore. When we returned, Phil's company had left. I asked Phil about the household articles that Stanley and I had found a short while back in the wash, He said it was stolen somewheres in Los Angeles area four or five years back and the law was getting hot on its trail, so the thieves ditched it there and took off. By the time it was found it had lain out in the weather for a year; by then it was ruined.

Phil is seventy-five years of age, built solid like a wrestler, and about five feet, seven inches tall, and all he wears is a pair of shorts. Albert is seventy-six years of age, slender build and about five feet, ten inches tall, He always has all his clothes on, including his hat and coat. The two of them got to talking about politics, The talk got around to the Roosevelts. Neither one of them had much use for the Roosevelts. Finally, Phil said his great-great-grandfather was an old sea pirate, and Albert spoke up and said so was his. They continued talking and mentioning family names and found out that they must be related. That called for a handshake, an embrace and another can of beer. They kept on talking until they came to the conclusion that way back there about a hundred and fifty years ago the Roosevelts were also sea pirates, and a little more talking and they had convinced themselves that both of them were blood relatives to the Roosevelts.

      I said to Phil, “How about another beer to celebrate your being related to the Roosevelts?”

Phil says, “Hell no, this is too good to be true. Hand me the whiskey bottle. Now we are gettin' somewheres in high society we got to do this thing up right.” That called for another swig, another handshake, and another embrace be­tween them. From then all the RooseveIts were all right..

I just sat there and laughed and laughed till I got the bellyache and the tears started rolling down my cheeks. Phil looked at Sandy and me and says, “When you sons of bitches talk to me, don't call me Phil any more. From now on it's Mr. Day,” and he and Albert shook hands again. Poor Sandy, he kept shaking his head from side to side and kept repeating over and over the words, “Oh my, oh my.”

Rode to town with Sandy to do some shopping. Bought a newspaper. Chicago is leading in the American League by a full game. Phil told us how he got the gold out of Sonora, Mexico for the Yaqui Indians. That was a long time ago when .he was a young man. Phil has two dogs. One is named Zukov and the other Babe. Phil laid some wieners on the table to cook for supper, but Zukov beat him to it. There was hell popping around here for a minute with Phil chas­ing Zukov.

 

July 29.

A couple of miles up the canyon, Sandy has one of those combination mining and homestead claims with a small cabin and spring on it. The spring is in a cave-like place. The water runs out of a two-inch pipe about forty feet long and falls into a steel barrel. The barrel was full of mud and the spring had almost ceased to flow. We cleaned out the barrel and did a lot of digging on the spring inside the cave and developed a lot more water. Then we started to do some more exploring near by. We found some pieces of soapstone float, picked up a little more silver ore and some pretty good looking pieces of pyrites.

This afternoon four young men with Geiger counters looking for uranium drove into Phil's place and had quite a chat with them. No matter where you go the whole country is full of uranium hunters with Geiger counters. Most of them don't know how to read their Geiger counters any more than most carpenters can read their squares. I have seen as many as ten cars of uranium hunters come and go on the same road in one day. Every half mile, they take their Geiger counters, run it over the surface of some rock forma­tions alongside of the road as far as their jeep can go. Pretty soon you can see them coming back. Most of them are too lazy to do any real hunting. If it's not somewhere where they can get at with their jeep, that's it. Hardly any of them will walk over a couple of miles on foot looking for it. I have talked to several men that thought they had found some good uranium deposits and even spent thousands of dollars building a road to their claims, and later on found out to their sorrow that they had nothing. A few that can afford it are using planes with gadgets in them and fly over an area to detect uranium deposits, but that's only good for a surface indication, or just a little better than carrying a rab­bit's foot.

So far as I know, there have been no bonanza uranium deposits found in California up to the present time. Some­day, someone is apt to find a beauty. Most of them that are being worked at the present time are more or less mar­ginal. Now if there were a couple of places in California, say one in the northern part of the state and the other in the southern part where the uranium ore would not have to be shipped so far, lots of the known deposits could be worked at a good profit. So far there are only a few dinky places in California where the ore can be worked.

Stanley and Phil sat under the trees all day and as usual talked about mining. There is no wood here, and Albert is cooking on the new fangled gas stove, and, he don't like it.

 

July 30.

Sandy went up the hill to spend a few days at his cabin. A couple of old-time prospector friends of Phil's dropped in for a visit. They had some fine petrified wood with them. Stanley and Phil had a long discussion with them about minerals. They told us where there were a lot of good pros­pect places for different kinds of metals. Many of the old­ time prospectors are that way. They don't mind telling you where their mines are located and will encourage you to go and do some prospecting in the same area, hoping that you may even find something better than what they have. And if you do, it makes their claims more valuable as far as a sale is concerned. But not so with these uranium hunt­ers. They will tell you that they have some uranium claims and if you ask them where, they shut up tight like clams. 1 don't know why they should. If they really have any claims and have filed on them, all one has to do is go to the county seat and look it up.

Stanley gave me a haircut, and Albert in turn gave him one. After dark, we sat in the yard, and Albert told us about the time he was working in the cow country of Montana, back in 1901. He said it was a hundred miles to town for supplies, and one day when all the hands were sitting at the dinner table in the long bunkhouse, the fellow that hauled supplies in from town came in and sat down at the table with the rest of them. Someone asked him if he had heard any news and the supply hauler said, “They have shot McKinley.” And one of the guys jumped up and says, “What outfit did he work for?”

 

July 31.

We loaded up the old Chevrolet and headed further uphill into the canyon for Badger Flats to do some more prospecting thereabouts, On the way up stopped at Lyle's place. Some one had given them a hundred pound sack of potatoes and one of onions. Mrs. Gilliam gave us half of it, or fifty pounds of each. From there we continued upgrade for about ten miles until the road got too rough to travel without a jeep or four-wheel drive. We parked our car, and made camp as high up as we could on one side of the canyon.

Albert said it was dangerous to camp on the canyon floor. Even a cloudburst miles away somewhere up above in the mountains might fill the canyon with water and run on down and wipe us out before we knew what hit us. He said years ago he was camped in a canyon and there wasn't a cloud in the sky as far as he could see, and the first thing he knew he heard a roar up the canyon and the next thing he saw was a high wall of water come around a bend, pushing all kinds of big boulders ahead of it. He just had time enough to scramble up the canyon wall, and all he saved was his hide. It was lucky it happened in the day time or he wouldn't of even saved that.

We are camped at about seven thousand feet elevation. The weather is cool. Stanley and I walked up to Badger Flats. We found an old silver dump and sorted out about fifteen pounds of fair silver ore. It thundered and lightninged for half an hour. The thunder sure sounds much louder in the mountains than elsewhere.

For supper Albert fried a big skillet full of onions and it sure tasted good. We licked up every bit of it. After sup­per Albert and I went on a long hike up the canyon to help shake down the onions. We saw what is called a guzzler. A guzzler is an underground concrete water tank built by the Wild-Life Service to catch rain water for the birds and wild fowl that have been introduced into a dry area by the servo ice itself. The tank is usually built quite deep underground and gradually slopes up close to the ground surface where it has an iron grate with openings large enough for the largest birds to go through in between to drink and still small enough to keep the predatory animals from entering through the grate to reach the water. The concrete gradually widens out ,from the grate to about thirty or forty feet square. It resembles a large concrete slab poured on a gradual slope with a two-inch high concrete trim around the whole slab. Then the surface of the whole slab is painted with some kind of a solution to seal the pores of the concrete to keep any of the rain water from sinking into the concrete. As soon as a few small drops of rain hit it, they immediately start rolling down into the underground tank. Albert says he has seen guzzlers that held ten thousand gallons of water and even a small shower would fill one up in a short time.

When we started back we were at least a couple of miles from camp. It was dark, but we had good moonlight. As Albert and I talked to one another, our voices would echo and re-echo up and down the canyons, and to hear it gave me the creeps. Albert looked up at the clouds floating by in the sky and says, “Golly they look cold,” and that if heaven was up in that direction, he did not want any part of it. We got to talking about communism. Albert says if them Communists keep a-fooling around with us they are going to get an awful surprise. They think democracy is a sheep, but if they start any monkey business, they are going to find out that democracy is a wolf in a sheep's hide that eats other sheep. He emphatically added, “Golly, won't they be sur­prised?”

Got back to camp about 9:00 P.M. and turned in.

 

CHAPTER V

 

August I

GOT up at seven o'clock. Can't see a cloud overhead so I guess the sun must be shining, but the whole canyon from top to bottom is in the shade, and it is cold. The nucoa in the jar has solidified and we could hardly pour the syrup out for the flapjacks. Temperature must be down about forty-five. Stanley and I took off to try to find Waucoba Canyon. We walked miles and miles through the pinon trees looking over old mines. After we got tired of looking over old mines, we found an old mountain road and followed it uphill for about eight miles.

Finally we were on a high ridge looking down on Lead Canyon. We saw eight or ten head of stock, a long ways down in the canyon flats. They were too far away to tell if they were cows or horses and we did not take any chances of going down to find out. We were afraid they might be cows with calves, and they are used to seeing a man on a horse, and if they see a man on foot, they may take a notion to take off after him. I have been told that if a bull gets after a man and the man does not lose his head, he can dodge the bull all day long. That is a good bull story. I am not going to try it to find out. But it is said that a man has no chance against a cow unless he can get a tree to climb.

We saw plenty of deer tracks and a mountain lion track. We found long poles with wire hooks on the ends of them which were used by the Indians in recent times to reach into the pinon trees and yank off the pinon cones. After the cones were yanked off, the pinon nuts were picked out of the cones and then roasted. The edible nut is about as big as a dry bean. In times gone by, it was an important source of food supply for the Indians. We found a deer antler and brought it back to camp.

Stanley is the best connoisseur of animal waste that I have ever known. As we walk along and see a deposit of animal waste, Stanley takes one squint at it and can tell you if it was left there by a wild cat, coyote, fox, badger, mountain lion, or any other animal. One has to be a real Nature Boy to do that. We stopped at the old silver dump and sorted out about fifteen pounds more of silver are. We walked at least twenty miles. Got back to camp a little before dark. Albert had another big mess of fried onions waiting for us. It tried to rain all day but nothing happened.

 

August 2.

Early this morning Stanley and I went back to the silver ore dump. We took along the carbide light to enter the mine and do some exploring. This time we took a different route to the place and found the remains of an old mine camp. We could see where the old blacksmith shop used to be. We found the anvil, forge and what remained of the bellows and other tools. I picked up a few sun-colored bottles around there. I have been on the lookout for sun-colored bottles on the whole trip, but every time I found one that had been colored a deep purple, it was always broken. I asked Stanley why. He said that after the bottles .have lain out in the sun for thirty or forty years, the sun does something to them, and on some hot day when the sun has heated the bottle, a small cloud overhead may shed a drop or two of rain on it while the bottle is hot, and as soon as a cool drop hits the hot bottle, it pops and breaks.

After rummaging through that old camp, we continued to the mine. Most of the timbers of the entrance of it had given way and were lying around helter-skelter. The few timbers still holding looked as if they were ready to go any minute. The mine entrance was not completely closed. Stan­ley suggested that he take the carbide light and go in alone while I stayed on the outside. I assure you I did not give him any back talk. That suited me fine. I did not like the looks of. things anyway. After Stanley crawled through the small opening into the mine, I started sorting out the silver are from the dump. I looked at my watch. It was 9:05. Next time I looked, it. was 9:50. I started to get worried about Stanley. I kept on sorting some more are. After a while I looked at my watch again, and it was 10:35. It was an hour and a half since he had entered the mine. Then I really began to worry, and J did not know what I should no or could do. I got to thinking that if something had happened to him and I en­tered the mine and something happened to me, not Albert or anybody else in the world would never find out what hap­pened to us. I thought I would wait another half-hour and if he did not show up, I would go back to camp, drive to Independence and then spread the alarm.

I was walking back and forth around there like a gen­eral that had just lost a battle. I heard someone yell, “Shorty!” I looked up and there was Stanley coming down the mountain. I knew it was him, but I just could not figure how in the world he got up there. I knew for sure he never came out where I was. I said to myself, that's another one of the world's seven wonders, and now I have seen everything. When he came up to me, he said, “The tunnel went all the way through under the mountain for over a mile and came out the other side.”

There was a small dump right at. the tunnel's mouth all overgrown with brush. We could not get. at it. I thought there might be some pretty good ore to sort out, so I lit a match to burn the brush off so that we could get at the ore. That's when I really started something. That fire took off like a race horse, jumped over the rock wall in front of the tunnel and started to burn the brush above it. Stanley grabbed his ore sack and started beating it out. I dumped the ore out of mine and started in too. We would no more than snuff out one place than it would flare up somewhere else. We were running around like a couple of spotted apes. We got up above the fire and kicked dirt down the hillside on it. We each did forty hours' work in ten minutes. If that fire had got away from us it would have burned up square mile after square mile of pinon trees. That was the fourth time I got Stanley into trouble.

We picked up about thirty pounds of silver ore. When we got back to camp, Albert was stretched out under a pinon tree sawing wood. I sat there alongside of him for two hours reading an old magazine before he awoke and says to me, “How long you fellows been here?” I said, “Five minutes.” And he says, “I just laid down ten minutes ago.”

Yes, fried onions again.

 

August 3

It is cold and cloudy. We hiked west today instead of east and found several old diggings, but the are was low grade. We picked up several pieces of obsidian, or nature's glass. There are hundred of old mines in this area, but none of them have been in operation for years. A long time ago when silver was worth better than a dollar and a quarter an ounce, they were all in operation. When the bottom dropped out of silver, they had no choice but to quit. Only the real rich mines continued to operate.

Wonder how the wife and boy are making out. I have only received and written one letter for the past three weeks no place out here to mail or receive a letter; nearest post office is Independence, twenty miles away.

This prospecting is hard work. We have been at it two months and what silver we have picked up would not amount to over three hundred bucks, to be split three ways. Albert says a mine is just like a woman. You chase around till you find one, and if you find a good one you've really got some­thing; or you can find one that does not quite payoff, but you stay with it thinking it will get better. Then again, you can find one and stay with it too long and go broke.

It looks as if it may rain tonight. Stretched a canvas tarp between some trees to sleep under and went to bed be­fore dark.

 

August 4.

It thundered, lightninged and rained something fierce last night. This is the coldest August that I ever had my hide in; the weather is more like January than August. Ever since we have been here, we have been sleeping with all our clothes on; even our socks and hats to keep our feet and heads warm. All day I have been sitting close to the fire reading a book Sandy loaned me, Title, Jehovah's Witness, The New World Society, by Marley Cole. I find it very interesting reading. I never read a book in my life but what I got some knowledge out of it.

This is another dry camp. We have not shaved or washed our hands and faces since we have been here. I am getting to feel kind of greasy-like. Albert is getting more dignified looking every day since his new beard is beginning to show up. He commented on my mustache. He says to me, “It's get­ting so big and long that it's making you look fierce.” Never left camp all day. Had a mess of flapjacks for breakfast and another mess of onions for dinner and supper, and believe me, they were good. Albert, for my money, can cook better than any chef dead or alive.

 

August 5.

The clouds are low, a cold light drizzle is falling, and the wind is whipping it up and down the canyon. That did it. We loaded up and came on down and stopped at Gilliam's place. Mrs. Gilliam heated up a kettle of water and I shaved. Then we continued on downhill to Phil's place. Being a cou­ple of thousand feet lower than where we had camped, it was much warmer. I took a cold bath, washed some clothes. Phil said he had not seen Sandy for three days, so he and I drove up to see him. We found him hale and hearty. He had done a lot of work on his place. Sandy followed us down to Phil's place in his car and stayed overnight.

 

August 6

      Last night we slept in Phil's guest house, which has a partition in it. On each side of the partition, it was barely large enough to lay a mattress down. Stanley and Albert slept on one side and I on the other. The guest house has a hole sawed out on the bottom of the door for the dogs to get in and out. After I lay down, both dogs came in and took turns in sleeping alongside or on top of me. They lay there and scratched themselves all night. I hope that their scratching is only a habit with them.

It is a warm sunny day. Sandy and Phil went to Independence and brought back a newspaper. I read the sports, page. Chicago is still leading in the American League. Albert brought out his little notebook and a stub of a pencil and figured out what. has been going on in the stock market for the past eight days. Stanley read all the ads, especially the ones about second-hand cars.

 

August 7.

It is warmer than usual. I have not mentioned anything about hiking, but we are still taking short hikes of four or five miles every day. We don't give up easy and are still trying. We did find an old lead-silver digging high up on a mountain side. We told Phil about it. He said it would run about fifty dollars a ton. Being too high up, it would have to be packed down. So that kills that. This evening Albert asked me if I was figuring on reading the cow and heifer page in the paper. If not, he wanted to use it to spread on the table in Phil's yard that we eat off of. I asked what part of the paper he was referring to and he answered, “The society pages.”

After supper, Albert and I went on a hike east of Phil's place. We climbed up on top of a low ridge. There were rocks everywhere; then all of a sudden, we ran into at least two or three hundred acres of wonderful rich sandy soil without a rock on it. There was a dense growth of vegeta­tion all over it. We found two springs there but the place must be honeycombed with underground springs. Can't fig­ure how that fine sandy soil got there. Some time or other the earth must have had a blowup there. It is only nine miles from Independence and easy to get at. As far as I know it must be Government land. The elevation there is between four thousand, five hundred and five thousand feet. It was after dark when Albert and I stumbled into camp.

 

August 8.

Sandy had dumped a stove as close to his cabin as he could get to with a car. Stanley and I went up to his place to help him haul it a couple of hundred yards to his cabin. First we carried the legs, lids, grating, etc. to the cabin, then the main part. That was the heaviest thing that I ever helped haul. We would pick it up, carry it twenty feet, and then have to set it down. It took us an hour to get it up to the cabin. What a job! Enough to make a man have dead babies.

When we came back to Phil's place, who should be there, but my old side kick, Desert Rat Mac, or Edward J. McKittrick, out of San Bernardino. Neither one of us had any idea that the other was in the country. We had intended to leave for Bishop that morning, but we wanted to visit with Mac for a while. It was after five o'clock before we got away.

I was expecting a letter from the wife at Big Pine, but we got there too late, and the post office was closed. We drove out of town, intending to camp alongside of the Owens River, but there were billions and billions of mosquitoes there, and they ran us out. We went a little further on to a place called Zurich. They were just as bad there. Finally we drove about seven miles out of town on the Saline Valley road, made camp and warmed up some beans for supper. Albert and I took a hike. I heard a coyote howl away off in the dis­tance. I told Albert about it and asked him what made it howl. He said it probably didn't like the Government.

Just at dark, the mosquitoes started to come in droves. They bit us and bit us. It was a hot night. If you stuck your head under the covers, the heat would smother you. Stanley had his head under the covers. How he stood it I don't know. If you stuck your head out, the mosquitoes ,vould swarm an over it. Albert had his head out, and his hat pulled down over his forehead. His empty pipe stuck in his mouth, which was strong enough to kill a mosquito a foot away, and be­sides, he had the protection of his beard.

I sat up in bed most of the night smoking cigarette after cigarette to keep them away from my face. The mountains looked beautiful flooded by moonlight. The whole world was still and quiet. I would think of the wife and boy, wishing I were home with them. As I sat there in the stillness, I thought I heard a coyote howl, then again, it sounded like a mountain lion. It seemed as if they were a long way off. I listened as close as I could. I would swear I could hear a coyote howl and then a mountain lion growl. At last I figured it out. It was only Albert and Stanley taking turns getting rid of the beans by gas under the covers in their sleep.

 

August 9.

Got up at eight. Feel tired and sleepy. The mosquitoes are an gone. We drove back to Big Pine all hepped up ex­pecting a letter from the wife. There wasn't any. It sure was a letdown for me. I asked an old-timer where all the mos­quitoes came from. He said the recent heavy rains created water puddles all over the country 'hereabouts for the mos­quitoes to breed in. As soon as the puddles dried up the little devils would be gone.

We continued on to Bishop. The country we drove through was very beautiful. The high mountains to our left still have snow on them. At Bishop, we bought gas for the car. While Stanley and Albert went to the Safeway store to shop for grub, I walked down the street looking for a post office to mail the wife a letter. There was a man standing in front of a drug store, I asked him where the post office was. I surprised him and also myself. It was my good dentist friend, Doctor Chapin, from Barstow, now retired. We had quite a chat. He was on his way home and said he would call the wife up and let her know I am still alive. Out of Bishop, we headed for Mammoth and from there went a few miles on up to Twin Lakes and camped under the large pine trees. There must be over a thousand vacationers camped here. The elevation is between eight and nine thousand feet. No mosquitoes last night. It is very cool here. We slept with all our clothes on including an extra sweater, and of course, our hats. Albert got up early. At seven o'clock, he had hot cakes all fried and the coffee boiled. He hollered at us to get out of bed and come and get it. Being that we were already dressed and too darn cold to wash; there was no lost motion. All there was to it was get up, sit by the fire and eat. We were the first ones up in camp.

Stanley and I looked over some of the nearby diggings. Then we walked around an looked over some nearby lakes. This whole country is dotted with lakes. This afternoon, after the beans and fried onions, Albert and I went up the mountain side, rustled up some large thick pieces of bark for firewood. Stanley went fishing and caught fifteen nice trout which we had for supper.

 

August 11.

When I got out of bed, Albert says to me, “Golly, you should of got up early this morning. You missed a good show.” I asked, “What did I miss?” He started laughing, and said he saw a woman come out of a tent with a piece of paper in her hand and start off for the privy at a fast clip. And the closer she got to it the faster she stepped on it, and the last thirty feet she made a dead run for it and he was not so sure but what nature beat her to the draw because she was in there for a long time.

An old couple camped next to us. They had a lot of short pieces of half-inch steel pipe, nipples, couplings, el­bows, tee's, etc., and the idea was to assemble it together so that a canvas tent built purposely for it could be stretched over it. I went over to help the old gent put it together. We put the  thing almost together five times, only to find out it was not coming out right. Finally his wife would not let us tear it down again so we put the tent over it the best we could.

 

August 12.

The Spanish bedbugs bites that we got over a month ago have healed on Stanley, but not on Albert and me. The places where we were bit are still red and itch like fire. At times, the wind here blows down Albert's stove pipes, so we stuck some stakes in the ground alongside of the stove and have the pipes tied to it with baling wire. This morning, Albert and I dragged down some branches thirty feet long. He sticks one end of a branch in the stove and as it burns down, he keeps shoving it up into the firebox. Every time he does any cooking on the stove, women from all over the camp come on over and watch him. He never gets tired of praising and showing the oven, and tells them how to boil beans, fry potatoes and make biscuits. The women get a big kick out of it and so does Albert, and when they break camp headed back for the city, they bring over their extra grub and give it to Albert. That way we sometimes get to live pretty high on the hog. These campers from the cities are wonderful people. Out here they are all relaxed. Most of them have a wonderful sense of humor and it does not take much to make them laugh. They sure are a lot different out here than they are back in the city. For that I cannot blame them. When I go to the big city and have to watch the auto and pedestrian signals, listen to the wail of the sirens, the rumble of the big trucks and the thousand and one other noises, it's even enough to make a squirrel go crazy. How can one ever get a chance to relax? If you do, you're just another statistic. Yes sir, we all have to pay through the nose for this so called advancement. It's just like getting married  - you gain and you lose.

 

August 13.

Today is my birthday. 1 was born August 13, 1898, in Asia Minor. The last massacre had taken place less than two years before my advent. During that massacre, the towns­people had lost all their stock and other worldly possessions, and some of them, their lives. Well, anyway, here I am. Born on the above mentioned date, and there was not even a rag around the place to lay me down on. But as it happened on that same day, a camel caravan from the southern part of the country was on its way to Istanbul. The caravan had stopped at our town and the men of the caravan had scat­tered out among the homes of the townspeople to get out of the midday heat and rest before journeying on. My aunt went outdoors and in the alley in front of our door were some of the camels. She said way down under a camel's belly is a soft tuft of wool. She took a good look up and down the alley. There was no one in sight, so right quick-like with both hands she reached under the belly of the nearest camel, grabbed the tuft, gave it a hard yank and got two big handsful of it. The camel bellowed to high heaven or whatever it is a camel does. Under the circumstances, it did it. My aunt ran as fast as she could with it into the house, spread it out and laid me down on it. So on my first day in this world, I started out on stolen property.

