Yes, My Name is Rebecca Chapter Ten

Chapter X
We got a call from Charlie Spielman. He had a job offer for both of us. No details but as long as we were there by Nov 1 there was a job. We told him we would be there. He said housing was provided. So we winterized everything. I asked Tommy if he wanted the hens for the eggs. He said no, that he would look after them for us. I said no I will turn them all loose and let them fend for themselves. He insisted he would take care of them.
We loaded up LeRoy’s International pick up and were ready to leave for Elko, Nevada. It was late and dark- I pulled the quilt up over our laps because there was no heater in the truck. As LeRoy began moving so did the quilt. I was a bit nervous- we stopped and found a flash light. All of my cats had climbed in- they were used to going with me everywhere. I was very sad when we had to leave them behind, too. We drove out to a mine 65 miles out-side of Elko, Nevada.
Charlie had a team and a temporary agreement to attempt to get the gold out of this clay ore in which no one had been successful. If it worked he could lease the mine for a year, if he didn’t lease it he had to give up the technology. LeRoy’s job was general hired hand. Weld, shovel or whatever was needed. My job- camp cook. I looked at Charlie and said what? He said there are seven of us and we need a cook. Me? That night Charlie told me if I didn’t want the job he would buy a bus ticket back to Colorado. I decided to stay. I cooked and spent as much time at the mill as I could. We had a 5000 kHz generator delivered. Someone mentioned to the driver I wanted a ride in a semi-truck. He offered and I rode all the way to Elko with him. I learned a lot about semis. He was kind and answered all my newbie questions. Another time I had driven to Elko, to do the grocery shopping in the company jeep. I had most of the errands done and was waiting to pull out of the grocery store lot but traffic was terrible. I sat for what felt forever and there was a truck with a horse trailer turning into the parking lot in front of me. I thought that was causing enough of a break for me to make my left turn. Wrong. I broadsided a pickup truck in the left turn lane that had swerved to not hit the horse trailer. I flattened two of his tires. Traffic was backing up and the man I hit was mad and mean. He was scream-ing I didn’t know how to drive and slamming things around. There was a caretaker of the mine property and his wife had come to town with me. She hit her head on the windshield pretty hard but seemed to be doing okay. I opened my door and asked what Ne-vada law was- could I pull this back into the parking lot. Mr. Jerk said NO- you have to sit right there. Four highway patrolmen showed up. They assessed the accident and one of them asked me to back into the parking lot. I did- and three of the officers worked at traffic control to get the mess cleared up. Mr. Jerk had changed both of his tires and drove into the lot. I was standing at the officer’s car and listening to what he was saying. He said normally with out of state drivers he arrested them, took them to jail because it made it simpler to get all the information. I assured him I did not need to go to jail for that. He smiled and was telling me I would be cited in this accident. Mr. Jerk parked his truck and charged at us. He was telling the officer I was reckless and needed to get a ticket and …. Kept on for a few minutes- the officer stood up and said ‘Excuse me, sir. Do you want to be cited in this accident as well? ‘Mr. Jerk said well of course not. The officer said then go get into your truck and wait for me to come to you. He did but he was muttering all the way back to his truck. The officer cit-ed me for failure to yield right of way. I asked him to explain that because I had been stopped. He kindly explained that the truck had right of way and whether I was stopped or not I failed to yield. That made sense and I thanked him. He told me ‘Don’t make me come find you’ I said I won’t. He asked me to wait in my car and went to speak with Mr. Jerk. He then came over and we looked under my hood because he was concerned that the radiator may have been damaged. It was holding water so I said I would try to make it to the mine. I gave Mr. Jerk the phone number for Charlie and explained to him that it was a mobile phone in this car. It will take me at least 45 minutes to get there. So call in about 1 ½ hours to speak to him. The wife of the caretaker and I left for home. Mr. Jerk called in 5 minutes. I explained again 45 minutes. I was on the highway behind several motorcycles when he called again. When the phone ‘rang’ it honked the horn. I pulled over quickly and answered again and told him if he was going to call every few minutes it would take me much longer to get back to the mine.
We reached the mine; I dropped her off and drove up to the mine. I went in and found Charlie. I told him I wrecked the jeep and started crying. He was absolutely not worried about the jeep. He drove me back to the trailers and helped me carry in the groceries. He took the jeep back up and spoke with Mr. Jerk. I had wrecked a company car and although Charlie was being very nice I still was walking on egg shells. I put together dinner. In walked Jim our project electrician. He said we fixed the jeep. He was a very serious person who did not joke. I said, ‘Really?’ He said Yes- come on, come look at it. So I excitedly followed him to the step- here is the jeep- smashed in with a new hood ornament. They had taken some of the clay ore and made a Mickey Mouse head and stuck it on the hood. I started crying again and shoved him. I told him he wasn’t funny and went back in. A few days later when I wasn’t so upset Charlie had a talk with me. He said the only thing you did wrong was admit you were in the wrong. Never say that again. He said we can find lots of fault in any accident and by saying you were at fault no one looks at anyone else.
Our project manager was Stan Rickard. He was a chemist who had written several college text books. He had developed a process to get the gold out of the clay. We brought the clay into the mill by conveyor belt. We sprinkled it with 10% lye and 10% concrete dust. Then that went into a rod mill with no rods. It spun counter-clockwise and the ore came out the other side in small permeable balls. We took the balls over to a soaking bin by conveyor belt. It was pouring into this bin, but in one pile and we were going to have to shovel it out to the corners. Stan talked to Jim and LeRoy. They made a metal plate with curved welded lines across it. Jim attached this plate to a pulley motor and set under the dump spot for the balls. We turned everything on. The balls began hitting this spinning plate and were being spun out of the bin at extreme-ly fast speed! We were running for cover, ducking behind any-thing for protection. LeRoy hit the kill switch and all came to a stop. I was sitting on the cat walk with Stan and I said to him what if we make that plate smaller? Would that slow down the balls? He didn’t say anything. I thought, hmmm must have been a stupid question.
Jim walked up to us. Stan said “Jim what if we make that plate smaller? Will that slow down the balls?” I was jumping up and down inside! I stumped the brains of the bunch! Jim proceeded to tell us why that wouldn’t help but he knew how to fix it. He slowed his pulley motor down and that solved the problem. We began filling the bin with ore. It was winter break at most colleges and L.J. came to work at the mine. I don’t know how he knew Charlie but they were friends. L.J. was tough for me to get along with. Charlie had gone back to Denver and some other ‘investors’ came out. We began a cyanide soak on the bin. I was cooking 4 meals a day because with the cyanide we worked around the clock. We had emergency packs to save a person if they inhaled the cyanide. L.J. didn’t come for breakfast. I went to get him. I woke him and his symptoms seemed similar to cyanide poisoning. He would not eat. I asked him if there was a problem with his shift the night before. He said no. I asked LeRoy what he thought- he said we need to call in the life flight. I called Charlie on the mobile phone. Had to speak carefully because I was trying to not alert OSHA. Charlie understood- he called L.J. Then Charlie called me back- L.J. was just hung over- he had gotten drunk the night be-fore. I told Charlie he needs to go home. He is dangerous around here and Charlie agreed. Dick was an investor that came out at the same time L.J. came out. He was what I deemed a ‘pencil pusher’ who didn’t know how to do physical labor. One night he told me that he thought I should serve squid for dinner. I told him this was a meat and potatoes crew and he could go to town for something like squid. When I went to town for groceries I found Rocky Mountain Oysters at the store. I bought them and fixed them for dinner. Everyone enjoyed them and LeRoy told them what they had eaten the next day.
They all seemed to handle the fact that they had eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters without getting sick. Although for weeks someone always asked what I was serving at each meal!
Stan came back from his break and we pulled the soak off the clay. We smelted down the slag and had 79 lbs. of Gold and Silver. We opened up the bin. The balls were still in balls and easy to load with the front end loader and remove. It worked! The process worked! Now to get the lease to the mine. Charlie told us how much the lease was. He was about ½ the way with current investors. LeRoy and I decided to invest our paychecks. We had not cashed any of them- so we signed over $7500 and told Charlie no more paychecks till we pull gold. He asked me to come back to the office. I caught a bus back to the ranch. I found the chickens all dead in their cages. I was so sad. I was so mad. To leave an animal caged to die is horrible. I got LeRoy’s Ford truck and went to Den-ver. Charlie wanted me to go to the stock holders meeting and speak. So I bought a new outfit at Kmart and did. Then he took me out to lunch along with Dick to Red Lobster. The waitress talked me into trying calamari rings as an appetizer. They were scrumptious. I ordered a shrimp fest platter and as I was eating I said to the waitress ‘ok I tried the appetizer and liked it, now please tell me what I ate. She grinned and said ‘squid’ and walked off. I had been paid back for my unkind attitude towards Dick.
I headed for Nevada the next day. I’ve driven through lots of things but the ice on the Salt Flats in Utah was the worst I’ve ever seen. It took me nearly 6 hours to get across them and not run off the road. I rented a motel room in Winnemucca. I asked him for a wakeup call- he handed me an alarm clock. I got up at 5:30 AM with only a couple hours of sleep and headed for the mine. Once I got there we began clean-up of the other trailers and general maintenance. We were waiting for the team to return and we would be operating the mill. But then the word came- not enough investors. Stan had to hand over his technology- we lost our money. We loaded up and went back to Tommy Davidson’s place just in time to help with calving.
I went to work in town because it became obvious this wasn’t a lifestyle I wanted to be in forever. I felt trapped with LeRoy and yet somehow thought I could get a start on my own. I got a job working at the Country Cupboard Restaurant as a waitress. I usually was stuck with dinner shifts but it was a paycheck. But of course I was buy-ing groceries and things we hadn’t had for a while. My original plan of saving money to move was not happening.
It was the middle of the night and something woke me up. I was frozen with pain. The headache was debilitating. I opened my eyes but could not see anything- it was more than darkness I was blind from the pain. I screamed and the trailer door opened. LeRoy rushed in and asked what was wrong. I said I have a head-ache- like I’ve never had. He gave me a cold rag, some Tylenol and tried to soothe me. It wasn’t stopping. I begged him to hand me the .22 I would end the pain but he wouldn’t. He said he was go-ing to go into the homestead- call Tommy to give us a ride to the hospital. I heard him leave the trailer. Then I felt as though I was going to vomit. I was still blind and too weak. I opened the back door of the trailer that was against the bed we slept in. The door pulled me out of the trailer. I managed to grab my denim quilt as I was falling. I vomited over and over. I leaned up against the tires and wrapped my quilt around me. I kept vomiting- it wouldn’t stop. I thought just take me- don’t make me suffer like this. Eye sight began to return and the moon told me it was around 3:30 AM. I passed out, would wake and vomit some more for a few hours. About 6:30 LeRoy came in the front of the trailer and dis-covered me outside on the ground in the back. He helped me to my feet, mumbled he didn’t know why Tommy wasn’t here. As we walked to the front of the trailer he turned off the propane tank. I collapsed on the front step and he went to call Tommy again. Within a few minutes Tommy was there and they were helping me into Tommy’s truck. He drove us to the hospital and stayed with us. I told the Drs. How I felt, where it hurt and vomited bile for them. They decided it was one of three possibilities. Food Poisoning, Spinal Meningitis or Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The Doctors said we were showing the same symptoms and the onset was sudden in both of us. I listened to what they were saying but it didn’t make sense to me. It couldn’t be food poisoning we determined be-cause LeRoy had eaten at home and I had eaten at the restaurant the last several meals. I was scared of it being Spinal Meningitis, I had an aunt die of that when she was only two years old. The Drs. Decided to do an arterial blood gas test. That test hurts. They pulled a vial of blood from each of us. I sat rocking in the chair waiting to hear. I don’t know where LeRoy went. They came back about an hour later. The lab lady said she was sorry that they had lost my blood. She was going to have to do it again. I asked her to check again and she did. She came and took the test a second time. They came and told us to come into the Dr. Office. He told us we were poisoned by carbon monoxide. That LeRoy’s level was 4 times the lethal amount and my level was 3 times the lethal amount. That we needed to stay out of the trailer until we figured out what caused it. I asked the Doctor a lot of questions. I deter-mined in my own mind that because the propane refrigerator was not vented outside this caused a buildup of gas. We went home. Tommy left and went to his home. I pumped some water and brought it to the trailer. I was talking to LeRoy as I was walking into the trailer. I said let’s move the fridge outside. He said NO. He was hooking the gas line up to the stove. When he finished that he went over and hooked up the loose gas line to the fridge. I saw this. I watched this. This was too much too comprehend. He was not in the trailer with me. He turned off the propane tank that morning when he found me. He is hooking up gas lines that should not have been unhooked.


