By: Dr. Rodney T. Hard
In the summer of 1964, a few months after the 9.2 magnitude earthquake hit Anchorage, I got to visit my Uncle John and Uncle Jerome in Juneau, Alaska before heading east to Philadelphia to enter the tenth grade.
Jerome worked for the US Postal Service and John had a researcher's job staying on a pristine remote island monitoring all the animals, insects and plants. Fish during the day and hang out with the other guys in the evening for a week in a remote cabin eating grilled fish, drinking beer, and playing cards, among other things. Then go home by boat to your wives for the weekends. What a life!
Jerome took me into the mountains panning for gold in streams where the tailings had washed down from some old abandoned gold mines above. We did get some gold dust worth $30.00 or so but no nuggets.
While panning, I noticed several teenage girls and boys working their way up the trail toward us. They had pick axes and were hammering on rocks with little veins of quartz, hoping to find gold. I had a candy bar wrapped in gold foil so I ate the bar and pushed strips of the gold foil into a long crack in the rock wall so that it would look like a vein of gold.
When the kids got up to where we were panning and started picking at the rocks, I heard one of the girls excitedly call out to the rest of the crew, "Hey, come here! Check this out."
I could sense the anticipation building as the picking and hammering increased into a frenzy with hushed voices not being able to hide their excitement.
Jerome and I, squatted at the stream's edge with our backs to them, could hardly control our urge to burst out into peals of laughter.
No telling what kind of thoughts about us ran through the minds of those kids when the disappointment of finding out that they had been duped set in. But, they quietly left back down the trail and Jerome and I giggled and guffawed on and off for the rest of the day.
I flew into Anchorage first and viewed much of the devastation from the earthquake before flying down to Juneau.
Rodney Hard and his Uncle Jerome Hard gold panning in Alaska
Dr. Rodney T. Hard
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