ONLY NEWSPAPER IN AMERICA YOU CAN OPEN IN THE WIND
PACKET FOUR OF POUCH SEVEN
THE PACK RAT EDITION
PUBLISHED FOUR TIMES A YEAR
PRICE 10 CENTS . . . . . . . ONLY ONE LOUSY THIN DIME
Smallest newspaper in the world and the only 5 page one.
Packet 4 of Pouch 7
This paper is not entered as 2nd class mail. It's a first class newspaper.
Published at Fort Oliver
THOUSAND PALMS, CALIFORNIA
Four Times a Year
ON THE NEWS STANDS 10c A COPY
But sometimes they don't have them.
ONE YEAR BY MAIL—FOUR COPIES, 50c
Darned if I am going to the trouble of mailing it for nothing
10 Years ................... $5.00
100 Years ................$50.00
This offer expires when I do
Due to the increased cost of printing and mailing, taxes and inflation, this paper now comes to you for a damn-site lousier, lousy thin dime than formerly.
PIONEER YANKEE TRADERS
For 25 years I have gathered colorful stories of The Pack Rat, Trade Rat, or Swap Rat. Call him what you will; he is credited with thousands of pranks.
Before assembling this edition I thought I would see if the "serious books of information" jibed with the accepted stories of his mischievousness (I wish to report they do) and I will wager they have given some of those fat, five to eight hundred page books the only semblance of a laugh in all their pages.
Once in a lifetime most of us become martyrs for some great cause. But don't applaud yet; I am doing this as an expert and with skill, in spite of the fact that I have no degrees at the end of my name. I do it with love for the desert's most mixed up animal (or maybe just the desert animal with the greatest sense of humor. Which? Perhaps you can decide after reading this edition). In order to help you, I am reprinting stories as told by many a desert dweller.
But I must tell of my recent tests, study and observations.
OLD FORT OLIVER AS A TESTING GROUND
First I kicked out ll my cats, the crow, and Whiskers my dog. The tortoise and burro live out and only come in by invitation do do their acto on special occasions (like a visitor from Arabia or Australia, if their desert is bigger than mine I like my animals to impress them). I figured the warm summer nights would be a happy change for the rest of the animals.
THE PACK RATS TAKE OVER
Being determine to do this great study thoroughly at all costs, I purchased some one-half inch woven rabbit wire and fenced in the big pack rat nest near the back door, making sure to bury the fencing about 18 inches in the earth. The fence then included the back door, which I would leave partly open, using the front door to come and go as the friendly pack rats took over.
I planned to live with them and to write the facts and figures just as they happened. I stocked the place so that I could stay home. I wondered if I would be able to learn much about what a pack rat's life is like, if they would act as I studied them in a way that I could understand.
I lay on the bed listening. The light from the full moon was coming in the windows. I was weary and I must have dozed off when I was awakened by a sound, not unlike that of a change of shift at the mine, to watch the pack rats hastening in the back door, each carrying a chip or stick. I waited for the last to pass, then listening, I could hear their scampering in the front room. Soon all was quiet. I got out of bed and peered into the moonlit room; an old grand-dad of a pack rat was up on a low stool by the fireplace. He was taling to the other rats but he stopped and scolded a smaller rat and made him take a tube of toothpaste back to the kitchen, warning him not to take the cap off it.
I was fascinated. The old grandpa pack rat was telling the youngsters a bedtime story, "People," he said, "are funny. They carry things back and forth—back and forth." Some of the younger rats on the edge of the gathering started repeating "Back and Forth—Back and Forth," joining hands as they hummed it. The old Grand-pa Rat thumped his tail and shouted "quiet you are within the walls of a Fort. I want you to act soldier-like." On he went, "Automobiles carry people back and forth and I can't see any reason—any reason for it at all. They fill their automobiles with boxes, cans, and such, then they eat and drink and throw the 'shells' out along the 'path,' probably so they can find their way back to their 'nest' to get more stuff to throw."
The old fellow had a nice soft voice like a psychiatrist I thought, as he went on to say, "If people would only make neat piles like we rats do the desert would look much better."
I went back to bed. I had learned that the pack rat had a lot of savvy.
In the morning as I awoke I lay for a brief while remembering the night before and about how smart the pack rats were. Then I went into the front room to see if the chips and sticks they sat on in their circle around the fireplace were still there. The place was clean as a whistle. I thought of the little fellow with the toothpaste, going to the kitchen, I looked, but it was gone. Well, the little son-of-a-gun. Then it dawned on me! I hadn't had any toothpaste for months. 'Was using baking soda. Gee, I guess my psychoanalyst is right, all right. I've just got to quit thinking so much about those damned beer cans. But you will have to admit those rats were sure right about people. Dream or no dream. WEREN'T THEY?—Your Editor.