After many years of hard work in America, my Uncle Jake saved up enough money to come back to the old country and bring back my father, mother, me and his wife, whom I always refer to as my aunt, to America in July, 1900. We settled near Boston, Massachusetts. Six years later my father and Uncle Jake bought a farm near Worcester. In a few years they had a pretty good vegetable truck farm going. I remember one day us kids were helping with the hoeing when my mother and aunt got to talking about how rough they had it in the old country. My mother leaned on her hoe and said to my aunt, “Are we really in America or is this just a dream and when we awaken, we will still be in that hor­rible country?” My aunt said she did not know for sure, but the best way to find out was to pinch each other, and that's what they did. When they were satisfied it was no dream, they started to beat their breasts with their fists and shouted over and over again, “Thank God this is America!” Us kids thought that they both had gone crazy. We dropped our hoes on the ground and took off.

This morning walked to the store, and bought a news­paper and a plug of chawing tobacco. After dinner, Albert wanted to know how I was going to celebrate my birthday. I pulled out the plug of tobacco, took a chaw and gave him one. We chawed tobacco and spit the juice on top of the hot stove, watched and listened to it sizzle. When the stove cooled off there was no fun in doing that any more. Then we went up the mountain side and hauled in two big loads of firewood, and then read the newspaper. After dark we built a fire and sat around it with some of the other campers and talked until bedtime.

 

August 14.

The camp is growing; lots of new people pulled in last night. Some of them come here to rough it and bring hardly anything along with them outside of sleeping bags, a few pots, pans, paper plates and cups. They are the real hardy ones. Others bring folding cots, tables, chairs, portable radios and many cooking utensils. You can still call that roughing it. . Then there are those who bring their trailer houses or hire cabins, do their own cooking and take care of them­selves. Well, that ain't too bad. Then there are those that stay at the lodges and inns and like all the comforts of home. The reason I don't go for or believe in doing it that way is because I haven't got the money. The idea is that they all have a good time in their own way.

Albert and I walked up the mountain to see the bottom­less pit. We were expecting to look down into a depression at least a mile deep when we got there, but it turned out to be a small hole about a hundred feet wide at the top and about a hundred feet deep, with an opening at the bottom of this so-called pit that came out at the side of the mountain. That's one time the joke was on us. This evening Stanley and I went over to the Tamarack Lodge and saw a free movie about the John Muir Trail.

 

August 15.

We loaded up and pulled out of Twin Lakes for the new town of Mammoth, hoping to receive a letter from Della, who happens to be my wife by marriage. They say some marriages are made in heaven. Well, I don't know anything about that, but I do know lawyers. being practical men, are not interested in them kind at all. The marriages made on earth are the ones that keep a good lawyer in a fine home, a big car and money in the bank. I wish I were a good lawyer and had the legal know-how to separate married fools. There was no letter, so I bought a newspaper and sat around reading it while waiting for the early after­noon mail. Again no letter. We continued to June Lake. From there I wrote the wife a letter and we went on and camped on the edge of Silver Lake, this being a fair-sized deep lake which is set in a depression surrounded by five fair-sized peaks. As usual, Stanley went fishing. Lately we have been having fish for almost every meal. Albert and I were an hour rustling up enough wood to cook with and for an evening campfire.

 

August 16.

The wind blew hard all day. We are having a hard time finding firewood for cooking. As 1 have said, we have a gas stove, but Albert will not use the dang-fangled thing as long as he can pick up twigs even as large as matches. This morning I walked along the edge of the lake watching people fish. The lake was pretty rough on account of the wind and no one was having any luck fishing. There is a store, post office and restaurant here; also boats, with or without motors, for hire. This afternoon I cut myself a pole, put a line and hook on it and tried my luck at fishing. As usual, I did not catch any. I have my first fish to catch since we left home, but one day I almost caught onegot it four inches out of the water, and then it slipped off.

 

August 17.

Went fishing today. About a dozen kids and all the dogs in camp went with me. One kid, five years old, with a Davy Crockett hat, called Bud, hangs around me all day. He says he goes to school. I asked him what grade he was in. He said he would be in the first grade next year. He told me his father ran their car off of the road into a ditch and it cost them eight dollars to get it back onto the road. His mother got very mad at his dad over it so when his dad went fishing today over to Grant's Lake, his mother drove the car to be sure it did not cost them another eight dollars.

This afternoon, as I was strolling on the shore of the lake, I saw a lady with a big straw hat on her head, wearing a bra, shorts and sandals, leading a what kind of dog on a chain I don't know only it was small, white and had long hair, so much you could hardly see its eyes. It was a homely looking thing. When we got opposite each other we stopped and got into a conversation. She was probably in her early forties, about five feet four inches tall, and a little on the heavy side, which happens to be my weakness side when it comes to women. She was very good looking, at least she was to me. After we had stood there and conversed for a couple of minutes, I showed her the red spot on my elbow and told her it was from a Spanish bedbug bite. She took her dainty finger and rubbed the spot on my elbow and says to me, “So that's what a Spanish fly does.” When she done that I felt as if all the hair on my head caught fire and that my toenails were going to pop off.

 

August 18.

It was cold here last night. The mountains with their forests and lakes look very beautiful, but I have had all I want of it. I prefer the wide open spaces of the desert. Some of the campers here when you talk to them do not hesitate to tell you that they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown and had to get away for a few weeks. Most of the men bring their wives along on these trips to do the cooking and clean up after them. Ever since we came here, we have been camped right next to an elderly Italian couple, retired from the grocery store business. They have been very nice to us, inviting us many times to eat with them, and several times we accepted. The lady never gets tired of watching Albert do the cooking. Today she says to me, “I never seen mans like you before. You fellows happy an the time. You are rich without money.”

 

August 19.

Loaded up and left Silver Lake. At June Lake received a letter from the wife, the first one in five weeks. Sure felt good to ,hear from her. From there we got on Highway 395 and stayed with it six or seven miles, turned off and onto Highway 120. The sign read “44 Miles to Benton.” Highway 120 for a few miles runs parallel to Mono Lake. A fellow at the crossroads told me that's one lake that anybody can fish in without a license. I asked how come. He said there was no fish in the lake on account of too many poisonous min­erals in the water for the fish to live. He thought that was a great joke on me. He guffawed and laughed so hard he showered my face with saliva from his big mouth. He sure was a wise guy. After twenty miles on 120, we ran completely out of the timber country and were out on the warm desert. The heat made me feel good. At last we came to a small creek. We stopped, washed our hands, faces and feet. Albert caned that a breakdown in morale. There were some fat cows grazing alongside of the creek bank. There are small herds of fat cattle all over the country we have been driving through, but there is not a town or house of any kind for miles. I guess once in a while. God does keep a little bit of it for himself. At last. we reached Benton, which is a very pretty and quiet place. It has a great deal of past history. There is an old two-story large wooden frame hotel one hundred and five years old. The sign in front of it reads, “Benton Hot Springs Post Office and General Store.” From what I gathered, it is not an official post office, but the management of the hotel has the mail taken out and brought in more or less as an accommodation for the folks in the area. I think the official post office is at Mammoth, about thirty-five miles away via the dirt road.

The hotel rooms, as far as I could ascertain, were on the second story; the first story is one huge room with a dozen mounted deer heads decorating the walls and also a mountain lion hide or two stretched out over the wall. There are several showcases with hundreds of obsidian arrows, many kinds of semiprecious rocks, sun-colored bottles and relics of all kinds. The place is not cluttered up with ceramics, trinkets and other junk that most places sell. It is the closest thing to the Old West that I have seen.

Although there is a good highway through the town, it still is pretty much off the beaten path. I don't know anything about making movies, but they sure have a good setup there with the old hotel, trees, a creek, a pond, a boot hill, a bar, country post office, mountains high or low, sloping hills, flat sage land, mines; some of them still in operation, plenty of cattle nearby, less than forty miles from large timber, lakes with big rock crag's above them, where the dummies can be thrown into the lake. Besides that, it's less than ten miles to the Nevada state line. If things got too hot for the villain, he could get on his nag, high-tail it across the state line with the hero in hot pursuit. Then when the villain got across the state line, he could stop and thumb his nose at the hero. It would be better still if the villain for once killed the hero, and the last scene showed him with the hero's girl tied up by the hands and legs, laid behind the saddle and the villain headed for his hideout with her.

I asked the young man at the bar for some history of the town. He had not lived there very long and did not know much about it. He sent me down to see the lady that owns the only motel in town; she was supposed to know all about it. We found her all right. She took one look at Albert's beard, my mustache surrounded by ten days beard growth; and I don't think she liked the looks of us. She told us to go over and see Pete Minaberry. He was an old-timer there, and we could get the dope from him, and she pointed out the place where he lived. J think she was more than glad to get rid of us.

Mr. Minaberry was a heavy-set man in his seventies and was glad to have someone to talk to. He gave us the following history. He had been living there for forty-three years. The town of Benton was there before there was such a thing as a county of Mono. In the old days it was a mining town with six thousand people. The streets ran clear out to the hills. When they first started mining silver there were no mills there. The ore had to be shipped an the way to England to be milled, and you were lucky if you got the returns in six months. Finally two mills were built in town. He pointed out to us where they had been; also he pointed out where the Chinese town used to be. Most of the Chinese were leasers. The first white child born there died last year in Frisco at the age of 88. Her name was Mrs. Buck. Her hus­band was killed in a saw mill years ago. There was a lot of hauling done back and forth between Benton, Mammoth and Bodie. Up to the beginning of the First World War, there were still some Indians living at Benton.

We thanked Pete Minaberry and drove three miles out of town, where we made a dry camp out in the open desert, about two miles off of a dirt road. We had fried onion sand­wiches for dinner, and they were really good. Afterwards Stanley took off on an old high road up the mountains to do some prospecting. Albert and I took the low road for the same purpose. It got pretty hot, but we found an abandoned tunnel and got inside of it and cooled off. There are lots of pretty colored rocks around here, though I don't know if they are the kind that interest rock hounds or not. There is plenty of heavy, dead sagebrush for firewood for Albert's stove. Oh boy, is it nice and warm. I love the desert. Hot enough is hot enough, but when it's too hot, it's just right.

 

 

 

August 20.

Last night, for the first time in several weeks, we took off our shirts, socks, coats and hats to sleep. Stanley and I hiked up the mountain. The country around here is lousy with abandoned mines and ore dumps. We hand-sorted about twenty pounds of fair silver ore, which we figure will run a dollar a pound. Found two obsidian arrows, one is perfect, the other has its point broken off, and picked up five pounds of pyrite rocks. I don't collect them, but my boy does. I have a hundred pound sack full of rocks that I have picked up during the past two months for him. We found the remains of four deer that had been killed by mountain lions within the past six months. Stanley says a cougar or mountain lion will kill on the average of two deer a week.

We walked to the very top of the mountain and looked down and across a big valley all the way up into Montgomery Pass. Also in the valley down below us a couple thousand feet was Highway 6. It looked about three feet wide and the cars rolling over it looked like baby buggies. We could see White Mountain, 14,240 feet high, and beyond it, over in Nevada, was Boundary Peak, 13,145 feet high, the highest in Nevada. An old-timer at Benton told me a few years ago a man in his private plane crashed in the White Mountains and his remains are still lying there in a box canyon. Rescuers got within a few hundred feet below him and also a thousand feet above where he crashed. They could see the wreckage, but the terrain is so rough no one could get to it.

At two o'clock we came back to camp and sat out in the warm sun and enjoyed ourselves. This evening, we took off our shoes, and our socks, and with our fingers, we rubbed between our itchy, sticky toes. Oh, that felt so good. Our feet smell just like something that's dead and halfway to rotten. That don't bother me. It feels just glorious to scratch between my toes.

 

August 21.

After breakfast we loaded up and drove to Benton. Inquired for mail; as usual, none. From there we drove to Highway 6, turned right, or south, and passed Benton Sta­tion, which is a little larger than Benton Hot Springs but nowhere near as attractive or picturesque. A short way beyond Benton Station, we saw a grove of cottonwood trees. For once we all got the same idea at the same time, and we pulled into the grove for personal reasons. After our mission was accomplished, for an hour we lay under the shade trees and relaxed. Why not? We didn't know where we were going and were in no hurry to get there. Soon after we started off again we were in an alfalfa and cattle country. Many of the ranches had long stacks of baled alfalfa piled up. It was surprising to me how thick the bales lay in the fields. At first, 1 thought they must be fifty-pound bales. I looked carefully and dose and they were standard-size bales, at least sixty to the acre. I never saw anything like it before. After twenty miles, we ran out of the ranch country into a long barren stretch. Just before entering Bishop, we turned right and then thisaway and thataway for several times, and finally wound up alongside of the Owens River. We made camp on its bank, lay around for a while and just relaxed, then shaved and washed clothes. Lots of people must have fished there. We climbed up the trees near where we camped and picked off. about five bucks worth of hooks, sinkers, spinners and lines from the tree branches.

 

 

August 22.

The mosquitoes here work day and night. Stanley caught seven trout and one sucker. We ate them all. I went fishing. I did not catch any, but I did better than usual. At least. I got a few bites. Also, I got too far out on a dead limb. It broke and I fell in up to my shoulders. I grabbed another nearby limb or I would have gone in way over my head. Albert saw the show. He wanted to know if I got my feet wet. At dark, the mosquitoes came in droves. We climbed to the top of a nearby hill to get away from them. It was no use. They were everywhere. Albert was telling me about the time he was in Alaska where the mosquitoes were so thick that when you hit an ox with a whip, it left a long streak of mosquito blood on its back where the whip touched.

 

August 23.

Albert and Stanley covered up their heads under the blankets and sawed wood all night. I tried the same thing but it was no use. Somehow or other the mosquitoes man­aged to get under the covers and worked me over good. About two o'clock in the morning. I could not take it any­more. I got out of bed took my flashlight, picked up a sack of dried cow chips, lit a fire, burned them up, and sat as close to the smoke as I could for the rest of the night. About noon, we loaded up and got out of there and drove to Bishop. It looked odd to see a11 kinds of merchandise in the stores, listen to the radios blaring, see people all dressed up with clean, new rags on. We went to the Safeway. While Albert and Stanley were shopping for the grub, I walked around the store and looked at the watermelons, apples, bananas, grapes, etc. It makes your mouth water and your guts inside of you go crazy asking for it. But what can you do about it if you haven't the money to spare to buy it with. Ah, money, the staff of life. For the lack of it millions of people all over the earth die from disease and starvation.

Out of Bishop, we got onto Line Street and drove up to Sabrina Canyon about sixteen miles and made camp along­side of a fair-sized creek. It rained this afternoon. After dark, we sat around the campfire.

 

August 24.

Last night we slept like a log with all our clothes on. It was cool and no mosquitoes. I ran out of cigarette papers. A lady camped nearby gave me some toilet paper to roll a smoke with. I tried it, but it did not work. Then I tried newspaper. It did not work either. Stanley walked a couple of .miles up to the Sabrina store. They did not have any cigarette papers, but he did meet a fisherman who gave him a book of cigarette papers. I climbed a nearby mountain. It was only a mile climb but in that mile the difference in ele­vation is at least 1000 feet. I found a mine on top of the mountain, picked up a few pieces of ore and brought them back with me. Albert salvaged four ears of corn out of a garbage can. We had it for supper. A fellow came by our camp. He had caught eight nice trout, which he gave me. He said he loved to fish, but did not care to eat them. We sat around the campfire, and hit the hay at 8:30.

 

August 25.

Two months ago yesterday we left home. I have been dreaming of my old lady two nights in a row. Last night it was cold again.

Albert told me about the time they hanged the barber at Haden, Nevada. Said it was about 1905 or 1906. At an­other time when he was a young fellow, he came upon a ghost town in California, where there was a tall forty-foot-long sign which read, “Welcome,” and from the middle of the sign was a dead man hanging by the neck. He said he took one look at it, put the spurs to his horse, and they went away from there like the wind for five miles before he slacked up. He said, “Golly, that scared me.” Then he told me about the time in 1905 he wanted to join the Odd Fellows and they were not too hot about him joining, figuring he did not have long to live; about the same time he wanted to take out $2000 worth of life insurance. Three different doctors examined him and they all turned him down. Then he turned to me with a big grin and a twinkle in his eyes and said, “The whole damn shaboodle of them are dead and Albert O. Smith lives on.”

The hardest work I did today was sit down with my back against a pine tree and wish I had a forty-pound watermelon to eat. We sure have been eating a lot of fish. I stink like a fish, besides smelling like one. I hate to look a fish in the eye any more.

 

August 26.

Today Albert and I walked across a long log lying above the creek and rustled up a few more loads of wood. Every time we cross back with a load of wood on our backs, we have to know how to zig and zag across that log to keep from falling off about six feet into the creek.

A family came in today and camped next to us. The man had a Geiger counter and tungsten light with him. We took some of the rock ore I hauled down a couple of days ago from the mountain and threw a blanket over us to make it dark for the tungsten light. The light showed tungsten in the rock are, which we figured will run about one-half of one per cent. He being an amateur at it, it made him an excited, so there wasn't anything to do but climb up that steep mountain again and show him where it was.

After supper, Albert and I went on a hike and found a garbage dump. We got a big thrill smelling rotten, sour watermelons, potatoes, grapefruit, etc. After smelling fish for so long, that garbage smelled like perfume. This eve­ning while sitting around the campfire I was telling Albert about the time I was in New York City and saw women with fur coats and muffs on walking around in zero weather with bare legs. I asked him if he could figure that one out. He said, “There are no figures crooked enough to figure out a woman.”

 

August 27.

Loaded up the car, came down Sabrina Canyon to Bishop. Stanley and Albert shopped at Safeway for more grub, such as three pounds of nine-cent stew meat, a carton of eggs, and of all things, two loaves of bread. It being the first time that we have bought any bread, I wonder what we are going to do with it. I loaded up with Prince Albert Vitamin To­bacco and papers to roll it up in. We were parked in the gateway lot. Albert set the carton of eggs on the running board and stacked the rest of the grub in the car. In the meantime, somehow or other, the carton of eggs fell off the running board and every last egg broke. We dug up an empty Mason jar out of the car and managed to pick up 99 per cent of it, some of it right close to the asphalt. Albert said, “Let's show them that there's nothing cheap about us and leave the shells and the egg carton there.” Which we did.

From there we drove to Big Pine. Inquired for mail; as usual, there wasn't any. Had a short conversation with a pleasant lady who works in the post office. From Big Pine, we drove out of town and got on the West Guard Pass road. About fifteen miles out of Big Pine, just as we were really starting to climb up into the mountains, we came to a place where there was a concrete water trough alongside of the road. The water was coming down through a pipe from a spring in the nearby hills and spilling into the water trough. The overflow ran down the hill and irrigated about twenty ­five cottonwood and locust trees. Under the trees was a thick carpet of watercress. of which we took half a gunny sackful with us. Near by was a fair-sized shack where the road tolls were collected years ago when the West Guard Pass was a toll road. Eventually the State of California took the road over. and now owns the spring, shade trees, shack and the surrounding forty acres. I was told the place now can be bought from the state at a reasonable price. Most every car from both directions usually stops there to cool off the car motor and fin the car radiator with water, that being the only place on the roadside that water is available for at least seventy-five miles going west. It would be a good place for the sale of beer, soft drinks, sandwiches. etc. One would never get rich. for there is not too much traffic over that road, but there is a possibility that such a place there would make one a living.

We moseyed around there an hour or so, then continued up into the winding mountain road. Soon we were in the White Mountains proper, where we really started to do some climbing. The road twists and turns through the rock can­yon walls. At last we reached the summit and started going downgrade into a small level valley about twenty miles long and ten miles wide, called Deep Springs Valley. There are only two places in all that valley. One is a highway main­tenance camp and the other is a college that is either associ­ated with Cornell University or is directly a part of it. One fellow said it had twenty-two students and another fellow said it had forty students, and every year there are several hundred male students that put in applications to enter the place. Only a few are accepted.

We continued on through Deep Springs Valley and drove to within three or four miles of a ranch called Oasis. We were told that the ranch has nine hundred acres of alfalfa under cultivation and an average of seven tons of alfalfa hay is produced per acre in a season. We turned left before we came to the place, went uphill about five or six miles into Cottonwood Creek, also caned Cottonwood Canyon, and made camp alongside the creek under some cottonwood and willow trees. The sagebrush dose to the banks of the creek is at least twelve feet high; never saw anything like it before. First thing after setting up camp, I went fishing, and hurrah for me, at last I caught a fish - two of them  -one of them about four inches long and the other one just a little bit of a thing. The fish here are just as thick as the crabs on skid row. We cut the bone away from the three pounds of nine­ cent stew meat and dug out Albert's meat grinder and made hamburger out of it. To me it looked like 99 per cent pure fat. Anyway, Albert made six hamburger patties about four inches in diameter out of it. He could only get three of them in a large frying pan. When he wound up frying them, they had shrunk to the size of two-bit pieces. But we did get bet­ter than a pint of grease out of the deal, which we saved. What was left after Albert got through frying the patties was more appropriate to call crackleburgers than hamburger. The bread came in mighty handy for with it we wiped our plates as clean as a whistle and saved Albert from having to wash the dishes. The two loaves of bread cost fifty-six cents. Albert figured it took not more than three pounds of wheat, or a dime's worth, besides the yeast, lard, and the poison to keep it fresh, maybe six cents more, making a total of sixteen cents on the outside for two loaves. It was beyond us who got the rest of the forty cents.

After dark, we built a big fire and were setting around it a-talking when a car came up the hill and stopped at our camp. There were two very happy men in it. They had a fifth of whiskey with them and they gave us a good big swig out of it. It sure tasted good. They live further up the canyon a ways; invited us to come on up tomorrow and visit them. There are no mosquitoes. It being warm, we took off our clothes to sleep.

 

 August 28.

This morning all three of us walked up the hill in the canyon. About a half mile up we stopped to visit our two new found friends of last night. They were still happy and intro­duced us to their wives. They insisted we have an eye­ opener. Without any argument, we obliged. After leaving them, we continued further on up the hill and visited Lyle Donahue, an old-time prospecting friend of Albert and Stan­ley. He has a very nice place alongside of the creek with an orchard of pear, apple, cherry and plum trees, and sev­eral varieties of flowers-hollyhock twelve feet high-and quite a vegetable garden.

In the course of our conversation, Mr. Donahue told us that right near by where we have made our camp, about seventy or eighty years ago, there used to be an old lady and her son that used to run a couple of arrasters which were an old time ore mill where the ore was crushed up and the gold washed out. The water to these two particular arrasters was dammed up about three miles up the creek, then a ditch was dug along the side of the mountain ridges all the way down to opposite where the arraster mills set. From the ridge, the ditch made a fast steep drop of two to three hundred feet, which created enough power to work the arrasters. Then the water ran back into the creek and on down the canyon. Every bit of that ditch can still be seen as it follows the mountain ridges in and out for at least four miles. The old lady's name was Mrs. Terrell, better known in them days as Mother Terrell. The nearest he could figure. she died about 1887 and was buried right near where we are camped. He said he got most of his information from an old ­timer by the name of Offe, or Affe, who was eighty years old and remembers attending her funeral when he was twelve years old. Him and Mr. Offe, or Affe, put in at least a couple of hours hunting for her grave, but new brush and new trees had grown up, all the old trees had died out, even the creek had changed its course in almost seventy years and they were unable to locate Mother Terrell's grave. Mr. Donahue gave us a dozen ears of corn, and half a gunny sackful of rhubarb out of his garden.

On the way back, we stopped at our two happy friends' place again. The gas in their tank that keeps their refriger­ator going had run out and their food was starting to spoil. One of them had three big T-bone steaks in his hand that his wife had taken out of the refrigerator for him to throw away. She figured they were spoiled. We talked him out of throwing them away and told him we would like to have them, He said, “OK, but if you eat them and kick the bucket, don't hold me responsible,” We said we would not. We brought them back to camp. I took a good sniff of them. They did not sniff just right to me. I said, “You suppose they are all right?” Stanley said they were in perfect shape and Albert. said that meat is good unless it's got hair growing on it, So I just forgot about my sniffer and took their word for it. Albert picked up the skillet from the ground, whacked it against a tree two or three times to knock out the dried batter from the mornings hot-cake mix. set it on the top of the stove, and slapped the three T-bones into it and fried them, We ate them up; never ate anything better in my life. For supper we had corn and rhubarb. That's what I call living it up. After supper we all walked back up the hill to Donahue's. Our happy friends and their wives were there, We sat in Mr. Donahue's yard and talked. He told us about the best places to prospect around there. About 9:30 we walked back down the hill and went to sleep.

 

August. 29.

Stanley and I walked up to Donahue's this morning. He gave us directions on how to get up to the mountain top, and we started climbing. About a third of the way. I looked across the edge of the opposite canyon west of us and said, “Look, Stanley, there's a rabbit down there,” But it started to run and I knew it was a deer instead of a rab­bit. It was at least a thousand yards off, It ran a little ways up a draw, and went to grazing. It was so far away, I couldn't tell if it were a buck or a doe.

