Perusing the many offerings at the Quartzite Rock Club Pow Wow, a benefit for the Quartzite Improvement Assn., the smiling face of beautiful Marilyn Mc Fate reflected the desert sunshine, a true gem. This year’s event was an important milestone for Marilyn, it was her fiftieth Pow Wow! Just a few years shy of a founding member, Marilyn gets a twinkle in her eye as she describes her life as a rockhound. Born in Iowa, her family moved to Laurel, Montana. “Our family were all rockhounds.” By the time she graduated from Laurel High School in June of 1948 she loved rocks, “Everything rocks. My husband John was a rockhound too, we loved going on field trips together.” Marilyn will be 90 this summer, she and John moved to Quartzite in 1970 and helped out at the annual Pow Wow. She is a retired bus driver and has had many professions including a rock shop she and John owned back in Montana. “He passed away in ‘02 and is buried in the Hi Jolly cemetery here in Quartzite. He is right by the pyramid where the remains of the original camel driver, Hi Jolly, lies under a pyramid. Ours is the marker with two hearts intertwined.” Note: Hi Jolly was the Americanization of his name, Hadji Ali. He was the camel driver that came to the American southwest with seventy-seven camels from the middle east. The camels were the brainchild of then secretary of war, Jefferson Davis, who later became president of the Confederacy. The beasts were a great idea, they carried more further than a mule and could go days on one stop for water. Without the endorsement of Davis, he was busy with the Civil War, the camel idea faded into just another tall tale of the old west.
With all the concerns about the commercial crab season this season, the fishery settled down and is now in full production. Although the crabs are smaller than most years, they are plentiful, and the retail price has drifted down stream of six dollars a pound. A recent listing of crab centered ‘feeds’ had more than fifty different events over the next several weeks. An important part of our crab eating economy.
With not much left but hog hunting still open at this point, hunting is sparse. Spring turkey season will be along in a few months for a last shot at gobblers until next fall. Sportsmen are looking towards digging clams and catching winter run Steelhead.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.