Good Gifts

Matthew 7:11  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I’ve read this bible verse many times in my life and have felt left out of receiving God’s gifts.  I believed for lots of my adult life that God excluded me from His eternal family and so obviously He excluded me from receiving His gifts.  I then finally realized that God had not excluded me and I had been told a pack of lies.  Yet even once I knew I was a chosen daughter of our Lord and Savior, I still felt left out of receiving His gifts.  I was happy to live and know I have an eternal life!  I always try to live being grateful and unconcerned about not having ‘everything’.

This Christmas season opened my eyes to this bible verse in ways only God can help us see!  I hope my enlightenment will encourage you through out your life!

One of my daughters is a single Mother.  She does an amazing job of balancing parenting, being a business owner, daughter, sister and friend.  I have not seen very many people who do as much for other people as my daughter does.  I realized that her son needed some help to go Christmas shopping for his Momma.  I am not sure why I hadn’t already planned on it but when I realized it we didn’t have much time left.  My grandson is 5 and has a heart bigger than words can describe.  I spoke with my grandson on the phone about going shopping with me to pick out his Mom a gift.  He was very excited and said Yes, Grandma I would love to!  So we set our shopping day for Saturday.

I assumed because he is only 5 and a ‘boy’ I would have to suggest what to buy, show him where it was in the store, and so on.  I surprise myself with my tainted view on the world sometimes.  Because of our crazy work schedules I ended up getting to spend time with my grandson before Saturday.  I asked him what he thought he wanted to buy his Mom and he said with all the confidence of a young gentleman who had been thinking about it ‘A phone case!’.  Hmmm ok I said, that is a good gift.  We were going to go pick it out that day but then he got into trouble and his Mom told him he was not allowed to buy anything, not allowed ask for anything to be bought and so on.  While I understood his Mom was saying no toys, candy or treats because you have been bad- I also pointed out that Mom said NO BUYING so we can not shop for her either. We will shop on Saturday.

Between then and Saturday God tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that while I have lots of people who make the Holiday special for me, currently my daughter only has one little boy.  I purposed then to help him get his Mom a few gifts.  So they arrived and I shooshed my daughter off!  As my grandson and I are driving to the store I said to him, I’ve been thinking and maybe we should get Mom more presents.  I think we should get her something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read or watch.  (Yes I borrowed this idea from a facebook post!) He looks at me with his eyes so full of love for his Momma and says in this quiet voice, you mean, Grandma I can give Momma more than one present?  I said Yes!  He hugged me tight and said thank you Grandma…. you haven’t seen our tree but it is FULL of presents.  They are all for me.  Mom has made Christmas so special for me, I want to her to have more than just one present.

So we shopped together and bought what he wanted to get for his Mom.  He had GREAT ideas!  He knew where to find them in the store.  We had fun wrapping them.  He wrote out all of his own tags.  He filled my heart so full with his enthusiasm to give that it opened my eyes to what I have helped perpetuate in this world.  This sweet child opened my eyes to see that he felt left out of being able to give.  He had lots of presents to open, but he didn’t have any to give.

We love our children so much we want them to have LOTS to open every Christmas morning- but do we take the time to help them give to us?  I didn’t.  Yes I took my kids to pick an angel gift as often as we could.  Yes I purposefully gave my kids money to put into the red kettles.  Yes we shopped for their dad together.  But did I enable them to give when their hearts were full like my grandsons’ heart for his Momma?  I did not.  It was not intentional but it is one of those things- I gave good gifts but didn’t train my kids up to give good gifts.  And as my grandson taught me this year, I have always been the one who needed to learn- I know my own children wanted to give to me and their father- but I didn’t see that as important- no here, just make me some coupons…. or this or that.  I didn’t encourage it to grow and blossom like I should have.

Don’t read this wrong- I love every single hand made thing my children have ever given me.  But as my grandson said- I want her to have more than one thing to open.  I want to give to her as much or more than she has given to me.  We miss that as the parent – so often!  We get caught up in pouring out onto our children that we don’t hear their hearts trying to pour into us.

So then this brings me back to how is it that I felt left out of God’s gifts?  God knows how to give better than I do!  I realized that like the presents under the Christmas tree, God has gifts for us.  He is not stuffing any one of those gifts into your face saying open it! open it!  He is patiently waiting for me to ask for it.  When I asked for salvation I received salvation.  When I asked for mercy and relief from pain, the pain left.  God is not sitting there pushing a gift in my face when I have done good, neither is He taking that gift away when I have done bad.  He is patiently waiting for me to be ready to receive what He has to offer.  While I see others around me with amazing gifts that I want, I quite frankly am not ready to receive them.  When I am ready to receive I will ask and I know God will give them to me.

So I challenge you as parents- foster your children’s love of giving.  Nourish it, help it grow!  Don’t shoosh them out of the way just because you want to do the giving- give to each other!  If your children are raised like mine are, then help your grandchildren!  Thankfully God doesn’t close the door on His giving – He is waiting there to give you the very thing that your heart desires!  Just ask!!




Yes, My Name is Rebecca Chapter Nine

Chapter IX
We wintered at the homestead. We fenced and rode cows for Tommy. Bud Price was a friend of LeRoy’s and he gave me his paint mare. Her name was Navajo. She was quick and if you didn’t sit deep she would run out from under you. She loved to work cows. We rode nearly every day. I planted a garden but it was too late to gather much out of the garden. LeRoy got his traps ready to trap mostly coyotes. We trapped some beaver but not very many. Thru the winter we ran the traps each day or at least LeRoy did. We would skin them each day. We cleaned the furs and took great care of them. Just before the cows started calving we mailed all the furs to a company in Canada. We got a check for a few thousand dollars which would supply the groceries for the next year.

I rode Tommy’s cows in the pasture thru calving season. I helped Tommy and LeRoy with calving. When we had to call out the vet Johnny Cochran I would help him too. I loved the ranch. The animals were my favorite. All of Tommy’s boys were off to college that winter. He was glad to have help. He teased me because I rode like a show ring girl instead of a ranch girl. But that is what I knew! The boys came home for spring break. Tommy was having lunch at home with the family. I was watching a cow that was working at having her calf. I saw Tommy coming down the high-way. I looked thru the rifle scope and she was still pushing out the calf without much progress. Tommy turned onto the homestead road and when he topped the hill that old truck startled the heifer. She jumped up and that caused the calf to drop out- still in the sac. I grabbed Buster, Tommy’s horse and mounted on the fly. He rode with metal rings for stirrups for his rubbers over his boots. I wore moon boots and those rings were a pain! We got to the calf and I jumped off as I jerked Buster up- but my left foot stuck in the stirrup! I landed flat on my back with my foot stuck in the stirrup. I reached up over my head and ripped open that sac so the calf could breath. Then reached up and freed my foot. I always appreciated every one of Tommy’s horses would take care of their rider and not panic when things went wrong. I was pretty sure Matt was in the truck with his Dad and I sure was hoping they didn’t see me fall off that horse.
I mounted up- went and got the heifer and pushed her close to the calf then left them in hopes she would take care of her calf. It was her first time and sometimes with too much interference they didn’t always take care of their own calves. I rode up to the homestead and stepped off. Tommy asked how the calf was- I said he’s breathing…. We need to watch her to make sure she nurses him. We took a few steps towards the cabin, Tommy grinned and said ‘heck of a dismount you got’ and Matt burst out laughing. Darn, they saw!
The cows were done calving and spring was happening all around us. It was time to brand the calves. We teamed up with several ranches around all helping each other. I always enjoyed branding at Tommy’s I got to work with the guys. At most the other ranches it seemed I got kitchen duty- which was alright but I liked to be with the animals and cowboys! The boys came home from college and we planned on moving the cows up to summer pasture. An-other neighbor was branding so LeRoy and Tommy went to help them. Matt, Mark, Cal and I put the cows into the summer pasture. Mark asked me if I wanted to see all their land. I said sure! So we rode the better part of the day. They thought they showed me things I hadn’t seen but I had been trapping all winter with LeRoy and knew the whole ranch! It was fun and I pretended to be surprised. We were heading back to the main ranch. I was rid-ing Chips that day. Coming down the main traveled path there was a bush that was growing out of the side of a hill. Every time we rode past it, Chips would wake up, startle and jump straight up landing us on top of the hill. It was about ½ mile ride to a spot where we could walk down it safely. I usually woke him up to avoid this predictable behavior but knew I had three cowboys wanting to watch me fall off. So up the hill we landed much to the dismay of those three boys! Rode along till the path back down and then we continued into their ranch. Matt rode over close and said you know why we showed you the ranch today? I said, Well the way you are asking tells me you were not just being nice…. With a grin. He said nope, we knew you would be saddle sore to-morrow! I got the laugh this time. I said oh, ok. I got up first thing in the morning and went up to the main ranch. Lorraine mustered her boys up at my request. Those soft college boys could hardly move! I laughed at them for a week- sitting in school desks for a year, who did you think helped Tommy while you were gone?!?! Finally- I got one up on them! My friend and editor for this book asked me, “Were you ever attracted to boys in a normal way?” My eyes began to tear, because I do not know what ‘normal’ is. I gave us trying to be ‘normal’ many years ago because when I sat down and attempted to define normal I could not define it. I decided at that point to stop trying to be something that I could not define. While each of us has a different ‘normal’ in our lives I still do not know how to answer my friends’ question. So my answer remains, “What is normal?”