The right approach, (around the camp fire it's easy). In print I can but ask you to get into the mood—assuming what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mineds to be"—Your Editor suggests you sit comfortably and make up your mind to read this Pack Rat edition looking for fun and realize this little fellow is about as close to a "Leprechaune," "Brownie," "Pixy" or "Elf" as anything this earth can offer.
The stories many of them are true, though, some are slightly embellished. So come with me to the Rat's Nest.
TWO KINDS OF RATS
In the Desert we have The Desert Rats. To be a real good desert rat one must be a veteran prospector, an old timer, "Sot" in his ways, and so obstinate he wouldn't move camp for a prairie fire. Some call us "Sage Rats," "Grisel-Heels," "Pocket Hunters" and Dry-wash Snipers." So few will listen to us when we tell the dull truth that we get to telling colossal lies.
THE OTHER KIND OF RAT
The Desert Pack Rat is not really a Rat either. He is as truly American as the Indian. Many are the stories told of this fellow's depredations. He has the greatest sense of humor and is the cutest critter in all this desert.
The pen may be the mightier than the sword, but if you take two swords and rivet them together near the center, you will find that in many newspaper offices they are far mightier than the pen as they have to be to do four-fifths of the work.
All my cats and dogs are thoroughbreds by association.
This illiterate editor don't like those narrow-minded folks that think words can be spelled only one way!
As I look out the window here at Old Fort Oliver I think how amazing nature really is, I marvel at the very thought of growing a fly swatter on the rear end of my Burro, and always with wonderment I watch my pet Tortoise put his feet in his pockets and then swallow his heard.
It is a mark of intelligence, no matter what you are doing, to have a good time doing it.
The DESERT: The Greatest Show On Earth Page
This is the Pack Rat edition. A year ago I gave you "The Burro" edition. It's already a collectors item. No one had compiled Burro stories. I am sure no one has put "Pack Rat" yarns in any form of book so this should be a collectors item . . . and strange as it seems I had to turn to my back copies of this paper to get the stories. See the Pack Rats coming to my aid in the "Gerke" picture above.
My 'DESERT JOKE BOOK" was a FIRST too.
Humorist Will Rogers and a friend were once discussing the works of author-lexicographer Noah Webster.
"He as famed for language," said the friend. "He gave many lectures on the subject. His English was perfect."
"Mine would be too," replied Rogers, "if I wrote my own dictionary."
—E. E. Edgar, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Using L.A. Wino's for Guinea Pigs
Dry Camp Blackie is unfair to organized desert burglars. He dipped crackers in Muscatel Wine, putting them out for the Pack Rats, and just like people they swaped everything they had — dug up everything they had dragged away from Old Fort Oliver in the last 75 years—not asking for change—just a quick swap.
Blackie says he didn't have to use pack rats to know Muscatel Wine was a brain dissipater. HE HAS READ MATT WEINSTOK'S new Book — "MUSCATEL AT NOON."
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
The Pack Rat's Nest
Your old editor sits at a desk, a grand old desk that you wouldn't expect to find in this old adobe fort. When Lucille Montgomery of Mecca loaned it to me she told me there was an old superstition that if one works at the desk they are sure to become wealthy. Just one of those pleasant little bits of talk I remembered because I liked it. About three month ago strange things began to happen. I would put something away in one of the two long rows of pigeon holes and find it in a drawer two days later. Then one day I looked in a pigeon hole for my unpaid bills nd darned if I didn't find them in with the paid bills. If I could only teach that PACK RAT to stamp them paid I, too, might become wealthy.
Say you that's reading this, I bet we can blame that Pack Rat for misplacing your letter. I meant to answer it.—Ed.
This from Packet One, Pouch Seven
Raffles the Pack Rat has gone as crazy as a Sunday-Rock-Hound—"uranium crazy." He's headed for the high desert his note said. He left "Sticky Fingers" (who is only 5 weeks old) left him in my coffee cup. His note says, I am to make Sticky practice every day. I am to hide buttons in my pockets 3 times a day before I feed him.
STICKY FINGERS GROWS UP
Sticky Fingers, the baby packrat, is growing up. Last years he could steal only little easy-to-carry things like thimbles, pennies, pencils, paper clips, champagne orks and razor blades. Now he handles pipes, sardine tins, pica rules, eyeglasses and — DRAT IT! — WHERE ARE MY $3.00 SHEARS!!!?
Toad Watson looked at the calendar on the wall of his shack. It was December 24, Christmas Eve. The fire was low, it was time to hit the hay. As he took off his socks he smiled. He would hang them up over the fire-place; yes, and he would make sure there was something in them when he awoke in the morning.
He gathered up small objects from around the room, filling his socks; a bright red tooth brush handle and a green comb looked Christmasy all right. In the bunk he muttered a Merry Christmas. That was to the shack, I guess, because he had no cat or dog and his nearest neighbor was 20 miles away.
