Brandy and Barney’s

by kfrego

We completed our project in New Mexico and returned to Gates and Fox’s home office in Loomis, Ca. Myself and Mike Janzeski worked in the yard and went out on short jobs where Kirk Fox was sampling for gold. We sampled several old mines and gold mining claims. In November we mobilized our skid mounted core drill on some property several miles out of Washington, California. Washington was founded in 1849 by gold miners working the south fork of the Yuba River. The town sits in a deep canyon at 3700 feet elevation near the river. Washington is a jump off point for a huge area of national forests in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We drove national forest dirt roads to within a couple miles of the drill site. From the dirt road we had a rough dozer trail for access. We had an old D-6 Cat for getting supplies in and out. If we didn’t need the dozer we walked to our drill.

I kept a pint of ginger brandy in the glove box of our pick-up truck. We would take one good sip coming off work after ten hours in the winter weather. The pick-up had been on the job in Silver City with us. Mike lived on the outskirts of Sacramento and I lived in Yuba City. We met at Denny’s restaurant in Grass Valley at 5:30 for breakfast before heading for Washington. One morning the Highway Patrol pulled me over right at Denny’s entrance. He stopped me to check my registration because the rear New Mexico license plated was in bad shape. The stickers were faded and it was dented and damaged. When the highway patrolman asked for my registration it was under the open brandy bottle. I tried to act nonchalant while getting the registration out without him seeing the brandy. He asked me if I had a gun in the glove box. Of course not. When I explained the brandy and why it was there he asked for the bottle.He said he would forget it if I poured out the brandy and threw the bottle in the back of the truck. I hated seeing my brandy cutting a trail through the ice and snow. He gave me my registration and said, “It’s time for both of us to get some breakfast”.

A few weeks later I stopped for gas at a station near home at around 4:30 in the morning. A sheriff coasted in close to my pick-up and looked me over real well. He asked me where I lived, where I worked, who owned the truck, and could I prove it all. Come to find out my sheriff dispatcher neighbor called my truck in as stolen. When leaving in the morning I turned my pick-up around and drove out of the neighborhood slowly with my parking lights on. I turned on my headlights at the first street. No use waking everyone up. My neighbor saw the truck go by without headlights, and just like Barney Fife, reported me as a thief in my own truck.

Mike got a kick out of my brandy in the ditch………the sheriff got a kick out my stealing my own truck.

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