We continued climbing and climbing until we reached the mountain top where the diggings were. Where we left the road and started climbing. the elevation was 5,722 feet.

We walked about two miles and climbed at least three thou­sand feet higher up and the actual distance covered in a straight line was not more than a mile from the top. We could see miles in all directions  - the Oasis Ranch with its green checkerboard fields, Deep Springs Valley, Lake Valley, and several other valleys could an be seen. To the north were mountain peaks seventy-five miles away in Nevada.

We looked over a few dumps and hand-sorted about twenty pounds of silver ore. Then Stanley lit the carbide light and we explored inside several tunnels. When we came out of one of the tunnels, Stanley forgot to turn off the carbide light before putting it back in his knapsack. In a minute, or two, we smelled something burning and the next thing we knew there was a big hole burned right through the knapsack. Next, we got to pecking at some quartz rock just a little way above the surface of the ground and accidentally uncovered a good vein of rich silver ore. We only had our prospectors' picks with us. Boy, did we work for the next two hours cleaning away the dirt around that quartz ledge so that we could work at the ledge itself. We dug out about sixty pounds of rich silver ore before it ran out on us. We figure it will go about 10 per cent silver or about six pounds, worth about $80. You ought to see me work when I can make about $25 an hour. I forgot about being hungry, tired or thirsty. That is the first time that I ever smelled money in this prospecting business and I really went to work. If anybody sees that hole they would never believe that two men could dig such a big hole in two hours with a couple of small prospecting picks and hare hands. They probably would figure a case of dynamite was used. I am the guy that always said that outside of myself, the rest of the world was greedy, but the way I went after that silver, I proved myself to be a big liar. I can see now the reason I never was greedy before, is because I never had the oppor­tunity to be so.

By the time we dug all of it out, it was four o'clock and we started down the mountain, each carrying a forty pound sack of ore on our backs. We had bad luck. We came down a canyon which abruptly drops straight down for 500 feet, so we walked back up the canyon and got onto a ridge and walked down again. Got home at 6: 15. After supper, Stanley walked up to Donahue's. Albert and I walked down the canyon a mile and back, built a fire and sat around and talked about backward countries. Albert said the sooner we can get them civilized, the sooner they can start to pile up a big debt like the civilized ones.

 

August 30.

Today all three of us walked up the canyon on a trail alongside of the creek bank. It was pretty rough going. The hike up and back was a total of ten miles. Albert sure can get around for a man who will be seventy-seven in January. On the way up, we made a couple of  tests for gold. One test we figured would average $27 per ton and the other about $39. The creek all the way up is loaded with trout, and no one is fishing it. We got back to camp about 4:30. Albert cooked supper, and after supper, I went fishing. The first thing, going down the creek bank at a steep ten foot incline. I slipped. Both of my legs gave out under me and I went head over heels and with a resounding thud landed on the seat of my pants. It jarred my teeth, eye sockets, and I thought my ear drums were busted. I always wished I had brains, but I was sure glad then that I haven't any, for my brains would of oozed out of my ears right then and there. That took the fishing notion out of me. Instead I limped back to camp. There are a lot of chucker birds around here.

Stanley walked up to Donahue's. Albert and I sat around a fire. Albert was telling me, how, years ago, when he was working in Seattle, he got off of work at midnight. One night after work, he decided to go home through China­town, which was four blocks shorter. Just as he got to the edge of Chinatown, an hen broke loose. He heard guns popping off all up and down the street a block ahead of him. Men running up and down, back and forth across the street under the dim street lights shooting at each other. It was

a Chinese Tong war. The next day the papers said there were twelve men killed. I said to Albert that that was ter­rible. He answered it was no ways near as bad as some of the things white men used to do. I asked, “What did white men do that was as bad as that?” He said his father told of seeing white men, some of them drunk and some sober, walk up to peaceful defenseless Indians and shoot them just to see what they looked like when they were dead.

 

August 31.

Stanley and I were intending to climb up to the top of the same mountain we climbed a couple of days ago to look for some more silver ore, but we have been doing so much hik­ing lately we feel somewhat tired. So instead, Stanley went fishing and I climbed up a near-by small mountain, about one thousand feet high and looked over some open mine cuts. After supper, Albert and I went on a hike down the canyon. We measured the sagebrush. Some of it is ten inches thick at its base and twelve feet high. On our hike we saw an outhouse, and a hundred yards below it on a downgrade was a fair-sized cabin. Albert said the man who built them did not know very much about building. I asked him why. He said he should of built .his house where the outhouse is and his outhouse down where his house is, because it is a lot easier to run downhill with a load than uphill, and that  way you could always come uphill light. After we came back  to camp, and got a campfire going, he told me about the time when he was a fifteen - or sixteen-year-old boy and was   a patient in the hospital in Seattle. He says, “Golly, that was sixty years ago, and there weren't many nurses them  days. Those patients who were not too sick acted as nurses and helped the doctors.” Many a time, he said, he stood by, when the doctor was operating on a patient and handed the doctor the operation tools as he called for them.      

 

CHAPTER VI

 

September 1.

THIS morning I awoke at the break of day and sat up in bed. There was Albert already sitting up, puffing his pipe and looking around in all directions. I wondered what he was trying to see as I could not see anything unusual. I asked him what he was looking for. He answered, “We are in the wrong country. Too much brush here. Don't you know what day it is?” I answered, “No,” He said, “Golly, it's September morn.”

We had an early breakfast, then Stanley and I took a hunk of cheese, some peanut butter sandwiches and for the third time started to climb the mountain. It took us one hour and thirty-five minutes to make the two-mile climb. We explored the mountain top, east and west. Looked over several old mines and dumps. Also found a road that comes to within a half mile of the mountain top. In a few days, . providing our old car can make it, we will drive up here  and camp instead of walking up. “There are deer tracks everywhere, and we saw at least a half a dozen places about twenty-five feet in diameter where flat rocks have been laid close together on the ground. They were built by the Indians in the old days. They built fires (.!?n top of the flat laid-out rocks. After the rocks were heated , they would rake away the hot coals to one side, then the  pinon cones were spread out on top of the hot rocks and the heat caused the pinon nuts to fall away from the cones. Then  the pinon cones were raked away and the pinon nuts were roasted on the still hot rocks. I am not vouching for the above, but that was the way it was told to me.

We hand-sorted about thirty pounds of silver ore out of the dumps. It was hot on top of the mountain. Most people think high mountain tops are always cool, which in most cases they are; but when a bright sun hits a mountain top at the right angle, then it is just as hot as anywheres else, and sometimes more so. We drank our small canteens dry. We really got thirsty. I thought I would burn up. It's al. ways that way. A fellow, for some reason, always gets thirstier after ,his canteen is dry than when it's full.

At last we got down from the mountain. Stopped at Donahue's, drank a little water, sat down in the shade a while and drank a little more, till we had quenched our thirst. We got back to camp at four o'clock. Afterwards, around the usual campfire, we got to talking about prospect­ing. Albert said prospectors are the most optimistic in the world, and told the following story about one.

It seems as if an old prospector died and got to the gates of heaven and wanted in. Saint Peter asked him what he was on earth. The old fellow told him he was a prospector. Saint Peter said to him, “Heaven is full of prospectors, and there isn't any room for any more.” So the old prospector told Saint Peter if he would open up the gates and let him in, he would make plenty of room. When he got inside, he saw a whole bunch of prospectors and when he got close to them he yelled out, “Hey, you fellows, did you hear about the big gold strike?” They all got excited and answered, “No, where is it at?” He told them over in Hell's Canyon, and they all jumped up, ran to the gates and wanted Saint Peter to open them up so they could get out of there and go over to Hell's Canyon and prospect. When Saint Peter opened up, they all made a big mad rush out, and the newcomer who had started it all started running out of the gate too. Saint Peter hollered at him, “Hey, I thought you were going to stay?” And the  fellow hollers back, “Hell no, there may be something to that story,” and he went out with the rest of them.

 

September 2.

When I got up this morning, I felt as if I had been beaten all over by a rubber hammer; I would not climb that moun­tain again today, even to haul down fifty pounds of pure silver. But before the day was over, I did plenty of hiking. My shoes being all shot, Albert lent me a pair of his tennis shoes. After breakfast, I took my fishing pole and walked about four miles up the creek in the canyon with the idea of fishing downstream on the way back. But I did a very foolish thing and left the trail that runs more or less parallel with the creek. The first thing I knew, I found myself in a deep gorge crawling over a large smooth round boulder the size of a two-story house. I slipped a couple of times and got real scared. There I was, halfway down on this huge boulder, afraid to crawl back up or down. Below me were two more boulders, one below the other, and as large as the one I was on. I knew somehow or other I would have to slide down  over all three of them to the bottom of the gorge. I threw the fishing rod down ahead of me to the bottom, and little by little, somehow, I managed to get down all three of them. It was a great relief to feel my feet on the solid ground again but my relief was short lived. The next thing I knew I was  in, a jungle of brush and dead limbs so thick I wondered if I would be able to break through it. For twenty-five feet on both sides of the creek was a jungle of brush and a  straight-up-and-down wall of rock. I could not walk in the creek for it, too, was covered with overhanging brush. I shortened up my fish pole, looked at my watch-it was 9:40AM. As I inched and beat my way through the brush, I got a headful of horrible thoughts. Suppose I broke a leg or got bit by a rattler! What if I ran into a big mountain lion? Supposing I konked out. In that case, a thousand men look­ing for a thousand days would never find me. It would  be another one of those cases where they hunted and hunted  for someone and never found him. Little by little, at last I broke out through the thickest part of the brush. Looked at my watch again -it was 10: 15. It had taken thirty-five minutes to travel not more than a hundred yards. The brush ahead was not quite as bad and I started to make better time. In another two hundred yards I was back on the trail. After that I did my fishing close to the trail.

I reached Donahue's place about two o'clock and found Albert there. He asked me if I had seen Stanley. I told him no. He said he was out fishing too. I showed him the seven nice trout I had caught. All he said was, “Golly.” Albert suggested we go back to camp. Donahue asked him what was the hurry, for us to sit around and talk for a while. Albert replied he had to get back to camp and boil up some more beans. Donahue told him it was too hot to do that, and Albert replied, “The best time to cook beans is when it's hot. Then it don't take so much firewood.”

After leaving Donahue's we stopped by and talked to our happy friends. Somehow or other during our conversation, one of them asked Albert how long he had been on the go. Albert replied ever since he was a year old. Then the fellow says, “What kept you so long from getting started?” Then Albert started to stroking his beard, and I said to myself, “Albert, you're pretty witty, but you walked right into that one.” He continued stroking his beard for about ten seconds,   then said to the fellow, “Well, I had to study geography for the first year to find out which way I wanted to go.” Both  of those happy guys lay on the ground and roared with laughter. We came on home. Albert started  the  beans a-boiling; I cleaned the fish. Albert dropped his pipe In the creek,   I chased it down the creek and caught it. When it dried out,   there was a big crack on the stem side of it. We covered the wound over with some pinon tree pitch and a piece of adhesive tape, and the pipe works fine.     

About four o'clock this afternoon, two middle-aged ladies, a boy and a girl about ten years old, people we had never  seen before, came up on a hike from one of the cabins down in the canyon. They stopped at our camp and talked to us.  After they had looked over our camp, one of them asked Albert when he was going to clean up the place. Albert answered her in just three words, “We move first.” That started both women on a laughing jag and they couldn't stop. After they had left, Albert said, “Golly, women are nosey.”

Stanley came back about six o'clock with a mess of fish and a large box full of grub that the happy fellows had given him because they are leaving early in the morning to go back home to Rivera, California. There was potato salad, salad dressing, green onions, radishes, Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, cookies and a cake. Did we have a supper! Man, oh man, it was good. I had forgotten that such grub existed. I thought the only things left in the world to eat were flapjacks, beans, potatoes and fish. Albert remarked that it was quite a mess of boodle.

After supper all three of us walked up to bid our happy friends farewell. About nine o'clock, we came back to camp and crawled under the covers. Albert and I could not fall asleep. We got out of bed, sat on a couple of rocks near our usual fireplace and talked and smoked in the moonlight for over an hour. It was a little chilly. Every now and then we would stand up, turn our backs to where the fire would pf been if we had one going, and imagined we were getting warm. It worked too. What screwy tricks a man's mind plays on him. Albert thought our trouble was eating too much of that foreign grub that we had for supper. That caused us to stay awake. We went back to bed and lay there till two o'clock in the morning before we fell asleep.

 

September 3.

       At 7:30 Albert hollered, “Breakfast is ready; you fellows, come and get it.” We jumped out of bed, pulled on our pants , and had at it. After breakfast, we put on the rest of our clothes and washed our hands and faces in the creek. Then Stanley went fishing. Albert and I hunted for Mother Terrell's grave. We found a pile of rocks in the brush which I thought might be the grave. I asked Albert if we should dig it up and find out. He answered, “No, we could be ar­rested for being ghouls. Besides, it's too hot to dig anyway. “The flies are eating us up. Wherever we go, there are no flies the first day but the longer we stay at one place, the thicker they get. Albert reminded me that my mustache is getting so big that it not only makes me look fierce, but it's beginning to make me look ferocious to boot. After supper all three of us walked up to Donahue's to bid him farewell, for tomorrow we are leaving here to drive up to the top of the mountain. That is, providing the old Chevro­let can make it.

We told Donahue about finding the pile of rocks that we thought might be the grave. He said the rocks were from the foundation of an old shack that stood there years ago. Then he told us about another grave of a five-year-old boy, who died about 1907, whose folks were on their way to California. They had stopped to work for an old Dutchman who owned the Buster Mine about twenty-five miles from here over on the Nevada side. Somehow the little boy got sick and died and they buried him out on the desert. Afterwards, his folks earned enough money to come on over to California and, every year on Memorial Day, they came back and put flowers on his grave until about 1922 or 1923. After that they never came back any more so he figured they must have died. After that, a man by the name of Johnny Bussea, or Buzier, who was a friend of the family and knew the little boy well, took care of his grave by building a fence around it, and put flowers on it. But Johnny died about six­teen or eighteen years ago, the fence rotted, the cattle have knocked down what was left of it and no one is taking care of it any more. The grave is between Oasis and Lyda on the Nevada side about sixteen miles from Oasis on the left side going from Oasis to Lyda.

Mr. Donahue is a very educated man, speaks the very best of English until the subject turns to mining. Then it is different. For an example: “That mine is richer than bull manure,” only he uses another word for manure. “Why I have seen nuggets come out of that so-and-so mine so big that you couldn't shove one of them up a bull's so-and-so.”

 

September 4.

This morning after we got loaded up, we had a hard time finding enough rope to tie down our load. I remember when we left home, we tied up our load with ten feet of rope left over from our long rope that we had to tuck away. But since then we have been hitting all the dumps we ran across and now our load is so big and bulky we have added twenty feet more rope to the ten feet we had left over when we left home, and still have hardly enough to tie down the load. Besides what junk we have on the car, we also have stuff cached along highways from Barstow on 466 to Kramer Junction, from there on 395 all the way to Mono Lake, from there to Highway 120 to Benton and from Benton on High­way 6 all the way back to Bishop or approximately a distance of 400 miles. I'll bet we have old stovepipes cached that if you could stick one on top of the other and set them all straight up, the top would reach above the clouds.

Well anyway, we got the load tied down. Went down the canyon for six miles then turned right on the highway. Drove about four miles, then turned right again onto an almost abandoned dirt road. Started climbing up the mountain. The old car was sure percolating in fine shape. We had no trouble all the way to the top. We had traveled about four­teen miles, to 3000 feet higher elevation, and were less than a mile on a straight line from where we had just left. We untied the load, laid our mattresses on the ground, set up the stove; then all three of us took the trail further up the mountain. For the next couple of hours from the dumps we sorted out almost thirty pounds of fair silver are. Came back to camp, ate up another mess of beans, then sawed the lower limbs of pinon tree and got underneath it. I took off my shirt and lay down for a snooze. Every minute or so I felt something wet on my bare arms. I looked up above me and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Then I realized it was the pitch sap falling off the places where I had sawed the limbs. I moved out from underneath the tree to the edge of it and fell asleep. I forgot and left my shirt under the tree. When I awoke, it was soaked with hundreds of drops of pitch.

Asked Albert how far are the furtherest mountains that we can see from here on the Nevada side. He thought at least a hundred miles, and in his opinion, they are an entirely different range of mountains. After supper, the usual camp­fire. I remarked to Albert, “Bet you they can see our campfire for fifty miles.” He said, “There probably aren't fifty 'theys' for fifty miles in all directions.”

 

 

September 5.

Today is Labor Day, and we really labored. This morn­ing we explored several old mines. Only one of them looked promising. Inside of it we found a seam of rich silver ore, and put in most of the morning chipping off about twenty pounds of it. This afternoon we took the carbide light, a few mining tools and a jug of water almost too warm to drink and entered the same mine to explore it thoroughly. The tunnel is at least 500 feet long. There are some pretty rich silver ore seams but it's easy to see why they are there. A man would have to lie flat on his back or belly to work. The passages are very narrow, hardly any room to work. From the main tunnel there are drifts taking off in all directions. Plenty of places where it has caved can be seen. Nobody but a fool would fool with it, and today we were the fools. But there is something about silver and gold   - a man will  risk his neck for them more than for any other thing in the world, especially gold. As far as I am concerned, the rest of that silver can stay there forever. I guess lots of other fellows passed it up for the same reason and that is why it's still there. At one time, we were inside the mine for at least, two solid hours. It was very cold; I started to shiver. When we entered the mine our jug of water was almost too hot  to drink, but in a couple of hours it was as cold as if it had been in an ice box. All together today we managed to   get about fifty pounds of fair silver ore.

In a couple of weeks deer season will be on. We figure we better get out of the mountains before then; Albert says most of these deer hunters shoot at anything that moves. As I write this the sun has already set. The whole country is in a kind of a shade excepting the highest mountain peaks. For some reason or other, the sun is still shining on the high peaks. I asked Albert if he knew what day it was. He said tomorrow will be Sunday. I reminded him that today was Monday. He wanted to know what difference that made. I didn't know myself, so I couldn't tell him. It makes five weeks again since I heard from the wife. The nearest post office is twenty miles away at Lyda on the Nevada side. I wonder if I still have a wife. Maybe she has run away. Maybe she has divorced me. Maybe she will bawl me out when she sees me and kick me out of the house, and then again, she may throw her arms around me and kiss me. Who knows what a woman is apt to do.

 

September 6.

When we got up early this morning, all the surrounding area was engulfed in smoke. The valleys and lower mountains are almost lost in a haze of smoke. Only the highest peaks are plainly visible. Must be a forest fire somewheres.

After breakfast we loaded up the old car and started down the mountain with the car in low gear. Even then we had to use the brakes off and on to keep the thing from getting away from us. Several times on the way down we stopped and looked over some old mine shafts. There were sure some deep ones. Stanley threw a big rock down into one of the shafts and timed it by his watch. When it hit the water at the bottom he figured it must be 1200 feet deep.

When we got down the mountain and hit the highway, we turned right, came past a sign which read, “Deep Springs Post Office, 1 Mile,” and it pointed towards the Cornell School. We had made up our minds to go to Deep Springs itself which was more or less at the west end of the valley. We had been told that where the water came out from the springs, the overflow had created a fair-sized lake; and in the lake were some big carp, which should be easy to catch since the lake was drying up. The reason for this was on account of  recent earthquakes that had juggled the earth and had almost sealed up the springs. At last we found a road that we figured should take us to the springs or lake. We drove and drove on this rough dirt road until the ground started to get soft and crusted with salt and other alkalis. We stopped. Albert hung around the car. Stanley took off west on foot. I took off south. The heat was terrific down in those alkali flats. You could look out ahead and see the heat waves dancing.

About a mile and a half off in the distance I saw what I figured were a couple of dozen two-story narrow shacks and started towards them. When I got within a half mile of them, I thought I saw some of them move. Then I thought it must be the heat waves that made it look that way. I kept on walking closer to the objects. Then I made out that they were some kind of animals, but they couldn't be cows because they were too tall. Got to wondering if they could be camels. Surely not. There weren't supposed to be any camels or giraffes in the United States. Soon one of them saw me and started walking toward me. I stood there watching it, not because I was brave. It was because I was too damn scared to run. As it kept coming closer and closer, it got smaller and smaller. Finally it shrunk down to the size of a cow. And it was a cow. Between me and it was a stretch of five or six hundred feet of mud. It wasn't making  very good time, but it was trying. There I am, not a tree, rock, or even a bush of any size for protection and a mile from the car. Before my brains gave the rest of my body the signal to run, I had already covered a hundred yards and I kept a-going as hard as I could. I saw Albert up ahead about two hundred yards in front of the car, and he saw me a-com­ing. He turned around, straightened up like an arrow and in a military fashion, started up on the double with his slouch hat on his head, his pipe in his mouth, his walking stick in his right hand thumping the ground and his long beard flowing. He was a sight to behold. He reminded me of pictures I had seen of General Lee. We reached the car at about the same time. He wanted to know what was the mat­ter. I was all out of wind and couldn't answer him right away. In a couple minutes between breaths I told him, “A cow got after me.” He said he didn't see any cow. I assured him one did start after me.

He said, “When I seen you a-coming, I thought someone must be shooting at you. Way out there you looked like you were ten feet high. Golly, you must of been out there a good mile when you first started coming and looked like in a couple minutes you was here. Golly, too bad there was no one to time you. You probably just ran the fastest mile in the world.”

We got in the car, drove it out on to the flats and picked up Stanley. Then we got out of there. Neither one of us had found any sign of a lake. It evidently had completely dried up.

Again we hit the main road headed for Big Pine. Every little while Albert would bust out laughing about my record run. We left Deep Springs Valley behind and started to climbing West Guard Pass. When we reached the summit of the pass, a growl developed in the differential of the car. Stanley stopped the car, got underneath it, put his finger on the differential to feel if it were hot and got a bad burn. We stayed there and let it cool off. We had stopped on the very top of the summit. The sign there read “West Guard Pass, Elevation 7,276 feet.” All morning Stanley and I had been trying to induce Albert to change his pants. The ones he has on, the crotch is ripped for at least two feet. While we were waiting for the car to cool off, we tried again to get him to change his pants, or otherwise he might get pinched when we get in town. Finally Albert blew up and told us guys off.

“By golly,” he said, “these women go around with a couple of strings on, one below with a rag hanging on it and the one above with a couple of rags no bigger than a silver dollar, and they aren't arrested. Then why should I be when I got on enough clothes to dress up a hundred women.”

Anyway, he did put on another pair of pants over the ones he had on, but that did not help much because the . second pair have a rip at the same place and the same length as the ones underneath. When he bends over, you can see the whole works. We asked him when we got to town not to bend over. He answered that, by golly, if he saw any money lying on the sidewalks in town he was going to bend over and pick it up, and he didn't give a damn who saw him, and if we fellows didn't like it, we could go to hell. So we shut up. After the differential cooled off, we shot some more grease in it and had no more trouble.

We stopped at the old toll house and springs, rested in the shade for a while, then came on down into Big Pine. Albert got out of the car and walked a block or two on the town's main drag. We bought some gas and a newspaper. When you have been out in the sticks for a long time and then come to town, everything looks unnatural, especially, for some reason I cannot explain, the signs that read “Rest Rooms. “

We came on down to Independence and did a little shopping, bought a loaf of bread weighing twenty ounces for twenty-eight cents and six pounds, or ninety-six ounces, of dried onions for twenty cents. Out of Independence, we drove up Mazourka Canyon to Phil Day's place. Sandy was still there and also a young, heavy-set man whom I remem­ber only as Bill. He is a cattleman.

Everywhere I have been, people ask me, “Where are you from?” When I say Barstow, they ask me if I know Art Manning. Bill, the cattleman, asked me if I knew him. Of course I have known Art for many years. He is now the judge of Barstow and the surrounding district, and for many years previous to that he was head deputy for this area, and he has tracked down well over a hundred criminals on the desert. He knows the area as well as anyone, if not better. I saw the sheriff of Inyo County once near the courthouse at Independence. He is a big tall man. I was told his name is Merril Howard. He is six feet, seven inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. Everybody says he is a real nice fellow, but he can get plenty tough when need be.

We are at least a hundred miles away from where we left this morning and there is just as much smoke here as there. I was told that there is a forest fire going on some­where in the General Grant Park area. Took a cold bath and washed out some clothes. After dark, we all sat in Phil's yard and talked.