As soon as we could get into Buffalo Park we went up and began working our claims. We filed the paperwork to prove we were making improvements and gathering gold. We had made plans for my cousin Ed Hughes to come up to Holy Cross for the summer with us. I don’t recall how we got together but it sure was nice to have him there to carry things. He was a hard worker and fun to be around. Tommy let us use Chips and we used Navajo my mare to pack most of our things. We had a new sluice box made and the plan was to work at the old mill site instead of the mine. Eddie carried the sluice box because it was so long. The horses carried most the groceries and we still carried packs with clothes, sleeping bags and such. We camped across the creek from the mill site. We had a sheep herder stove for our wall tent this year! So we had room and we could get warm! There was an old cabin that most the roof had collapsed in but it gave us a place to stack firewood and other things. Granddad Likes came up and stayed with us for a week. My nephew Greg Thomure came up for about two weeks with us. He was about 5. It was interesting camping with a child! This is the last time I remember seeing Greg. Deb moved to Denver and I never pursued the relationship. It hurt too much to see Greg sad with her and not be able to offer him a safe haven with me. This first night of camping with us he was snuggled into his sleeping bag beside me in mine. He woke me about 2 AM, crying Aunt Becky I am cold. I said well come here we will snuggle into my bag, when I realized he was soaking wet. He had wet the bed. So up I sprang and we got him cleaned up and into dry clothes. Then we snuggled together. The next night he did much better! He woke me about 2AM, Aunt Becky I have to go potty so we jumped up and ran outside together. He looks up at me and says the ground is too cold- I can’t pee! So I had to let him stand on my feet so his bladder could work!
There was an outfitter that rode in with 7 mules packing gear and 7 horses with people. I went over to Chips and Navajo so they wouldn’t follow them and said hello to the guide. The next morn-ing we woke up and their mules were with our horses. The mules were all hobbled. LeRoy had worked with mules in the mines and understood them pretty well. He walked out with one of halters while I saddled up Navajo. He started saying Come ere Black, Red, Jugs, he kept hollering different names. When he said Come ere Jack a big red mule threw his head up and came to him. LeRoy haltered him, told me he was the lead mule- everyone else would follow him. So we rode downstream till I found their camp about 3 miles away. The cook thanked me kindly and said he didn’t know how to keep them close. I asked them when they would be leaving. He said next Tuesday. I said ok- If they come back I will bring them to you Tuesday morning.
They were with our horses the next morning! It was funny. Those hobbled mules traveled better than our horses without hobbles. I took the mules back the next Tuesday. I rode back up to our camp and went to work in the mill. We had found mercury in the creek and were trying to find out how much had been spilled there. The outfitters stopped by on their way out and gave us their leftover food! What a treat- Coffee, fresh eggs and lots more! They brought in a group of people about every two weeks and we would shag their mules back and get fresh grub in return!
We pulled about 4 lbs. of mercury out of the creek. We worked the ore in the mill as well as around the mill. We used the mercury we found to gather the gold each day. Whenever we needed supplies I usually took the horses down alone and loaded up. Rarely did I have to load both of them- so I would ride Navajo back. One day I came across a family from Tennessee. Carla and Colin were the kids- I have forgotten their parents name. They were tired but pleasant. I offered to put their packs on my horse and to walk with them to a good camp spot. They appreciated it. We got them settled into their camp spot and I told them about where we were camped if they wanted to check out our “gold pan” operation. The weather turned rainy but we worked each day. Our time up there was limited and we used every minute we could.

There were some investors that came up. I think maybe Karl and Clair must have located them but I am not sure. There was Charlie Spielman and a man by the name of Bill. We went down to the trail head and lead them up to camp. Bill was a pilot for TWA at the time. He told us he had been an officer on the police force in Den-ver that had been fired for being crooked. Bill never admitted to being a crooked cop but did state that he was fired with them. He told lots of tales of poor ethics on the part of officers he worked with. He talked a lot to Eddie about having an attitude with police and how unsafe we are as the public. It was interesting and eye opening. They took their own assay of the Treasure Vault mine ore. Charlie told us where his condo in Vail was. He set up for us to spend a weekend in his condo and he could give us the results of the assay. That would determine if his company was interested in investing.
Carla & Colin’s family from Tennessee found our camp. I was in the tent baking up biscuits to go with lunch. This is a feat in a sheep herder stove- the heat is very uneven- you have to turn the pan to bake on all sides! Colin was about 4 and Carla was about 5. They were in the tent with me enjoying something warm and dry. Their camping trip had been rained on nearly every day. I turned the biscuits again and Colin in his sweet southern drawl said Miss Becky might you have a knife? I said well Colin I do have a knife but what might you need a knife for? He said I shore would like a warm biscuit with butter on it. His mom stuck her head in the tent and apologized. I was chuckling and told her please do not fret- I would love for him to have a warm biscuit with butter on it! They all came and visited us at Tommy’s homestead the next couple of years during their vacations.
Everyone told me to go meet with Charlie. I found his condo and the front desk gave me the key. Charlie called and told me that the ore ran less than a trace amount per ton. They would not be interested in this investment. He said please use the condo all weekend. I said gladly! I slept in a real bed, heard the neighbors and tried to watch T.V. But once you haven’t watched T.V. for a long time it seems like a complete waste of time. It was an enjoy-able weekend. I went back up the mountain and gave the bad news. I told LeRoy that Charlie did want to know of any other ventures.
Summer was coming to an end and we needed to make plans for leaving. We thought if we made a trapoize that Chip would be able to carry the sluice box down instead of Eddie. So LeRoy began. We used some old timbers from the mill and lashed them down to the stirrups of the saddle. We used some rope to tie the back together and thought it would work well. LeRoy lead Chips a couple of steps and he did good. Then they turned. Chips saw this trapoize chasing him and he took off. LeRoy chased him till he couldn’t anymore and Eddie kept on. Just before the top of the pass another hiker caught him, calmed him down and was standing with him when Eddie got there. The trapoize was down to one board. Eddie cut it loose and Chips snorted at him! They decided that Eddie would carry the sluice box down the mountain! We took one load down and had one more load to carry. That was the last of the grain to give the horses for all their work. We got back up to camp and prepared everything for the next day. When we got up LeRoy went to get the horses but Navajo would not come to him. She knew she had to carry the wood stove and she was arguing with him. He finally gave up and came over- popped a bowl of popcorn. She loved popcorn. She ate the popcorn and ran off. LeRoy was mad. I had everything ready to go and started up the mountain with Chips- said come here Navie…. And here she came! She stuck her head into her halter for me. LeRoy was laughing. We loaded her up and down the trail we went. We weighed the gold. In two years up on Holy Cross Mountain we had almost one ounce of Gold. The going price back then was almost $600 an ounce. Hmm not rocket science that the knowledge I gained was worth more than the gold.

Back down to Tommy’s homestead. The home was actually built with thirteen rooms. But then they had a few bad years for agriculture. Then a few really cold winters and the family began burning the wood for heat. They got it down to the four rooms and stopped. One of the hands from another ranch Darin Cleaver had lost his job and had to move to town. His wife, Betty, worked at the bank I think. Darin had fighting chickens. I was mortified. He needed a place to house them because they could not live in town. I told him I would take them but he would never fight them again- he said great! He brought me 12 roosters and 12 hens. LeRoy made a chicken coop- now we would have our own fresh eggs. The roosters had their own A-Frame coops. Darin showed me how their leashes worked. Each rooster was tethered to his own A-Frame. The hens roamed free and I would pen them up at night for their safety. Well I decided the hens needed to have a rooster with them so I took one rooster and put him in the coop with the hens. I would change the rooster about every week. This had been going on for several months when Darin stopped by for a visit. He was terrified! He said you can’t do that- those roosters will kill each other. I said they haven’t yet- don’t tell them! That night the hen rooster was nearly killed by one of the other roost-ers! I was so sad. I nursed him back to health and didn’t let one rooster run loose after that! Several hens went to sitting on eggs and they hatched out 16 chicks. It was fun to have babies all around. They were about 6 weeks old and one morning one was dead. I buried it and was feeding the chickens when some of my little kittens came out to see me. A hen raced over and killed two kittens before I could save them. I wanted to kill that chicken but couldn’t catch her. Another chick was dead the next morning. And each morning- we were down to 9 alive. As I was cooking I looked out the trailer and here was Rusty, LeRoy’s Australian Shepherd throwing a chick up in the air and catching it ever so carefully. He loved babies and was playing with it. I opened the trailer door and he set the chick down and lay down with it. I walked over to the chick, picked it up and said ‘Rusty you killed it! You can’t play with these babies.’ I took Rusty with me to bury it. He never ‘played’ with another so eight of the sixteen survived. They were about the size of banty hens and 7 were roosters. Darn- more hens is what we wanted! These little roosters began fighting furiously. I had to build a pen to separate them from each other.
We were staying in LeRoy’s airstream. He began telling me of women he had seen having sex with animals. I always tried to change the subject because he was sick. He held me down one night and tried to make Rusty mount me. Thankfully Rusty loved me and refused. It was several hours of frustrating volatile behavior from LeRoy.