In the morning as he awoke he looked to the fireplace and played at being surprised.
Then he looked again with real surprise—the bright red toothbrush handle and the green comb were gone. Puzzled, he sat on the side of the bunk trying to think. Had he dreamed of putting them in his sock? Looking around the room for them he whistled and wondered.
"Well," he said aloud, "I don't need the toothbrush or the comb much now nohow. Let's see what else you took."
As he unloaded the first sock, he spotted his glasses, his long-lost glasses. "Whoop!" he yelled, "Thank you Santa, whoever you are. Did you find them on the trail?" Then he came onto a pair of tweezers he'd lost three years ago. That stopped him.
Whistling as he made his coffee, he kept figuring and figuring about this Santa Claus that gave him his glasses on Christmas. Then it came to him with a bang—"trade rats"! Yes, the rats had his comb and toothbrush and had brought back his glasses and tweezers. On Christmas, too.
Toad Watson went to town and had a Christmas dinner with the money he'd been saving to buy new glasses. He sure was happy. He says, "You can call 'em pesky pack rats, trade rats, or swap rats, if you want to, but to me from now on they're Santa Claus' little helpers."
This Christmas story was first published in The New Mexico Magazine, in December, 1942. It's also in my book "The Old Mirage Salesman."
There are nine thousand editors in this country who own small-town or country newspapers, so wrote, Charlotte Paul in the June, 1954, "Pageant Magazine," as she told of this paper and my journalistic lawlessness, how I would not consider advertising copy less it add color beyond my own ability. How I candle each letter—if it has no money in it I do not trouble to open it. That I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them and that as editor I boast that for so small a paper I give you a generous amount of typographical errors and that all the news I print has been tested by time.
It must have been fun for Charlotte Paul to take time out to write of me a "fiddle-de-dee, burlesque" editor who went to press only when he wanted to. While those nine thousand editors throughout our country took on all the woes, hurts, problems and plains of their readers and helped them come out of it all.
I have just received an advance copy of Charlotte Paul's new bok, "Minding Our Own Business" (Random House) a lot of you on my mailing list are Small-town editors and may have to steal of borrow the book, I say red it, it is going to be a best seller, so read it early and be a (I TOLD YOU SO) but you do not have to be an editor of a small town paper to enjoy this book, if you are in business for you self, or planning to be, it will give you many a laugh, and much sound food for thought.
It's a very entertaining book on pioneering today in our Great West.
It's a strange fact—that in mining country all over the U.S. gold is found more often on section 39 of the township.
Most everything is different here at Old Fort Oliver, take for instance Pack Rats, most any old-timer can tell you of many tricks these swapping little devils have played on them.
But my Pack Rat who lives here at the Fort is the smartest of them all. I call him "Raffles" after that great character in fiction, who stole only from rich thieves. You see he don't steal from the poor desert prospectors. He just comes to me and tells me what the other Pack Rats have hidden away in their nests. Then I tell him what to bring me.
He has ideas, a master-mind. Yesterday he told me to get him 2 dozen clothes pins; the kind with the spring in them, he says, those darn rats over on the McRae Claim think they are mouse-traps, and, says, he can go into any of their nests while they are looking right at him and leave a clothes pin and walk our with a gold fountain pen or most anything they have.
The Desert Rat Scrap Book is a nonprofit organization. We didn't mean it to be—but we are.
Signed by Harry Oliver, Editor
Whiskers the Dog
Sin the office Cat
Colonel Have-a-shot the Crow
Hop-a-long Pushadee the Tortoise
And Raffles the Pack Rat who says, "Whether you send in your renewal or not, we will all eat, if he has to work nights."
Says, "He can get into any kitchen in the neighborhood."
PACKRAT'S DYNAMITE & EARTHQUAKES
It's like this, Dry Camp Blackie's mine was petern' out, lots of work and not much gold, then one day Blackie went to a newly opened box of dynamite to find 3 sticks gone and 3 pieces of rich gold ore replacing them. Blackie got out his kit to find there was more gold in those 3 pieces than he had mined in the last 3 weeks, so Blackie opened 3 more boxes of dynamite, 3 weeks later the dynamite boxes were empty of dynamite but Blackie loaded his burro with his rich ore and headed for the Mojave ore market.
As he was headed down the trail that Tehachapi earthquake hit and Blackie looking back saw his mine and the hill for a quarter of a mile around popping like popcorn — the bounding rocks touching off the rat's loads, Blackie says, after he gets over this—his last big drunk—why, he's going back and see if those packrats put their dynamite in the right places—H.O.
You can still get a drink of liquor for a dime, a recent autopsy discloses.
It's no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.
