Well it’s official….I’m now an “Old Bastard”….I’m starting to read the AARP Newsletter on a regular basis, or at least I’m up to two in a row now! Good Lord this is depressing!
While reading the latest deposit from the AARP folks…Jesus…..I just realized AARP sounds like, I dunno, AARP….kinda like Harpies, you know, those sinister bird-like women from Greek Mythology that fly around and kill stuff, God that’s scary…..but I digress….where was I? Oh yea….I was reading the latest AARP deposit.
Anyway there was this story in there about saving Gold, kind of a pro and con thing and I was IMMEDIATLY transported to a different time and place…..kind of a magical place in my memories, the place where I grew up…..Hamilton, NY. Hamilton’s major claim to fame is Colgate University. That…..and the Colgate Inn…a wonderful place….but that’s another story.
Hamilton was a happy place for me….a boy, his dog, and a whole big world to explore…there was fishing on Lake Morraine….picking fruit out of long abandoned Apple orchards (Johnny Appleseed was VERY active in Upstate New York)….picking wild strawberries….Hot Dogs on the grill (we didn’t know they were bad for you). All in all it was a virtual paradise for a kid….but it DID have its’ elements of “Danger”.
There was “Henry the Hermit”….now I want you to understand that “I” didn’t think Henry posed any danger, but my Mom, and to a lesser degree my Dad, seemingly disapproved of this Henry fellow. I thought he was pretty neat…he was just an older version of me! He didn’t work, he didn’t have a real transportation, he liked hot dogs (I saw him cooking them once when we bicycled past his shack), and he pretty much did as he pleased….now this is a biggie for a kid…summertime was pretty close to Henry’s lifestyle, but it wasn’t the same the rest of the year…anyway, I thought he had it pretty good and had to be a cool dude to pull it off in the 1950′s….at least in Upstate New York. OK, you’re probably asking yourself by now….”What does this hermit asshat have to do with gold??!!” Well I’ll tell you what he had to do with gold…..if you didn’t interrupt with so damned many questions we’d have been there by now!
It was the beginning of summer in 1957, actually it was late spring, about the first week in June. We had gone downtown to do some shopping at the local markets when someone at the Meat Market blurted out Ol’ Henry the Hermit had died the night before and someone had found him in his shack….I remember feeling kinda bad….it was like my future had died. Anyway, there was the usual gossip and “Too bad’s” floating around for a day when all of a sudden all hell broke loose!
Seems the Sheriff and one of his deputies went up to Henry’s shack to kinda look around for any clues to his background and/or his next of kin. Well, they didn’t find any clues, but they did find an old Mason jar filled with $20.00 Double Eagle gold coins. Even in 1957 that was a small fortune. The jar had some dirt on it and that prompted an immediate investigation into the back yard of the property….and guess what….after poking around for a while they found another jar stuffed with the same Double Eagles coins!! Well, that was it…..word spread like wildfire and any able bodied person within 10 miles was up there digging….it was kinda like a whole heard of Giant Prairie Dogs on steroids had been turned loose on the property….in later life I saw bomb and shell craters that were better organized by comparison. I remember thinking my Dad was a fool not to go and dig……it wasn’t until years later that I was proud he didn’t.
There you have it, the story of a Hermit and of Gold. No, they never found anymore gold coins nor did they find any relatives as far as I know….I never did find out what became of the property and any belongings ol’ Henry had….I guess I was too busy re-thinking my future plans seeing that I didn’t have an example to follow any longer……..