Happy Camp, CA

Back in the day Happy Camp was a gold mining boomtown. Though illegal now, they used what is called “Hydraulic Mining process”. This was using water canons to wash entire hills into huge sluice boxes In order to recover gold.

 One Saturday evening the miners went into town to do rest and relaxation in the many saloons and brothels that littered the town. As the water canons operated twenty-four hours a day one man was left to tend them and point the streams of water in different directions as needed.

 But it had been a long dry spell from the Saturday before and it wasn’t long until the man tending the canons was lifting his glass with the boys in town. After all. What could happen?

 Suddenly a roar and a thunder was heard over the tinkle of player pianos and the loud laughter of the wild crowd. The ground started to shake as a wall of mud thirty feet high washed through the town, taking buildings, miners, towns people, livestock and more than one tinhorn gambler with it. It is said that except for the pieces of buildings and the bodies washing downstream in the American River, you would have never known the town had been there.

 Jump ahead a hundred and fifty years:

 The town has been rebuilt and hydraulic mining has been outlawed. There is still gold in them thar hills! I know, I’ve found some of it.

A friend whom I will call Dan is a treasure hunter. Through his research he learned that in addition to the bank vault (filled with gold, if you believe the old tales) there are also old coins and jewelry waiting to be found.

Knowing that the banks had been scoured by many others, Dan decides to use scuba and check out what lies in the swift river backwaters and eddies. The first day … nothing but fishing lures and sardine cans. But the next day he hit pay dirt. (Or is it pay water?) and came up with a fistful of silver coins. It was on toward dark, so he decided to quit for the day and hit it hard again the next morning.

 The sun was barely up when Dan entered the dark water, He took an underwater flashlight to see deep into the crevices and hollow places under rocks with. Seeing a silver dollar in the slack water in front of a large opening, he picks it up and puts it in his pouch. His mind filled with the excitement of possibly a large cache, he flicks his flippers and slides into the slack water. Turning on the flashlight he peers into the hole and found a sightless skull staring back at him. Startled he screams and the mouthpiece on the regulator flies out of his mouth. It’s time to leave. His head clears the surface and (he says) that he felt what seemed to be a hand wrap around his ankle to tug him back down. According to his father and his son who waited on the bank, Dan did justice to any ballistic missile launched from a nuclear submarine. One minute he was in the water, the next on the bank. Poor man was so shook that he had to down several inches from the bottle of Dutch Courage, his pa kept in the truck for snakebite.

Years later after he told me his tale, I asked if he ever went back to gather more old coins.

 His face got all serious and he said “No sir! I figure those riches belong to the dead folks killed in that mudslide. They can keep it and I have no interest in joining them!”

JC

About my eighth Book

First off I’d like to thank my readers. You are helping me in my vision to keep the Native American myths alive. Thank you to all, but especially Elizabeth (my publicist) for getting my name out there.

 I ended the Ray Corngrower series with “Where the Wind Whispers My Name”. It was like a sad goodbye to old friends.

This current work is set in a different time and with different characters. A general description would be The Creek and Cherokee just before and during the Civil War, but in the telling I find it’s much ore than that.

The characters make the story.

Bustah Cee is a halfbreed bandit who lives more by his wits instead of a gun.

 Willimina is a muleskinner who disguises herself as a man, but doesn’t fool Willie (a Creek Indian) who loves her.

 Heather the Heathen is a cathouse madam and saloon owner.

 Mix these with ranchers, prostitutes, judges, the US Army, the Confederate States of America and the Native American militia. Stir well and bake in the Oklahoma sun a few days to create a motley crew full of history, laughs and drama.

I’m about a third of the way finished, but hope that my readers have as much enjoyment reading it as I have writing it.

I’ll yell when it is available.

 JC

Please read

I need help in passing along vital information to all terminally ill veterans.

I was recently sent home from the VA hospital to die with the mildest prescription pain pills there is. I felt like I was abandoned by the VA and the constant pain I was in had me considering drastic measures.

A friend told me to apply for a hospice program. I looked at the VA benefits on the net and saw that they provided both palliative care and hospice. I was NOT told about any of this when I was discharged from the VA hospital. Even the primary care VA nurse knew nothing about it.

No. This is not a “poor me” story, but I am asking … no I’m begging you to get the word of this little known secret, out. Too many vets are suffering intense pain before they die. Though I can’t verify this, I’ve been told that the reason the VA doesn’t inform us vets is because these cares are very expensive.

My thanks to you in advance and may God bless you.

JC

Where the Wind Whispers My Name

Though this is the title of my most recently published book, I’d like to expound on it from a different viewpoint.