A feller with long whiskers hates to carry a baby.
Relaxation don't tire you so much in the desert as other places.
Fort Oliver has one bedroom with path.
Guy Williams says that the Grapevine pack rat "Mike" is a piker. Instead of making away with nice new type and eating the kerosene-flavored glue composition off the press rollers, his pack rat helps out by bringing home the bacon as it were.
Guy had one of those fleece-lined khaki coats for cold weather. This year when the mornings got chilly, Guy took the coat off its nail and saw there was something peculiar about the hang of one sleeve. The whole thing was ballooned out of shape. A pak rat had found an opening in the lining and had filled the sleeve with corn flakes. That of itself would not be a feat for a pack-rat. What gives the story "class" is the fact that Guy has not had a package of cornflakes in his house in years. The nearest neighbor, the Duke Ranch, a good half a mile away — separated by a well traveled road—might have been the source of the flakes. With only what he could carry in each cheek, dodging cars, cats and dogs, the number of long tiresome trips the rat had to make to fill that sleeve, puts a strain on the imagination.
—From The Desert Grapevine, Lucerne Valley, California. The last frontier of the Mojave.
The pack rat is honest. He totes off your things, but he never steels anything outright—he merely trades with you.
After years of study I say he is not only honest but Scotch, very, very Scotch, and may I be found in a desert gulch — turned to dusty bones with a pack rat's nest in my chest and a rock under my head—if anyone can prove to me that a pack rat ever got badly stuck on a trade.
If my pencil had an eraser on it I would rub out that "nest on my chest" business.
4 The Pack Rat Edition
This page is dedicated to the World's Greatest Optimist--the Desert Prospector
Dead Mans Wells, Arizona
To The Wickenburg Ore Market
If you know of anything a trade rat likes better than baby rattles, I wish you would advise me by return mail as I ain't had a night's sleep for a month and I'll tell you how it was.
I got an old trade rat that's bin around my cabin for a year. Mostly I didn't pay much attention to him. He would come in every night after I got to bed and make a good deal of racket rattlin' things around and seein' what he wanted to trade for. Maybe he would take an old spoon and leave a stick or maybe an old piece of candle and leave a stone. Maybe next night he would bring back the spoon and take the stick and in a short time he seemed satisfied and everything would be quiet for the rest of the night.
Well, I had six nice big nuggets that I kept in a cigar box on the shelf and was always careful about keepin' the lid down. But I must a got careless, for one day I found the lid up and in the box was one old spoon, a stub of candle, a piece of cactus and three stones, but no nuggets.
Well sir, I was all upset and worried, 'cause I was a keepin' them nuggets for a grub stake for the winter. Well, I says I just got to out scheme that rat somehow and I begin to put things up there I thought he might like better than nuggets. I put up my best pipe. He took it and left an old spoon. I put up nearly everything around the cabin he could carry, but all I got was the same things back besides some sticks an stones. I even put up an old set of false teeth that didn't fit me anyway and he brought them back the next night.
I was just about to give up and I figgered I would have to get out and get me a job for the winter, but one day I was over to an old cabin them people from Oklahoma with all the kids lived in for a month or so until they could get a used tire to take them on to Californy. Out in the yard I found an old baby rattle they had lost and right then I says, I got an idea. Here is something that old trade rat ain't never seen and he might be tempted to trade a nugget for it.
Haddent bin in bed long till I heard that rattle goin' fit to kill and next morning there was one of my biggest nuggets. I hurried to town and bought five more baby rattles and every night I put out a rattle and every morning I got back a nugget.
But if I had it to do all over again, I don't know if I would have done it. I have tried everything to get them rattles away from him, but he has quit tradin' entirely. Yes sir, just plum quit tradin'. Just runs around the cabin as soon as I get to bed a keepin' them rattle a goin' all night long. I don't believe he'd even trade them for nuggets. How long can a man live without sleep?
Old Bill Williams
By John C. Herr.
—Published by the Wickenburg Sun
When the first telephone line was put in for the King Ibn Saud in Arabia, Moslem religious leaders protested against such innovations and works of the Devil from the land of Infidel. Ibn Saud listened to their complaint, and gave judgement: "If the telephone is really a work of the devil, the holy words of the Koran will not pass over it, it assuredly cannot be the work of the Devil. So we will appoint two mullahs, one to sit in the Palace and one in the telephone exchange, and they are to take turns reading a passage from the Holy Book, and we will see." By this test the religious leaders were convinced.
"These are my grandmother's ashes."
"Oh, the poor soul passes away?"
"No, she's just too lazy to look for an ash tray."
"Miss Jones you must be careful about your stories. Pulitzer said, "Accuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a woman."
"Maybe so, chief, but a newspaper can print a retraction."
If I owned Texas and Hell—I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.
