I suppose everyone has heard the story I am about to tell you and if you aren’t part of everyone then you will be after you read this because you will have heard the story I am going to tell.
One fine and sunny summer morning in the late 1950s/early 60s, there was a road crew patching the asphalt on a lonely stretch of desert highway. I am not sure of which highway and I pretty much don’t care because this could have happened just about anywhere in the Mojave. Anyway, these guys are out there working away and down this empty highway rode this big, old, dark blue Buick driven by a somewhat elderly lady with another lady riding as a passenger. They slowed and stopped when they got to the road crew.
“Excuse me, sir?” the driver asked.
“Yes? How can I help you?” the signalman replied.
“My name is Betty and this is my friend, Betty–You can call her, ‘other’ Betty. We are school teachers from Indiana on vacation. We noticed these mines all along the mountains and were thinking how nice it would be to have a gold nugget to show our students. Would you tell us where we could get one?”
The road crew; the signalman, the man with the shovel, the man supervising the man with the shovel, and the supervisor of the man supervising the man with the shovel had all gathered next to the car. They were all smiling–It just wasn’t that easy.
“Well, did you see those piles of gravel next to the mines?” the supervisor asked. “Well, those are tailings,” he continued.
“Yeah,” you can find gold in there,” the shovel operator said with a chuckle.
“Thank you!” said Betty.
“Yes. Thank you,” chimed in ‘other’ Betty.
With that, Betty turned the car around and they disappeared in the heat waves in the distance.
The road crew had a good laugh.
It was only about 15 minutes later the Buick come tooling back down the road. It slowed and then stopped at the road crew.
“We found a piece! Thank you kindly!” Betty hollered.
‘Other’ Betty held out her hand and a half-inch thick chunk of gold covered the palm of her hand. Now, ‘Other’ Betty was a large woman with the hands of a truck driver and the nugget she held was damn big. The road crew was aghast at their stupid joke gone awry and they passed the rest of the day in embarrassed silence. The merry school teachers pleased that they had an authentic piece of gold to show their students, drove on to Bakersfield because Bakersfield seems to be where everyone that finds gold goes.
— end —