The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)
2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Yes, My Name is Rebecca Chapter Eight

Chapter VIII
LeRoy had been planning on us gold panning for life. We were go-ing to start out in Buffalo Park on Gore Range. We hiked into Buffalo Park before the roads opened and set up a tent with Dave. When the roads opened LeRoy pulled up the little camper that my clothes had been stored in when Earlene was living with him. Then in July we would go up to the family mining claims on Holy Cross Mountain. We hiked into Buffalo Park before the roads were open and set up camp. Dave came with us. We used gold pans; we finally bought a small dredge and sluice box. We worked the creek that ran through Buffalo Park every day. Occasionally after the roads opened up we would load up the dredge and try other spots. In Porcupine Creek we found what LeRoy said was platinum. He didn’t want to work it so I doubted that it was truly platinum. We also found a fossilized molar tooth. It was about 2 inch square. It appeared to have become wood. I did not know enough about a fossil like this and did not get it sealed up. The air caused it to disintegrate.
We filed mining claims on 40 acres in Buffalo Park in my name.
We talked with Karl and Clair Smith our double cousins. They owned the mining claims on Holy Cross Mountain. We set up that we would go up for the whole summer. They would join us in late July. LeRoy invited a friend from Arkansas to join us. He told Wayne and his wife they could have half the gold if they shared the cost of food and did their share of the work. They met us at the homestead. They came up to Buffalo Park with us about a week or more. Then we all got geared up to go to Holy Cross. Dave couldn’t come; he had gone back to town. Sharon missed him, which is why people get married- to not be lonely. LeRoy told us how to get to the hiking trail which led up to the Treasure Vault Lake which was just below the family claim. We parked and donned our back packs. We were going to be using a retort to capture the gold back out of the mercury so we had to bring charcoal with us. Charcoal was the only thing that burnt hot enough to vaporize the mercury. My cat had kittens just about a week before this trip so I didn’t feel I could leave her there alone. I had a special bag to put the kittens in and my cat ‘Kitten’ walked on a leash. As the four of us were hiking up the trail, people were getting a great laugh at us. Who goes hiking with a cat, kittens and charcoal briquettes?? We made it up about 5 miles that day. We set up camp and I was planning dinner. I noticed Wayne’s wife rearranging her back pack. It was only clothes. No food. So I went over and looked in Wayne’s pack. It also was clothes. No food. I told LeRoy- you and I are carrying food, they are carrying clothes, what is up with that. I had never backpacked and we estimated I carried an average of 50 pounds in my back pack each trip. I fell asleep quickly that night. We got up the next morning and I had severe menstrual cramps. We picked up camp and started off. We cleared the pass and were about ½ ways down the steep part when LeRoy saw the mine. It was back up the hill. I collapsed. I cried. They all took their packs over to where camp would be. LeRoy came back over to me and carried my pack for me. We were camped above timberline. There was frost every night. I attempted to make coffee. It was boiling in the pot. I poured cups of coffee and was being careful when I passed them out. I realized the tin cups were not hot….. I put my finger into my coffee. It had been boiling less than one minute ago- and it was not even luke warm. This was my first lesson high altitude cooking.
Groceries were getting a little thin and finally LeRoy asked Wayne when he was going to bring some food. Wayne said they thought we would supply the first part of summer and they would supply the last part of summer. Well we had the last of our food down in the car. LeRoy and I went down and packed up the last of our food. Each day we were working the “dump”. Years before when Treasure Vault Mine was being operated they dumped the slash ore as most miners did. We were sluicing from this pile. We hooked up water to run over the sluice from out of the lake. We shoveled by hand the ore from the dump pile. We had no way to “mine” from the old mine. Lots of hikers asked to go in and look at it. We usually told them yes, but warned it was at their own risk. At the end of the shaft it had been ‘glory holed’ to the surface. Often icicles fell from there which could hurt a person.
Our food ran out. Wayne and his wife decided to go get some groceries. They returned with many boxes of tuna helper without any tuna. I was sickened at their self-centeredness. We ate these pasta meals and worked hard. Finally I told LeRoy I need some real food. He killed a wood chuck. We spit roasted it. It was pretty good. A bit greasy but good.
LeRoy killed a wood chuck every couple of days and we ate wood chuck with tuna helper. Our cousins were due to get here any day. We heard a group of people at the top of the pass. They were carrying something that looked like riffles for the sluice box. They were in bad shape and we thought Karl and Clair had carried in new ones. There were about 6 people more than we expected. When they got closer we realized it wasn’t our cousins.
They came up and asked if they could go back into the mine. We said that is ok- what is the ladder for? There are water crystals that we came back to get. We grinned. Sure go ahead. They had just carried a 16 ft. extension ladder 7 miles up a mountain for nothing. They came for water crystals which are extremely valuable. Icicles are just frozen water. Apparently they thought we were stupid for gold mining when we had a ‘treasure’ of water crystals. They carried the ladder back into the mine- set it up and came out disgusted. They discovered our ‘icicles’. They left the ladder!
About a week later Karl and Clair got there. We had found very little gold. Clair had told us when they assayed this dump it ran about an ounce a ton. LeRoy began asking them about the assay and how they did it. Karl said when you crush this rock it has gold in it, so we took as many of these rocks as we could. Well that told us it was not a fair sample of the entire dump. It was an assay of one type of rock in it. Wayne and his wife packed up and left.
Karl, Clair, and we worked the dump site for about another two weeks. We all loaded up and headed back down the mountain. I had learned a lot about living off the land. I had learned plants up there to pick and cook for vegetables. I had learned how to tell if a mushroom was edible or poisonous. I met people from all around the world, hiking across our mining claims. We came back down after Karl and Clair had shown us the old mill site which they also held the claims too. I found some history books about the area and learned more about the mines and old mill. We planned on returning the following summer.
When we got back to the homestead on Tommy Davidson’s place he recognized the lack of food. He brought us down a 100 lb. sack of potatoes, 50 lbs. of onions, eggs and told us to come get meat out of the freezer whenever we wanted. We went up to their home and Lorraine made me go get on the scale. I only weighed 105 lbs. I was 5ft 10 in tall. Most charts have always stated ideal weight between 145-165 lbs. They made sure we had groceries, homemade pies and more. I continued to lose weight for a while before my body figured out I was getting food. A couple of weeks later I weighed 95 lbs. Then finally I began to gain weight.
Late summer there was a Cato family reunion. Charles Cato was my G Grandfather on my father’s side. It was in Fruita Co. I met lots more of the family in person. I heard gossip about many of them. I saw them treat each other badly. Aunt Norma’s daughter had married a black man and they had 6 children. Other relatives were actually rude enough to call their children into their tents and away from them. I do not understand how or why you invite family to come together and then treat each other so poorly. God is not a racist and we should not be either.
Granddad Likes put LeRoy’s first daughter in touch with us. She needed a place to go. We invited her to our home. Her name was Deb Thomure. She was divorced with a 3 yr. old son. His name was Greg. Deb and I didn’t get along very well. She seemed to like to create drama. I spent as much time with Greg as I could. LeRoy and I stayed in the cabin. Deb and Greg stayed in the air-stream trailer. Before the snow flew Deb moved to Kremmling. I was happy when she moved to town. Greg stayed with us. She was happy to be rid of him. I thought that Greg would probably stay with me forever. I loved him dearly. I will never understand when a parent simply does not want their child around for long periods of time.
When we got the cows moved down for winter, Greg was one happy little cowboy. He would head outside and I would tell Rusty don’t let him get close to the cows. Rusty would draw himself an imaginary line. If Greg crossed it, he would grab his britches and pull him back towards the house. If a cow crossed it he would run her back. I was washing dishes one day when Greg started screaming as though he was hurt. I raced out and found him flat on his back with Rusty lying on top of him smiling at me. I said let him up Rusty. I asked Greg what happened and he was trying to go catch a cow. Apparently Rusty got tired of pulling him back so he just laid on top of him!
Greg was convinced that a monster lived in the back of the home-stead. I could not get him to believe there was no monster. I used to walk back there with him in the daylight and again at night with a Coleman lamp. We never found a monster but he knew one lived there. One day he ventured back there on his own. LeRoy wore dentures. Many times he would leave them in a glass of water because they did not fit well. They were in their glass and Greg found them. He pulled them out of the glass and came running at his fastest, loudest pace! I found his teeth! The monster left his teeth! I was laughing so hard I could not deny it. I just told him at least we are safe he can’t bite us now! Little did I know the wisdom of this small boy! He truly was holding a monster’s teeth.
It was time to ship the yearling cows and the truck had arrived. We were all working at weighing them, loading them and so forth. Greg tripped and fell on the scale driving a large splinter in across the palm of his hand. He stood up, looked at it and I was ready to take him in to handle it, when Tommy flipped open his pocket knife and said come here young man. He stepped confidently up to Tommy who laid open the skin and pulled this 5 inch splinter out whole. He said go get it washed up, Greg said ok. We are walking back to the homestead and he hasn’t cried or even really blinked. I used some peroxide on it, then bandaged it good to keep the dirt out. I said wow, Greg I am surprised you didn’t cry- that was a bad splinter. He looked me straight in the eye and said ‘Cowboys don’t cry’. And with that we both went back to work!
Then one night as LeRoy was having sex with my body he began to tell me that little boys get hard-ons and ejaculate. I was dismayed that he knew that. Why or how would he know? I fished for in-formation. The conversation took a turn I was not expecting. He wanted me to molest Greg. I turned his attention to oral sex and made sure he fell deep asleep. The next morning I drove Greg to my sister’s house and told her, he can never come back. You have to protect him at all times. Do not ever leave him with us again. LeRoy wanted to know why I took Greg away. I told him you might hurt me, but you are not going to hurt that little baby. He then proceeded with many conversations of how it is my job as a parent to teach my children about sex. That I would birth them, clean them, feed them and teach them about their bodies. I should teach them what is pleasurable and what isn’t. These conversations were for unbelievable even for me. I had buried this information and forgotten the level of his evilness for many years.