 As I sit here the pain of the cancer wracking my body, my memories return to the beauty given for our eyes to behold by the Great Artist.

In my mind I again ride the North Cross Highway in Washington State with the deep canyons and the high rocky outcrops framed by emerald forests and a robin egg’s blue sky. Crystal clear streams cascade from the heights to race burbling and chuckling to the miiror pools below.

 Again I ride the eight miles up the side of a dry desert mountain road to be awed at the crest by the brilliant shades of green in the valley below with it’s scattering of pine trees, the lush grass alongside the stream and the rocks of a cliff face that contain every color that can be imagined. Once again I dismount and bow my head to give thanks for the beauty and tell myself that this is where I’d like for my bones to rest.

 I remember the rugged Oregon Coast where the waves crash and the huge rocks that stand far out in the water silently whisper in my ear about shipwrecks, treasure and dangerous things that await the brave and foolish.

 I have mentally returned to the beach campfire on the haunting Washington Coast. With few visitors the night waves beg you to come and be one with their cold crashing depths, while the wind cries a lonely song along the shear rock wall scattering sparks from the fire.

I dream of the magnificent Alaska. The deep dark forests, the many dangers and beautiful panoramic views. I again long to survive the deep snows of winter alone in a cabin that I’ve built with my own two hands. With no water nor power. I would again search the steams with detector and pan looking for the yellow iron (gold) nuggets that hide there amongst the bears and the moose.

 In closing I will ask you a question. There is no need to answer it to anyone except yourself …

From Where Does the Wind Whisper Your Name?

JC

 

Hog Riding Pros and Cons

I was five years old and sitting on the back seat of a Studebaker when I saw the sign and asked my granny what it said. “Pigskin Davis Furniture” I thought that “Pigskin” was an interesting name, but what really impressed me was the commercial artists drawing of some old coot in jeans, boots and cowboy hat sitting astride a huge hog. After all, I knew where there was a pigpen.

Gathering up cousin Raymond I explained that before we could ride horses and be real cowpokes, we had to start small … like on a pig. Raymond thought that was a great idea.

One good thing about pigpens … they are easy to find. Just follow your nose.

We arrived about mid morning just when those hogs were getting lazy after their morning breakfast slop. A word of warning here. Eat not of the slops. The pigs do not take kindly to it !

The hogs watched us from where they had gathered in a corner of the pen, as we climbed the rail fence. Hopping down, I noticed that the ground was soft and muddy, though it hadn’t rained in a month. (It was in later years I figured out where all the moisture had come from. Instead of mud puddles this was pig piddles.

But I digress.

 Raymond and I held a short conference with each pointing out a likely looking mount, while the pigs also held a conference as to which of them were going to eat us.

No gunfighter ever stalked a street any better than Raymond and I stalked our chosen swine. They didn’t stand a chance!

Mine lurched to the left, then dodged right, but I was ready for him. Leaping out, I managed to get both hands on his shoulders. It dragged me a few feet and left me face down in a pile of pig poop. I had just cleared my eyes of things that shan’t be named, when I see Raymond flying by me on the original Hogwarts Express, his eyes open wide, a big grin on his face and pig doody hanging from his ear. Determined, I manage to hop aboard my porker and set a new record set in the annals of pig racing.

I was rounding the pen and coming into the home stretch. Raymond was a half a pig ahead. To encourage a bit more speed I scream a Creek War Cry, but my pig spoke no Creek and came to a sudden stop. It’s plum amazing how slick a pig’s back can be. I go sailing over his head and grabbed at Raymond to keep from falling, which we both did after colliding with the poles that made up the fence. I had a lump and Raymond was shedding a bit of blood from a cut on his head, so we decide to call it a day.

Then came my grandmother. She made us strip down in the yard as we took turns pumping buckets of cold well water on each other. I think she had the sense of smell that would put Spot, our hound to shame. We just couldn’t get clean enough to suit her. She finally dumped a half a bottle of cheap perfume on each of us, but still made us eat outside and sleep on the back porch. Said she was surprised the old momma pig didn’t eat us and we were never to do that again. Durn! It seemed  like such a good idea at the time!

JC

Old Man Coyote

All cultures have their demons and evil ones. With the Native American it’s Old Man Coyote the Trickster. More a gray character than an evil one, Coyote loves to play jokes on unsuspecting people.

He’ll look into your heart and see your fears. He then magnifies those fears and whispers them in your ear. He thinks that is funny, but what makes it even funnier is that he knows the fears were false to begin with.

There you are, all worried and thinking “He/she will like me better if I pretend to be cool (or whatever) Or “I’m not smart enough to take that class. If I do, I will fail and everyone will know I’m a big dummy.”

