Friday, March 27, 2015

The United States’ First Gold Rush

The squeaking of the old windlass above the well slowly awakened me from my sleep. As I sat up in the bed, I remembered that greasing the windlass was one of the chores Papa had given me to do the day before and I had carelessly forgotten. Boy, was Papa going to be mad! I hurriedly dressed and ran downstairs to help bring in the water that was being drawn from the well. I greeted Mama with a good morning kiss, grabbed hold of the pail of water she was carrying, and followed her across the yard to the kitchen. I was a small boy, the age of twelve years, and by the time I reached the kitchen, which was about twenty feet behind the house, I had already splashed much of the water out of the pail onto the ground and myself. “Gosh it was cold!”

When I reached the kitchen door I remembered to put a few dippers full of clean water in the wash pan by the door so we could wash our hands before breakfast. After placing the pail of water on a small table in the corner of the kitchen, Mama told me to go to the house and wake my younger brother and sister. Within the next hour the whole family was seated at the table for breakfast. As Papa was saying grace, I remembered it was Sunday and I had a full day to play and do as I wished. Sunday at our home always meant a day of rest, for Papa did not believe in working on the Lord’s day. As we were eating, Papa reminded me that I had not greased the windlass as I was told to do the day before. He said it must be done in the morning or I would certainly be punished. I promised I would not forget this time.

After breakfast Papa went to the barn to hitch up the horses to the wagon so we could all make the half-hour trip to church for Sunday services. I begged Mama to let me stay home from church because I had something I wished to do. It took a lot of pleading, and she finally agreed to let me stay home, but only if my brother and sister stayed and I would agree to watch after them. What I had planned was an exciting day of bow and arrow fishing in the creek down behind the house. This was one of my favorite pastimes, and with all the chores around the farm, Sunday’s were the only free time I had.

After Mama and Papa left for church, I gathered up my bow and arrow, my brother and sister, and off to the creek we ran. Little Meadow Creek, as it was called, was not a very big creek. The deepest part of it was only about two feet deep, with most of it only six to eight inches deep. We quietly slipped along the creek bank searching for fish to shoot with my bow and arrow. With my little brother, it was almost impossible to sneak up on a fish that was lying still in the shallow water of the creek. Twice he slipped from the edge of the creek bank into the water, making enough noise to scare the fish a mile away.

After hours of shooting at fish that always seemed to be moving and that I always missed, we finally came upon a big ole catfish lying real still on the bottom of the creek bed. This was one I was sure I would not miss. As I pulled back the arrow on my bow and took careful aim, my sister began hollering, “Shoot Conrad, Shoot!.” As she was shouting for me to shoot, she poked me in the back causing me to shoot before I was ready. As I watched, the arrow entered the water and slid across the back of the big ole catfish; he swam quickly away unharmed. I was so mad I felt like pushing her into the creek, but knew if I did she would tell Papa and he would give me the licking of my life.

I waded into the creek to get my arrow and as I reached down to get it I saw a large yellow rock laying to the side of where my arrow struck. I handed the arrow to my sister, reached back into the water, and grabbed hold of the strange looking rock. I was surprised that it was so heavy to be so small. It was about the size of one of my shoes, but it seemed to weigh as much as the pail of water I had carried earlier that morning.

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