Yes, My Name is Rebecca Chapter Seven

Chapter VII
I was off from work that afternoon which was unusual. I knew that having me around was causing stress to both Dave and Sharon. I also was very tired of living with alcoholism. I decided that day to go speak to Earlene about me staying there. I knew no one would know I was there and I thought we could have an honest heart to heart talk. Mom told me I had to stay with Dave when we left Tucson or she would have me hauled back to Tucson as a run-away. I knew if I moved into my own place Dave would call Mom and Mom would call the police. But I knew she would not take me away from LeRoy. So I rode the bus out to their house and talked with Earlene. I explained to her that I turn 18 and graduate within a week of each other. I won’t be here long. Just long enough to turn 18. I explained to her Mom won’t let me live on my own. She won’t mess with you or LeRoy and she won’t make me come back to Tucson, if I can stay here. I can’t live with Dave and his drunkenness anymore. I don’t drink and don’t want to drink or put up with other peoples drunkenness. I will do what you tell me to do. She said you will have to sleep on the couch. That is ok. There is the camping trailer and that is where you can put your clothes. I said ok- can I stay in the camping trailer? She and I thought that would be a great idea. It was one of those that has a double bed in the back, the only standing room is your kitchen with a small table in the front. I explained to her with my job I need a ride home. But I could ride to the Junction with Sharon and then it is only a 3 mile walk to here. She said she would come pick me up in Kremmling every night. Only exception is that when it snows. Earlene said I won’t drive in the snow so you will have to find a place to stay in town until the storm is over. I said ok- I can do that. We fixed dinner together. Earlene was not happily married. She didn’t really like herself. So to like others was not in her nature. She resented anyone that took LeRoy’s time, even his dog. When LeRoy came in for dinner that night he was ecstatic that I was mov-ing in. We all ate and drove quickly over to the homestead and got my clothes. I only had one suitcase. It was the only room Dave had in his truck when we were moving. We brought them back and I tried to settle into the camper but LeRoy insisted that I sleep on the sofa.
I got to sleep in until 5:30 AM! I went out and got my clothes for the day, came in showered and got dressed. I got my school stuff and my PJ’s went back out. Put my PJ’s into the camper and walked up the short hill to the highway. The bus picked me up about 6:15 AM. I rode the bus into school- I was the only high school student on this bus. These kids were cruel. They would try to take all the seats and not let me sit down. Our poor driver was in tears almost every day. I felt bad for her. Not sure why she took a job with kids- she seemed ill equipped for her job.
Living on the ranch when I wasn’t at school I enjoyed learning life on the ranch. LeRoy was employed at the Hill ranch as a ranch hand. I would drive his pick up across the fields to feed. He would tell me to pay attention- that everything looked different after it snowed. I needed to know where I was at that was whether it was winter or summer I would never get lost. Whenever I was the passenger Rusty sat in my lap. His seat was the passenger seat and he wasn’t giving it up!
The grocery store closed at 9 PM and I was usually done with all my work by about 9:30 PM. LeRoy and Earlene pulled up in front of the store about 8:30 PM that first night of giving me a ride home. I ran out and told them I would be here for another hour. They said that is fine, we are going over to the Wagon. Meet us there. OK! Back into work I went. I finished up and walked over to the Wag-on. I tried to sit on the restaurant side at the employee table so I could work on my homework. But no one would let me. They insisted that I join LeRoy and Earlene in the bar. I went in and tried to let them know I would be over there working on homework. LeRoy said these are your drinks- drink up you have a lot of catching up to do. There were 3 Tom Collins. As I am drinking these an-other arrives. The owner knew I was 17. The bartender knew. The cocktail waitresses knew. No one flinched at serving me. Whatever Earlene chose to drink each night is what I was drinking. They justified it by not allowing me to order drinks- only drinking what other people ordered! We closed the bar down that night and many subsequent nights. Each night home around 3 AM, very drunk- sitting on the sofa attempting to do my homework. My routine was a tough one to keep up with. Each morning I would step out to the camping trailer to get clean clothes and then take a quick shower being as quiet as I could be, trying to not wake or disturb either LeRoy or Earlene. I would get dressed, get my school books and go out the back door. I would leave my dirty clothes in the trailer and catch the bus. Normally I would have homework to finish as I rode the bus.
In Mid-October I stepped out to the camping trailer for clothes one morning to discover it was snowing. Big, fluffy snowflakes! I picked out 3 different outfits that I could mix and match to cover for 5 days of clothes easily. Got myself off to school and was happy! I thought I get to stay in town tonight! I would get thru my day at school and hurry down to the grocery store. It was still snowing and I am tickled! I rush up to Bonnie and explain that I need a place to stay tonight, knowing her son left for college and she has his room. She happily offers and starts planning our dinner and more. I said Bonnie- I thank you but honestly I just want some sleep. She understands since she knows what has been happening with me drinking in the bar. It is finally 9 PM and I lock the front doors. Bonnie and I are counting our drawers when LeRoy pulls up out front. I have Bonnie let me out to talk to him. I tell him, No- go home Earlene and I agreed. I am just going to Bonnie’s house. He grabs my arm and is going to pull me into the truck and Bonnie picks up the phone to call the police. I pull loose and tell him I have to finish my job. He tells me if I don’t meet him at The Wagon he would kill Bonnie. His eyes told me that he meant it. I said fine. I went back in and apologized to Bonnie. I finished my drawer and closing responsibilities. She begged me to let her call the police and help. I told her no. I didn’t tell her he threatened to kill her- no need to scare her too. I went over to the Wagon. We closed the bar down and went out to the Hill ranch.
Earlene was sitting cross legged in her chair crocheting. She was mad. She began to tell me everything I had ever done to bother her. LeRoy kept telling her to shut up. I guessed they would argue for a while, everyone would go to bed and tomorrow would be a new day. Earlene would not stop and LeRoy was getting very agi-tated. He picked her up with one hand by her throat and literally threw her across the room. Earlene told me she weighed 352 lbs. For her size and shape I think she was fairly honest about her weight. She hit the wall and slid down it dazed. I raced to her. Her eyes never closed- she did not lose conscientiousness, but she was confused and I was attempting to determine how severe her injuries were. LeRoy was yelling at me to get into the truck. He was coming at her. I stood up and faced him and told him he was going to leave her alone. His eyes went cold, full of evil. He told me to get into the truck- he looked around me and told her to pack her bags she was going home. She was yelling back at him- I thought she was alright.
I grabbed my backpack and got into the truck. Rusty was already in the back of the truck. He looked to me for comfort so I patted his head. LeRoy followed a few minutes later and back to town we go. It is about 4 AM when we get to George and Mary Gore’s home and wake them up. LeRoy says to Mary I need someone to watch her. Don’t let her out of your sight. I said I am going to school and to work tomorrow so you might as well forget about watching me. I am not three and stepped into her home. LeRoy said he was going to pick up Earlene and take her to the airport. She was from Arkansas and he was sending her home. Mary shut the door and took me downstairs. She began to turn down the bed I said, Don’t bother, Mary. I have this homework to finish- then I will shower if that is ok and get on my way to school. It would take me about an hour to walk to school from their house because most of it was uphill. And if I planned a few extra minutes I could smoke a cigarette before school started. She asked me what time I had to be to school, I told her 7:55 AM. She asked me how much time I needed to get ready- I said about 30 minutes. I sat at the little desk and began working on homework. I was answering essay questions.
Mary rubbed my shoulder which jolted me awake! Oh no! I fell asleep in my book- drooled all over it… Gross!! Mary said get your shower- I said ok. When I looked I only had 3 more answers that I had not done. I completed those quickly and jumped in the shower. I was going to have to jog some to make it but I would get there on time. I left out the back door with a holler of thanks over my shoulder. Before I got out of the yard, Mary was standing in the back door telling me to get back into this house. Mary I don’t have time- I don’t want to be late. She said Becky I said get back in here now don’t make me come catch you. I reluctantly turned back and she insist-ed she would drive me to school. She leads me back into the house and to the dining room. She asked me how I like my eggs- I said well I don’t much like eggs but when I do eat them, I prefer them scrambled. In seconds she puts a plate of bacon, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and toast in front me. She gives me a glass of juice and a glass of milk. I look at this food. I look at this table and I look up at Mary and begin crying. She hugs me and says what’s wrong with you? I said Mary I am 17 years old. No one in my life has ever cooked me breakfast. I woke you up in the middle of the night and this is how you treat me? I don’t know what to do. She said “Eat!” I ate. I could not eat it all but I drank every drop of juice and milk. It was all so good. She then drove me to school and asked if I needed a ride later. I told her no that I was used to walking to work. I thanked her for breakfast and the ride. I didn’t get to smoke before school- but I didn’t get to most days.
I decided to call Dave and Sharon to ask I could stay with them. They had moved into the main trailer park in Kremmling. I had this sick feeling that LeRoy had killed Earlene. And I knew he wanted to have sex with me. I did not know why but I knew that if I went to that house without Earlene there that LeRoy would rape me. I called during school lunch and spoke with Sharon. They had moved into Kremmling. Dave was working at the lumber mill. Sharon said she would talk to Dave and let me know after school. I called when I got to work and left a voice mail. I was working when Sharon came in and told me that she thought it would be great for me to get to know my father. I said Sharon, he needs to reconcile with Earlene and he will not do that if I am there. Please let me stay with you guys. I will do my best to not upset Dave. She assured me that time with LeRoy without Earlene would be good for LeRoy and me. Bonnie tried to interject that Sharon needed to let me come home but Sharon dismissed her quickly.
I finished my shift and LeRoy was there to pick me up at 9:30 PM. We drove to the ranch. No bar tonight. Hmm I know I should be happy about no bar. We walked into the house. I started on my homework- he at some point got out his .22 caliber pistol and laid it on the coffee table. I was trying to be lost in school work and hide in my books. I know he was talking but I wasn’t allowing his words to enter my brain. He picked up his pistol and shoved me back on the couch. He fell on top of me and was pulling off my clothes. I found a safe place to escape to in my mind. I was gone for the rest of his need to relieve himself. I believed at that point that I was the evil one. I must draw sexual deviancy into my life. Like I had heard so many times- I am getting what I deserve.
I awoke for school the next day. He had moved my clothes into his closet in his bedroom. He was cooking breakfast when I got out of the shower. We ate, I went to school with his truck. That way he didn’t have to drive in late at night. I was told to stop at the liquor store and bring him home a case of Budweiser glass bottle beer. Each night he drank the whole case. It only took one time of him raping me at gunpoint and I became a ‘willing’ sleeping partner of his. It was easier than my father threatening me with his gun. I had seen how cruel he was capable of being and only wanted to find a kinder, softer place to be loved.
I was struggling with my thesis on anatomy. I had this stiff copper wire laced thru the vertebrae which I could mold into the shape of a horse vertebrae. This worked well until I began attaching ribs. The weight of the ribs caused my backbone to sag in the middle. Mr. Gross offered some assistance but none of our ideas were solving the dilemma. My father asked me if I would be allowed to work on this project at home or if it had to be at school. I told him I could work on it at home- I just had no place large enough or anyway to move an assembled skeleton. He said bring home the bones and I will try to help with the backbone.
I loaded up all my bones and brought them home. We brought them into the living room. LeRoy rigged up a couple of hooks in the ceiling to hang it from. So here is my horse hanging in the living room in front of the sofa. I show him the problem when I begin adding the ribs. He says does it have to be wire? I said I don’t know what else to use. He said hold on. He went out into the workshop. He came in with a piece of what he called ‘corner mold’. He measured the length of the back and marked the mold to shave some of the width off. He went out to the workshop and cut down the corner mold. He brought it back into me. I was able to slide the vertebrae onto it. I then used wire from the ceiling to create the arches and falls of the backbone of a horse.
