By Tom Massie
I sure miss those old days, sitting around the table at Ma Gooch’s eating meat and two veggies withmy dad the Buzzard, and his friends Bob, Boo Coo and Fred. Ma Gooch’s is a traditional restaurantjust a few miles out from the LDMA camp of Loud Mine in Georgia. Just up the way is the LDMA camp of Vein Mountain.
I remember one night it started to rain pretty hard, and we thought that people’s mining equipmentalong Muddy Creek was going to get washed away. We decided to go down and lift out some of theequipment to higher ground. We were pulling highbankers and sluices up to higher ground alongthe creek when I noticed an area where a pond was with leaves on top of the water. I had seen it theday before and noticed that it was very easy to mistake that pond for solid ground with all theleaves on top of it.
Sure enough, Forest, who was helping me, walked over and stepped into the pond, through theleaves that he thought was ground. I reached to grab him but before I could, he tried to get out bygoing even deeper into the pond, and the only thing I saw left of him was his hat floating in thewater. I was just about to jump in after him, but he came up scrambling up the side and I lifted himout and fished his hat out with a stick. We walked back to his trailer and his wife had an expressionon her face that was priceless. We all had a good laugh, and got Forest dried out with some dryclothes.
Then there was the time at Stanton, Arizona, when someone decided to use real whisky instead oficed tea in the play. New Year’s Eve, we were reenacting “The Shooting of Charlie Stanton.” I wasplaying the character of Francisco Vega, the bad guy. The play calls for about three scenes at the barwhere Vega drinks whisky with Stanton.
When I took that first drink, I was very surprised that it was real whisky. By the time we did a secondshow, I was really into the character. Then somebody said there wasn’t enough room to geteveryone in to the second show, so they decided to do a third show. Three shows was too much! Inever did make it to New Year’s. The next day, I had a bunch of broccoli in my pocket and I waswearing someone else’s coat. My wife, Cindy, said I was dancing on the bar, but I don’t rememberany of that. One of the craziest memories was a panning contest we had at Italian Bar, California. We had fiveBB’s, and we were digging material just below Big Dredge Bar out of the bank and seeing who couldpan the five BB’s out the fastest. As the contestants started panning their material, we startednoticing little flakes of gold along with the BB’s. When it came my turn to pan, I swished it aroundand low and behold, there were a couple pickers in my pan. All of a sudden, people startedforgetting about the panning contest. There were highbankers and sluices, and it set offa mini goldrush. I do think I did win that panning contest, though.
So many fun memories. The best thing is, looking forward to making more.