September 7

Phil and Sandy left for Independence early this morn­ing. They were supposed to get back at one o'clock, but it was almost dark before they returned. After dark, we sat around in Phil's yard. Somehow or other, for a change we got to talking about history. I sat next to Albert on Phil's cot and told them all about Julius Caesar, and the Roman Empire. When I got through, Albert wanted to know if I had seen an that or had I just read it out of a book. After­wards, I asked Phil what the elevation was there. He said it was 5010 feet where my feet were and the cot was one and a half feet higher, and what I was sitting on, and he didn't mean the cot, was 5011 1/2  feet above sea level, and furthermore, he did not read that out of a book, because he was right there when the government men made the survey. All in all we did not do anything today but lie around and take it easy.

 

September 8.

This morning Albert and I went down the canyon and hand-sorted about seventy-five pounds of lead are out of an old dump. This afternoon, we drove up the canyon with Sandy to his place. He had done a lot of work on his cabin since we saw it last. Late in the evening, Albert and I walked down the canyon again to the same are dump and sorted out about twenty-five more pounds of are. All told it makes about a hundred pounds for today. It will run at least 40 per cent in lead and about one-half of one per cent in silver. We figure we picked up about twelve or thirteen bucks for our efforts.

            After dark, the conversation in Phil's yard was about dirty tricks mining partners have pulled off on each other. Albert told of an instance of two guys who had a pretty good gold mine together. One of them took the notion he would get rid of his partner and own it all. So when his partner was down in the bottom of the shaft, he pushed a big rock down there on top of him. The rock hit the fellow down in the mine on the head. Then the fellow on top went down the ladder in case he wasn't dead, to finish him off. But he did not know that the rock had hit the fellow in the shaft a glancing blow on the side of the head and had only stunned him. When he got to the bottom of the shaft, the other fellow grabbed the very same rock, jumped up and killed him with it, and it cost him fifty thousand dollars in the courts to prove that was the way it happened. In the long run, the mine never did do either of them any good.

 

September 9.

After breakfast we loaded up, shook hands with Phil and Sandy and bade them farewell. All three of us certainly are grateful to Phil Day for treating us royally every time that we came around to his place. There are not many Phils left in this world. That breed of men is disappearing fast. Instead, wherever you go you see the smiling educated salesman that walks up to you and says, “Good morning, sir. What can I do for you?” which is the polite way of saying what can I do you out of.

We stopped at Lone Pine. I bought a couple of cans of Prince Albert Vitamins and Stanley, a loaf of bread, which is almost a foot long, over four inches thick and weighs only twenty ounces. Come to think of it, anyone of Albert's small biscuits will weigh that much. After we left Lone Pine, we went to Keeler and camped at an old abandoned silver smelter near the town. The old smelter is about 250 feet long and about eight feet wide. What a set-up it would be if this country was a real, real free country, instead of just a free country. Then some rich man could take it over, repair it, clean it up. He could partition it off every twelve feet and have a harem of twenty women. Albert and I figured it out.

This evening we walked upgrade underneath the tram­way. Thought we might find some pieces of silver are under­neath it that may have fallen out of the overhead are buckets. There weren't any.

After supper, I stood in the doorway of our ought-to-be a harem and looked south where Owens Lake used to be. Now it is a barren, ugly-looking place about ten miles long and ten miles wide. The gentle breeze is blowing dust clouds across it. No matter what man destroys in the process, prog­ress must go on. 0 almighty dollar, you are the only force behind all progress. May your kingdom rule supreme as it has for untold generations. What makes me so mad is that I see so little of thee.

It was a terrific hot day, probably about 105.

 

September 10.

We got up early. This is the day of days when the sup­posed king goes home to be appreciated or crowned on the top of his dome by an object in the hands of his dear queen. There is a saying that a man is king in his home. I have never heard an expression as silly as that one. All those that I have known more or less played second fiddle to the queen, and yours truly is no exception. From now on, no more look­ing at the beautiful High Sierras. Also no more chasing rain­bows looking for the pot of gold. It has been six weeks since I have heard from the wife. Sure have missed her, and the boy, Jerry. What a man won't do for a fast buck.

We traveled the road on the east side of Owens Lake into Olancho and onto 395 to Little Lake, then to Ridgecrest, which is quite a large town located on the desert flats. From there to Red Mountain to Four Corners and home. The wife was glad to see me. She threw her arms around me, gave me a big bug; then she said, “Phew! you stink, Pappy,” and shoved me away from her, but my boy Jerry and the dogs climbed all over me. They were sure glad to see me. The  wife wanted to know what happened to my mustache. I told her nothing except that it had grown a little bit. She said you can't call that a mustache any more. It looks more like two horses' tails, one on each side of your nose. Then we walked into the house and was I surprised when I saw the electric stove, frigidaire, sink, hot water heater, all porce­lain, and everything so clean looking. I had forgotten that we owned all that stuff. I realized then that I was home and was about to lose my new-found freedom.

I heard some man talking in the living room and I says to myself, “Oh, oh, got home too late.” When I walked in the living room, it was only the television blaring away. It had never entered my mind since I was away that we owned one of those too, for we only had it for a couple of weeks before I left on the trip. Well, of course, the first thing I had to do was take a hot shower bath with soap. I only did it to keep peace in the family. But I would not shave off my mustache. Not that I needed the damn thing, but I figured I had given in to her on everything and I made up my mind to stand pat on one thing at least.

 

September 11.

I am home all right, for sure. When I sat down at the breakfast table, the first thing the wife wanted to know was if I wasn't going to wash my hands and face first. So I did. Then she suggested that I take off my hat at the table before I ate. So I took it off. Then she says, “Why don't you comb your hair?” I did that too. Then she says, “Sit closer to the table, take your spoon out of your coffee cup before you knock out your eye with it. Don't eat so fast. After break­fast, shave off that horrible mustache.” I did everything she said for the next ten days before we left on our next trip, excepting to shave off my mustache. That's the one thing I stood pat on. The hug she gave me the day I arrived home, was the only affection she showed me for the eleven days I was home. The day I left home again, we just stood there, shook hands and grinned at each other like a couple of silly

fools. But I was plenty satisfied, for I still had my mustache and I considered myself as having won a great moral victory.

 

September 21.

At 9 A.M. Stanley, Albert and I hit the road to continue prospecting. From Barstow, we drove to San Bernardino and stopped near the Safeway on Fourth Street. Albert and Stanley went in the place to buy a mess of grub. I thought I would stay with the car, then I remembered I needed to­bacco, so I got out of the car and ran up the street to the store. I stuck my hand out in front of me to push open the door when the thing opened up of its own accord. I was going at a pretty good clip, and it threw me off balance. I landed face and belly down on the floor inside the store.

Left the Safeway, then bought gas and other incidentals and started out of town. It was the first big city any of us had been in for months. Before we got onto Highway 99, we broke most all of the traffic laws of the State of California; and then we broke the rest of the traffic laws before we got out of town. We all had the jitters. I just hung onto the car door and prayed. Albert would say, “Golly, we just went through another red light,” or “another stop sign,” or “that was a close shave.” Every time we got into a bind, Albert would take a half-dozen fast drags on his pipe and it would fill the car with so much smoke you could hardly see any­thing. Stanley got a little peeved at Albert and told him to take it easy on the pipe, that all that smoke wasn't helping anything. Albert said, “Damn it, the way you're driving, the only way I can get my breath is through this pipe.”

We went through several small towns and finally came to a place called Thousand Palms. We pulled off the highway and stopped under some shade trees. There we talked to a man who had just driven down from Alaska. He said, “Stay out of Alaska, thousands of people are stranded and broke and cannot get out of there, and there are no jobs to be had.” Before and after we left Thousand Palms, we saw lots of date trees with eight to twelve clusters of dates hanging on every tree. The clusters of dates are covered with paper. I don't know if it is to protect the dates from being burned by the sun or for protection against insects, or both. At Indio, we got off 99 and got onto Highway 70 and 60. There was no vegetation of any kind. I said to Albert that I thought I had been in this country over thirty years ago. Then he wanted to know if the timber was just as high then as it was now.

At four o'clock, we stopped and camped on roadside five miles before we came to Desert Center. When we left home, we had dressed and frozen a big capon chicken that weighed at least ten pounds dressed and we had brought it along with us. There was quite a lot of brush around there. Albert threw the capon in a pot and boiled it up. We had some of it for supper. I kept a-wishing that I knew who won the Marciano - Moore fight.

 

September 22

We camped too close to the highway; the heavy trucks rolled by continuously all night, even kept Albert awake and he can't hear too well at that. For breakfast, we chewed on some more of the chicken. The weather is too hot. Got to get rid of it before it spoils on us. Then we loaded up and drove into Desert Center. Loaded up with gas. Went to the post office to mail a letter and send a money order. Sign read, “P.O. Open at 9:00 O'clock.” Went across the street, bought a paper to find out who won the Marciano-Moore fight. Read to Albert where Marciano would get four hun­dred thousand dollars. Albert wanted to know if that was before Or after taxes. The paper didn't explain that part of it, so I did not. know. At 9:00 o'clock went back to the post office. The window was open; I got a money order blank. The lady handed it to me and said that money orders were not written up before 9:30. That was a new one on me so we got out of there and headed for Rice.

That place was just about shot. Hardly any life there, but there was a post office. A nice-looking Mexican lady on the heavy side was in charge. As I have said before, that's my weakness, women that are meaty. Anyway, I got my money order there. While there, we also had quite a chat with an old-time miner. We left there and the next place we hit was a small place called Vidal, then to Earp. From there we fol­lowed a winding, crooked highway parallel to the Colorado River for about fifteen miles trying to find a place to make a camp, but that was not easy to do. Most of it is fenced in with posted signs that read “Private Property, Keep Out,” and the rest of it is commercialized just like everywhere else. It belongs to the hogs that got there first. What makes me mad is that I never was fast enough or smart enough to be one of the first hogs.

We drove to within a mile of the Parker Dam, and found a place with shade trees and camped. Stanley went fishing. Albert and I ate a big watermelon, then threw our mattresses on the ground under the shade trees and fell asleep. When we awoke, we were wringing wet with perspiration. We got up, went across the road, and worked our way through thick brush to the river bank. Sat there and talked and watched cranes, ducks and other fowl fly up and down the river.

 

September 23.

It was just as hot all night as it was during the day. An through the night, every now and then, when the breeze was in the right direction, we would get a whiff of something dead. It sure was potent, besides being strong. A whiff was almost the same as a smell This morning after breakfast. Stanley and I walked up to the dam to do some fishing. He was all set up for blue gills, and I was all rigged up for catfish. Stanley caught about forty blue gills, and as usual, I caught nothing. There were ten people fishing there, be­sides six women. Came back to camp, cleaned the blue gills. The flies here are very bad, and I would almost swear that they actually have teeth. When they bite, they sure do hurt. Stanley went fishing again. I stayed in camp and talked to Albert.

He was telling me about Indian Charley, who was 102 years old and lived in Happy Valley, California. The way Albert figured up his age was from the date when the bridge was built at Bidswell Bar, across the river, on the old road about six or eight miles above Orville. Indian Charley told him he was eighteen years old when the bridge was built. Way back in the old days, Indian Charley would get on a cayuse or sometimes ride a log across the Feather River at the Middlefork and get the mail. He delivered letters to the miners at a dollar apiece. Indian Charley used to walk twenty-four miles to Bush Creek to get on a big drunk and go broke. Albert figured it was just as well that he did, be­cause if he hadn't his grandchildren would have taken it away from him and spent it on themselves. One day Indian Charley was drunk at Orville. A truck hit him and killed him.

Then Albert went on to tell me that about seventy-two years ago, or away back in 1883, when he was four years old, he and his mother were at the railroad station at St. Paul, Minnesota, waiting for a train. There was a man standing nearby. He remembers his mother dragging him by the arm to where this man was and asking him how long it would be before the train arrived. The man said forty-five minutes. Then the man ran his hand over Albert's head and ruffled up his hair, then took his hand away, reached into his coat pocket and came up with a stick of candy, which he handed to Albert. “He was more or less a small man, had a three­ inch beard all over his face,” Albert said, “and I remember him as if it were only yesterday. Golly, he was a nice fellow and a good-looking man. He happened to be the president of Union Pacific Railroad. His name was Collis P. Hunting­ton. Golly, he was a nice man.”

 

September 24.

There is a hot wind blowing. It feels as if it were com­ing out of a hot oven. It is much hotter here for this time of the year than at Barstow. We are camped close to the highway in a grove of trees. Near by are three large cliffs as high as a sixty-story building, which from two o'clock on, shade our camp for the rest of the day. Across the road for a hundred yards is a jungle of arrow weeds, then the Colo­rado River. On the other side of the river is Arizona, where the mountains start right straight up from the river banks. One might say we are living in a dump, surrounded by thousands of empty beer cans and food cans, broken bottles, paper and all the other trash imaginable. It's littered every­where. A man was complaining to me yesterday that San Bernardino County has no free camps alongside the river. Why should the county have free camps? No one appreci­ates things that are entirely free. Where we are camped is free, and you ought to see the filth. Maybe ninety-nine out of a hundred people would help keep it clean, and then one human pig or family could come along and ruin the whole works. . . I better quit talking about pigs, before I give myself away.

After supper, Albert and I walked up to the dam for a couple of hours, and watched about twenty people fishing there. Everybody was catching blue gills left and right. No one was catching carp, bass or catfish, although they were jumping out in the river. Looked as if some of them weighed twenty or thirty pounds. They would jump plumb out of the water as high as three feet, then fall back with a big splash.

 

September 25.

 Last night we had visitors. About midnight we heard a noise in our car and spotted the flashlight on it. It was a great big grey house cat. An hour afterwards, we heard an­other noise; spotted the light on it. It was a big, bushy-tailed, black and white skunk.

Two American men, or Indians, who live in San Ber­nardino and work here at the dam, dropped into our camp. We had quite a chat with them. Stanley came back from fishing. He had caught at least forty more blue gills. This time, instead of knocking off the scales, we skinned them. Albert fried up the whole works, as that was the only way we could keep them from spoiling in this hot weather. Stanley ate a dozen of them, Albert Seven, and me five. Man, how I am beginning to hate fish. Well, that just made more fish bones which in turn attracted more flies. All we need around here is a few more flies and they will be breathing an the oxygen out of the air and leave none for us.

Stanley went fishing again after dark near our camp. A short while later, I took the flashlight to go watch him fish. In the dim moonlight, I saw a stick lying in the road. The stick started to move. Flashed the light on it, and it turned out to be a rattlesnake. I beat its brains out with my walking stick. It had six rattles on its tail. Told Stanley about killing the rattler, and he had me take a can, go back, pick it up and pull off its hide so he can use its nice white meat to catch catfish.

 

September 26.

Went fishing with Stanley this morning. We tried out our rattlesnake meat for catfish but had no luck. The river was very low this morning. There were all kinds of wild fowl on a long, exposed sand bar, all busy eating and squawk­ing about it just like people. When we returned from fish­ing, Albert and I walked a half mile to the town of Parker Dam to mail a letter and buy a newspaper.

The town of Parker Dam is in California, and the town of Parker is about twenty miles away on the Arizona side, so many people get confused between the location of the two places. I have never been in a place where the people are as friendly as at Parker Dam. The lady at the post office, the man that owns the food market, all the people we met on the street greeted us. On the way back, we sat on a curb in the shade. I'm not sure, but I think it was 113 Yuma Street. A man and his wife whom we had never seen before came out and talked to us. They invited us to come on in and .have dinner with them. We refused, because we were not hungry. There are more real Christians in that town than I have ever seen elsewhere.

A couple of old-timers, each in his own car, drove in and camped alongside of us. They are two of the most comi­cal guys I ever saw. One is Frank V. McCollister and the other is Roy P. WeIch. McCollister cooked up a mess of grub and invited WeIch over to help him eat it. Welch said, “You don't think I am going to walk from way over here to way over there, sixty feet, to help you eat it? Bring whatever you're cooking up over here, and if I like it, I'll eat it.” So McCollister took a plate full of grub over to Welch. Then Welch says to him, “Where's the knife, fork, bread, salt, and the coffee. Don't hold out on me. Bring it all over. If you're going to do something for me, do it up right. Don't hold out on me.” So McCollister took Welch over everything that he asked for. When Welch got through eating it all up, he threw the porcelain plate and cup, then the knife, fork, spoon and salt shaker back to McCollister and said, “You're a damn poor cook. Your grub was no good. I never ate anything in my life that tasted lousier.”

McCollister says, “Sure it's no good. Do you think I would of gave it to you if it were any good? I would of ate it all up myself.”

A short while later, McCollister says, “My license plate hangers are just about ready to fall off.” Welch offered to fix them if McCollister would take them off. McCollister says, “To hell with you. If you want to fix them you can come over and take them off,”

Welch says, “Now, is that nice to talk to me that way, when I just got through helping you eat up all of your rotten grub?”

Welch came over to fix the hangers. He asked McCol­lister for some tools to work with, and McCollister wouldn't give him any. Told him if he wanted to fix them he could use his own damn tools, and he just lay in the shade all the while Welch worked. Welch would ask McCollister if he had this or that kind of a tool. McCollister would say, “Sure I have it, but I'm not going to loan it to you. You got tools in your own car. Go get them and use them,” After Welch got the hangers fixed up, McCollister got up and looked over Welch's work and commented on what a lousy job it was. And that's the way those fellows got along together.

 

About five o'clock in the evening I went down to the river to bring back a bucket of water. The bank is very steep and is covered with long, thick, deep-rooted grass. I had to lie on my belly, reach down with the bucket and scoop up a bucket of water. When I straightened out, I slipped and fell off the bank. With both hands I grabbed some grass and hung on with half of me in the river and the other ha]£ out. Lucky for me the grass is long, thick and well rooted or I might have never got out.

 

September 27.

Rode with Roy over to Parker, Arizona. The town lies out on a large open flat about a mile or two from the Colo­rado River. Most other towns are more or less built solid and have narrow streets. Parker has its business and residen­tial places spread all over a square mile, with a lot of vacant space between. The streets are straight and wide, and the town is much larger than it looks. There are a lot of native Americans, and the American women are colorfully dressed. I saw lots of them, leading their little papooses by the hand. It also has a wonderful climate. I went to the drug store, bought some tobacco and a magazine or two and got ac­quainted with the fellow that manages or owns the drug store on the corner of the main drag.

 

September 28.

Went fishing. Did not catch any but I saw a lady catch a two-pound bass. Lay in the shade most of the day talking to Albert. Stanley, Roy, and Mac (McCollister) got to talk­ing politics. I mentioned that Dewey and Warren were nominated by the Republican party for President and Vice ­President. Stanley, Roy and Mac said that Governor War­ren was never nominated for the Vice-Presidency, that it was someone else, but they could not remember who, and they each bet me a cigar Warren was never nominated for the Vice-Presidency. I asked Albert about it. He did not know and cared a helluva lot less. When Roy and I get to Parker tomorrow, we are going to find out. I am positive I have won three cigars.

 

September 29.

Rode to Parker again with Roy. He asked me to remind him to buy a Coleman lantern globe when we got to Parker. At Parker he did some shopping. Afterwards, we had quite a time finding the ice house. We finally found it a half mile out of town. After we left town, about four miles out, Roy raised up his left hand, slapped his knee with it and said, “You forgot to remind me of the lantern glove.” Then it was my turn to slap my knee and remind him that we forgot to go to the newspaper office to find out about our bet. We did not turn back. This afternoon Roy and Stanley went up to the dam to fish. After dark, they came back with seventy-five blue gills. What a job knocking off the scales and cleaning- them, by moonlight at that. Wrapped up the fish heads in a newspaper, walked across the road and threw them in the bushes.  .

 

September 30.

About midnight I heard something yelping across the road. I jumped out of bed, put on my shoes, grabbed the flashlight and ran out to the road to see what it was all about. By then, the whole country got to smelling like skunk. On the road was a swift fox running around and around in circles, and it stunk as skunky as anything I had ever smelled. The poor thing must have been eating on the fish heads when the skunks came along. During the argument over the fish heads, the skunk must have let him have it with both barrels right between the eyes. That poor fox was as blind as a bat. I spotted the light to where I had thrown the fish heads. There were two skunks. I walked to within forty feet of them. They refused to leave, and I re­fused to get any closer. The fox just kept on yelping. The last I saw of the fox, he was still yelping and zigzagging down the highway towards Parker Dam.

            This morning I walked up to the dam and watched people fishing. Nothing to it. Just throw the line out, drag it  in and most every time there is a blue gill on it. There must be millions of them there. I talked to one of the fishermen. He said it was hot. I told him I just got through reading a book that told about climatic conditions changing all over the world, A fellow nearby said dropping those atom and hydrogen bombs was the cause of it. Then the fellow that spoke first said, “One of these days they're going to fool around with that damn stuff and blow up the whole damn world,” Then another fellow way down the line says, “When they do, I hope that it gets every last one of these things called man. Then there will be peace on earth, and that's for damn sure.” Another fellow says, “People have got to learn how to live in peace with one another.” Then some­one said, “How are you going to change man's nature? That's got to be done first before you can do anything else,” No­body had an answer to that one. Just about then one of the colored ladies caught a big catfish. Everybody ran to take a look at it, and the whole future of man was forgotten.

After everybody had drifted away and back to their fish­ing, I got to talking to an elderly colored man who was the husband of the lady who had caught the catfish. He says to me, “I hear you boys talkin' a little while ago and that's just what the Lord says in the Good Book-that there will be wars and rumors of wars. It's got now where man gives only lip service to the Lord and his heart to worldly things, Now take me, I'm not worried about atom or those other kind of bombs that you folks was talkin' about. There's nothin' can' happen to me. No sir, there's nothin' can hap­pen to me even if one of those there bombs you all was talkin' about dropped right on top of my head and blowed me to a million pieces. I would still go on livin' with the Lord, No sir, nothin's goin' to happen to me. When the time comes the Lord don't care if you're black or white. He's goin' to say, 'Was you with me or was you against me?' and it ain't no use lying to him. He know. 'Way down deep in my heart I loves every man in the world, be he black, be he white or any other color. That's what the Lord says to do, and the Lord knows best. And he knows what he talkin' about. Yes sir, I ain't afraid of nothin'. The Lord is with me every minute.”

 

October 1.

Rode to Parker with Roy. The deal was that I remind him to buy a Coleman lantern globe, and he in turn remind me to buy twenty-two shells and find out about our bet. I bought tobacco and a newspaper, then we went to a second­hand furniture store where Roy bought a folding chair. We were just leaving town when Roy reminded me of the twenty-two shells, and I in turn reminded him of his lan­tern globe, which in turn reminded us to go to the news­paper office to find out about our bet. We stopped the car, shook hands, congratulated each other on having such wonderful memories. We turned around and went back to town. Bought a lantern globe, the twenty-two shells and then went to the newspaper office. There was a young lady there by herself. We asked her, but she did not know. Said she was not old enough to vote yet. Out on the street, we saw a farmer. Asked him. He emphatically said no. Asked two more fellows, and they all said no, that Warren had never run for the Vice-Presidency. I was still positive that I was right. Then I thought about the man that ran the drug store. I says to myself, there's a fellow that wears clean pants, shirt, tie, clean-shaven and combs his hair. If anybody knows, he should. I walked up to  he corner, entered the drug store and asked him. He was just as emphatic in saying no as the others. Then I says to myself, I must be getting old and crazy. After all, when nine people said no, I must be wrong. It was hard to convince myself that I was wrong, but I bought four cigars anyway-one extra, for Albert. Roy decided to go to the ice :house for a chunk of ice. He was puffing on his cigar, laughing and ribbing me and having a good time at my expense. At the ice house were a couple of young fellows buying ice. They were driving a panel job car, may have been government surveyors. One of them asked me how things were going. I said no good. The  other asked why. I explained to them the bet I had made and lost. They both said that I had not lost the bet. One of them reached into their car, brought out a book and read out of it that Governor Dewey and Governor Warren ran on the Republican ticket in 1948 against President Truman and Barkley and lost. Then I had a hilarious good time ribbing Roy all the way back to camp.

Roy and I decided to give Mac and Stanley the cigars, and make believe they had won; then when they got the cigars smoked up, tell them the truth. At camp, I handed Mac, Stanley and Albert a cigar and told Mac and Stanley they had won. They started puffing on the cigars and ribbing me, but not Albert. He had made no bet. He wanted to know what I paid for them. I said, “Thirteen cents each.” He answered that the cigars were worth that, but the fel­lows we were betting about, the whole shaboodle of them put together weren't worth thirteen cents. Roy was having a hilarious time laughing and Mac and Stanley did not like the way he was laughing. They kind of got suspicious that something was not just right. After they got their cigars half smoked, Roy told them the whole story. And I had the last laugh on all of them and it cost me only fifty-two cents.