Sure there are real fears, but there’s a test you can do to determine if it’s Old Man Coyote holding you back.

Just say aloud (or you can whisper, if need be) “Get away from me, Coyote !”  He has to do what you command, but will go hide behind a bush hoping to catch you unawares and will try again and again until he finally gives up and finds others to play his jokes on. Try it. You’ll see. : )

JC

Opossum Pickin

It was a summer evening. My Great Grandfather, my uncle, Raymond and I sat on the back porch whittling and spittin. The lies and tall tales were coming heavy. Neither Raymond nor I was old enough to add any input, but both Unc and Poppa more than made up for it. Supper was over and the wimmin folk were cleaning up, when I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. Looking over I see an old he-boar opossum trotting across the yard, heading for his dinner in our hen house. I figured I’d get my rifle and send him on to meet his Maker, But Unc had a different idea.

 “Possum !” yells Unc, sitting up in his chair. “One of you boys grab him!”

 Well. IF it’s going to be “one of you boys”, it’s going to be Raymond. I had found out the hard way when I had climbed that tree to get a “dead” squirrel out of its nest, not to pick up undead wild critters. Durn thing went up and down my hand like a Singer sewing machine. Yup. It was mighty hard to let go of.

But I digress.

 Raymond hops up and makes a mad dash for the possum trying to grab him by the tail, like Unc was telling him to do. I was mighty involved too … sitting there sipping iced sun tea and wondering if Raymond was going to get bit and if so, where.

 Raymond makes a grab for the critter, but it dodges him, then falls over playing dead.

 “Lookit that !” yells Raymond with a grin. “Durn thing musta had a heart attack and died!” He picks it up by the tail and it gloms onto his leg.

 Old Raymond is doin a fair imitation of a one legged man in a butt kicking contest, as he hops around on one leg, while yodeling and trying to tug that varmint off by its tail.

Except for Raymond, everyone including the possum was having a good time, but then my grandmother ruined it by running out with a screwdriver and prying the critter’s jaw open.

 Raymond had bloody chaw marks and the possum made a bee line for the tall grass on the other side of the fence.

Unc looks at me and says “Grab it, Jess.”

The man was obviously insane.

“Just Keep the Moon Over Your Right Shoulder”

In my eleventh summer I hired on to drive tractor in the hay fields. The man I worked for would cut and bale hay, but instead of being paid he would take half the bales. Pretty smart. In the summer those bales went for twenty-five cents a bale, but in winter that same bale cost ten times that amount. So he’d work like mad during the haying season and the loaf all winter selling hay. Me? I made twenty-five cents an hour and worked my fanny off in the hot sun.

In addition to being a field hand, it was part of my job to be a handy man. I’d keep the equipment greased, gather eggs from the chicken pen from hell and do other odd jobs around his place. In the same pen as the chickens were three goats. The Billy loved to play. (If you call play sneaking up behind a person carrying an egg basket, then standing on your hind legs to butt them into next week) Yup. A good time was had by all. Grrr. After the second time of going butt over teacup I’d had my fill. Picking up a stick about the size of a baseball bat, I’d wait until he was on his hind legs before whacking him between the horns knocking him into the dirt. He loved it. “Great Game ! Hit me again!”

 One night come quitting time in the hay field my boss comes up and tells me there’s a storm moving in and he would appreciate me working the tractor by using the headlights, so the rain doesn’t ruin the mowed and raked hay. Though I had started at first light, I agreed to stay until the baling was done and the hay was put in the barn.

At one in the morning, not only was the hay put up, but the storm had went around us. There was a full moon out and the night was nice and warm. The boss came around and expressed his appreciation at my staying and asked if I wanted a ride home. He always took me home. So I asked why he asked. He tells me that though it’s a seven mile trip to my grandfather’s place by truck, I’m only a mile from there if I was to walk across country. I doubted that as I had roamed the countryside for miles around and didn’t recognize the field we were in, but he assured me by saying “Just keep the moon over your right shoulder.”

I set off. An hour later, I’m wading the Little Deep Fork swamp. More snakes, haints, mountain lions and quicksand than you can shake a stick at. Two hours later I sense something following me. I hade on the other side of an open space and see a cougar on my trail. (I figure it was just curious as to what kind of fool would be out in the swamp that late at night with no flashlight)  An hour later, I’m swimming the Little Deep Fork river, in a spot I’d never been before.