SAT tests were scheduled and I signed up to take them. They would be held in Granby, Co at the high school. Granby was about 32 miles from Kremmling. The tests were on a Saturday and we were told to be there by 9 AM. If you are late you lose your fees and do not get to take the SAT. It snowed and the roads were very icy. I had never driven on ice. So far I took the bus on snow days and trusted that LeRoy would drive me to the SAT’s. He re-fused. He said if you want to go I will chain up the truck. I said I am going. He put on chains and off I went. I ran off the road twice. Both times the vehicle behind me threw me a tow chain and pulled me out of the ditch. The transmission locked up in second gear, like it always did. I crawled under it and clicked it out of sec-ond gear. I was mud from head to toe- had ice, mud and grunge in my hair, on my lovely pink suit, and inside my shoes. I finally made it to Granby at about 9:30. It took me three tries to get up the hill to the high school. I finally made it. I walked in knowing I was too late to take the test. The instructor took one look at me and handed me the test. I said, Really? He said you obviously worked hard to get here. I said thank you and sat down. I began the test. Each thing I finished I would go back to the beginning to fill in what I had missed. I got thru the entire test and managed to answer all questions even though I was 45 minutes late. I failed at almost everything on that test. I excelled at Math. It recommended I go into Accounting. I honestly felt it was wrong. Math seemed to me to be my weakest area. I was under so much duress to get there I felt that I should retake the test. But without my own cash I would not be allowed to. So I chalked that up as a test that showed poor results.
I kept working on my horse anatomy thesis and at attaching the ribs. When it was time to work on the shoulders and legs I bought some plaster of Paris to make the missing shoulder blade. I made one- it was not good. The shoulder blade I made was a duplicate of the original blade I needed it to be the opposite side. LeRoy showed me how to make a mold with the existing shoulder blade. That one was much better! It had to set so I began working with the one I had. As I said I only had one complete leg. The other three legs I determined to put together in stages which helped explain the structure of the leg. The real shoulder blade became my whole leg. Then the plaster shoulder blade had 1/4 of the leg. The right hind had ½ of a leg and the left hind had only 3/4 of the leg. I used these stages of legs to emphasis how the leg of a horse work. This all took me until the end of January to complete. It was well worth my efforts. I learned more about horses. I also saw some interesting skills of LeRoy.
LeRoy was an excellent carpenter, trapper, mechanic and more. He taught me lots of these skills which led to even more confusion. Was he good or bad? Was I good or bad? I liked learning! Was I a victim or a willing participant? Many years of therapy have helped me retain the good lessons taught by LeRoy and overcome the sexual abuse. This has been a lifetime adventure to figure out how to ‘forget’ the abuse and recall the lessons that are useful and good. At varying times in my life I tried to throw out every-thing, which was as destructive as trying to overcome this without our God.
Just before going to Tucson for Christmas, LeRoy made me quit my job. He insisted that no child of his had to support themselves. He was slowly taking control of all aspects of my life. Also in the mail he received divorce papers. He called them his pedigree papers, because they told you what kind of a dog you were. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was the only knowledge I had that Earlene was still alive. I flew home to see Mom for Christmas which was a positive-ly awful visit. I resented her for my abortion. I did not trust her. I had no reason to be there except to make her happy. I wasn’t very good at trying to make her happy at this point of my life.
When sharing this story with others I have been asked, “were you exhausted?” In reality I probably was, but it was just the way my life had played out and what I expected at this point in my life. I do recall years down the road living with my husband, he would comment I’ve never known someone who could sleep for 14 hours and still be tired. I was finally safe with him and could sleep without one eye open.
One weekend we took LeRoy’s snowmobiles out for the entire weekend. We rode up to a cabin somewhere around the Trouble-some creek. I think it was George Gore’s cabin. It was interesting to go camping in the middle of the winter. Coming home I got courageous on the big ski doo. I thought I could catch up with LeRoy and maybe out run him. I hooked a ski under an old cattle guard which put me airborne and crashed upside down in deep snow! When I got the snow dug out of my glasses, my ski mask and such, LeRoy had come back to help. It had ripped off one of the skis. So he then taught me how to balance that old ski doo with only one ski. It was a long ride home- which left EVERY muscle in my body sore.
My horse was complete and now the other end of the dilemma. How do you transport a horse skeleton? LeRoy said he knew how we could. Since I no longer had a job I rode the bus to and from school. LeRoy had demanded that I quit my job at the grocery store. He was adamant that I only go to school and not work. When I arrived home on the bus, LeRoy had borrowed a horse trailer from the owner of the Hill Ranch. He said we will put the horse in the trailer and take it to school tomorrow. Ok, that will work. We opened up the trailer. We took the horse off the hooks in the living room and carefully carried it out to hang it in the trail-er. I was concerned that if it swayed the bones could break against the sides of the trailer, so we wired it from side to side to prevent too much sway.
The next morning we left for town. It was only a half day of school in the afternoon. I wanted LeRoy to go straight to school but he insisted on stopping at the bank. One of the tellers said to him as she was looking at the trail-er parked out front- you rode that horse a little too long don’t you think, LeRoy? Everyone laughed then came out of the bank to see my school project. Over to the grocery store was our next stop. Once again my horse was the center of lots of attention. Mr. Gross knew I was bringing it in that day. When we finally got up to the school, I went inside to let Mr. Gross know that I was here. He called for help and followed me outside. His smile was from ear to ear when he saw this horse.
Seeing Mr. Gross pleased was exhilarating! He was a tough teach-er with high expectations and if felt good to have pleased him! He told me to come help him inside. I followed him inside. There was a display area accessed only from his room. He had many displays in it for people to see. We moved everything away from the front glass. We put up the hooks that I had used in the classroom when I was trying to put it together there. Once we had the hooks up and the walkway cleared we went back out to the horse trailer. LeRoy and I took the horse down. We walked in unison as Mr. Gross led us thru the halls calling EVERYONE Come look at this!! I am like, stop it, it is just my thesis. We make our way to the dis-play area and hang Blaze up. He remained there for almost 20 years. 3 yrs after Mr. Gross retired Blaze was taken down for a newer display.
Blaze! Rather unusual to have had two ‘important’ horses in my life with the same name. So I looked up the meaning utilizing the internet. Naturally the most common definition is a fire. That did not strike anything within me. Then I read ‘to blaze a trail’. My life has been a blazed trail! I have walked a journey ahead of others to help them find their way! I apologize to those of you who needed me to figure this out faster and earlier in my own life! I pray you found your way and did not get stuck in the mire for as long as I got stuck!
It is now February and the hard parts have been completed for graduation! I have a bug collection to put together and all is well. I have my board, markers, and pins and begin “collecting” bugs. I am not finding any bugs. Now mind you, I grew up in Tucson, AZ. There are always bugs. Sometimes there are more bugs than oth-er times, but there are always bugs! In Kremmling, CO in February there are no bugs. I go to Mr. Gross and tell him of my dilemma. He inquires why I did not do the bug collection first. I said because that was the EASY project. I felt like I had to work on the anatomy! Now that it is done I began the bug project. I’ve now asked enough people to learn the bugs won’t be back until June and school gets over in May. How can I complete this thesis? He tells me that I can buy insects. He gives me some catalogs. I research that. I was told to catch, pin and label a collection of 50 insects. To purchase a pinned and labeled insect seems like ‘cheating’ to me. To purchase live insects they come in huge quantities like 50 or more of each type. I don’t want that many bugs and cannot truly afford to purchase 50 different kinds.
I would go out and feed the cattle with LeRoy. I remember once LeRoy plowed into a stack yard so that he could start feeding that hay. It was the pasture that the bulls were kept in. They followed us into the stack yard. When LeRoy turned off the back hoe he told me to chase those bulls out. I sat there for a moment think-ing- but those are BULLS. LeRoy nudged me and said get them out of here! I stepped down off the back hoe and the bulls began turning around. I took a step and they began moving away from me. My next several steps were much bolder. I chased those BULLS out of that stack yard. I was tough! I closed the gate. We loaded the sled with hay and out we went and fed those bulls. Tommy Hill fired LeRoy, supposedly for reporting a stolen cow and her calf. LeRoy called and asked Tommy Davidson if he could come calve for him and stay at the homestead. Tommy D said come on! So we packed up that night and moved over to the homestead where Dave, Sharon and I had stayed. The next morning I woke up and heard a voice. This is the cabin was three miles off of the highway and without the constant hum of electronics was exceptionally quiet. So to wake hearing a voice was unusual. I got up and looked out. Tommy was standing on the back of his sleigh feeding the cows. His team was hitched up with the reins wrapped around the center post. Tommy would say “Gid Up” and they would work hard to take a step, then another slow deter-mined step. Tommy would say “Whoa” and they would stop. He would shove hay off of each side- then say “Gid Up”. I was amazed. At the Hill Ranch I went to help feed whenever I wasn’t in school. Their team was high strung. I got to “drive” the team. It was much more like holding them back. They would spook when Tommy Hill would yell. Three times that one winter they shredded their leather harness trying to get away from him. Each time I drove them I worked hard on keeping them calm, telling them what a good job they did. It took a lot of arm strength to hold them back. When they did run off, usually Jay Noonan (another ranch hand) and I would walk after them. We would finally catch them and ride them back. They were calm with us. Feeding at the Hill ranch was an all hands on deck operation. To see Tommy Davidson out there doing it by himself with the horses as his coworkers- this is what I wanted to be around.
Lots of people must have laughed at this city girl. Once again I get an unexpected phone call. Granddad Smith calls and says I have a bug bag and you can have the bugs from it if that will help your thesis. I went over to his house. He showed me his bug collector. He made it himself. It had a circular fluorescent light. There was a fan with a canvas bag hanging below it. The light would attract the bugs and the fan would suck them into the bag. I dumped out the bag and there were lots of bugs! I was happy! I was grateful that Granddad had not dumped the bag when he pulled it in last fall! I took my bugs home and began pinning and labeling. I had about 25 different species. I did have some duplicate species in different stages of their life. I began looking thru the barn, windowsills and other spots for left over dead bugs. I ended up with 32 different species and enough stages of life to bring it all to 57. I turned it in with an explanation and an apology for failing to have 50 different species. Mr. Gross reluctantly gave me a B+ overall grade. He told me that he had promised Mr. Shields he would not just pass me thru- that I would earn my grade. I smiled. I was pleased to learn that Mr. Shields had held up his end of the bargain. Did I want an A? Yes I did. But I did not complete the project as required so I did not earn one. So because I was missing 18 insects I graduated with a 3.9. I am very pleased with my 3.9 even though I wanted to beat or meet Cal Davidson’s 4.0!
Mom came for graduation. Her present to me was my car. I left it and asked my Mom to sell it for me because it didn’t run well. She painted it metallic blue and got a new interior put into it for me. It looked great. When I got to town she had it parked there with a huge pink bow on it! My brother wore his wedding suit! He was so handsome. I graduated high school and listened to my parents bicker as though they had divorced last week. Mom wanted me to come to Aunt Patsy’s with her for a few days. We went down for a visit. We were shopping in Targets when Mom said I want to help you Becky. I know you are LeRoy’s lover and I want to help you get out of there. I said in NO uncertain words that I was NOT his LOVER. There was nothing I needed her help with. Aunt Patsy found us and we all went to the checkout. The clerk said some-thing over her loud speaker and a man came up. He took one of the twenties Mom had paid with and looked at it. She asked if there was a problem. She explained she had gone to her bank and gotten cash for her trip. She said if you want a different twenty I can give you a different one. He was pleasant and said yes please. This $20 bill looks counterfeit. Take it back to your bank and ask them to give you a different one. So she gave them a different one and got that one back. We all looked at it. It was printed in 1925. I looked it up in one of Aunt Patsy’s book. The collector val-ue of it was $25.00. Uncle John gave Mom $25 for her collectible bill.
I returned home to LeRoy the next day. I was outraged and hurt that my mother called me his lover. She had always been jealous of Ron and it appeared that once again her jealousy seemed to seep out.
Yes this was home. Home for most of my life was the place where I knew what would happen and there were no surprises. The night that LeRoy raped me at gunpoint I lost my identity and Individuality – I had left Tucson to save myself and made my life worse. I no longer trusted that I could take care of myself. This proves Matthew 7:26 so true;

