(Supplemental first-hand material to
“Gold in the Hills: The Alton Krause Family Story”)
When we lived in the mountains and did placer mining my job was tailing person. Dad shoveled the dirt into the box. Debby picked out the big rocks so they wouldn’t let the gold wash away. And I shoveled the tailings (the gravel that washed through) that built up at the end of the box and if not shoveled would cause a dam and allow the water to back up and wash the gold out of the box. We had to use the shovels that Dad brought from Texas. They were all the short handled type with the handle hold on the end. These were ok until I got a little bigger and then I started to complain that a long handled shovel would be easier on my back. But there was no money for new equipment.
So the next year when my birthday was coming up I said that if I got a present that year I wanted nothing else except a long handled shovel. I practically begged for that shovel. My birthday is in April and in May we’d go to the mountains. And, unbelievably, for my birthday I got a long handled shovel. I was so pleased.
When we went to the mountains I used my new shovel a few days and then Dad said that he was taller than I and it made more sense for him to use the long handled shovel. We figured we had the best Dad ever–but I never said he was always fair. So he traded me for his short handled shovel. He said I could use MINE once in a while. Then we came to some large boulders that needed to be blasted because they were as big as a car and we couldn’t move them to get at the gold. Dad set the dynamite (see Max, Cows and Dynamite) and we stood behind our trees.
After the blast we went back to the work site and instead of the boulder blowing apart it just rolled over–onto my long handled shovel. I stood there in shock. We were all instructed to remove our tools from the site and we kids had moved ours but Dad had forgotten my long handled shovel. As I stood there, Dad walked over to the boulder, picked up my shovel with half the handle gone and came over and handed it to me. He said, “It’s your turn to use it for a while.”
Transcribed by Larry Pearce: 3/1/17