From Chickens to Prospecting
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
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
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
Albert, who died in 1967 in Hinckley, San Bernardino CA, never married. Stanley who died in Waterford CA left a widow, Pearl A. Cummins.
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
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
From Chickens to Prospecting
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
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.
MY forty-second cousin, Bill, comes from
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
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
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
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,
“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
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
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
“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
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
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,” “
I asked Slim what time it was. He said, “Six o'clock; you're at the mouth of
I answered, “For Early Springs and
He suggested we go over to
After passing Balarat, the Indian ranch, we were on the main highway going through
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
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
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
“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
A couple of weeks after our so-called prospecting trip, Jim Pickering, a neighbor, and I drove back to the Panamints and
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
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
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
Next morning before nine o'clock we were in
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 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
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,
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,
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
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.
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
By a roundabout way we got to the town of
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
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
June 24, 1955.
Left home today. Took Highway 395 at Kramer junction, passed through
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
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.
It is nine miles by a switchback road up to
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
Gildersleeve, the artist, had been telling us about a silver ledge with a spring near by in
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
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.
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.
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.
We studied the situation over for quite some time, Then Stanley started to climb it, and I started up right behind him,
About one o'clock, we sat under a tree and ate our sandwiches, overlooking
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.
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.
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.
Albert stayed in camp.
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
We did a good job of loafing today lying on our mattresses in the shade of the willows.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
We loaded up and pulled out of there, stopping at the flowing well to replenish our water supply, then drove into
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 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
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
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.
We loaded up and headed towards
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
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.
This morning we all have some more sores from what
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.
This morning we headed upgrade for
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
Left early this morning with Mr. Griffin. We had tire trouble. Had dinner at Johannsburg. At
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
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.
This morning Mr. Griffiin left for
At Mojave, I caught a bus for
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.
Stanley and I walked three miles to
Albert and I had a barrel of fun kidding those boys. Their leaders were long-time workers for different oil companies at
One of the men said, “Shell Oil owes me two weeks wages. I probably should have collected before I left
I could see
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
At camp we all changed to dry clothing. Albert is very much worried about the Boy Scouts, wondering how they rode the storm out.
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.”
Seven o'clock this morning,
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.
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,
A. J. Reyman, S. C.,
Mary De Decker, Carol De Decker, Joan De Decker,
Glen L. Campbell,
Jack Skelton, June 21, ]955,
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.
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.
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
It's going to be cold tonight.
We packed up and left
Early this morning the ex-sheriff of
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
I said to Phil, “How about another beer to celebrate your being related to the
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
A couple of miles up the canyon,
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
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.
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.
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
Finally we were on a high ridge looking down on
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.
Early this morning
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The Spanish bedbugs bites that we got over a month ago have healed on
Today is my birthday. 1 was born August 13, 1898, in
After many years of hard work in
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.
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.
We loaded up and pulled out of
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 one, got it four inches out of the water, and then it slipped off.
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
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.
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.”
Loaded up and left
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
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
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
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.
We walked to the very top of the mountain and looked down and across a big valley all the way up into
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.
After breakfast we loaded up and drove to
The mosquitoes here work day and night.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
Loaded up the car, came down
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
We moseyed around there an hour or so, then continued up into the winding mountain road. Soon we were in the
We continued on through
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.
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 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,
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
We looked over a few dumps and hand-sorted about twenty pounds of silver ore. Then
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,
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Again we hit the main road headed for Big Pine. Every little while Albert would bust out laughing about my record run. We left
“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
Everywhere I have been, people ask me, “Where are you from?” When I say
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.
Phil and Sandy left for
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
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.
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
It was a terrific hot day, probably about 105.
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
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.
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.
At 9 A.M. Stanley, Albert and I hit the road to continue prospecting. From
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
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
At four o'clock, we stopped and camped on roadside five miles before we came to
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
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
We drove to within a mile of the Parker Dam, and found a place with shade trees and camped.
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.
He was telling me about Indian Charley, who was 102 years old and lived in
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.”
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
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.
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
Went fishing with
The town of
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.
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
Rode to Parker again with
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.”
Rode to Parker with
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.
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.
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.
Went to Parker again with
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.
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
“No, right here in the United States.”
“Where in the
“Up in the state of
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.
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
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.
Rode to Parker with
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,
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,
We kept on going through this No Man's Land for forty four miles, to the
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.
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
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?
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
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
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.
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
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.
My hip is worse, can hardly navigate.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Then the colonel went on, “You have heard of
The colonel shook his head. “You've heard of
“Sure,” says lack, “my mother used to raise them.”
The colonel quit asking him any more questions, so I says, “Have you heard of
“Sure,” says Zack, “that's another big Indian nation somewheres over thar in
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
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.
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
“Why?” I asked.
“Because they have ten times more votes than
“Hell no,” I answered right quick, “we're from
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.
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,
“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.
We got up early again.
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
Between the three of us, we drank up ten gallons of water today.
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
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
,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
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
There, I went to a restaurant to buy a couple of cans of
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
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
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
We went on for about five miles more to. Laguna Dam and made camp in the jungles among the trees and brush alongside the
We are camped along the brush and trees. On one side of us about two hundred yards away is the
“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
I said, “That's about three hundred miles. Do you think I would ever get there?” .
We drove to
As I remember,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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.
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
The places where Albert and I were bit four months ago by what
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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
“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
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,”
As I have said, we are camped between the
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
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
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
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
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.
I answered, “I hope so.”
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
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
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.
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.
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
This morning I went over to
Tonight, I sat around the campfire. Albert was telling me about a fellow he knew up in the Polouse country in
I thought he had seen one, so I says, “I don't see any rabbit.”
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.
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.
Rabbit: “Oh, him, he is up in
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
“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.”
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
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
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
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
“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.”
Early this morning I walked through the camp and bade
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
About ten miles out of
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
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
Before we reached
Before we left
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
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
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
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
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
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.