—Gen. Phillip H. Sheridan—1855
Gasoline and Oil
Open the Year 'Round
PACK RAT HUMOR
A favorite habit of the wood rat, one that would justify a chuckle if the animal were human, is that of carrying the redoubtable joints of the porcupine-like cholla cactus into farm house privies, where very often they are stored in a corner, on the seat or floor.
Maggie Gerke, still sensitive about roadrunners' feet (after Scoop scooted through one packet on chicken toes) tells me she did some careful research before she drew Raffles and Sticky Fingers and the other packrats which decorate this number.
Your editor thinks the tails look a little too much like bell pulls, but Maggie insists they are just like (well, almost like) real packrat (Neoetoma) tails, and if anyone wants to complain he can just try getting a better sketch himself. Packrats don't stand still when they're stealin' stuff, and they make lousy models.
In baiting a mouse-trap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse.
Our biggest mistake in our pursuit of happiness is not knowing when we've got it.
Dusty has been mining up on Fickle hill for the last 14 years. I went to see him to find he had moved down the hill about a half mile.
Curious, I asked him why the move? (Miners always give an answer of sorts.)
"I guess it's the gypsy in me," was his.
The Colossalitude of Texans
After looking at my 12 foot horned-toad here at Old Fort Oliver, one 7 foot Texas heel squatter, wanted to know if we didn't have any long horned, horned-toads in California.
Old Rip Snortin' can see how he is going to have a few more drinks and still carry on his crusade for safety.
Fred Beck in his book "Second Carrot from the End," says he knows how to drink properly, "Just swaller her down until it is time to go home and then don't go home."
Rip says for added safety remember you can't fall out of bed if you sleep on the floor.
from F. A. McKINNEY'S
Brewery Gulch Gazette
DOWN IN COCHISE
By George Bideaux
It's doubtful that
You'll ever view
A cowpoke eating
The Dry Lake Dude admires "Shooting Sally" in the Prescott Courier. He quotes one of her recent yarns as follows: "A strictly dry lady was induced by her doctor to take a swig of whiskey for a minor ailment, and after imbibing same, ejaculated, "Goodness me! It tastes just like the medicine that my husband has been taking for the last twenty years."
Make every minute count—but don't try to count them twice.
BREWERY GULCH CONFUCOUS SAY:
Editors use editorial "we"; people with tapeworms may also use same term.
A man's character can't be judged by the way he acts on Sunday.
THE CLOWN OF THE RAT FAMILY
By Charles Lockwood
Yes, like the comedians in the circus, there is a clown in the unpopular rat family. His antics, habits and tricks are some times serious, some times laughable and some times downright hilarious. This distinguished rodent is the pack rat.
Some people who do not understand the pack rat and who may have had some unfortunate experience with his dealings, might brand him as a criminal, untrustworthy and a thief. Under certain circumstances a slight bit of this criticism might find bedrock, but under general conditions, these accusations are strictly unfounded, for the pack rat is not a thief!—he's a trader!
Oh yes—I know he will lift anything you leave around, unguarded, that is, but the people of the desert and other locations where the friendly rascal is found, protect themselves from theis encroachment. They very seldom leave anything of value unprotected, but on the other hand, some people, who know the character of the pack rat, will purposely leave some inexpensive or useless things about, so that he will find it: but, as I say, the tiny rodent is a trader and he will almost always leave something in place of the article he takes.
If you are unacquainted with this warmhearted little rat and perchance place a valuable diamond ring on the table before retiring, you will more than likely awake in the morning to find it gone. Histerically you might cry, "I left it right there! I left it right there!" Then all hands will set about to turn the cabin inside out, in an attempt to find it. It's gone,—that's for sure—but how senseless of you! If you knew the pack rat, you'd know who took the ring, and that it was not stolen! It might be of some comfort to you to know that it was just exchanged! It's a hundred to one, that he left something in its place. The pack rat's sense of values is not the same as ours, but he probably traded one of his most highly prized posessions—a three cornered piece of broken red beer bottle! So see, he didn't steal the ring at all, he just traded gift for gift. He probably knew that you would be disappointed in losing the ring, but at the same time he may have evaluated the situation and thought that you'd be delighted and happy with his wonderful beer bottle gift!
But wait—the pack rat is always willing to barter—he wouldn't cheat you for the World. If you think that the deal of an expensive diamond ring for a chip of red beer bottle, is a lousy one—just don't touch the piece of colored glass, leave it right where it is. He just might think that he got gypped too, for after looking over your ring, he may have come to the conclusion that it is a lousy gift, and if the facts were known, he didn't want your old diamond in the first place. The friendly little fellow through a hole in the floor, might have been watching your anger and disappointment all day, so he is likely disgusted with your sense of values also. If you are not satisfied with his broken red beer bottle glass, a thing he thinks you should be surprised and thrilled with—come night, he may bring back the diamond and take his glass article: to him, the red color is prettier than the diamond ring anyhow!