 

October 2.

At midnight some white trash moved in and camped alongside of us. There were two men, two women, and a swarm of kids. For two solid hours they talked, hollered, shouted and made all the racket they could. Then they got up early this morning and made the same kind of racket, then went fishing. They came back with a hundred blue gills or more, cleaned their fish on top of a near-by cement slab. When they left, we went over to where they had camped, buried the mess from the fish they had cleaned, raked up their paper cups, napkins, banana peels, orange peels, half-eaten buns, a mess of bones they had chewed on and dug more holes and buried it. Well, we could not do anything about it. If a fly, mosquito, gnat or some other varmint bothers you, there's no law against killing it. Some people are nothing but trash, but the law protects them the same as if they were human beings.

 

October 3.

Rode to Parker with Mac. While he shopped, I sat in the car and looked over the women as they walked by. Some of them were American, others palefaces. Most of the women here are built on the heavy side. It's like that in all desert towns; the women are fatter there than elsewhere. Must be the fresh air, pure water, the warm climate and docile husbands. When Roy, Mac, Stanley and I get into a debate, we ask Albert's opinion about it. He always an­swers he don't know and don't care. Albert is too smart to worry about anything. He has his flapjacks for breakfast, beans and taters for dinner and supper. The rest of the time he puffs on his pipe and the world can do what it wants to, it's no concern of his.

 

October 4.

            Went to Parker again with Roy. The Spanish bedbug bites we got almost three months ago near Independence have not healed up on Albert and me. Where Albert was bit, the skin is peeling off and where I was bit it still is red and itches like fire. Just about the time I think it has healed it breaks out again. Albert's beard is full grown and looks good; my mustache is doing fine. Also, I quit eating fish. I just can't stand them any more.

Late this evening Albert sorted and washed up some beans to boil for tomorrow. Albert's mother bought a gold ring in 1889 for approximately $4.50 and gave the ring to Albert in 1915; he has been wearing it on a finger of his ft hand ever since. Late this evening Albert lost the ring. He looked high and low for it but couldn't find it.

October 5.

            Today we had some of Albert's beans he boiled last night, and while eating some of them I bit down on what I thought was a small bolt or washer and spit it out  -and there was Albert's ring.

Roy, Stanley and I went above the dam to fish for cat­fish. We were there for two hours and never got a bite. Came on down below the dam and caught a mess of blue gills. After dark, Albert and I walked up to the river's beach to take a bath. While doing so we could hear a motor boat coming up the river and the laughter of the male and fe­male occupants. When the boat got opposite us they spotted a strong light on us. We never moved a bit, just continued on with our bathing. Albert said we did not have any surprises for them anyhow.

After we took our bath and started walking back to camp Albert asked me if I ever saw a bull fight. Answering no, I asked if he had. Albert said yes. “Where?” I asked. “In old Mexico?”

“No, right here in the United States.”

“Where in the United States?”

      “Up in the state of Washington,” he answered. “I saw two bulls in two separate pastures, separated by a wire fence. They would each back off about fifty yards the fence, and with heads down would make a beeline for each other and meet head on at the fence; and when did that, their rear ends would fly way up in the air, like two cars meeting head on.”

 

October 6.

Went to Parker twice today-in the morning with and in the afternoon with Mac. received the first from the wife since I left home. Late this evening, Mac I got to talking about civilization and what difference was between a man that is civilized and one that's Asked Albert about an opinion on that. The only  difference he could see was a pair of shorts.

 

October 7.

     Albert stayed in camp. The rest of us went catfishing. None of us caught any. Came back to camp and loafed.

            Ever since we have been here, a little mouse has been liv­ing in among our load. It has chewed on our bread, macaroni, cheese and everything else we have. We can hear it every night as it rustles through the paper sacks. Once in a great while during the day we can see it. We don't know what sex it is, so we call it Jerry

 

October 8.

Three little boys about six or seven years old ham Park­er Dam wandered into our camp. They gave Albert the once over real good. After Albert got to talking to them, they asked him how old he is. Albert told them he was so old he had most forgot his age. Then one of them asked him if he had known George Washington. Albert said he had not known George Washington, but he had known George Washington's father. That really confused them kids. After kidding them for a while, he told them that he never knew George Washington or his father and that, come January, he would be seventy-seven.

 

October 9.

 Rode to Parker with Roy and as usual, went to the drug store. I bought a camera there and had quite a chat with the owner, or manager, or whatever he is. I told him that in a day or two we were pulling out for the Bill Williams River country, to Alamo and Rawhide. Asked him how big those two places were. He said Alamo had a population of ten people and no one lived at Rawhide. And it was about 125 miles over there. The climate was nice and warm all winter.

 

October 10.

Early this morning we loaded up the car and bade Mac and Roy farewell. At Parker, we loaded up with gas and  grub, and went to the drug store and said farewell to my druggist friend. We got onto Highway 72 and went through Bouse, Vicksburg and Hope. At Hope, we got onto High­way 70 and 60 and went through Salome, then to Wendon,

where we filled up with gas again and made inquiries. At Wendon, we turned left on a dirt road and got out into what one may call No Man's Land  - not that the country is too rough, but no one lives there. Our little friend Jerry the mouse was riding up front with us. Every little while he would come out of the car door, run across the window sash and inside the other door. We would all make a grab for him and miss. At last, Stanley did manage to grab Jerry. He handed him to me, then slowed up the car. I reached over Albert's lap and dropped him outside.

We kept on going through this No Man's Land for forty­ four miles, to the Bill Williams River. There was not much water in the river and we had no trouble driving across it. On the other side of the river was Alamo, a place of half a dozen cabins where three elderly men were sitting in the shade of a lean-to. We stopped and talked to them for at least an hour and found out Mr. Tate, the man we had come to visit and who was supposed to be the lone occupant of Rawhide, had gotten married to the postmistress at Yucca. He had sold out all his mining interests at Rawhide and was now living at Yucca. We left the three old-timers sitting in the shade and drove six miles up hill to Rawhide. There were two abandoned shacks near the roadside, and we made camp in one of them. There were wild burro trails everywhere. We followed them all over the country for a couple of hours, hoping they would maybe lead us to a spring, but we had no luck in finding a spring.

Near the cabin where we had camped was a wash about fifty feet wide, with rock sides and bottom. Across the wash was a two-foot-wide poured concrete dike all the way down  to bedrock. The sides and bottom were solid rock, and with  the concrete dike in front, there is no chance of the water  escaping when it rains or floods. The water soaks down into the  gravel to bedrock. The gravel also keeps it from evaporating. It makes a first class reservoir. In the wash was a two-inch pipe driven down into the gravel in the reservoir and hooked on top of the pipe was a small pitcher pump., It had not been used for so long that it was out of order, we took it apart, cleaned it up, made another leather for it from one of my old shoe soles, primed it and got it to work­ing.

 

October 11.

Stanley and Albert slept on an old bed inside the shack that someone had left. I found an old three-legged steel cot, built up the fourth leg with rocks and slept out of doors on it. A short while after we had gone to bed, I heard the usual rustling among the paper sacks in our load. We must not have got rid of Jerry Mouse. Evidently, instead of dropping him overboard, I must have dropped him into the open toolbox on the fender of the car. During the night I got to dreaming I was on a tugboat in some harbor, and I could hear foghorns blowing. Finally I awoke, sat up in bed and listened. There was no moon and it was very dark. I could hear rocks and grave] sliding and figured there must be some large animals around. Then all of a sudden out of the darkness, about a hundred yards away came a half-dozen loud blasts like from half a dozen tugboats, all blowing their fog horns at the same time. I wasn't a bit scared. When you're scared you start to running or do something about it. I just sat there frozen and petrified and got a funny feeling way down deep inside my belly. I could not move or yell. Finally it dawned on me that it was a herd of wild burros. They got on the west side of the wash on a low ridge. stood there and serenaded us for the rest of the night.

An old time prospector, Tom Rogers, and a friend of his, driving by, stopped and talked to us for a long time. He has been living here for sixty years and just about owns what there is of Alamo. I asked him about shooting one of the burros to eat. He suggested we be careful and not shoot a tame one that may belong to some old prospector, because most of them love their jennies more than most men love their wives. He said he has heard a lot of men say that they would like to kill their wives but he never heard a prospector  ay that about his jenny. Anyway, there would be no sense in killing one this time of the year. The weather is still. too hot, and the meat would spoil in no time with the tem­perature still above 100 degrees.

A few days before we left Park Dam, I wrote the wife a letter and asked her to write me at Alamo, thinking there was a post office there, but the nearest post office is Wendon, fifty-one miles, or Yucca, over sixty miles. My problem is, How do I get a letter out of here or receive one?

 

 

 

October 12.

No jackasses in camp last night. This morning, Mr. Rog­ers and his partner came by on their way up the road a piece to do some assessment work on a mining claim. They stopped and talked to us for an hour or so. Mr. Rogers gave us the history of this country. Told us that years ago two miners, working together, took out a lot of silver at Artil­lery Hill. They hauled it to Prescott and got $44,000 for it and proceeded to spend it an on a hilarious good time. They came back to their mine with a fifty-gallon barrel of whiskey and no grub supply. After that, they made a law between themselves: In the future they would buy a supply of grub, make repairs on their outfits, then get drunk after­wards.

He went on to tell that one of those fellows, later on, made another big strike and bought 7,000 head of longhorn cattle at $7.00 per head. In no time, everybody in the coun­try started swiping his cattle and starting herds and ranches of their own, but it did not seem to worry him very much that his cattle were stolen. A few years later he told a friend of his that he. didn't have any more cattle left. They had all been stolen. This friend said to him, “There are about eighty head of your cattle grazing over near my place.”

Then the fellow that owned the cattle said, “To hell with them, it's too far over there to come for them. You can have them.”

This afternoon an old fellow who lives somewheres around here pulled in with a 1928 Model-T Ford with wooden wheels, a homemade cab, a homemade pickup bed, banged-up fenders, no hood over the motor. The thing sure looked funny. He stopped and talked to us for a long time. When he got ready to go, he stood in front of the thing, stretched his arms out wide apart, looked up at the sky and says, “Lord Almighty, help me. No man can start this thing by hisself.” Then he grabbed the end of a stiff piece of baling wire that was sticking out in front of the radiator and began to goose it back and forth. With his right hand, he grabbed the crank and started spinning it. He finally got it started, then ran like hell to do something inside the cab, probably to pun the spark down, but he never made it. It stopped dead. He came back, goosed the baling wire and cranked it some more. Finally it took hold again. This time he made it to the cab, pulled the spark down, tickled all four little box coils and got everything to percolating on an even keel. It was wonderful to watch the cab, fenders, radiator, running boards, wheels, bed, lamps and everything else on that thing do the shimmy. The fellow stood about ten feet in front of it and surveyed it with pride in his accomplishment. The car seemed as if it too was proud to be alive and in appreciation of being started, was doing a dance for its owner. I also was proud for the man that made the thing go, and I felt just as proud for the car, for its graceful dance. Now I am just another one of these helpless, modern sissies-just push a button and the car starts. I ask, How much more helpless can a man get than that? After he got the thing started, the man stood there and talked to us for another five minutes more. In the meantime, the car continued to gracefully vibrate and shimmy. As he was leaving, he checked the thing from bow to stern and saw that the fan belt had slipped off. He took a long handled screwdriver and somehow slipped the belt back on while the motor was running. He got in the thing, waved to us and rolled on down the hill towards Alamo. We watched him tin he was plum out of sight.

Traffic was heavy today. All told, four cars came by and everyone of them stopped. The folks in them talked to us and took on a supply of water. Once in a while we buy a pound of Nucoa. Albert takes it out of the paper package it comes in and puts it in a quart Mason jar. The paper that the Nucoa comes in Albert saves and takes a pair of scissors, cuts it in fun-length, quarter-inch ­wide strips, shoves one end of a strip in the open fire, then lights his pipe with it, to save matches. He can light his pipe before the paper burns an inch; then he snuffs it out with his fingers. One strip is enough to light up his pipe ten times. He has taught me how to light a cigarette with it, and I'm getting pretty good at it myself.

 

October 13.

Ever since we came here we have been doing a lot of hiking all over this country looking for some good copper are. We have found a lot of ore that has good coloring, but contains very little copper. My hip is hurting very bad; I can hardly walk.

The burros were around here last night. I could hear them walking in the gravel wash on their way down to the Bill Williams River for water. Mr. Rogers and his friend came by again. They are doing some assessment work on a nearby mine. They stopped and talked to us for a long time.

These old-time desert folks always have plenty of time to visit and talk. I knew an old fellow at Hinkley, twenty ­nine years ago, who had a small farm. He would mow the hay down. When it was time to bale it, he would get inter­ested in a ball game on the radio and let the sun burn up his hay. Then, when he finally raked and shocked it, the leaves had all dropped off. All he had left was stems to bale, and it had got so dry that even before he could bale it, the kids had to go ahead of the baler with a bucket of water and sprinkle a quart or two of water on each shock to moisten it up a little bit. By the time he got the bales out of the field, it was time to mow again. But his neighbors tended to their farms. They bought more land to raise more hay, and in turn to buy more land to raise more hay, and con­tinued that process until they got more than they could handle and wound up broke. Now this old fellow was too dumb to do that, so he still lives on the same old place in the same old shack, still mortgage-free, and owns a 1979 Ford car, which is also debt-free.

His hard-working neighbors are more in the hole than ever and they are crying to the government for a handout. This old fellow I am talking about is too dumb to do that either. Instead, he got on the old-age pension, still smokes his corncob pipe, still listens to the ball games on the radio and is just as happy-go-lucky now as when 1 first knew him. Sometimes when he visits his neighbors, they cry to him about their plight, how little they are getting for their milk, hay and chickens. Then the old fellow says, “Haw, haw, haw, ain't that a helluva note.” The old fellow is crowding seventy-five, but he certainly doesn't show it.

This afternoon an old-timer in his seventies, driving a four-wheel-drive Willys pickup truck stopped by, and I got to talking to him. About ten minutes later a young fellow driving a small jeep came by and stopped. We were all hav­ing quite a chat, mostly about mining. Finally the young fellow said, “Time is moving on and I better get going.” When he said that, the old man looked up at the mountains and sky ahead of him, then slowly kept turning around in a circle, carefully looking at the mountains and sky until he had completed a 360 degree circle. Then he says to the young fellow, “1 don't see anything moving. What do you mean by time moving? Time never moves. It's the same time right now as it was a hundred million years ago, and it's the same time now as when you got here. What is time? You can't see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, put your finger on it, or anything' else. Things come, go, are born, deteri­orate, but time does not move. It's stationary; it's always the same time. All time is, is an invention of man, a way to keep track of events.” Then the two of them really got into a beef about the subject of time. Finally the old man says to the young fellow, “Let me tell you something, young fellow. There are two kinds of people in this world, the educated and the intelligent, and your damn trouble is 'you are the educated kind.” Then he got into his pickup and drove towards Kingman.           After he had left the young fellow turns to me and says,

  “You know, that old man's crazy.”

  I answered, “Do you think so?”

  When I said that he took a long look at me and says, “I'm       getting the hell out of here.”

Well, anyway, whoever that young fellow was, he was a good kid and respected the old man's age or otherwise he would of taken a poke at that old man for the way he talked to him. My hat is off to that kid whoever he was for being a gentleman.

 

October 14.

My hip is worse, can hardly navigate. Stanley left on foot to take a squint at the mountains west of us. Albert and I sat in the shade of the shack. He was telling me about find­ing four pennies on the ground when we were camped at Parker Dam. He said that was equivalent to earning 4 per cent on a dollar investment for a year. Maybe so. But a dollar isn't any good to me or anyone else unless it's spent.

Albert took a notion to take a walk and explore the low ridges to the east of us. From here one can look across a huge barren valley and see another long range of moun­tains to the south. The vegetation around here consists at least 10 per cent of a dozen or more different varieties of cactus. Some of the cacti here are forty feet high and almost two feet thick; They have had lots of rain here this summer and the cacti are round and well filled with water, they have absorbed. When the season is dry, the large cacti trunks get full of wrinkles and shrivel up. Then, when it does rain, they absorb water and fill out. Without water the cactus will continue to live year after year. Some of the other vegetation consists of grease wood, mesquite, palo verde and many other varieties that I do not know the names of.

This country is all pockmarked with old diggings, shafts and tunnels. The tunnels are dangerous to enter. By that I don't mean from cave-ins. One cannot go into them very far because the air inside is very bad. One would not have to go very far inside to pass out before realizing that some­thing was wrong. I do not know what is the cause of it, must be something in the rock formation. It was not that way in most of the mines in the Sierras or any other place where we have been. I doubt if one could go back into one of these tunnels more than four or five hundred feet and not pass out.

I am sitting here by myself wishing I could get up some morning and sit down to a big breakfast of ham and eggs instead of flapjacks. Man, what I could do to some pork chops, T-bones, some nice ripe tomatoes or a head of let­tuce. The reasons we can not have anything like that to eat are many. First, we are nowhere near a place we could buy it, second we could not carry it along because it would spoil, and last but not least, finances do not permit it. Be it night or day, I continually feel hungry. One thing I am thankful for is that there are no creeks around here, so at least I don't have to eat any more fish for a while. Albert has been gone for two hours. Am getting kind of worried about him. The sun is hot, and a slip, a fall, a rock slide could mean trouble for anyone out alone, especially for Albert who is almost seventy-seven. Just as I finished writing the previous sentence, I looked up and can see Albert on the ridge across the wash, leisurely moseying towards camp.

After dark, I was sitting on the cot, got up, hobbled over to the car for a drink of water out of the canteen. I heard a loud snort in the bushes about ten feet behind me, and it almost scared me to death. Stanley laughed, and when I jumped, exclaimed, “What the hell was that?” It came from a burro.

 

October 15.

In my diary I keep the date of the month and not the days of the week; therefore, I have lost track of what day of the week it is. I said it must be Saturday. Stanley says it's Sunday. Asked Albert about it. As usual he did not know and cared a whole lot less. Told me not to worry about it for we still had plenty of flour, beans, potatoes and macaroni. “We still got the whole world by the tail on a downhill pull,” he concluded. Anyway, if it is Sunday, I can't hear any church bells. I doubt if there is a church within forty ­five miles. There were a lot of burros here last night. I could hear the swish-swash of the gravel as they walked down in the wash not more than a hundred feet from the shack of our camp.

Can barely drag my leg around. I should be home, and play the part of the hero around my wife with this bum hip, and have her bring me a nice, big, tall glass of iced tea with three or four cubes of ice in it and maybe some nice sand­wiches. Sometimes I stop, think and wonder if I am not somewhat crazy for prospecting. This darn prospecting gets into your blood; it takes a hold of you a hundred times stronger than the love for a woman. A woman may tire of you or you may tire of her, but you never get tired of pros­pecting and it in turn is always giving you the come-on sign. As long as you have a dollar for more grub or an ounce of energy left, you keep chasing it. It's always the same thing over and over, the last place you prospected, you did not do so good. Then some other prospector tells you of a rich lost mine over in such a such place or mountain range. He knows just about where it is at because once he looked for it for three months, then he found out he should have been prospecting on the west side of the moun­tains instead of the east. It's there all right because he knew a fellow that knew another fellow that's dead now who saw an Indian squaw way back in about 1872 with a basketful of gold nuggets. In that basket she had $27,000 worth of pure gold nuggets, he knows it to be true because he seen one of the nuggets himself. So they had a helluva time getting this Indian squaw to show where she found it. She finally promised that she would take a captain or a major or Doctor Whozit out and show him where it was. So they got a bunch of horses, pack animals and supplies together and were all ready to start out next morning. But as it would happen, the night before, the Indian squaw somehow or other got ahold of six dozen bananas and ate em all up and it killed her. So she died, and to this day no one knows where she got them nuggets.

Here are some more common reasons for lost mines: When he, or they, went back to the place and tried to find it again, a sandstorm, a cloudburst, or a fire, had wiped out all the old landmarks and they never found it since. “Well sir, these fellows found a place and had dug up a lot of rich ore. They had thirty-three mules loaded down with this rich ore and coming out with it when a whole bunch of Indians jumped them and killed them all, excepting one man who got away. A couple of days later they found this lone survivor. He had gone loco from the heat and thirst, but he still had some of the ore in a sack, or in his pockets, that ran $100,000 to the ton. But he never recovered and a couple of days later died. The Indians took the gold, buried it and covered the mine where it came from.”

Well, you hear that stuff and you know better, but you believe it because you want to, so you take off looking for it. If you cannot find the lost mine, at least you might find something just as good in that particular area. It's hopeless hope that keeps you agoing. After all, if you are lucky, you have got it made. It has been done by others.

It is 2:00 P.M. The sun is beaming down and it sure is hot. 1 am sitting here writing and have got up a big sweat. Only one young fellow in a jeep, hunting uranium, came by. He was from Phoenix. He stopped and talked awhile, loaded up with water and went on. After dark for recreation we sit on the cot out of doors, wait for the three planes to come by and fly under the big dipper with their lights blinking off and on. One comes by at 7:45, heading west; at 8:00, another one, also heading west; the last one heading east, passes at 8:20. After they are out of sight, we go to bed. I am out of tobacco. Have been shooting snipes. Now I am shooting the snipe snipes.

Jerry Mouse is getting too tame. He insists on eating with us out of our plates; it would not be so bad if he was satisfied with eating from the edges of our plates, but he insists on climbing on top of the food and getting in the very middle of Albert's and my plate and starting to eat from the top flapjack or whatever else we are eating from the plate. Stanley won't let him anywhere near his plate, says it's unsanitary. He takes his fork and pushes him away from his plate. I push him away from the middle of my plate with the fork and let him eat off of the edges of the plate. As far as Albert is concerned he does not care what part of his plate he eats off of. While Jerry is in Albert's plate eating, Albert keeps repeating over and over, “Golly it's a cute little feller.” I said to Albert that Stanley says it's unsanitary to let Jerry eat out of our plates. Albert says, “Hell, Stanley can't even spell the word unsanitary.”

October 16.

It is getting so that every time one of us go to the pickup to get something out of it, Jerry Mouse comes out to see what's going on. If it is Stanley or I, he takes one look at us and goes back down inside the load; if it's Albert, he stays on top and watches to see if Albert is taking out any grub to cook. If so he sits on top of the tail gate and watches Albert until he gets through cooking. The minute we sit down on the ground with our plates in front of us, Jerry falls off of the tail gate makes a beeline and jumps right in the middle of one of our plates full of grub, and goes to it. If he lands in Stanley's plate, it makes Stanley madder than hell. That happened again today. When Stanley blew up about it Albert says to him, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, there you are a great big man six foot, two inches tall and weight all of 180 pounds and let a little three-ounce mouse get you down.” We have most of our grub in tin bread boxes or large jars with screw tops to keep Jerry from working over our grub.

Albert and Stanley took off in different directions to do more prospecting. I stayed in camp nursing my hip. I'm smoking Albert's brand of tobacco. It's not like most to­bacco, half from a horse stable and the other half tobacco. This stuff is 100 per cent pure tobacco and you have to be 100 per cent man to smoke it. It's the kind that can be chewed, smoked in a pipe, and in a pinch, can be rolled into a cigarette, as I am doing today. The manufacturers, as far as I know, do not guarantee it to kill lice, but I do.

A couple of old-time characters, driving a 1948 half-ton pickup Ford, painted white, stopped and talked to me for a couple of hours. They had big long beards, and hair grow­ing out from their ears at least six inches long. They were both jolly fellows. I could easily see from the looks of their hands and inside their ears that they both hated water for washing. They introduced themselves, and when I shook hands with them, they kept pumping until I thought they were going to pull off my arm. They said they had been prospecting over near Skull Valley. I never heard of the place. They were on their way to winter at Yuma. One of them introduced himself as lack and said he was eighty­ six years old. The other fellow introduced himself as Col­onel Belmudez, age eighty-four. Why their ages, I don't know, but that's the way it was.

Colonel Belmudez talked with a Spanish accent and was an exceptionally well educated man. He could converse on any subject in the world. I think he is a smart enough man to have done well on the $64,000 Question on any subject. I enjoyed talking to him. I enjoy talking to people who are smarter than me and that's usually most every­body I ever talked to. But his partner lack was the exact opposite. He did not know up from down, doubt if he ever heard of Abraham Lincoln. Said he could not read nor write, or otherwise he would have been another screwball like the colonel. I also enjoyed talking to him too because it made me feel kind of smart. During the conversation, the colonel asked me what nationality I was. I said I was Armenian. lack says, “What's that?” The colonel says, “That's a Fresno Indian,” Zack says, “Never heard of them kind of Indians.”

