Mountain Iris at the bottom of our driveway
This morning, Milo, our mixed breed mutt, and I took our daily morning walk. We stopped at the Sunshine school house and raised the American flag. Milo always sits at attention. As we continued our walk, the school bus approached. Bob, the driver, stopped the bus and passed Milo a treat. Bob mentioned that he saw a mountain lion on his way up the canyon. We talked about keeping the dogs safe and then he continued his trip toward Boulder. As we moved on, I told Milo this story about Sunshine.
The community of Sunshine is a ghost town. It was a good sizedgold mining community in the 1870’s. Between the gold playing out and the wars, the residents left, leaving mine shafts, building foundations, stories and a couple of ghosts. Our neighborhood is now a bedroom community for Boulder and Denver. The mines are still here, and so are some of the stories.
Miners have always been practical jokers. Harry, my father-in-law, told me a story of a miner that was involved in a mine accident. He claimed a fellow miner lost his finger in the accident. The first miner said he had found the missing finger of the second miner. He claimed to have picked it up off the floor of the mine and put it in his can of chew (chewing tobacco). To prove this claim, he opened his can of chew and there was a finger tip! While the others were looking at it, the finger moved, startling the onlookers. The miner had actually poked a hole in the bottom of the can and put his own finger through the bottom.
Several years ago I was walking through Crossroads Mall in Boulder. It was in a time period just before Halloween. As I passed Spencer’s Gifts, I noticed a plastic human skull with all of the Halloween merchandise. I couldn’t resist, so I bought one, took it home and hid it away.
Harry hasowned a prospecting permit, allowing him to work the mine on our property on a small basis. He also has a blasting permit, allowing him to set off some small explosives. One Saturday, Harry asked me to help him while he was setting off an explosive charge. Harry drilled holes in the rock and set the charges. Always vigilant of safety precautions, we had to keep the area secure. I was below the area, keeping anyone who might wonder by from entering the blasting area. Harry called out “Fire in the hole” and I repeated it. There was no response. The area was safe. Harry set off the charge and after making sure everything was secure, we left the area. There are dangerous residual gases in the blasting area. Later, Harry inspected the rubble and found some nice gold ore samples.
On Thursday evening, when I returned home from work, we repeated the process. This time, after setting off the charge, we went home for dinner. While we were eating I excused myself from the table, snuck out the back door and ran down to the blast area. I took the plastic human skull and buried it in the rubble and then returned home. We finished dinner and Harry excused himself. I knew he would want to go to the blast area and checkout the loose rock. Janice and I followed him, keeping out of sight. We settled on top of a hill above Harry. We heard him moving rocks, then a quiet pause. Then came “Oh my, what’s this?” We couldn’t keep from laughing. To this day, he is still trying to “get even”.
He did try once. Harry put a rubber scary Halloween mask on the spindle of the washing machine. Because I usually do the laundry, he knew I would be the next one to open the lid. Well.....it was Janice that opened the washing machine lid. We could here her scream all the way in Boulder.