…25″And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26″Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27″The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell– and great was its fall.”

Yes, My Name is Rebecca Chapter Six

Chapter VI
I was going to continue working until I turned 18. Then I was going to drive away and never come back. I thought if I could get away from Tucson I would be away from all the evil people in the world. I was saving my money as I always did. I was making my car payments. Dave called us and told us that they had decided to move to Colorado. Dave always loved Colorado and Sharon was willing to go with him. They drove down to say goodbye. Depression is easy to see whether you think you have hidden it well or not. Dave did not know about Ron or the abortion. Dave had an ugly temper and I would never jeopardize him killing Ron. I loved Dave and did not want him to go to jail. Dave and Sharon asked me if I would like to come with them. I simply said Mom won’t let me. Dave said if I get her to agree do you want to come. I said anything is better than here. I laid in bed that night listening to them talk about me. Mom told Dave I had failed the previous school year. I was shocked she knew. I didn’t care I decided. In the morning I was given the news I could go with Dave and Sharon. Mom said I had to live with them, if I left their home she would have me hauled in as a runaway. Dave said we will come get you next weekend. You can only bring one suitcase. So I turned in my notice at McDonald’s. I was packed and ready to leave. I wrote out the last two payments for my car, addressed and stamped the envelopes; asked Mom to mail them on the due dates. I thought I am finally getting away from this evil place. Tucson is full of wickedness. I will never return. We loaded up and headed out. We tagged up with Dave and Sharon’s friends Rick and Gayanne. They owned a racing boat and we all went to Hawthorne, Nevada for a boat race. The name of Rick’s boat was Close Encounters. It was jet black with striping of red, yellow and orange. I owned a black bikini. So one night I embroidered across the backside of my bikini in red, yellow and orange “I Love Close Encounters” It was such a hit that Sharon and Gayanne both bought black bikinis and we did the same to theirs. We got to the lake, set up camp in Rick’s motor home. The race was the next morning. Sadly his engine blew be-fore he made an entire lap. That night everyone went to the casino. They gave me a driver’s license to use in case I got carded. I was playing the nickel slots and winning. I played for nearly 4 hours before I got carded. I showed my own ID. Just seemed stupid to get in trouble for using a fake one. I was escorted out of the building. Rick tossed me the keys to the motor home and I went to bed. The transfer case went out in Dave’s truck. We spent every dime we had to get it repaired. Or at least Dave used all of my money. We drove to Grand Junction, Co. Dave asked me to call my Aunt. It took me a little while to remember her name. I had never met her but she sent Christmas cards each year. I looked up her phone number and she excitedly gave us directions to their home. I met my cousins. Karen, Patty and Johnnie. Johnnie and I look like identical twins. We are only 11 days apart in age. We are both shy to the extreme. When I met him I thought we are twins. Something the family has hidden or who knows. But no one would confirm that. I just felt such a bond, that it is hard to shake even today.
Uncle Jack told us where my father was living near Kremmling. Dave was very excited to get to reunite with him. We spent one night with Aunt Madalyn and Uncle Jack. The next morning we loaded up and off to Kremmling we were. We drove over Gore Pass and at the bottom of the Pass sits the Hill Ranch where Uncle Jack said LeRoy lived. I saw his truck there- the one that I saw him driving in 1972. Dave didn’t see any of it and continued the last 10 miles into Kremmling, CO. We went to Granddad Smith’s house. Granddad said he had no place for us to stay. We explained to him that we had spent our money on repairs and just needed a place till we got to work. He said not here. I said I see you have a garage over there- could we lay out our sleeping bags in there? He said no, the car is in there. Ok, thanks Granddad.
Granddad Smith was a hard man. But over the years God has taught me to appreciate him in ways that some do not under-stand. God tells us, ‘Let your yes be yes and your no be no’. Granddad fit that to a tee! He was not wishy washy.
We drove down to the one little motel that Kremmling had. We stayed there for one night and Dave said in the morning, let’s go see if I can find the ranch that I worked at when I was a teenager. We left town on Hwy 40 driving towards Steamboat Springs. About 10 miles out of town on the left was Tommy Davidson’s ranch that Dave worked at. We pulled into it. Tommy came out and met with us. He didn’t recognize Dave- it was nearly 20 yrs later. But he was very kind and his hired hand Jerry recognized Dave! They all invited us in and Lorraine treated me like a long lost daughter. She was very nice. She called over to my father’s house. She left a message with Earlene, his new wife that his daughter Becky was here and would be staying at the lower ranch.
They had a lower ranch with an old homestead home. There was no plumbing or running water but said we could stay there till we got on our feet. We all pitched in to help with any and all ranch projects. Sharon got a job as a waitress at The Wagon and I got a job as a checker at the Super Market. Dave had a tough time find-ing a job and let his alcoholism cause us all more problems than it should have.
Tommy took us down to the lower place and settled us in. LeRoy came over that night. Dave and I had been arguing as siblings do when I saw LeRoy’s truck coming down the road. I said here comes LeRoy. Dave told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and I was to call him Dad. LeRoy pulled up and Dave and Sharon hurried out, surprised that I was right.
Dave went to hug LeRoy. LeRoy stuck out his hand to shake and did not offer to hug Dave. That hurt my brother. He introduced his wife, Sharon. I had stepped outside but was staying back. Dave was trying to reconnect with LeRoy and he couldn’t be bothered- he wanted to talk to me. He reached to hug me and I just stuck my hand out to shake his. Dave glared at me. But my point was made- you don’t get to hurt Dave and be nice to me.
LeRoy had his dog with him. He was an Australian shepherd. Rusty wasn’t but about a year old. He was a smart dog. LeRoy obviously had spent time training him.
The old homestead had a hand pump well that we would pump 5 gallons of water and bring in. It has wood burning cook stove and there was an outhouse about 100 ft. from house. It had 4 rooms. You walked into the kitchen and dining area. The ceiling was only 6 ft. high. Then into the center room which most of us would consider a living area. Then two small rooms which were bedrooms. It was made from hand hewn railroad ties. It had a hardwood floor that I always imagined would be beautiful if stripped down and finished. There was a refrigerator. It ran off of propane. At night we used a Coleman lamp. This city girl had lots to learn! It was enjoyable. Tommy and Lorraine were kind people. I was amazed to meet people who treated me better than my own family did. Tommy and Lorraine had three boys. Matt was two years older than I, Mark was 1 year older and Cal was my same age. I had a crush on Matt. He was quiet. He got his job done without lots of attention. He came and asked me if I wanted to go beaver hunting. I gladly followed him down to the creek. I sat in thistle bushes… ugh! I tried to be quiet but was too noisy for any beaver to come out. Matt laughed at me slapping mosquitoes and having thistle thorns stuck in me everywhere!
Mark was outgoing and loved to pull pranks. Although I loved to ‘spar’ with Mark I always knew he would win. He had lived here his whole life, no way would I ever get one up on him. Cal was quiet and always polite. He seemed shy to the extreme.
My job at the grocery store was going well. We had a hand charge system. Some people would “charge” their groceries and pay for them at the end of the month. Because of this I got to introduce myself to many people whom I had heard about growing up. When I would ring up their groceries they would tell me, please put that on my account. At first I had to ask their names, which always surprised the small town folks, because most of them had already figured out who I was! One of my favorite was when Chancey Van Pelt asked me to charge his groceries. He was the Sheriff when I was born. I was very excited! I said I am pleased to meet you Mr. Van Pelt, my father is LeRoy Smith. They were taking care of your place when I was born. He put down his pen, looked at me with a grin and said, “Well I’ll be darned. You was still shittin yellow the last time I saw you!” I had a line of customers who all chuckled at my embarrassment. I never introduced myself like that again!
Catherine Brown was actually Lorraine’s Mother and a dear lady. She owned the building that the grocery store was in. She had a soft spot in her heart for me. She used to invite me to dinner. One day when she came into the store she came over and asked me where to find something she needed. I told her where it was. My manager saw this interchange and came up to me and required me to accompany Catherine as she shopped. I explained we are just friends and he insisted. So each time Catherine came into the store I was her personal escort! We used to laugh at how easy she made my job!