The colonel says to Zack, “You jackass fool, they are one of the oldest nations on earth. They were one of the first, if not the first race of people who accepted Christianity as a religion.” He proceeded to relate the history of Ar­menia, naming at least a dozen kings and queens of ancient Armenia. He told about the two great scholars who between them, after several years of study, created a whole new lan­guage, consisting of an alphabet of thirty-six letters, which is the Armenian language as it is spoken today. He named its ancient capitals, its wars. He said there used to be two Armenias, the greater and lesser; and he named an Armenian by name (which I have forgotten) who advised the Czar to burn down Moscow after Napoleon was billeted there, which the Czar did, and saved Russia. He named several men of military ability who were of Armenian descent and who took part in the wars of Europe. He said one of them was one of the best generals Hitler had and the father of the Panzer Division. He named him by name but I have forgotten who he referred to. I have to admit he knew ten times more about Armenia than I do myself.

      Then the colonel went on, “You have heard of Greece, haven't you?” Zack replied, “Sure, I've heard of the Creeks, they were an Indian nation down South.”

      The colonel shook his head. “You've heard of Turkey,         haven't you?”

“Sure,” says lack, “my mother used to raise them.”

The colonel quit asking him any more questions, so I says, “Have you heard of India?”

“Sure,” says Zack, “that's another big Indian nation somewheres over thar in Europe.”

Then I gave up too, and went to talking' to the colonel. He told me that he was a graduate of a military academy in Mexico and had put over twenty years in the Mexican Army during the reign of Porfirio Diaz; and when Diaz was overthrown, he himself had to get out of the country to save his own neck. I asked him if he ever had talked to Diaz and he said yes, many, many times. I said, “That Diaz was not a very good man for Mexico.” The colonel bristled right up and says he was a fine man and done a lot of good for Mexico, and it was the rabble that overthrew him.

Then the colonel and I started talking in Spanish, and Zack says, “Why don't you bastards talk American so that I know what you're talking about?”

The colonel says, “You son of a bitch, we just got through talking' to you in American and you didn't know what we were talking about.” Finally, they took their canteens down to the pump in the wash, filled them up, and took off down­hill.

 

October 17.

While Albert was frying the potatoes for breakfast, Jerry Mouse sat on the tail gate of the pickup. Stanley and I were sitting on the ground with our tin plates and forks waiting for Albert to set the frying pan down on the ground be­tween us so we could go at it. Albert had no more than set the frying pan on the ground between us, when Jerry Mouse tumbled off the end of the tail gate and made a bee­line for the frying pan, jumping right smack-dab into the middle of it. He no more than hit the pan, then gave a little tiny squeak, jumped straight up about six inches and landed down on the hot potatoes again right on his butt. He gave another tiny squeak, jumped out of the pan, started to lick his feet as fast as he could, then started to drag his butt across the sand like a dog, then ran under the pickup and got lost. He never showed up for dinner. He did show up for supper but he did not jump into our plates as usual. I guess he must be pretty smart; it took only one easy lesson for him not to jump into the hot tub any more. He waited till we set some grub on a piece of paper near by and ate off it. Albert says his ribs are sore from laughing at the one minute show Jerry Mouse put on this morning. We have been talking about it and laughing all day.

My hip is much better. After flapjacks, we filled up our water containers, loaded up the car, drove downhill to Alamo, not sure if we would stay there or go on to where we don't even know. We talked to the man about town (he must of been it for there was no one else in sight), and he got to telling us about Arizona wanting to build a dam near by on the Bill Williams River. The State of California, with the help of the Federal Government, was blocking it. “You know why the State of California is able to do that?” he asked.

“Why?” I asked.

       “Because they have ten times more votes than Arizona and for that reason the politicians are favoring California. Now ain't that a helluva thing, when a state can't build a dam on its own river? You know what, when they have- a cloudburst in this country, there is more water goes down the Bill Williams River than there is in the Colorado itself. Yes, when that happens the water runs down the Bill Williams and empties into the Colorado right above Parker Dam, fills up all the dams along the line in no time, then ninety percent of it goes to waste down into the Gulf of California. But them people over in California are hog enough to want the last drop, even if they can't use it. They want it anyway. You know, years ago, them s.o.b.'s over in California thought they owned the Colorado River. The governor of Arizona had to call out the militia to set 'em straight. And by God, we'll do it again if we don't get a fair shake. By God, we have enough cowpokes around here to chase them s.o.b.'s into the Pacific and drown them like rabbits. Hey, you fellows from California?”

“Hell no,” I answered right quick, “we're from Nevada. But we bought our car over in California.”

At last we got into the subject of mining. He told us that there was a place eight miles beyond Rawhide on the road to Kingman where there were a lot of outcroppings of silver and copper and plenty of old diggings and that we might do some good looking them over. He told us about a shack that used to be by the side of the road, and half a mile off the road and a half mile from the shack used to be a concrete dike across a wash with a small water pump in it. He had not been there for four or five years. If the floods have not covered it up, we should not have too much trouble in finding it. He said there was a stretch of country out there fifty miles wide and seventy miles long, and he was sure that there wasn't over twenty-five people living in the whole area. For all he knew, right now, there might not even be one. He went on to tell us that there were a few people living at Signal but they had all moved out.

We turned around, drove uphill again, passed Rawhide, and eight miles beyond found the shack, as he said we would, and camped there. Then Stanley and I took off in different directions and explored the whole country within a mile of camp. We never found the wash with the concrete dike; evidently it must have been covered up with gravel from the cloudbursts.

 

October 18.

We got up early this morning. After flapjacks, all three of us took off in different directions to do some prospecting before it got too hot. We returned to camp around ten o'clock; figured we each had covered about four miles. None of us found anything very good. So far we have sorted out about fifty pounds of fair copper ore from the old diggings around here. It is not only hot in the day, but it was hot last night. We only had thirty gallons of water with us and already have used up seven gallons of it. Six gallons we drank up, and one gallon has been used for coffee and cook­ing, and one quart for washing dishes. Albert has used that same quart of water three times to wash the dishes and was going back to gravel washing in order to save water.

I never drank as much water before as I am doing since we have been here. You get up, grab the canteen and guzzle, guzzle the water down into your guts; immediately you break out in a big sweat. Then you sit down for five minutes and you feel like you are burning up with thirst. At first I thought there must be something wrong with me, but Stan­ley and Albert are doing the same thing. There will be no hand or face washing or any shaving around here. With our short supply of water in this part of the country when Al­bert gets through peeling potatoes they have a color just a shade darker than they did before he started peeling them. Someone once said cleanliness is next to Godliness, but I am sure whoever said it never lived around here. We have had to make so many dry camps all summer, that I have learned how to conserve water. It's got so that now when I am around plenty of water, I cannot get used to using it as I should. Through necessity one forms strong habits that are hard to break. Sometimes I have to laugh at people who say they could never get used to doing this or that. They would get used to it all right, and mighty quick too.

About six o'clock, when it cooled off slightly, Stanley took off to do some more exploring. Albert and I took off on a hike together. We ran across a dugout in the side of a hill. It was evidently dug out by some miners for living quar­ters. They must have worked the nearby diggings. Inside there were some broken dishes, broken-down homemade chairs, beds, odds and ends, some old 1916 letters and an old phonograph with a few old records. The thing still worked. One song had quite a catchy tune. Albert put his head down alongside of it and his hand on the side of his ear so he could hear it better. As he listened to it, he was all smiles. We played the thing for a dozen times. Every rime as it played to the end, Albert would say, “Golly, that's good. Play it again:' So I would crank it up and give it another whirl. I never noticed the name of the song, but I do re­member some of the words and here's the way it went.

“One, two, three, four, Oh, come on, I want some more. That's right. Hold tight.

Meet me again some other night.

      Night time is the right time for some loving.”

Albert said, “Golly, wouldn't some human scavengers like to come in and raid this place.” We made up our minds never to show it to anyone and to leave it as it is.

 

October 19.

We got up early again. Stanley took off south; I took off west to climb and explore Potts Mountain about a mile or two away. Before leaving camp, I had made up my mind to climb to the top of it, so I took along a pencil, piece of paper and a small bottle to write my name and the date on, stick it in the bottle and leave it on top of the mountain. Just as I was leaving the shack, I saw a piece of a beat-up old rag, half buried in the dirt. I picked it up, shook it out real good, or so I thought, and stuck it in my hip pocket; figured it might come in handy for something'. It took three hours exploring my way gradually up to the top. The mountain is not very tall, probably not more than two or three thousand feet above sea level and about a thousand feet to climb from its base to the top. Once on top, one can see a long way off in all directions. I wrote my name on the piece of paper, put the paper and pencil in the bottle and left it there. While on top of the mountain, I knew I was just about ready to have to use the rag I had in my hip pocket, so I figured why not sit there on top of the moun­tain and kill two birds with one stone, look around some more and use the rag too. Well the rag did not work too well. I found out to my sorrow that the thing was full of little pieces of cactus. Well, anyway, it made me very alert and put me on my toes. I returned to camp with my half. gallon canteen empty.

We have been camped here along side of the main dirt road between Wendon and King-man for forty-eight hours. So far, not one car has come by. I wonder when one will; Wonder who they will be, what they will look like, and what kind of car they will be driving. I hope they stop and talk to us, but I sure would like to see a car come by, even if they did not stop and talk to us. Wonder how President Eisenhower is getting along. Wonder who is ahead in the football leagues. Wonder what Continental Oil Stock is selling for right now. Wonder if the stock market got better or worse. This whole country for thousands of square miles is criss-crossed with thousands upon thousands of washes, some of them over a hundred feet wide. I understand that they have several cloudbursts here every year. When that happens, all the washes fill up with water. The water all runs down the washes southeast into the Bill Williams River. Some­times, it fills the river plumb full and runs all over the country. It finally drains back into the Bill Williams and from there down into the Colorado.

Between the three of us, we drank up ten gallons of water today.

 

October 20.

We have been sleeping inside the shack because this country is infested with rattlers. Have seen a few jack rab­bits and ground squirrels, sometimes called chipmunks. It's beyond me how they can live here, for the closest water is at the Bill Williams River, fourteen miles away. We do not carry beds, but we do have two mattresses, a wide one for Albert and Stanley to sleep on and a narrow one for me. When I awoke this morning, Albert was already sitting up on his mattress. Outside of his shoes, he was already dressed, because that is the way he went to bed. There he was sitting up, filling his pipe with real man's tobacco. When he got his pipe filled, he got hold of a match from the back of his ear, scratched it on the wall behind him and lit up. his pipe. He turned to me and says, “I always start the day from scratch.” Albert carries his matches behind his right ear like some people carry a pencil.       ,

Albert broke the bad news to me before breakfast. He said a terrible thing had happened during the night, that we “ had lost our side kick. I could not figure out what he was, talking about. He took me over to the water bucket and, there was poor Jerry Mouse floating with the tip of his nose  and whiskers above water, drowned and dead as a doorknob. Albert and I stood there for a couple of minutes looking at poor little Jerry Mouse. I felt too bad to say very much. Albert kept looking down into the bucket and kept repeat­ing over and over. “Poor little fellow, poor little fellow.” You may think that was silly on our part, but Jerry had been living with us and off of us for four weeks. We considered him as a pal and partner because by then he had got so tame he would eat out of our plates right along with us and appreciated our kindness. We enjoyed his company.

As soon as I took him out of the bucket, Albert reached down into the same bucket and got four cups of water out of it, poured it in the coffee pot and boiled up our coffee for breakfast. That did not faze me a bit. I am more of a man now than I used to be four months ago. For instance, six months ago when I saw anybody take out their false teeth and lick them off, I would start gagging and then throw up. That does not bother me any more. We all do it now after every meal and think nothing of it. Anyway I took Jerry out and buried him (or her) . Hope that where he is going there are no cats and lots of cheese and flapjacks, breakfast to you.

We loaded up and took off for Alamo. We stayed here sixty-eight hours and not one car came by. I was as dirty as I had ever been in my life. My hands and face had not come into contact with water for seventy-four hours. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. They kept sticking to­gether from all the grime and sweat. It did not seem to bother my partners too much. It's either that they are more used to it or just naturally better men than I am. We stopped at Rawhide, at our previous camp. I dug a towel and a bar

,of soap out of our load, went down to the pump in the wash, took off my clothes and washed up real good. When I got through washing, a funny feeling came over me, I felt light-headed. In fact, I felt as light as a feather. It felt as if I had no head left on me. With my hands I tried to feel for my head to be sure it was still on me. I must have got kind of wobbly on my feet for Albert grabbed me to steady me. I actually got scared, didn't know if I was having a dizzy Spell or what was happening to me. I learned one thing for Sure. It's just as dangerous to clean up too fast with water as it is to drink too much water too fast when you're burn­ing up for the lack of it. Albert said one of three things happened to me. First, I was too hot and poured the water on me too fast and in turn it cooled me off too fast. Second, my pores were all clogged up and when I washed too much of me too fast, I opened up too many pores at one time and that let in too much air. Third, I may have lost weight off me too fast. He said he used to have that same trouble a long time ago, but he learned how to use water with reserva­tion.

Albert sprinkled a little water on his hands and made a pass at his beard with some of it. I warned him that if he wasn't careful, he was going to get some of it on his face. Albert advised me that when you are out roughing it, you have to build up immunity to disease and sickness and it could not be done by being finicky and trying to keep clean. Otherwise, one would never build up an immunity to sick­ness and disease.

I said, “That's not what the doctors say.”

         He said, “What the hell do they know about it? When you see one, instead of them telling you anything, they ask you all the questions. When you wind up, you have told them what's wrong with yourself, and on top of that, you pay them for telling them what's wrong with you or other­wise they couldn't tell you if you had a bellyache or a rectum ache.” Only Albert did not use the word rectum. He used the more common word for that part of the body.

We got back into the car, continued on downhill to Alamo. There were three old prospectors sitting in the shade of a leanto. We had never seen them before. We stayed there at least a couple of hours talking to them. As usual, in no time, the conversation turned to minerals and mining. By a coincidence, their ages were 76, 77, and 78 years. Albert was just about in their class, 76. Stanley is 60, and I brought up the rear with 57. Whenever one of the three old-timers would speak to me, they would address me as “Kid.” I finally said to them, “What do you guys mean by calling me Kid? I am 57 years old and white headed.”

The oldest fellow says, “Boy, when I was your age, I never bothered to walk up these mountains. Instead I ran up them.”

One of the others said to him, “I never saw you run up a mountain, but I have seen you crawl up them and then stumble and roll down them. We all had a good laugh on that one.

The seventy-six-year-old one turned to me and says, “Kid, in my time I have found and sold a million dollars worth of claims.”

One of the others spoke up and says to him, “The only time you ever had a million of anything was way back in 1908 when you went to Los Angeles and came back loaded down with a million crabs, and if you hadda behaved your. self, you wouldn't have got them.”

They told us that we ought to go over to the Harquahala Mountains to prospect because there was a fabulous lost Mexican gold mine. Of course, they all most knew just about where it was at. We told them we might do that. Then they got busy and drew all kinds of sketches with sticks on the ground. As to just about where it was, they knew it was there, for they themselves had hunted it for fifty years. We bid the old-timers farewell, crossed the Bill Williams River, continued on the dirt road towards Wendon, forty miles away. About two miles before we reached Wendon, a growl developed in the rear end of the car. We stopped, let it cool off, then shot some grease into it and continued on to Wendon.

There, I went to a restaurant to buy a couple of cans of Prince Albert tobacco. When I opened the door and entered the place there were two middle-aged women all by themselves. I think they got kind of scared, probably figured it was a holdup. I could not blame them for being frightened. There I was with a ten-day growth of beard, a big shaggy mustache, in need of a haircut and shabbily dressed. I “Yes ma'amed and no ma'amed,” them to death to put them at ease. Got my two cans of Prince Albert and left.

About a week previous, I had written to my wife, telling her to write to me at Wendon. I had given the letter to Mr. Tom Rogers, and he in turn was to give it to his wife to mail when she went to Wendon. Figured if it had been mailed, maybe there was an answer to it from the wife. So I went to the post office. Sure enough, there was a letter from her and one from my boy Jerry. I have found out that the longer a man is away from his wife, the dearer she gets. Had quite a chat with the postmistress; she was a very pleasant lady. I handed Albert a can of Prince Albert to pay him back for smoking his tobacco for the last four or five days. Albert said never mind, the kind I smoked was only for beginners anyway. I rolled up myself a smoke. After getting used to smoking Albert's brand the thing tasted very mild and sweet, something on the order of the cigarette candy that kids suck on. I told Albert that my boy Jerry wrote in his letter that our dog was going to have pups. “What kind of pups do you suppose she will have?” I won­dered. Albert replied that they would be Americans, a mix­ture of everything, and besides that, they would be citizens of the United States.

We were back on Highway 60 and 70. There were gas advertisement signs along the roadside saying to stop at so-­and-so place, called Save 5. At last we came to this gas sta­tion place called Save 5 and loaded up the car with all the gas it would hold. Without us telling him, he asked where we had been prospecting. We told him over at the Bill Wil­liams River country around Alamo. He asked us if we had run into anybody over there. I told him we had seen Tom Rogers. He says, “Well, I'll be damned. You run into old Tom Rogers. Yes, Tom, he is a square shooter, has a heart as big as the mountains. They don't come any better.” He talked to us about going over in the Harquahala Mountains to prospect. We told him we intended to some day which was the truth.

We continued on past Hope. Then all of a sudden I got as hungry as a wolf. The further we went on, the hungrier I got. Our load was all tied down and our grub was on the bottom. We did not want to untie the whole load and dig it out. When we reached Quartzite, we looked for a store to buy a hunk of baloney and a loaf of bread. There may have been one there but I did not find it. But there was a fancy­ looking slophouse which wouldn't do at all. It probably would have cost the three of us at least a buck apiece to eat there, and the way we were eating it was costing us sixty-three cents a day for all three of us together. At Quartz­ite, we turned off onto Arizona Highway 95. We  stayed on that highway for sixty-eight of the longest, most desolate miles I have ever driven over. There was only one building of any description, a combination beer joint and restaurant. We met thirteen cars, and five cars passed us. That's all we saw the whole sixty-eight miles. We turned off the highway to our right on a road that passed by some military installations; then crossed the Colorado River at Imperial Dam. Not over a mile from the dam were a lot of loaded date trees. We were starving by then, so we stopped and went after those dates like hungry mad wolves. When we had our fill of them, we picked twenty more pounds and took them along.

We went on for about five miles more to. Laguna Dam and made camp in the jungles among the trees and brush alongside the Colorado River. A lot of fellows were already camped there. Albert cooked up a mess of grub for supper, but I had eaten so many dates that I was feeling kind of sickly. Albert said I should eat some fried potatoes to push the dates down and that it was just as easy to belch fried potatoes as it was dates. Albert knows best, so I sat down and ate and it made me feel better.

 

October 21.

We are camped along the brush and trees. On one side of us about two hundred yards away is the Colorado River. The same distance on the opposite side is the All American Canal, which is about a hundred feet wide and carries as much water as a fair-sized river. Near by is a small mountain, three or four hundred feet high, of solid rock, that has been cut right down the middle to make way for the canal. The canal is the main source of water for irrigation and domestic use for the Imperial Valley. I went out exploring the river's bank and ran into a fellow called Tex, who is a very pleasant, likable and talkative fellow. Tex is sixty­ eight years old, slender built, and slightly hard of hearing, which causes him to talk quite loud. His attire consisted of a pair of shorts, a cap and sandals. He said he had been sick for a long time and had been in and out of all kinds of hospitals, had all kinds of operations until he went broke. Then when he had no more money left, the doctors said he was cured. “Yes,” he continued, “I was cured all right, cured out of all the money I had. But I still only weighed 98 pounds and my normal weight should of been 170 pounds; Then I ran across a fellow who told me to start drinking wine to put on weight and cure myself, So I figured, hell, I'm already dead anyway. What in hell have I got to lose? So I goes out and buys me some wine and starts to drinking it. Every time I drank up a gallon, J put on one pound more. Now I'm back to 138 pounds. I have twelve more gallons to go to get to 150 pounds.

“You know, I got a horse, a dog, a cat and ten laying hens around here. I don't know what in hell I keep them for. Every damn one of them were wished on me. Outside of the laying hens, I got no use for them. Say, how about giving you the damn horse. It's a good, young saddle horse. You can ride him back to Barstow.”

I said, “That's about three hundred miles. Do you think I would ever get there?” .

Tex said, “Hell yes. I rode a horse from the Panhandle to El Paso when I was a sixteen-rear-old kid, and that's damn near a thousand miles.”

Tex has a comfortable place which he has built up all by himself. He has built a shade 20x40 feet by sticking posts upright into the ground, then nailing or wiring other tim­bers on top from post to post and covering the top with brush. Underneath it he has built himself a small, comfort­able cabin. He built his place alongside a small water ditch which empties into the near-by Colorado. To get across this ditch is a dirt fill, just wide enough for I. car to cross over so that Tex can get in and out of his place. Underneath the fill was a three foot diameter concrete pipe, three feet in diameter for the water to flow through. One joint of this concrete pipe was undermined by the water seeping around it and has washed out. The water coming through the re­maining pipe made a drop of two or three feet and had cre­ated quite a pool. Hundreds of carp had congregated there, trying to jump up from the pool into the pipe in order to go further up in the ditch to some small lakes above. But it was a little too high for many of them to make it. Those that did make it into the pipe were washed back into the pool by the swift water coming through the pipe. The carp were lying in that pool on top of one another like sardines in a can.

 

 

 

October 22.

We drove to Yuma to replenish our grub supply and buy repair parts for the car's differential which has been giving us a lot of trouble heating up on us. The last time I was in Yuma was way back in 1922 over the plank road from El Centro to Yuma, which was only wide enough for one car to run on, and it had turnouts every so often so one could let oncoming cars pass. There were many fights and arguments between motorists when they met each other between the turnouts as to which one of them should back up to the turnout so that the other one could go on ahead. If a motorist got a wheel or two off of the planking, he just stayed there until enough other motorists got there to help him lift his car back onto the plank road. You had no choice but to help get the other fellow back onto the plank because you could not go around until you got him going.

As I remember, Yuma at that time consisted of seven or eight blocks, and probably a population of 2000. Now it stretches out for three or four miles in all directions with probably a population of 20,000. There is a new bridge being built across the Colorado River. The concrete pilings are completed. Upon its completion, Yuma will have two bridges.

         Before we left camp, I told Albert that I had lost ten pounds in weight because for the last month I felt hungry at all times. Albert bet me one cent that I had not lost an ounce and furthermore that I had never eaten so good in my life. My normal weight is 118 pounds. When we got to Yuma, I jumped on a penny scale. It read 122 pounds. I figured the thing must be out of order. We walked up the block and I got on another one. It also read 122 pounds. I just stood on that thing and scratched my head. It puzzled me how I could have gained four pounds eating only flap­jacks, beans and fried potatoes and besides feeling hungry all the time. Albert stood by saying, “By golly, you never ate so good in your life before.”

We went to the Safeway to pick up the grub. Albert takes care of the buying. The bill came to $7.01. He handed the young lady cashier the $7.00 in bills but he did not have a penny handy. I stood there off to one side and watched. I had several pennies handy in my pocket but did not come to his aid because I wanted to see some fun. He stuck his

right hand down through the torn lining in his right coat pocket and finally come up with a rolled-up black stocking. He unwound it, then hung onto it with his left hand and with his right reached way down to the toe of the sock and came up with a handful of change. He handed the young lady cashier the penny. She patiently waited and was plenty amused. In the meantime a long line had formed behind him waiting to be checked out, but that did not bother Al­bert. It makes no difference to him if a thing should be done fast or slow. When Albert does it, he does it his own way. The only time I know of him moving on the double was up at Deep Springs when I came in on the dead run and he thought someone was shooting at me.

When we left Yuma and came back across the bridge to California, we stopped at the bug station to be checked. The officer checking looked up at Albert and said, “Hello. Santa Claus,” and burs  out laughing. He drew his fellow officer's attention to Albert and then they both busted out laughing. You couldn't blame them because by then Albert really had a beard. As I have mentioned, Albert is hard of hearing. After we pulled away from the checking station he said. “I wonder what them fellows were laughing at.”

There is a great deal of alfalfa around here. It looks pretty good, and the milo maize looks very good. The cotton does not look good at all. Some of it looks so bad it doesn't seem as if it would be worth picking. I talked to a cotton farmer. All told, he said, he had a section of cotton and was having it picked for the second and last time. I asked him why he did not use a cotton-picking machine instead of having it hand picked. He said the machine did not do a very good job because it broke down the fibre in the cotton, and that foreign buyers were kicking about it. Besides, he got two cents more a pound for handpicked cotton. On the other hand, the machine saved two cents per pound in the picking. It made no difference one way or the other in how much he eventually got out of it so he had it picked by hand because that gave seventy people two months work; whereas, if he used the machine, only two men got it all. Well, that was the first time I ever saw a farmer who was worried about anybody else besides himself.