Three hours later, after swamps, sawgrass that sliced bare skin like a knife and black berry bushes that beckoned you to wait with their nice long thorns, I stumble onto the highway. I know right where I am. I’m five miles from home. Some nice farmer gave me a ride in the back of his truck and I soon stood alone in front of the greatest danger of all … “Worried Grandmother.” My meathouse was saved from being torn down only by my ratting out my boss. (Though I think my being covered in swamp slime, bleeding from numerous cuts and my tongue hanging out with tired and thirst may have helped a bit too)

 Waiting for my boss to come and get me for work, she reminded me of that cougar I saw. Instead of armed with claws and fangs, she kept the dreaded cast iron frying pan close to hand.

It was an unsuspecting boss that stopped in front of our gate. My granny is out the door, off the porch and through the gate screaming like she was on fire! I don’t guess that you could have called it a “discussion” as she was doing all the talking, except for his “Yes ma-am” once in a while.

Oh. By the way. The moon travels from east to west, just like the sun. So instead of it setting on your shoulder when traveling the woods at night, just keep in on your right side. : )

Tippy the Mule

I grew up around horses. Didn’t much care for them jughead critters, Been stepped on, thrown, scraped off on branches, bit and ran away with. Now days I prefer my horses made of iron.

There was a kid in my class, we’ll call him Vern, who I didn’t much care for either, but once he discovered that we had horses he became my best friend … or so he thought. Every Saturday his high society momma would bring him out to spend the day … riding horses. While I, being the host would put off the chores I could to entertain him. While he wasn’t one to help, he was more than willing to sit and make smart remarks and insult the food we ate (poor people’s food) while watching me work. It got old.

One Saturday morning, before Vern got there, I mentioned what a pain he was to my great grandfather. He told me what to do.

I went to the corral and putting a halter on Tippy, our mule. Leading her into the barn, I fed her a bait of green onions from our garden and by the time Vern arrived she looked like a long eared beer barrel on legs.

 I asked Vern what he’d like to do this weekend and of course, he wanted to ride horses. (No surprise there) I take him to the barn and tell him my poppa said “If he was going to ride horses at our place he could take care of the one he was to ride.” I hand him a curry comb and pointing to Tippy, tell him to “have at it.”

 Giving credit where it’s due, I must say he was doing a good job, but seemed to be avoiding her tail. By this time, Tippy looks like if a fly bit her, she’s explode. I mentioned to Vern to not forget the tail. He does a few strokes on the outside and I tell him not to forget the underneath part.

Poor Vern !

He lifts that mule’s tail and she lets go with enough gas (and stuff) to power a small town for a week. .. right into Vern’s face and down his front. Even I am amazed, but Vern just stands there in shock, holding the tail up, facing the blast.

 His front looks like something that came from beneath the septic tank.  Once the “wind” had died down he follows me back to the house where I pour bucket after bucket of cold well water on him so he’ll be clean enough to ride home in that fancy car. Don’t know why he wanted to go home so soon, but I went to my Uncle’s and called his mom. : )

 Needless to say, he didn’t come back.

JC

The Shypolt

In my ninth year I told my grandmother about a large white wading bird that I saw on the banks of Skull Creek. She called it a Shypolt and advised me to leave it alone. Yeah. Right. What did she know?

 In my dreams I had captured this bird alive to keep in our chicken pen. The world would beat a path to our door just to see this wonderful thing and marvel at my skills as a hunter and a capturer of wild game. I’d be famous and the riches would pour in.

 I already knew how I’d do it. There was a tree that had blown over the creek. I would lay on the overhang like a leopard waiting my prey to pass underneath, before pouncing on it.

So there I lay, baking in the heat that reflected off the surface of the water. The ants, mosquitoes and the horse flies delighted in this buffet laying motionless  and hidden by the leaves.

 I was about ready to give it up, when around the bend comes the Shypolt, creeping along catching minnows and small frogs. Finally it was right underneath me and I rolled off the tree onto the top of it.

Oh my! It didn’t fall over in a dead faint nor did it run nor attempt to get away. Instead it decided to fight for the title of “King of Skull Creek” !

It beat me with its wings, I countered with a roundhouse right that missed. It poked my chest with that long sharp bill. I did a Bruce Lee kick, that it had no trouble in dodging. It started using those long legs and bony sharp clawed feet to rip my clothes and hide. I bent to pick up a stick to whack it with and it pecked holes in my back.

About that time I decided I’d cut it some slack (poor defenseless critter it was) and go home. It pecked the back of my head as I turned to leave. (What a dirty fighter)

I managed to get away and when I reached the house all bloody and torn, I found my grandmother sitting on the porch.

“You been messin with that Shypolt.” she said.

That woman was plum uncanny at times. : )

JC