(Editor's note: Please believe me, it might work out this way, but I wouldn't advise trying it with your ring, whatever the stone may be.)
But friendly as the pack rat may be, the serious things he sometimes innocently does, have been the cause of grave misunderstandings. When the early pioneers came West, they knew little or nothing about the little fellow, who's habitates are from the Rocky Mountains on and in the Southwest. Some time two or three men would share the same cabin and on occasion, it is recalled, one of them, not realizing the risk involved, world leave something of value lying about. Of course the pack rat might run into it on his nightly prowls and appropriate it. Finding it gone the next morning, the man would undoubtedly be confused: he knew nothing of the pack rat's rummaging, and therefore he'd assume that one of his partners had abscounded with the article. In this manner, arguments would arise and serious conditions might result. Incidents of this kind were not many, but in the Western Frontier days, they sometimes ended in tragedy.
Yet on the other hand, the pack rat, at times, has been the instrument whereby the prospector has been greatly rewarded. Some lonely gold seeker ,in his one room shack, might have taken a liking to the friendly rat, who so noisily searched through the house at night. Just to keep things interesting, the miner would leave some knickknack on the table or floor, so that he could get a laugh out of the eccentric things the rat had to trade. The rich pack rat—rich in his odd possessions—could keep a gold hunter happy by his unusual gifts: these items might vary from a bit of gray stone to the yellow of raw gold. Many times the amiable rat has left, as his exchange, specimens of gold bearing rock, or a nugget. This would arouse the prospector's ego and he'd start a feverish hunt to find where the gold came from. Like a Western Sherlock Holms, he would run down every bit of evidence he could gather. First, he would probably burrow under the cabin, to see if he could locate the source of the metal there. If he didn't discover it this way, he'd scour the surrounding desert ,its canyons, arroyos and washes. In most cases the prospector would have to give up the hunt in vein, not, however, without returning to the place several times to complete the search. Nevertheless, there has been a few incidences where the miner has been able to trace down the nuggets and thereby make a strike.
So this, the pack rat, is the clown of the unliked rat family. Like a good housekeeper, he is clean and friendly and the desert and mountain people, who know him, think that their cabins would be a dul place without the welcome little fellow.
PLAUL WILHELMS DESERT COLUMN
From THE INDIO DATE PALM
Seen from the dusty road, the tottering shack beneath mountain pyramids of stone held no significance. I had a funny feeling a story was there. So I drove up, parked in the yard which was cluttered with ore samples, and waved to the old man who appeared at the door.
In a couple of hours Old Bill and I were friends. And he was confidential: "I've got good claims. One in particular looks good. A prospect of commercial value. But if it's a bonanza, what'll I do? Where go? This place is home. I'd be run out by the noise of big machinery. Where else would I find such a spot, with a sweet spring of water smackdab in the back of my kitchen?"
Hours later, by the light of stars, he became more confidential. Bit by bit the story came out. A drama involving values, responsibilities, and fairplay: "You see how it began? It was that Little Packrat that lived in the cave above the springs. He wa always hungry. So blamed hungry that I couldn't eat a meal lessen he'd been fed first.
"Then one day, on a shopping spree in town, I got an idea. I'd buy Little Packrat some real feed. So I drove the old Dodge back home, and in it was a hundred pound sack of wheat.
"I'd been dumping a handful of wheat on the cave floor for a couple of days. Little Packrat would come pattering out of the darkness. In the light of my candle he'd fill up his pouches. Then he'd patter away into the darkness to hide his treasure.
"Maybe a week. Maybe two. Then I saw it. By the light of the candle in the darkness of the cave the glow of gold. I peered at it. Then I reached out. My hand touched little rocks, a pile of little rocks, right beside the flat stone where I fed Little Packrat.
"Then I heard him coming, the patter of little feet. By candle light I watched him stop and look up at me. When his pouches were filled he hurried away through that open seam at the head of the cave. I waited. I must of waited twenty minutes . But Pretty soon patter, patter, from the inner tunnel came Little Packrat. His cheek pockets were empty. But he was carrying a piece of rock. When he layed it down on the flat stone, I saw the glow of gold.
"By lamplight in my shack, I studied those rocks. And I knew Little Packrat had found me bonanza. So I hoisted the whole sack of wheat on my shoulders and carried it into the cave. For whole days and nights at a time, I poured handfulls of wheat on the stone. For each handful, I received a pice of rich gold ore.