October 23.

It is Sunday. Albert suggested we give our bodies and souls a rest. He got out his old Bible and we read to each other from it for quite some time. He reads it quite often. Many a time I have seen him sitting on a boulder or on the edge of a sand wash reading his Bible. With his long beard, you would swear that you are looking at one of the original disciples.

The woods here are getting fun of trailers. Most of them are fruit or vegetable tramps that are returning from Wash­ington, Oregon and northern California to spend the winter here along the banks of the Colorado River where the cli­mate is warm and the fishing is good. The rest are old pros­pectors. I do not know who owns this land that we are all camped on, the federal government or the local water district. As it was explained to me, one is allowed to build a cabin here, and many of these fruit tramps have done so; but you build at your own risk, for you can not get title to the land, or sell it and give title. You take your own risk as to what the future ruling may turn out to be. On the other hand, you do not pay taxes on anything you build on the land nor are there any charges made to camp here. No one supervises the camp; even so, it is kept very dean. The fellows have built outdoor privies and bury their garbage or haul it away. The most surprising part of it all is that most of them are highly educated men, some are retired doctors, high-school teachers, minerologists, retired captains, majors and colonels from the Regular Army. Why not? The winter climate is good, and so is the fishing. The fellows have built a small six by six shed; the sign on it reads “Library.” Inside are shelves made out of rough boards loaded with magazines. Everybody that buys a magazine, when he is through reading it takes it over to the library -and leaves it there, then takes out a magazine or two that someone else has left there. In turn he reads it, returns it and takes out another one or two. I never saw such avid readers as these fellows are. They sit on a box by their trailers or under the shade of the trees continuously read­ing. When they get tired of reading they will congregate in groups and talk or grab their fishing poles and walk to the river to do some fishing or just take a hike through the woods or brush. Next spring they will head north again, follow the fruit or vegetable harvest from here to Washing­ton State, then work their way back. By then they will have earned from $1000 to $4000 for their work and will winter here for four or five months.

Ever since I have been here, these fellows have been talking about the monkey ranch. Today I said to them, “I never knew there was a monkey ranch in the United States.” I asked if they really raised monkeys on this monkey ranch. They all laughed and told me it was a place about four or five miles from here where the government, twenty-five or thirty years ago, set up an experimental station, trying to raise different kinds of oriental or tropical fruits, plants, etc. They built a lot of underground experimental houses and tried out many new ideas. In other words, they just monkeyed around and spent over a million dollars of the taxpayers' money on new ideas. They never accomplished anything and finally gave it up. Since then it has been called the monkey ranch.

 

October 24.

Since the second day we camped here, Albert has hiked down to Laguna Dam, which is half a mile from here. There are many date trees on the roadside near the dam. He found one date tree that is loaded with good-tasting dates. The tree is too tall to get at the dates, therefore, there is noth­ing to do but wait for them to ripen and fall off. Then it is a race between Albert and a cow. If the cow gets there first, the cow gets them, or at least that's what Albert thinks. Some days he makes two or three trips down to that date tree and picks up what dates have fallen off. That cow is his only concern and his only enemy in the world at the present time.

This morning when he returned from his safari to the date tree, he took his knife, scraped all the old musty, smutty tobacco out of his pipe onto a piece of newspaper, laid it out in the sun to dry. To me it looks more like carbon than tobacco. He said that was the best smoking one can get  because it's old, strong, has the flavor and is concentrated

with vitamins. He likened the whole thing to bock beer.

Stanley and I worked on the car's differential this morning. In the afternoon I went on a hike by myself through the woods. I came across an old fellow camped off to one  side all by himself. He was very glad to see me. He was nursing a quart of whiskey -had it already half nursed. Of course, he offered me a swig out of his bottle. Naturally I accepted. He said he had been prospecting since he got  back from Cuba after the Spanish American War of 1898. In 1899, he got five burros and prospected all over the West­ern states with burros up to 1922. Then he got rid of the burros and bought a car.  I said, “Then you prospected about twenty-three years with burros.”

He answered. “No, only about three years with burros.” I asked him what he was doing the other twenty years. “Well,” he says, “I'll tell ya. The other twenty years I was hunting, chasing, loading, unloading the burros and getting there. Sometimes my burros would get away from me and wander off into the next county, and it would be a week before I found them and got back to camp with them.” Then he pointed to his dilapidated pickup and says, when I stop that contraption, it stays right where I stop it. I don't have no trouble at all finding it. All I wish is that they would make them damn things so as they'd run  on water instead of gas. Then I could afford to drive it more. Yeh, there's a drawback to everything, even in living itself.” I said they ought to shoot people when they get to be seventy-five years old. He answered, “Yeh, that was what I used to say when I was your age, but since I got to be seventy-five, I raised the ante on it another twenty-five years.”

 

October 25.

Early this morning I walked down to the dam with Albert to pick up what dates have fallen down during the night from Albert's favorite date tree. On the way down we saw cow tracks alongside the road, heading towards the date trees. “ It made Albert quite apprehensive. He started cursing the cow. We picked up about a pound of dates. I do not know if that cow beat us to them or not. I don't even know if cows eat dates. I wonder what would happen if that cow  and Albert ever met under the date tree.

On the way down to the date tree a car passed us going slow. Three dogs were chasing it until it was plumb out  of sight. On the way back we saw a fellow up ahead of us sitting on his haunches by the side of the road, every now and then hollering his head off. I wondered what he was hollering at. I looked behind me down the road but could   not see anything for him to be hollering at. He kept on yelling until we got opposite him. He asked us if we saw a couple of dogs. I told him about the ones chasing the car. He said, “Them's the ones. Somebody abandoned them here a couple weeks ago and I have been feeding the poor crit­ters.”

Just then his wife came out from their house near the road and shouts to the old man, “Quit your damn hollering. Them damn dogs can't hear you.”

The old man says to the wife, “If you'd kept your eye on them they wouldn't of gone.”

She says, “I was a-hanging up clothes, looked around and they were gone. You don't have to worry about them. Dogs is smart. They know you're nothing but a damned old fool. They'll be back to eat some more.”

Then they really got into a beef. The old man turns to Albert and me and says, “You know, it was a woman who cheated and lied to God. After that God said he did not want anything to do with women, so he gave them to man. Now the man was the one that wanted to behave and not eat the forbidden fruit until the woman lied and told him it was OK. Now I ask you, why did God push her off on man? He should of gave her to the snake. After all, it was a damn snake she fell for.”

The old lady says, “Pay no attention to my old man. He is plum loco. He don't know what the Bible says because he kain't read.” Then she ran into the house.

The old man turns to me and says, “Are you married?” I said I am. He says, “Well, then you know what I am talk­ing about.” They hollered so loud at one another, Albert heard and enjoyed every bit of it. We have been laughing about that incident all day.

 

October 26.

Every night for the past four months, about two o'clock .in the morning, Albert wakes up, sits in bed, fills up his old pipe with tobacco. When he strikes a match to light his pipe, I wake up without fail. We usually do not sleep over two feet apart. When we both sit up, the first thing we do is wave at each other as Albert is hard of hearing. We dare not talk, for that would wake up Stanley, who sleeps next to him. I roll a cigarette, light it up. then we sit there, smoke awhile, look at one another and grin. After we have finished smoking, we wave farewell to one another, lie down and go back to sleep. Where we are sleeping we are surrounded by tall brush. When we light up our smokes, the flicker of our matches makes the surroundings look eerie.

Last night we thought it might rain, so we stretched a canvas overhead and tied it to the near-by trees. This morn­ing. Albert complained that the damn thing made the room stuffy and he was going to take it down. As usual old Tex came around at daybreak, hollering and yelling loud enough to wake up the dead. After he woke us and cursed everybody out in camp, he went back to his cabin across the ditch. The days are hot. The perspiration sticks to your clothes. Here it's not like the Barstow desert where there is hardly any humidity. There, perspiration usually evaporates as soon as it comes out of your pores.

The places where Albert and I were bit four months ago by what Stanley calls Spanish bedbugs are still bothering us. At times it looks as if we are healed; then the next thing we know we break out again. Stanley has been catching fish right along. Now we have fish to eat, but none of it for me. I prefer beans and potatoes, especially in preference to carp.

Every evening as soon as it gets dark a fellow called Dep­uty lights up a log fire near his camp. From twelve to twenty fellows grab a chair or box, sit around the fire in a circle, joke and relate their experiences, especially ones about the old days riding freight trains, and running into what they call railroad bulls. Listening to these fellows talk keeps one in a continuous state of laughter. One fellow told me he helped a farmer near Sacramento harvest his bang Asked him what kind of a crop was a bang crop. He looked at me as if I were stupid, then said beans of course.

Albert made three trips down to the date tree. We sit around all day eating them. We have fifty pounds of them in a big cardboard box. Albert looks at that box half a dozen times a day and says, “Golly, we're sitting pretty. If we didn't have another thing to eat we could live on them for ten days a-running. A pound of dates inside your hide will do you more good than eating up a cow. Golly, we are living good.” So says Albert. He may be right. I never felt better in my life.

 

October 27.

This morning walked down to the date tree with Albert and picked up what dates had fallen off during the night. I have been admiring Albert all morning. He has his vest and coat stuck full of all sizes of needles, long pins, short pins, all sizes of safety pins-anything that has a point on it, Albert picks up and sticks it in his vest or coat. He looks decorated up like a five star general, the only difference is that what he has on is more useful. When we returned from the date tree, I walked over to Tex's place and helped him de-louse his ten chickens. I sold him a pair of brand-new high-top boots for $6.00. I had paid $13 for them but they were too big for me. It's sure funny to hear Tex talk, or rather I should say, shout. He was telling me about the time he got out of the hospital, got on a train to go home to San Bernardino and in his words, “I met a good lookin' womin. She vas a-headin' for San Bernardino too. When we got off at San Bernardino she had two big suitcases with her.” Then he paused, pointed to a bend in the river about a half a mile away and says, “I carried them things from here to yonder. Them were the heaviest suitcases that I ever hauled. She must of had them damn things loaded down with iron. Mind ya, I was just out of the hospital and as weak as a hungry cat. Before I got 'em to where she wanted 'em, my tongue was sticking out so fur that I was steppin' on it. You know what that womin told me when I got to her place?” I said, “No, Tex, what did she say?”

     He says, “She told me she was lonesome and wanted me to go up to her place and lover her. Ya, ya, ya, she tells me that after I have already wore myself down to a frazzle and nothing left in me. Now if she'da told me that first, I'da hired a truck to haul her suitcases for her and saved myself and might of done her some good. But as it was, I just left her there and went and got me a room and laid in bed four days straight. Man, I'm tellin' ya that deal damn near killed me.”

 

October 28.

The wind blew all day, which made Albert happy be­cause it blows the dates down off the tree. He made six round trips of at least a mile each, a total hike of six miles or better. Each time he picked up about five pounds of dates. He reminded me again that 1 never lived so good before in my life. I am getting so that I am beginning to be­lieve it too. I have been eating so many dates that 1 must be putting on weight. Since we have come here I have let my belt buckle out two notches. This is the first time in my life that I ever had belly enough to pat with my hands and listen to it thump. For some reason or other it makes me feel proud to pat my belly with both hands, makes a fellow feel kind of important like. Albert also told me that a big change has come over me. He said that when I first started off with him and Stanley I was nervous, that my face muscles twitched, I couldn't sit still, always wanted to be on the move. I was just a bundle of nerves; I used to toss, roll, talk and holler in my sleep. He says now my face does not twitch, I don't toss, roll, talk or holler any more in my sleep. He continued, “You remember when I stayed at your place for a while? You invited me to come in the house one night to look at your picture machine [meaning TV]. Well, I had heard of them machines but I had never seen one before. You know why I never came back when you invited me to come on over and watch?”

I said, “No, I don't Albert.”

      “Well, you remember when that Japanese soldier slapped that American woman as hard as he could across the face? Golly, that made me mad. If I hadda been there and had a miner's pick in my hand, I would of drove the whole works right down through his head. I got to thinking about that, and I never slept all night. It's no good for people to gel mad. People that get mad or upset don't live much over seventy or seventy-five years. My advice to you is the first thing when you get home to take an axe and bust that picture machine up.”

After dark, Albert and I sat around the campfire and got to talking about Indian tribes and chiefs.

Albert said, “I will tell you about Chief Joseph. All this happened five or ten years before I was even born. It was way back in the late sixties or early seventies. My father had only been married a few months and was living in the Oregon Territory. Chief Joseph was on the warpath. My father knew him very well. He had befriended Chief Joseph and others of his tribe many times by giving them food and shelter. When Chief Joseph went on the warpath, he gave orders to his braves that none of them were to bother my father or his family. They raised hell with everybody else in the country. One cold winter day my father got up early in the morning and headed for the barn. The wind was blowing and the snow was flying in all directions. When he got inside the barn, there was Chief Joseph laying in the manger half froze to death and his cayuse was tied to a wig­wag fence in front of the barn. It scared my father almost half to death, not that he was afraid of Chief Joseph, but what scared him was that the soldiers were looking for him; but not around there, for he was supposed to be several hundred miles from there at that time. Somehow or other he had left his braves and came back, probably to make con­tact with some other tribes.

“Well, my father put his cayuse inside the barn and brought Chief Joseph into the house. My mother had boiled up a big kettle of potatoes and a good-sized pot of meat. She set the whole works on the table in front of him. Golly, he must of been hungry. My father said he dug into it with both his hands and cleaned up the whole shaboodle. Every day that he was there my mother and father were scared to death that somehow or other somebody would find out he was there and then the soldiers would come and smoke him out; besides having my father arrested and maybe hung for harboring him.

“The storm lasted for almost a week. Chief Joseph would sit in front of the kitchen stove, warm up his hands and talk to my father. According to my father, he was a man of about forty years at the time. He was tall, powerfully built and very good looking. When he talked, he never raised his voice. My father tried to get him to sleep in a bed, but Chief Joseph wouldn't have any of that. Every night he wrapped himself up in his blankets and slept on the kitchen floor. When the storm was over, he got on his cayuse and went to Coleville. Golly, Chief Joseph was a smart man. You know, General Howard had 400 men under his command and Chief Joseph had only 185 braves. General Howard chased him all over the mountains of Idaho, Oregon and parts of Washington and wore all his men out in doing so. Chief Joseph would take a few of his braves come out from nowheres, knock off twelve to fifteen of General Howard's soldiers and beat it before Howard knew what had happened. He would keep on retreating in front of Howard for days; then all of a sudden he would send back about fifteen of his braves, and at daybreak, would knock off fifteen more of Howard's men, and disappear. Hardly lost a brave. Chief Joseph was too smart to stop and have a stand-up knock-down fight. The Yakimas tried that and almost got wiped out.”

I asked, “What happened to Chief Joseph? Was he killed or taken prisoner?” Albert said he thought that he was taken prisoner near the Canadian border, and as far as he knew must of died of old age because he never heard of him getting killed.

He continued, “Golly, you know I would of become a chief of an Indian tribe if my father would have done some business with an Indian Chief. And if I am not mistaken, might ,have been Chief Joseph's son or one of Chief relatives who stopped at my father's place about I884 when  I was five years old. I remember he was a big, fine-looking man, and also remember him offering to trade my father three cayuses for me. Said he would raise me and some day make a chief out of me. Do you think I would of made a good one?”

I said, “Sure, Albert, you would of made a dandy,”

 

October 29.

As I have said, we are camped between the Colorado and the All American Canal, not over two hundred yards from either one. You might say we have water to burn. But in the last four months, we have had to make so many dry camps, that we have not got used to using water, except for cooking and drinking. Now we are near plenty of water and we forget to use it. That probably sounds silly to most people, but habits that one forms through necessity, to sur­vive, are hard to break. Albert says if the worst comes to worst, it would be better to get lost or have a breakdown on a hot desert with a dirty body and a couple gallons of drink­ing water than to get lost or break down on a hot desert with a clean body and no water; in a week you would be no body.

For a week I have been listening to these fellows ten about .so-and-so came back from the fruit harvest and is living up in Hollywood. I got to thinking to myself, How can so many of them afford to live up in Hollywood? So I asked some of the fellows how so many of them could afford to live there. They all had a good laugh and said Hollywood was another jungle camp up the river five or six miles, and the reason it was called Hollywood was because the ones that camped there had bigger and better and longer trailers.

There is a nice fellow camped nearby whose name is Edgar E. Drake. Every day, he and I have quite a chat. Today, during our conversation, we found out that we both came from Massachusetts and had lived less than fifteen miles from one another. He was at Ware, and I at Auburn. He knew a lot of people that I knew at Rochdale. Come to find out, we were both friends of one family in particular by the name of Wheaton. Calvin Wheaton and I used to work and chum together. I remember he had two very good-look­ jug sisters; often wondered what happened to them. When  Drake found out that I was from New England he intro­duced me to a couple of more New Englanders who are also camped here. One was Harry F. North from Meriden, Con­necticut; the other fellow was George B. Smith, from Provi­dence, Rhode Island. The four of us sat on boxes under the shade of a tree and we all talked about the good times we had in Boston. George said he used to be a chef in Boston. Harry said, “Then you'd better bake a pot of beans so the four of us can celebrate.”

After dark, I sat around the campfire listening to Albert tell about his experiences at the turn of the century. I enjoy talking to Albert. He is not like Stanley and me. We only know what we have read out of the newspapers, magazines, books, or heard on the radio; there is nothing original about us. We’ve read it, we hear it, and believe it. Albert does not bother himself about reading very much, and he can't hear too well. Everything he talks about are actual happen­ings to himself or things he saw happen to others. By putting two and two together, he comes to a conclusion, or he goes by observation.

For instance, one day I said to him that the government debt was almost three hundred billion dollars. He says, “Golly, that's pretty good. How did they pay off the other three trillion?” I asked what three trillion. “Well,” he says, “everybody that draws breath is supposed to be government, ain't it?” I said I guessed so. “Well,” he said, “how about what all the states, cities, counties, towns, all the mortgages on homes, farms, autos, household gadgets? Why I could keep on mentioning about all the debts that there are in the U.S. for an hour and I would only be getting started. But if you put all them together it would amount to over three trillion dollars.”

        I asked him, “Do you suppose that it will ever be paid off?”

He says, “Sure.” that's easy. Just get I.0.U.'s.”

I asked how, and he answered, “Oh, more ink and paper and print more

 

October 30.

Rode with Tex and an old Irishman called George to a place called Winter Haven, in Tex's 1936 Willy’s car which has not even one square inch of upholstering left on the inside of it. Also, it's minus the back seat and all door and window handles. I sat on a coke box where the back seat should of been. Tex and old George are both somewhat deaf. They were sitting up front, hollering and shouting at one another at the top of their voices. Tex was shouting in Texan English at old George and old George was shout­ing right back with an Irish brogue as thick as molasses. I never made out what they were talking about; doubt that they knew themselves. I guess the idea was to be heard.

Tex drove on the left side of the road like they do in Europe. Between Tex, old George and the rattling din from the old car, I swore that my eardrums would bust. I just sat on the coke box and prayed that we would make the round trip in one piece. In town, Tex got on a penny scale. He weighed 138 pounds. He turns to me and says, “Now if I buy six gallons of wine, what will that increase my weight to at a gallon a pound?” I told him 144. Then he asked how many more gallons would he have to drink be­sides this batch to bring him up to 150 pounds. Told him six more. “Well,” he says, “then that will bring me up to what I should weigh. Then after that I'm gonna quit.” Then he added hastily, “But if I start dropping below 150 pounds, I still will have to drink enough to hold my weight. Do you suppose I will start to losing weight when I quit drinking wine?”

I answered, “I hope so.”

Tex says, “Me Too.” We walked into the grocery store and Tex bought six gallons of the stuff.

After dark we sat around the campfire and talked to Albert. He was telling me about a neighbor of his he knew by the name of Kim, when he was a boy in Washington State. Kim came over from Germany during the Civil War, landed in Boston. He had all his worldly belongings in a sailor's duffle bag. He sat the bag down on the sidewalk against a building, went inside the building and when he came out someone had stolen it. There was nothing left for him to do only to walk down the street and join the Union Army. He fought through the whole Civil War and came out in pretty good shape too.

I asked, “What do you mean, pretty good shape?”

      “Well, he only lost half of one leg and that was the lower half below the knee.” Albert continued, “I had four uncles on my mother's side that fought for the South and every one of them got knocked off. Their last name was Woolman. I remember the names of two of them, Asher and John, and can't remember the other two. I never saw any of them because I wasn't even born then, but I knew my Uncle Robert Smith. He too fought all through the Civil war on the Northern side, and by golly, never got a scratch. I knew another fellow when I was a boy, by the name of George Hunter, who came back from the Civil War and settled in Whitman County in the Polouse country of Washington. Bet the government $16.50 against a quarter-section of land and won. Golly, he was a big fellow-about six foot and a couple inches tall, had a mustache as big as buffalo horns. My father never got in the Civil War. At the time, he was prospecting in what was called the Oregon Territory and the war was over two years old before he heard about it.”

 

October 31.

There are more and more trailers coming into this jungle camp. Most of them are single fellows. We all have been hoping that no one would pull into camp with a wife, but just hoping did not do any good. Today, two married fellows with trailers pulled in and camped among us. A camp is so much more convenient without women in it. For instance, up to now if anyone had to urinate, they just stood up and let her go. Now with women around we will all have to bring our false modesty into play and walk into the tall brush, thereby making hard work out of a very simple duty that one owes to one's body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

November 1.

After dark, went over to Deputy's place where a lot of the fellows congregate every night and sit on folding chairs or boxes around a big fire and talk. Lord, what a mess that is. I always thought that women were supposed to be talkers. Imagine a dozen guys all trying to talk at the same time. The subjects are just about everything under the sun from how railroad locomotives are built to how Caesarian opera­tions are performed. When they want to inquire about someone they all know, they ask where is Potato Charlie, Peanut Butter Joe, Chicken Pete, Watermelon Bill, Catfish Harry or Broken Pipe George. Stanley goes over every night, sits around the fire and talks with the boys. Albert does not go over because he cannot hear what the conversation is about, so I never stay over a half hour, then come back to our own camp and sit around our fire and talk to Albert.

He was telling me that for some reason or other the Lord never intended for him to be a farmer. In his own words: “When I was a young fellow up in the Polouse country, a fellow had a forty-acre piece of land with a small house and barn on it. The fellow wanted one thousand dollars for it. I decided I would buy it, so I sent off to Spokane for my money. Before the money draft came back, a big cloudburst came along and washed the place away. A little while later I was all set to buy another place when a big windstorm came along and blowed the top soil off of that place and left nothing but the gravel there. And the third place I was all set to buy, a couple of days before the deal was to take place, the house and barns on the place caught fire and burned to the ground. Golly, after that, I figured I had put three fellows out of commission and had done enough damage. By then it dawned on me that the Good Lord did not want me to be a farmer, and after that I forgot about farming and took to prospecting. Just as well, probably would have worked my hide to the bone and been dead now.”

 

November 2.

This morning I went over to Tex's place to chew the fat with him. A few minutes after I got there, a party of four men in a small truck came along. Two of them were Ameri­cans and two of them Negroes, and us two palefaces, Tex and me, stood on the bank. The four of them stripped to the waist, then laid a large wire net in the ditch, then they got into the ditch and drove the carp downstream into the net. After the net was full, they dragged it out of the ditch and emptied the carp into the gunny sacks. They repeated the same performance at least a half-dozen times. Tex warned them several times that it was against the law to set out nets for fish, but they paid no attention to him and went right on with their net fishing. They must of got three or four hun­dred pounds. After they left, Tex says, “I hope that they don't get into any trouble, because them carp ain't worth it.

Tonight, I sat around the campfire. Albert was telling me about a fellow he knew up in the Polouse country in Washington, that wanted to raise pigs. “Well,” he said, “this fellow's name was Charlie. He started to raising pigs. He wasn't in business very long till he got all warmed up inside with this love stuff and took a notion he wanted to get married and try to raise pigs and kids all at the same time. I told him he better get a bunch of pigs raised first so that he could make some money, then start to raise kids. But, by golly, poor old Charlie was all on fire inside with this love business. He just had to have an outlet for it; he just couldn't wait. So he up and gets married to a big fat two ­hundred-pound woman, figuring he could raise pigs and kids all at the same time. Well, it wasn't long after he was married thing begins to popping. Just about every time one of Charlie's sows would have a litter of pigs, his old lady would have another kid, and sometimes they'd come double. Then finally, the cholera came along, and the next thing Charlie had no pigs. But his old lady in ten years had a dozen kids, and when I left there, they were still a-comin'. Golly, what a price to pay for love. It just ain't worth it.”

