One Day in Bodie

The summer of 1963 was most unforgettable for me as a kid. I was on an outing with the Doyle family from South Lake Tahoe. They loved to search for old ghost towns, and we were on our way to Bodie, California in the old Scout.

In those days before it was a state park, you just drove down Main Street and parked. Nobody else seemed to be around, and I never saw another car the whole time we were there.

We started looking around the town, and I took off with my .22 caliber rifle. I thought I needed protection in case I ran into a venomous rattler or a vicious, man-eating coyote. It was also the big thing to shoot harmless jackrabbits, birds and anything else that moved. That was real sick and I am sorry to this day that I was involved in such senseless behavior. I am glad I grew up and learned that all animals have a right to live and it is wrong to harm or indiscriminately kill them. It is something we all need to learn.

Just about the time I was thinking I was in some western movie, an elderly lady in her 80s stepped out from behind a building and said, “Son, I don’t want you shooting that rifle in town. You go on up in the hills with that thing!” I respectfully replied, “Yes ma’am,” and quickly headed for the hills.

Later on in life I would learn that the lady I saw that day in Bodie was Ella Cain. She was the daughter of Stuart Cain, owner and operator of the Standard Mine and Mill and the Bodie Bank. She was with another couple out in the wilderness with two giant propane tanks and a snow cat that they took to Bridgeport twice a winter for supplies. They were trying to save Bodie but marauders were coming in on snowmobiles and ripping off artifacts from the town. Finally, the state had to step in and protect it, because Ella and her friends were too old to keep things under control.

Little was I to know that my adventure was just beginning that day as I climbed those hills out of Bodie. Scrambling up a steep rock pile I found a small hole just big enough to crawl through. As I entered the hole, a shaft of sunlight revealed the dusty entrance to a mine that had caved in. It had a musty smell and everything was still intact, from ore cars and rails to machine shop tools and equipment. For some reason I put my hand down inside the ashes of a pot belly stove and pulled out a bunch of ball peen hammers in perfect condition and an old hand crank automobile socket set from the teens. I am not really sure why the miners stashed those things in there other than to deter theft. This was high adventure for a 13-year old kid in the 60s, who worshipped everything about the Old West.

There were many other ghost towns we explored in those years from Aurora to Rawhide and had many interesting and exciting discoveries. Now, every brick, board and nail of most of those towns is gone, and even the ghost’s don’t have a place to live anymore.

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2 Responses to “One Day in Bodie”

  1. Bob Says:

    nice!

  2. john Says:

    Windy, your articles are truly works that must be passed on for future generations, there so interesting. Have you ever thought of giving talks or adventure walks?

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