"Till one day I couldn't stand the waiting. I got my pick and walked far back into the cave. I paused and listened. There was no sign of Little Packrat. So I began digging. And pretty soon I opened up a passage that led into a crevice just room enough for me to stand in. Hour after hour I pushed my way farther into that cave. And at last I broke through into a pocket bigger than the tunnel itself. A cross vein it was, well filled with a spongy iron-stained quartz gleaming with points of yellow. I clawed at that ore and was in a fit of a fever until—a stream of yellow wheat came pouring out.
"Then I remembered where I was and who I was. In the light of the candle, there was Little Packrat. And I was just—Old Bill. But for the first time ,Old Bill was faced with the baffling problems of values and fairplay.
"I don't want my mountain smashed to bits! My spring of sweet water covered under tons of rock! And Little Packrat killed! Ole Bill wouldn't hurt that little packrat for all the gold in these mountains.
"Back in the cave I says to Little Packrat. 'Ole Bill just went crazy and forgot.'"
Under the spell of the desert night, in the light of stars, Old Bill drew a hand across his eyes as if to clear away conflicting emotions.
"A cross vein it was," he cried, "gleaming with gold! The strength of my youth was in me until — that stream of yellow wheat came pouring out . . . !"
I used to have a tame pack rat that ate out of my hand and was very friendly. It used to steal things that later I would find in its nest. One day it stole a ½ pint of whiskey and next night a can of unopened beer, next day I found the whiskey returned and a beer can opener missing, now DID that rat know what it was doing or not?
—Indian Tom Lipman
THE MOST AMAZING CHAPTER IN WESTERN TRANSPORTATION HISTORY!
20 Mule Team Days in Death Valley
By HAROLD O. WEIGHT
The unforgettable history of the great borax wagons of the 1880s, the mules that hauled them, the men who drove and swamped, and the dread desert they conquered in Death Valley's most exciting period.
With Map and Contemporary and Present Day Photographic Illustrations
40 pps. on india-tint, plus covers
Calico Press—Drawer 7587—Twentynine Palms, California
PACKRAT SOLVES FUEL PROBLEMS
A story from Goldfield. This winter's fuel problems is all settled for Jack Clark, miner-prospector. Out at his lonely cabin in the Ellendale hills, a packrat for years kept him in kindling. Every morning when Jack went into the kitchen to start his breakfast fire, he wold find a nice bundle of dry sagebrush and other sticks awaiting him at the back door—just enough to kindle a blaze. When he moved to town he figured his wood-carrier would abandon the habit—but he didn't. When Jack went out to the cabin recently he found almost two cords of kindling wood neatly stacked at the back door.
GOLD IS WHERE THEY FIND IT
By ALLEN J. PAPEN
Glorieta, New Mexico
I camped with an old "desert rat" prospector, one night a few years ago, near Beatty, Nevada. While sitting around the campfire that evening he told me an interesting story of a pack rat.
He said he was pocket mining, as he called it. He occupied an old rock cabin close to his work. A family of pack rats lived close by. They often raided his cabin and following the habits of their kind, generally left something to replace what they had taken.
One night he left a quartz crystal lying on his table. The next morning the crystal was gone and in its place he found a gold nugget. The next evening he placed another crystal on the table. In the morning that was gone but a second nugget had taken its place. He then placed several crystals on the table. In the morning one crystal was missing, but there was another nugget. For several days, each morning a crystal was missing and a gold nugget had taken its place.
"By gosh," he said, "I got nervous. I thought that that rat had located a cache of gold ore. One nugget a day was too slow. I tried to locate the nest from whence these nuggets came but without success."
"How long did this replacing of crystals with gold nuggets continue?" I asked him.
"I got eight of them," he said, "before the rats were scared away by my search for their nest."
"Nothing has happened tomorrow."
Ever' one n a while we miss a nuisance, an 'then find out he's got a political job.—Kin Hubbard
Put off till tomorrow what can be enjoyed today.
There is this difference between wit and humor; wit makes you think, humor makes you laugh.—Josh Billings
DESERT EFFICIENCY EXPERT
In past packets you will remember Lem's sayings. He sez, worst part of doing nothing—you can never take any time off.
Liminating Lem says — "You can't enjoy being idle unless you have a lot of work that should be done immediately.
Lem most lost his face a'tryin' to keep his nose on the grindstone and his chin up at the same time.
The old efficienty expert just plain got too much efficiency, while staying with Dry Camp Blackie, it seems Blackie tried out his own brand of efficiency on the old expert.
After four days Blackie asked, "What's the matter with you, Lem? . . . Monday you liked beans . . . Tuesday you liked beans . . . Wednesday you liked beans; now Thursday, all of a sudden, you don't like beans."
CALICO GHOST TOWN
13 Miles East of Barstow
Calico in the 1880's was the largest silver mining Camp in the southwest. Almost obliterated by time, it is now being restored by Knott's Berry Farm. An ideal outing for the rockhound, and camping groups.