 

November 3.

This morning, Tex took a notion to go to Winter Haven to purchase some shotgun shells, and I rode with him. A couple of miles out of our camp was a panel pickup truck parked on the side of the road. Tex hollers, “Why, that's Rabbit.”

      I thought he had seen one, so I says, “I don't see any rabbit.”

      Tex says, “Neither do I but he must be fishing around here somewheres because that's his panel job setting there.”

Then I got wise that the fellow who owned the car must be called Rabbit. We pulled alongside of Rabbit's car, looked down the bank, and there was Rabbit fishing. Tex hollers out, “Why hello, Rabbit, you old s.o.b.,” and Rabbit hollers back the same affectionate cuss words to Tex. It turned out that Rabbit is even more deaf than Tex. Rabbit quit his fishing, locked up his car and we all headed for town, I was  sitting on the coke box where the back seat should have been and listened to the two of them hollering their heads off at each other. I sure am having lots of luck running into deaf people.

The following was the gist of their conversation, but I will use other words in place of some of the words that are considered foul language.

Tex: “Where's Grouchy Jim?”

Rabbit: “Oh, him, he is up in Hollywood having privy­ house troubles.”

Tex: “Privy house troubles, how come?”

      Rabbit: “He dug a hole and built himself a crapping can. Well, a fellow with a wife pulled in and camped along­side of him and they started to use Jim's crapper. She makes a dozen trips a day to that crapper. That's the most excretionest woman I ever saw.”

      Tex: “How do you know she excretes every time? Maybe some times she urinates.”

Rabbit: “Guess you are right. What made old Jim mad, in a couple of weeks she had that crapper full of paper right up to the top.”

Tex: “Yea, I know what you mean. These wimmin grab a piece of paper, make only one swipe with it and throw it away and grab another one.”

Rabbit: “No, Tex, that ain't the way it is. They grab the paper and keep wadding it up till they get a whole fistful of it before they use it. Well, old Jim went out to his crapper to see if he could burn some of the paper down. He set a fire to it and the thing got away from him and burned the whole works down and that sure made him mad. Then you know what he done?”

Tex: “No.”

      Rabbit: “Well, he built another crapper about forty feet from the back door of his trailer house and left one side open, the side that faces his back trailerhouse door. Now he ain't bothered no more.”

 

 

 

November 4.

This morning Tex and I helped a lady move her house trailer about two hundred yards from where she had already set up. We also built her an outdoor fireplace out of dobie mud and set a strong piece of tin on top of it for her to cook on. She is a woman of about thirty-five or forty years of age. She must be camping here on account of her health, because occasionally, she would get a violent coughing spell, although from all outward appearances she looked well. She is one of the hardest working women I ever saw. She hacked and helped us cut brush around her trailer camp for hours. I tried to talk her into slowing down and not working so hard in such hot weather, but she just would not slow up. Kept right on working in the heat with the perspiration running down her face. She would stop only long enough to wipe the perspiration with a towel, and go right at it again. She stopped at noon and ate three huge pomegranates, and I ate two. She said she ate at least ten of them every day. She had two orange boxes full of them. She told us she was a believer in metaphysics. I had heard about metaphysics, and that's about all. Tex had never even heard of it. He asked her if that was a new kind of poker game. Then she tried to show Tex and me the light. Well, all I can say for the poor woman, she couldn't of picked two such poor subjects. After all, sometimes one can start from scratch and accomplish something, but Tex and I were both less than scratch. When it comes to meta­physics, she was way beyond us.

About two o'clock, Albert came over and said soup was on and I went over to our camp and dined on beans. About six o'clock I went back to see how she was coming on. I hardly recognized the place. She had hacked out a quarter acre more of brush and had it stacked in one big pile. Again I told her she should not work so hard or she would kill herself off. She said, “I know I shouldn't, and it is bad for me, and as hard as I try to take it easy, I cannot do any­thing about it. I just have to keep busy or I get more nervous than ever.”

After dark, I sat around our campfire and listened to Albert tell about his experiences when he was a boy. He said, “When I was a boy about thirteen, way back in 1892, and was living in Whitman County, Washington, I was going to school two miles south of Rosalia. We had a German schoolteacher we called the professor. Golly, you know as a rule, the Germans are smart, but this professor fellow hap­pened to be a real egghead. One day he ups and tells the class everything that could be invented was just about in­vented, and especially, the railroad steam locomotive could not possibly be improved upon. Everybody in the class went along with the professor but I got up and disagreed with him. When I did, the old professor pulled down his glasses way over his nose and looked right straight at me for a long lime, and said to me, 'You are a dunce.' He made me stand up in a corner with a dunce cap on my head. Golly, outside of that professor I never hated anybody in my life. Since then sixty-three years have gone by, and even now when I think of it, I still get mad about it. Then about the same time, I took a notion that I was going to make a couple of wings and try to fly. I did not dare to tell anybody anything about it because I was already known all over the country as the crazy fool kid. So I got some canvas, gunny sacks, rawhide, hame straps, harness lines, baling wire and a few nails, took it out to the woods and hid it out. Then I cut long, thin pieces of willow strips, peeled the bark off of them and let them get well cured. Then I made a big frame out of the cured willows and stretched the canvas and gunny sacks over the willow frame. I cut the rawhide down into small strips, then soaked them up real good and tied the canvas and sacks to the frame. When the rawhide strips dried up, it sure made things good and tight. I had to pull tight to make a kind of a bow in the wings so that the wind would do it some good. It would of never worked if I had not put some curve to it. You see, the wind had to get in to take it along. With straight, flat wings, the wind would not of done any good. On windy days I would take the works out to the edge of the wheat field and try it out. At first I could not do much with it. Then I would take it back into the woods, change it around, work on it some more. I done that for over a dozen times. Every time it worked a little better. Finally I got it so that it was thirty ­six feet across and as high as a house, and I don't think the whole shaboodle weighed over fifty pounds. I could get three or four feet off the ground and make about forty foot hops, but I still kept working on it and changing it around.

“Finally, one day, golly, there came up a strong wind. 1 took it out to the edge of the wheat field, put the hame straps between the crotch of my legs, buckled the thing with the other straps over my shoulders, and the next thing I knew, the thing took off with me. I started sailing about fifteen to twenty-five feet above the top of the wheat fields. I found out if I threw my legs forward I could make it come down. Then when I threw my legs behind me, I would go up. 'When I wanted to turn, I could throw my legs sideways, left or right. Next thing a big gust of wind hit that thing and fouled me up. I got scared and lost my head. The next. thing 1 knew, 1 was flying over the orchard and over into the yard and losing altitude. Looked like I was headed for the old wooden water pump in the yard. I just missed it, six feet, smashing myself into it, but one of the wings wrapped around that pump and I got an awful jolt. Outside of driving a hole in my knee and losing some juice out of it, it did not do me much damage. That's why that left leg is still a little stiff.

When my father came out and found out that I had used some of his canvas, gunny sacks, rawhide and cut up some of his old harness, golly, he was mad and stayed mad over it for years. Well, when people around there heard about what I had done, that made them more convinced than ever that I must be loco.”

I asked, “How far did you fly Albert?”

      “Oh, maybe a little over a half mile.” Then he con­tinued. “There was a lot of talk that I should be sent to the crazy house before I killed somebody or myself, so I figured I'd better not tryout anything else or I might get picked up and put away in some nut house. Golly, I sure would like to take a ride in an airplane and go like the devil” In a mournful tone he said, “Golly, I'll never have the money to do that unless I make a good strike. You know, one education is not enough for a man. It's only good for a bout twenty years, then thinking and everything changes, and if you don't keep up with it, you get so you don't know what the score is any more. Now look at me. I have been in the mountains and deserts for over fifty years and have lost all track of the world. All I can talk about sensibly would be a little about mining.”

 

November 5.

Albert is still making at least two trips every day down to the date tree. He now has two large cardboard boxes full, at least 100 pounds. He says let a depression or an atom bomb hit the country, it wouldn't make much differ­ence to us three one way or the other, because we have enough dates to live on for at least twenty days. That would give us enough time to get further back in the moun­tains, camp along some creek where there is plenty of wood and we can fish, trap a few jack rabbits whenever we need one, tunnel a hole along some mountain side and live there for years without ever knowing there was a depression or a war going on.

This morning we went over to Tex's place. He said that yesterday he was talking to a cattleman who told him the fellows that netted the carp near his cabin a few days ago tried to sell them and were arrested. Tex was getting ready to cook his breakfast. He cut off three big slices from a ham, set it on top of the table in the shade. He went inside his cabin for the eggs. In the meantime, I turned my head to watch some cranes that had just landed in the river. When Tex came back out of the cabin with the eggs, the cat had cleaned up all three slices of ham and was still sitting on the table licking his chops. When Tex realized what had happened, he grabbed the cat by the tail and started twirling it around and around. The cat was yowling for dear life and Tex was cursing a blue streak. Finally. he let go of the cat's tail, and it sailed up about ten feet in the air. We were on a bank about ten feet above a water ditch. That cat, all told, fell about twenty feet, plop into the ditch full of water. When it scrambled out of the water, it took off up the bank and into the bush like a jet.

 

November 6.

Today must be Sunday because all over the camp the fellows have their mirrors hanging on nails driven into the trees and are shaving. I decided it would be a good idea if I also shaved. I heated up a wash basin full of water, got out my razor, hung the mirror on a tree, started looking through my belongings for soap and could not find any. Albert wanted to know what I was looking for. Told him, soap. A big grin came over his face. He says, “I have lots of it that I have been carrying with me for years.” He rummaged through his old suitcase and came up with six bars of Palmolive soap. I took the wrapper off of one bar, looked at it, smelled it. It was just as solid as could be and still had fragrance, as if it were recently made. Albert told me how he happened to have it.

“I was in San Francisco in 1926 and again in 1931. Which one of them times I picked up that soap I can't remember although it seems to me it was the first time, but I am not positive about that. Anyway, I was in one of them big stores up there in San Francisco where I saw a big bin full of that soap. The sign read eight bars for two bits and I up and buys a dollar's worth, thirty-two bars. By golly, the clerk threw in another three extra bars and that made it thirty-five bars all for one dollar. You know, to this day, I cannot figure why in the devil I bought so much of the stuff unless it was because it was cheap. By golly, you know I have packed it around with me all over this Western country for twenty-five or thirty years. That's the last six bars I have left. Here, you can have all six of them.”

I said, “No thanks, Albert, one bar is plenty for me.”

      Albert continued. “Golly, I have had an awful time trying to get rid of that soap. Every time I get back in the mountains or on the desert, if I run into anybody, they want to know if I have any spare tobacco on me. Nobody ever asked me for soap. You know, when a fellow gets a-hold of something he has no use for, even if it is for nothing, it's just a nuisance to pack around. Say, come to think of it, we sure have a lot of stuff we have salvaged and cached all over from all the dumps in our travels.” I answered, “We certainly have enough old tires, rims, old flat irons, stovepipes, old stoves, bed springs, old electric cords, picture frames, Mason jars, milk bottles, five-gallon oil cans, buckets, fifty-gallon oil drums, broken-down chairs, bureaus, boxes of used Christmas cards, stacks of old maga­zines and a lot of things I cannot think of, enough stuff to fill up a box car.”

Albert added, “Don't forget, we have at least three honey buckets that I know of.”

I asked, “What are honey buckets?”

He answered, “Chamber pots.”

I said, “Why do you stop and sort all that stuff out of the dumps and cache it when you have no use for it?”

      “When,” he says, “you remember when I went with you to one of your neighbors' houses?”

      “Yes, I remember.”

      “Well, she had at least a thousand salt shakers of every shape and description on shelves all over her room. What has she got them for? She only needs one or two at the most. Well, that's the same reason I pick up junk and hide it. Say, can you remember on what roads we have cached our boodle?”

“No, but I will get out the map.” On the map, I pointed out to him that we have stuff cached from Barstow on 466 to Kramer Junction, from there on 395 up to Mono Lake, from there on 120 to Benton, which is almost to Nevada, from there on 95 back to Bishop, from Big Pine over West Guard Pass to Oasis. That was our first trip. On this trip we have stuff cached from Barstow on 66 to San Bernardino, then on 99 to India; from there on 60 and 70 to Desert Cen­ter, from there to Parker, Arizona; from there on 72 to Hope; from there back again to 60 and 70 to Wendon, Alamo and beyond. All together we have junk scattered for at least 800 miles, maybe 1000, in the brush alongside the road.

Albert said, “Golly, we have property scattered out for 800 or 1000 miles and we don't have to pay any taxes on it.”

For several days I have been thinking I should go home. It does not look like we are going to do any prospecting for a while. This morning I definitely made up my mind to do so.

I told Albert that I was going back home. He said, “Here, I am going to give you something before you go home and if you know what's good for you, you will use it and then come back.”

I wondered what he was going to give me. He reached into his pocket and handed me a match. I asked him what I was supposed to do with it. He said, “Burn your damn place down with it and get on your feet.”

I said, “That would put me on the bum.”

      He answered, “You are already worse than on the bum.”

I asked him how he figured that out. He said, “Well, I am going by what you have told me. You say you pay $240 a year for taxes, $400 for the power bill, $160 for fire insur­ance. A place like that will depreciate several hundred dol­lars every year, and the least I can figure it costs you is $100 a year for repairs. Now I figure that comes to over $100 per month to live on what you call your own place, and I sure am glad you have your name hooked to the papers that goes with that place instead of me. Golly, I feel sorry for you. You say you have forty acres of land. The way it looks to me, instead of the land supporting you, you are support­ing the land.”

I got to thinking over what he said and if I were not married I certainly would give the thing serious thought.

There is a Mr. Bruchard, a veteran of the First World War camped about a hundred feet from us. He has a portable radio on which he and 1 have been listening to the football games. I went over to listen to today's game. During our conversation, I told him that I had decided to go back home to Hinkley, near Barstow. He asked me if it were a good place to winter. I told him that it was and that I had plenty of poultry sheds with water and lights that were as good as any cabins. He could stay in one of them and it wouldn't cost him anything.

“When are you taking off?” he asked.

“Anytime,” I answered.

He said, “I get my pension check tomorrow. How about me leaving for your country then?”

      I said, “Fine.”

 

November 7.

Early this morning I walked through the camp and bade Tex and all the other fellows farewell. Shook hands with Stanley and Albert. I could tell by the expression on poor old Albert's face that he hated to see me go just as much as I hated to leave him; we have been very close to one another. Because of his hearing, 90 per cent of all his conversation has been with me. He always said he could hear me talking to him better than anyone else. How that old boy would enjoy a hearing aid. He never will be able to buy one on a $25 a month income. If ever I get on my feet I sure am going to buy him one myself. We left camp about 8: 30 A.M.

Mr. Bruchard said that we would have to go by way of Calexico because he had an appointment with a dentist to extract the last two chompers he has left in his head. We stopped at Winter Haven, where Mr. Bruchard picked up his mail, including his pension check. I'm writing this as we are going along.

About ten miles out of Winter Haven, we suddenly ran into a terrific sandstorm. The visibility is poor. The wind is terrific. It is blowing the sand in a steady stream across the highway. Occasionally, the wind catches an empty beer can that someone has thrown alongside the road and blows it across the highway like a bullet. There are many sand dunes. Some of them are over one hundred feet high and two or three miles long. Occasionally, when the wind lets up, one can see parts of the old plank road. At other times, one can catch a glimpse of the All American Canal that runs through the sand dunes parallel to the road. The power poles have mounds of sand piled up around their bases four or five feet high; then the mounds have been covered with a thick coating of asphalt to keep the wind from whipping the sand away from the base of the poles and eventually toppling them over. This is really the desert, exactly like the sand dune scenes one sees in the movies.

After about twenty miles of it, we have run out of the storm just as suddenly as we ran into it. Near Calexico, there were huge lettuce fields and in the fields were large crews of men and women workers thinning out the young lettuce plants. It was just like summer. Everything was green. At Calexico, we entered a Chinese American res­taurant where we had a big steak dinner including all the trimmings of French fried potatoes, pudding, pie, soup, ice cream, two biscuits and all the coffee we could drink, for 98 cents each. A meal like that in my home town of Barstow would have cost at least twice as much. After our meal, Mr. Bruchard went to his dentist and I walked down to the bus depot, which was crowded with at least one hundred people, most of them Mexican, who were waiting for the buses to arrive. There were many mothers with their babies and small children and several of the babies were crying. Most everyone had large suitcases or bundles. It was a hot day. No one had as much as half a smile on their faces. They all looked down­cast or sad. One would swear that they all must be headed  for a concentration camp. At last, two buses arrived. The destinations of the buses were announced over the loud­speaker system in Spanish and English. After both buses were loaded with passengers, two immigration officials boarded them and checked all the passengers.

I feel at home here. Lots of the men like myself have man-sized mustaches. Some of the older men have goatees. It sounds good to listen to the Mexican people talk. I com­prehend most of it. The signs on most store windows are in Spanish and English. It seemed as if 90 per cent of the peo­ple in the shopping area were Mexican. I stopped in front of a shoe store and was admiring the shoes through the window. A good-looking young man about five feet, eight inches tall and not over twenty-one years old, dressed in a Mexican Army uniform walked up and stood alongside me, put his arms behind his back and joined me in admiring the shoes. He had all the bearings of a good soldier. He stood straight as an arrow. His uniform and linen were immacu­late. He turned to me and said in Spanish, “Muy barato, eh papa (Very cheap, eh Papa)?”

         I answered, “Si, hijo, muy barato (Yes, son, very cheap) .”

Then we both burst out laughing.

         I thought it is a wonderful thing when a soldier from one country can walk across the line to the other country and no one pays any particular attention to him. I wonder if there are many other countries in the world where that can be done. I left my new-found hijo soldier (soldier son) and walked back to our car. Soon after Mr. Bruchard showed up, he said his dentist was Mexican and that he was the best dentist that he ever had for pulling chompers.

We came on to Brawley, then Niland. Both places are below sea level. A short way out of Niland we came to the Salton Sea, 246 feet below sea level. We traveled parallel to it for at least thirty miles. It looked as big as the ocean; J could not see across it. We continued till we came to a place called Thermal. At that place I saw the mostest longest baled hay stacks and also the mostest corrals and head of cattle that I had ever gazed on in my life. I mentioned to Mr. Bruchard that there must be at least a hundred million head there. He doubted if there were that many head of cattle in the whole United States. He estimated that there might be fifty thousand head of them there. I think the place must be a cattle feeding and shipping point.

Before we reached Beaumont, it was beginning to get dark. Mr. Bruchard was not feeling too good because the dope was beginning to wear away from his jaw. We thought about renting a motel room and stopped at a place and asked the price for a night's flop. The man said six bucks. Bruchard said to him, “I know where I can get a much larger room for a whole lot less.” The man wanted to know where. Bruchard told .him about ten miles further on ahead there was a big pasture with a lot of trees. He has slept there many times and it never cost him anything. Then it came to my mind that my friend Arthur Gwin lived at Beau­mont and for the past several years had been inviting me to visit him. I did not have his address with me, but sup­posed that I could find it in the Beaumont phone book. We made inquiries. Lots of people knew him, but no one knew exactly where he lived. After we arrived in Beaumont, we found his name was not listed in the book. One fellow told us he knew that it was somewhere on Edgar Street. We finally gave up looking for him and drove on to within a few miles of San Bernardino. Then we drove all over hell's half-­acre in the dark looking for an old condemned camping ground that was supposed to be somewheres in the vicinity. We found the place and slept on the ground under the trees. I can not say where the place was, except that when we pulled out of there in the morning, not so far from where we had camped was a building with the words “Ex­plosives” printed in big letters on the front of it. From there we zigzagged around, and the next thing I knew, we were on a street called Highland Avenue. We came on into the outskirts of San Bernardino, stopped and went into a restaurant. It was a classy looking dump. We sat at the counter and picked up the menu. We did not have to study the menu very long to find out that the place was not for us. The menu read $1.10 for barn and eggs. We figured that it was not our fault if the owner of the dump was in a high ­rent district. We got out of there pronto. We came into San Bernardino proper and entered another restaurant, had our ham and eggs, fried potatoes and coffee for fifty-five cents each.

Before we left San Bernardino, I remembered about my wife bawling me out whenever I go home. She tells me, “You always come home to eat, but you never bring any groceries with you.” I still had forty bucks on me, so I thought I would surprise her. I up and bought thirty bucks worth of grub-managed to get it all into one gunny sack without any effort on my part. I threw it up on my back, walked out of the store, tossed it into the car and we started up over the Cajon Pass for Hinkley. I remember when I was a kid about forty-five or fifty years ago that it would have taken a pretty good horse to pull a wagon uphill loaded with thirty bucks worth of grub.

When we got home, the first thing after greeting the wife and introducing her to Mr. Bruchard, I shaved off my mustache  - before she asked me to. I knew if she asked me to do so first, it would be just like me to not shave it off. We fixed up one of the poultry sheds for Mr. Bruchard to live in. But, as it would happen, the very next day it turned very cold and windy and it never let up for a week. On the third day, Mr. Bruchard said to me, “To hell with this part of the country. I'm a free man and there are a lot warmer places to winter than here.” He loaded up his car and went back to Imperial Valley.

Every spring and fall Albert and Stanley show up and stay on the place for a couple of weeks. In the spring, they are headed north for a higher and cooler climate to prospect in. In the fall, they are headed south towards Arizona for their winter prospecting. While here, they stay in one of the chicken houses, where there is electricity and water. During their stay they repair their camping equipment and tune up the pickup truck. I always look forward to their coming, for Albert is full of new humorous experiences to tell about.

The first time they came in was about the first of April, 1956. We have two dogs, one a female boxer; it never leaves Albert's side while he is here. That time while Albert stayed here he cooked up a gallon pot of stew, left it on the stove. and in the meantime he fell asleep. When he awoke, the boxer had cleaned the pot as slick as a whistle and when he found out what had happened, he said, “The female of the species, be it a woman or a dog, all you have to do is close one eye and you will be robbed.”

The next time they showed up was about the first of October, 1956. They had prospected in the White Mountains of California and Nevada. Albert said they got there about the first of May and got snowed in and almost froze to death at over ten thousand feet elevation. That time, during their stay on the place, the boxer dog stole a whole side of bacon. I told Albert to keep the door closed so that the dog couldn't get in. Albert says, “It's every man's duty to be robbed by a female once in a while.”

Next time Albert and Stanley showed up was about the first of May, 1957. This time Albert was more careful than before. The dog did not get a chance to steal any of the grub. One day Stanley went to Barstow, so I thought I would go out and keep Albert company. It was a nice warm day, and there was Albert stretched out on top of his bed asleep, so were the two cats and two dogs. When I opened the door, nothing moved except the boxer dog, who had her face resting on Albert's beard. She opened one eye a bit and dosed it again. I went back to the house.

On that trip Albert showed my stepson Jerry how to tell the temperature when you had no thermometer around. He told the kid to get hold of a cricket and he would show him how it's done. Jerry found a cricket and took the thermom­eter with him to Albert. The idea is you count the number of chirps a cricket makes in a minute and add a certain number to it, which I have forgotten, and that will give you the temperature. They tried it, and it came out 71. They looked at the thermometer, and sure enough, it was 71. Next day, the kid took another cricket out to Albert and they did the same thing; it came out 74. Looking at the thermometer they saw it read 72. Jerry asked Albert how come it did not come out right this time. Albert answered, “This cricket has a slight fever.”

About October 1, they showed up again, and this time they stayed on the place for a month. I forgot to mention that every time they came back they always had some high grade silver ore, and they keep accumulating it and never sell any of it. They had spent most of the summer at Donnerville, California. As usual the dogs would get on the bed and sleep with Albert by the hour. One day I went out to see how Albert was coming on and thought he looked some­what different. At first, I could not figure what it was, and it finally dawned on me it was his beard. It was soft and velvety as silk. While Albert was asleep the dogs had licked his beard slick.

As I have previously stated, Albert has no use for tele­vision. One day I finally persuaded him to come in the house and watch a football game. Every time some of the players were tackled, knocked to the ground or took a hard fall, he sat there and laughed. He did not understand how the game was played and the way he figured it was played was that between the time the ball was snapped and the whistle blew the three referees made a quick count of how many men were still standing on their feet, and the side that had the most men standing on their feet scored the most points. After that Albert could hardly wait till the next Saturday for another football game.