We lived in a patchwork house, built on the bones of a miner's cabin left from the days Oatman was a bustling gold mining town. He was searching for gem stones; I was searching for love. We were both betrayed.
For years I didn't want to think about it, let alone talk about it, but time has shed a more forgiving light on many of the people I knew then--and I am better able to forgive myself.
I found my journal from those days; it is with some trepidation that I invite you to read it over my shoulder. I did some things I'm not proud of, and perhaps you will think less of me. Perhaps you will find some entries
amusing, and come to love the characters as I did. Perhaps you will learn from my mistakes, or laugh with me at some of the misadventures.
It was April, the month when everything springs into life!
April 25, 1975
I'm sitting in the sun, in the doorway of my 1964 VW van, looking out at the grass covered hills of eastern Oregon. Behind me is a green river whose name I don't know. It's a little chilly, but I've a warm jacket, and the home made granola and hot tea we had for breakfast makes my tummy happy. Shorty is packing away the camp stove, anxious to get back on the road.
Already I miss the luxuriant trees and flowers of the Pacific NW. Everything is in bloom on my island home near Seattle. I asked Davey if Arizona is like this treeless, seemingly barren place.
“No,” he says, “there's too much grass here. You can't see the rocks.”
Rocks are why we are going there. Shorty has a fire opal claim outside of Oatman, Arizona, on old Routet 66.
April 27, 1975
Woke to ice on the inside of the van. We are in Battle Mt., broke down, parked in some kind stranger's back yard. Our hosts towed us here from Valmy, where the van just quit. We had pulled over beside the road and walked across the highway to the only building for miles, a gas station/quick stop. Rob and Terry pulled in and we started talking--and they offered us a tow.
Shorty and Rob have taken the engine out and took it to a shop in town. Turns out it burned a piston, and the cylinders all need to be re-ground.
April 29, 1975
Engine back in the van and we are on our way again. I got a doosy of a cold! We stopped at a casino somewhere in Nevada for breakfast, and I ordered hot orange juice. It seems to help some.
April 30, 1975
Kingman, AZ seems like a...well, I can't figure out why it exists! There is a train that runs through it, but it is so dry and flat. No river, nothing. Oh, I guess there is a turqoise mine somewhere out of town. I had my first chimichanga when we stopped for lunch. Very good! Crispy, with chicken inside.
Somewhere outside of Kingman, Shorty and I wrote our marriage vows. He signed as Menzo La Porte, a nickname Frabrio gave him. A big fat bumble bee kept buzzing around me while we wrote the document. Was it trying to tell me something?
Neither Shorty nor I want a legal document. It didn't do me much good when Frank left, with his girlfriend, leaving me and 3 yr old James with no income. But then, Frank and I were married in Okinawa and our marriage certificate is in Japanese. Maybe he just couldn't read it.