Joe Shields became a regular customer in my line. He was the counselor at the High School and was asking me to enroll in school. I had decided I would not be going to school. The last report card had proved to me I was nothing but a statistic to “the system” and did not feel the need to participate. He was always polite and try-ing different angles each visit. One day I snapped off that unless he would guarantee I would learn things I asked, I would not even consider school. That opened a door he wasn’t going to let close! I explained to him that I wanted to know what nouns, verbs and such were. He said you don’t know? I said every time I have asked for help I’ve been told you write just fine- don’t worry about it. About an hour later Mr. Rhodes introduced himself in my checkout lane. He told me whatever “English” class they had to squeeze me into he would assign me the lessons I wanted. I looked at him, and thought really- Mr. Shields went and got you?? What is up with these people?
Next day here comes Mr. Shields and asks did you talk to Mr. Rhodes? Yes I did. I am not coming to school. I was supposed to graduate this year and because of what Catalina High School had failed me in I won’t be able to. I am not going to do extra time to make up for their ignorance. He handed me a piece of paper and asked me to sign it. It would give him permission to pull my school records and he would be back with a plan of how I could graduate this year.
Bonnie Smith was the head cashier. I liked Bonnie. She was direct. I did not have to guess at what she expected of me. She would have days of frustration in which the customers would choose my line over hers, but I always got along well with her. We laughed about both having the last name of Smith, yet we were not related.
Mr. Shields came in with my schedule for school and the ultimate hook that got me to agree. He said if you can keep up with the schedule I have it worked out. I have strived my entire life to be “good enough”. With his words of ‘if you can’ he had me, probably without even knowing it. I had to take 2 math’s, 2 English’s, 1 history and 1 science. Colorado School system required more history and science than the Arizona School system did. That left one elective which I started with Office Machines. Every person in the school liked the students. They were not a bunch of burned out, washed up teachers. Some of the teachers actually remembered Dave and Linda even though they only attended one year some 14 years prior. One of the other things that I told Mr. Shields was that I was sick of being passed thru class because I was quiet and not a trouble maker. I learned to enjoy that as a blessing from above, albeit the hard way! Certainly my teachers at West Grand made me earn my grades. I graduated with a 3.9 grade point avg. In my science class zoology, Mr. Gross told us that he required two thesis for graduation. One would be a bug collection. He required 50 bugs, pinned and labeled. The other thesis would be up to us, up-on his approval. At the end of my first week of school I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. I still worked full time at the grocery store as well. I decided to submit to Mr. Gross that I would do the evolution of the horse for my thesis. I knew this almost in my sleep. I could do an excellent report on it with little effort. I walked up to his desk and stated that I would do the evolution of the horse. He paused, he said with a sigh- that has been done so many times. I want you to do the anatomy of a horse. I was panicking! I was trying to ease my workload. This did not sound easy. I asked him what he meant by that. He told me you will put together the skeleton of a horse. I said NO, I will give you a different thesis next week, thank you. Mr. Gross smiled and said No, your thesis is the anatomy of a horse.
Well, now I am telling everyone of my dilemma. LeRoy says I know where there is a skeleton. Ok- can I have the skeleton? He chuckles and says yes. So he takes me up on Tommy’s ranch and we gather up Blaze’s bones. (Blazing trails once again in my life.) He had been one of Tommy’s workhorses and had died about 3 years prior. We found most of the bones. I only had one complete leg, was missing a shoulder blade and no skull. I talked to Mr. Gross about that. He said no skull would not be an issue for my grade- and asked what I could do about the missing shoulder blade. I told him I wasn’t sure but possibly I could make one. I had one so I had a pattern- he liked that idea.
LeRoy told me to boil the bones and that would clean up what wasn’t bone. They came out really white. I was surprised. My next dilemma was how to get the bones to school to work on. I would finish my shift at the grocery store and walk over to The Wagon where Sharon worked. I usually got done with work about an hour before she was done with her job. So I would sit at the “employee table” and work on my homework until Sharon was ready to go home. I would get up about 4 AM, get ready for school and walk about 2 miles down to the highway and ride the school bus into school. I had nearly 6 boxes of bones and Dave was not willing to help me. Sadly his alcoholism left him without much kindness to share. LeRoy offered to meet me at school with the bones, which I appreciated. So one evening we loaded them into his truck and during my lunch he was there and helped me carry in all these bones! Several teachers were holding doors for us and I felt as though they lined up an audience to see this!
LeRoy was a carpenter and had offered much advice as to how I could reconstruct this skeleton. Mr. Gross had a human skeleton (not real) hanging which I studied and determined it was mostly wire running thru it. So I bought some heavy copper wire and some smaller copper wire. I also bought some fishing line. I drilled tiny holes in the vertebrae and matching holes in each of the ribs. Drilling holes in bones is stinky! It smells like burning flesh. I lined up each piece and marked where to drill. Now I had 6 boxes of cleaned, drilled bones.
We went and visited at LeRoy’s fairly often. Or he came to visit us. On one of the many occasions in LeRoy’s living room he began a statement about Mom never letting me write to him. I said “Don’t go there, you do not know what you are talking about.” I gave Mom a call and asked her to send me that High School diploma of Dad’s please? She said of course. Within a few days it arrived and I handed it to LeRoy in front of everyone. As he opened each envelope- I showed Earlene, Dave and Sharon. As he was reading my letter that I had written when I was 10 I explained that I had written to him, but it came back no such address- It was not my mother that tried to keep you away from me. You chose to ignore me to the point of giving me a phony address. (Which leads to my belief of knowledge is power. Had I been given as much knowledge about sexual abuse as I had this letter, I would have been better prepared and defensive.)
Each night coming home was getting worse with Dave. The fights were awful. Sharon was ill equipped to cope with an alcoholic. No one warned her before she married him. We pulled in and it appeared that Dave was asleep. No lights were on. I had to pee re-ally badly. I begged Sharon to come to the outhouse with me, but she insisted on going in. She said she would snuggle into bed with Dave and keep him distracted so he wouldn’t fight with me that night. I reluctantly agreed. I ran to the outhouse. I hurried back and quietly entered the homestead.
Dave demanded that I got down. I saw Sharon’s wide eyes full of fear. I squatted down and knew immediately we were in the middle of one of Dave’s Viet Nam flashbacks. I whispered what do you see? He said nothing…. Just this gook and jungle…. I hear footsteps I told him. I told him they are going to find us… we have to get out of here. He shushed me all while holding a knife to Sharon’s throat with one hand and a handful of hair in the other. I looked her over- she was still wearing her coat and her purse was on her shoulder. He grabbed her as soon as she came in. I think she still has her car keys. I am watching for gooks and surveying the counters to see if she set her keys down. I can’t see her car keys anywhere. I said give me the gook- I will find out what the f****** gook knows. I made the mistake years before of saying him/her. Dave nicked his girlfriend with his knife when I called her a she but that didn’t fit with his flashback. So to protect his victim I learned to just call them a gook- no sex indicated.
I had relived Dave’s flashbacks for so long they nearly felt like my own. We were stranded. We lost our squad and we were trying to reconnect. But the Viet Cong were all around us and we couldn’t figure out which way our squad was. Dave captured a gook and this gook would be able to tell us how to get back to our squad. I would negotiate to take the gook, get their information, kill them and return quickly. So I pressed him to give me the f****** gook so we could get out of here. He agreed. I am still squatting and I waddle myself towards them. I grab a handful of Sharon’s hair and pull her towards me. She is still wide eyed and full of fear. I reach for my pretend knife and am pulling her out the front door with me. I close the door behind us, turn her loose and say please tell me you still have your car keys. I do she answers… I say GO- NOW…. She runs for her car and I run for my side. She starts the car and we leave. We get to the highway and she pulls over. She says what just happened. She starts crying and I begin to explain to her that Dave has flash-backs from Viet Nam. I have memorized them so that I can rescue his hostage. I don’t know what he does now- I think he probably passes out finally. He never remembers it the next day. I don’t know why no one ever told you, I am so sorry. She says we have to go someplace safe. I agree. She decided would should go to LeRoy’s. We went there and woke up LeRoy and Earlene. They were not very sympathetic. LeRoy made it clear that I could stay with him, but he told Sharon she had to go back to Dave as that was her place. Sharon and I left about 1AM and drove towards Kremmling. We decided to sleep in the car up on the book cliffs. In the morning she took me to school.