While washing out my gravel one day, one man, a northerner new to the field, hung around, telling me how easy finding diamonds was. "I just walked around, looking, yesterday. I found ten diamonds, right on top of the ground"."Did you get them certified? Lots of things look like diamonds out here," I said. "No, but I'm sure. I "certified" them myself on the internet." I wanted to tell him, if he would bring any two of them to the visitor's center the next day, get a certification card on them at the Visitor's center, I would kiss his butt in the middle of the field, at high noon, and give him 30 minutes to draw a crowd. But, I only thought about it. He was a big guy.
I returned home after that first trip, washed all my fine gravel out well, and lay them out in the greenhouse to dry. Son Corey happened to walk by that drying gravel that afternoon, and said, "What 's this piece of glass doing in here?" Before he could throw it out, I grabbed his hand. A beautiful, yellow, one carat diamond. I had reached my goal, the rest was just gravy.
I spent many, many nights going through all that gravel, three buckets full. One spoon full at a time, under bright lights. I found one more diamond, a white 7 point. 100 points equals a carat.
My obsession didn't hit me really hard again until 30 years later, when I was semi-retired, and I was only a short drive away.
My new equipment was better, aluminum where I once used wood, and I made an aluminum sled to haul it on. Powered equipment and wheels were forbidden. Things were different too. Many hundreds of diamonds had been removed from that field in 30 years, and it was very difficult to find virgin soil. I was once digging a very deep hole, way back under a large tree, and the word was getting around that I was probably in new dirt, a very rare thing. Some of the full timers came by to look. I was getting excited, then I started washing out old nails. Ten feet deep under a large tree.
A new tool had been added. The Seruca. It was a tool straight from the South African diamond mines. Shaped somewhat like a gold pan, but with stainless steel wire. A load of gravel, worked around properly under water, concentrated the heavy minerals, including diamonds, in the middle, on the bottom. Flipped over, this left the heavy minerals on top, right in the middle. Let this dry, and look that area over carefully, and there was no need to take all the gravel home to inspect. Or, just take that small handful in the middle, which I always did.
A young man from Iowa started at about the time I did. We both went many days without finding a diamond. But once he did, he was totally hooked. He went back to Iowa, sold most of his stuff, and moved back to the mine, living in a tent outside. He hunted full time, and the hard way. I never knew how many he found But every day I was there he was hard at it. I heard he later found some nice ones along the way. I fully expect he will be one of those who leaves that field at last, as a totally broken down old man.
Some got around the "Fill up your hole at the end of the day" rule by hauling in a piece of plywood, hiding the entrance, cover it with dirt, and come back to that same spot the next day. I was busy washing away one day when one of those guys came up and told me I was working on his doorway, dumping my mud on it. He had a system of caves dug underneath that area.
I saw two or three men set in and dig a new hole five feet across and they took turns and dug all day. They were able to get 12 or 14 feet deep, pulled out a diamond from the bottom, and still got it filled back up that day.
I dug 30 days that winter, yet my total find was one diamond and a small amount of gold. I always told the other guys, "I am the best equipped, most knowledgable, and the hardest working of all the Non-Producers."And I think that was true. The park officials would not believe I found that gold there, asserting, "There is no gold in this park." But God and I both know I did.
Though I proved to not be a productive diamond hunter that winter, I did find two diamonds, of another type, who totally outshown any type of mineral that might be found there.
Henry and Lori Emison were mining away when I first met them. They were becoming regulars, and everyone soon began to realize, they just worked a lot harder that anybody else. Henry was a total machine when he has a shovel in his hand. He could outwork anyone, five to one.
Some Texas diamond hunters were digging one day, and hit the glory hole. It was a thin strip of fine creek gravel, and they found it very deep. An old creek bed from eons past. They quickly began to find many diamonds, but by then they were totally exhausted. Time was getting short. They had to leave for Texas that day.
Henry was working across the creek from them, and they, like everyone else, soon realized he was a digging machine. They went over and made a deal. "We are in a very rich diamond bed. Dig with us and we will split the diamonds found." Henry went for the deal, and by the end of the day, Henry had 5 very nice diamonds.
Henry called me that night and told me exactly where that glory hole was. Quite naturally, I was there ready to dig the next morning. But a full timer had already taken over that spot, and he dug there for days. He told me after he had washed it all out, many days later, that he found no diamonds. If he was telling me straight, it seems the glory hole was exhausted. Later, I was there on a day after a large rain, and the glory hole area was under four feet of water. I told some college guys of the twenty some odd diamonds found in that hole in one day. When I came back by later that day, they were sitting in that hole, reaching down under water, and gathering up that dirt, handful at a time. There are no lengths to which one bitten by the diamond bug will not go.
My grandson Jordan came with me one day shortly after that. At the end of the day, he wisely informed me, "Papaw, anything that is fun can never be this hard." Great words of wisdom from a child. He was right. Every part of my body ached. My body was breaking down, and I was becoming one of those "broken down old men." After 30 days, I hung up my shovel and screens, and have never been back. But some day I will, and I have already planned out my approach when I do. I have a spoon attached to a long handle. I will wait until right after a very large rain. Then I will walk arould all over that field, look for tiny reflections from the sun, pick them all up and put them in a bucket. Then wash out only that. Many lucky people have found beautiful diamonds there, right on top of the ground. Maybe mother luck will shine upon me some day. Lord knows, I deserve it!
Henry continued his obsession. He was still working full time, landscaping and construction, but he is a man among men, one who could come over after work and still do a day's work at the mines. Just naturally, he found many more diamonds. They rented a house from me in Gurdon, 16 miles from Arkadelphia. Partially because they loved that very old, six bedroom brick house, the oldest brick house in Gurdon. But, mostly, it was close to the diamond mines.
Henry and Lori didn't just stand out in their ability to work. Henry preached, for free, at Nursing Homes. A young girl was desperate for a home. They adopted her, even though it greatly strained their budget. That kind of people.
When they moved into my old house, I saw Lori just loved to fix it up, and they hoped to buy it some day. I made them a rock bottom price, but they didn't feel ready to take that on yet. I went down to the Hardware store in Gurdon, opened an account, and told Lori to charge anything she needed to improve that old house. She did, and she never abused my trust. It was quickly a far better house that it had been in many, many years.
This is not the end of my Henry and Lori story. They will come back in later, in a very big way. Little did I know, they were destined to become my salvation, when an almost impossible task faced me. A job requiring absolute, human working machines.
CONTINUED IN ONE WEEK. Thanks for Reading
CONTINUED IN ONE WEEK. Thanks for Reading