When Sir Harry Oliver, President of the Pakrat Publicity Project, made the assertion that a packrat always gets the best of the bargain, he had never heard of my friend Arty.
Arty was a budding genius, a designer and interior decorator who used to frequent our cabin in the Santa Rosa mountains. That his I.Q. was above packrat par I learned early in our acquaintance after observing his relish of the printed page, not merely as an inspiration. Each evening when one of us read aloud, Arty would slip in and sit on a shelf of the dish cupboard, his whiskers quivering with pleasurre and his eyes bright and bulging with interest.
All his heavy work had to wait till the literary session was over and lights were out. Then he took up his arduous duties of moving the contents of the woodbox to a more suitable place, by way of the open rafters—naturally a hazardous operation. It was not his fault if some sticks proved too heavy and fell noisily to the floor or dropped on the face of some sleeper. But my aunt was unreasonable about it.
Sensing ill-will Arty left a peace offering. One mornimg we found carefully centered in a soup plate, a round doily of white paper lace discarded from a candy box. Upon the doily was placed a flat rosette nipped form a plant which bears a cluster of five silver-gray leaves, and in the middle of the leaf-rosette was a large and perfect acorn. It was as charming and original a piece of designing as any artist ever executed.
I was captivated. Even auntie relented—but only until a series of disasters revived her wrath. Then one night when Arty trustingly left the cupboard before the lamp was out, she threw a pine chunk and hit him on the side of the head, injuring him so that he could run only in circles. Someone had to finish the evil deed and since she wouldn't, I did—blinded by tears.
Poor Arty! For his sake I have forgiven all the depredations of his kind. What a career he might have had in a kinder world! May his story live to immortalize his genius.
Nina Paul Shumway
It's the unimportant things that are important. Can you take an hour to play with a kitten or your dog? If you cant you ain't living.
Dry Camp Blackie says, desert animals are undependable in hot weather—complained today that the pack rat he had taught to bring him kindling every morning, brings twice as much in hot weather as in the cold winter months and wants many more crackers in payment.
He is worried about his ant proof bread box. Says the honed toad he as on watch under the bread box complains that it doesn't get enough ants to eat.
Blackie says the two badgers he has trained for prospecting are over-doing it and have dug up his garden three times just keeping in practice.
Says his burros alarm clock attachment is two hours ahead of daylight savings time. So his troublesome days start early.
Dry Camp Blackie has made a deal for acreage near Old Fort Oliver. Blackie is starting a Pack Rat Farm. He says a tame Pack Rat is the smartest of all pets, clean and easy to train, fact is Blackie says, that they can be trained to bring your pipe and slippers if you don't have a wife or dog. Blackie also pointed out that you can train them to go next door for their food (a saving). Magic—he is sure that soon the man with a Pack Rat in his pocket will be the life of any party. That's "Scoops" story.
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PACK RATS & DOPE 5
From your Editor's book "The OLD MIRAGE SALESMAN"
Lo Young, the cook at the Gray Sage Ranch, has a black eye and a bump on his head as big as a hen's egg, an' there's an ornery cuss got up early this morning what can just be seen goin' over the top of the Bad Land hills on his horse, back-trackin' for the border.
Here's the story as how I put it together:
Last night at sundown a tired, greasy, low-down lookin' hombre came up to the Gray Sage Ranch on a buck-skin hoss with his hat pulled down over his eyes, turned his hoss into the corral, got a feed for himself an' after throwin' his saddle bags under the bunk, hit the hay.
Then along about the time the coyotes quit yappin', havin' finally got paired off for the evenin' in comes two cars full of government agents lookin' for smuggled opium.
They goes to the bunk-house with their guns three feet ahead of 'em an' gets this hombre's saddle bags. And this is what they find in 'em: Dry hoss turds. Yes, sir, that's all just hoss turds. Now, what do you think of that?
Well, they can't take this hombre in' cause the government ain't never been able to do anything about hoss'turds in a legal way, and they can't find anything else on him, so they turn around and leave.
After the government autos have pulled out the hombre calls in Lo Young, thanks him, gives him a big wink an' a ten-dollar bill sayin' he'll be leavin'.
Well that's when Lo Young got his. This hombre stands there waitin' for Lo Young to give him back his dope, but Lo Young says he don't know nothin' about it. First came the black eye, then the tap on the bean.
Most of the time them desert pack rats—trade rats, they call 'em some places—is pesky little critters, makin' off with a fellow's false teeth or anything else that's shiny, but they allus put something back in trade for the stuff they make off with. Even if it's hoss'turds.
It beats mehow they know them coppers was comin', but that's a rat for you—desert or city.
All text was hand-entered (no OCR scans) by Dick Oakes who did the layout, markup and graphics reproduction (all of Harry's misspellings retained). The contents remain the property of Bill Lincoln and his heirs.