THIRD QUARTER, JUNE 2020 VOLUME 34, NUMBER 3
Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager
I am very saddened to announce that Montine Blevins has passed on from a long battle with Colon Cancer. She was originally diagnosed in 2015. But she stayed at her desk and on the New 49’er phone for more than three years afterwards, always insisting that she was most happy there.
Nearly everyone associated with our program knew and loved Montine. She was the most helpful person we ever had at the counter and over the phone. Montine would go out of her way to help anyone who needed it.
A healthy portion of Montine’s time was donated to our organization. Like so many other members along our long path, Montine just loved to be involved. She took charge of making sure everyone who arrived for our weekend mining projects was signed up, had a place to stay, and had gear they would need for the program.
She would cook all afternoon in preparation of our Saturday evening potlucks. I don’t think she ever missed a potluck, or any other event that was sponsored by The New 49’ers. In fact, I once got a little too much sun on a Saturday afternoon. When I did not arrive at the potluck, Montine immediately dispatched our Internal Affairs to make sure I was alright, and she took charge of the potluck!
I have owned and operated my own businesses since departing the navy in 1977. There have been many friends, supporters and employees along my path. With the help of many volunteers along my way, we were able to claw out a small-scale mining empire along the Klamath River and its tributaries in northern California.
I can tell you from a lifetime of experience that, other than very productive commercial mining which can happen on occasion, profit margins are very thin in the businesses associated with small-scale gold mining programs. There were times when lack of adequate cash flow required me to cede most of my responsibilities over to the staff, and put one of my dredges back to work in the river. I could always generate income from the river. But building something great for thousands of people to enjoy was worth more than money or gold!
With these things always on my mind (meeting this week’s payroll), every minute of every day was important to the bottom line. While we had some fun with mining and other adventure, and sometimes after hour relaxing times, there was never any time for goofing off during the normal work day. People who knew me well sometimes called me a slave monger. I don’t like to micro manage others. In my world, it was just a matter of making sure we could pay our bills. We never missed a payroll.
So there was no place for employees to be spending hours upon hours on the phone, just gabbing away. There was no time for it. It was like, “Please just answer the phone, get an address so we can send a promotional packet, and move onto the other things we need to finish today!”
Montine joined our staff in the year 2002.
During the 38 years since we began The New 49’ers, Montine was the only person ever on our staff who would win my smile every time I saw her just gabbing away on the phone – just like she had all the time in the world to visit with her mother or sister. Of course, it was always with a member or someone calling for more information. Montine always made time for everyone who needed or wanted it.
Many evenings after everyone else went home, long after she punched out for the day, I could hear her laughing and locked into meaningful phone discussions out at her desk. She was calling back people who had left messages on our answering service. She was never in a hurry to leave the building. Then she would place orders to restock her shop. Then she would straighten up her work place and let herself quietly out of the building. She never needed any acknowledgment for all the extra things she did. She was happy to have found her calling in life.
Years ago, when there was a fracking boom back east, Montine’s husband, Rusty, landed a good job somewhere in a place where they could not find enough qualified workers. Before moving to Happy Camp, Montine devoted 18 years as a police despatcher. She was a heck of a good organizer and could have been with her husband and earned perhaps three or four times what we could pay. I asked her one day why she did not follow the oil rush? She stopped right in her tracks; turned around and looked me straight in the eye; and said, “Young man; life is about a lot more than money! This is my home! And this is where I am staying.”
As I remain locked down in the Philippines for about another month, I called Montine at a prearranged time a few weeks ago and we shared some caring moments on the phone. I admit that I am not very good at saying farewell to my closest friends. I get all squishy and usually say the wrong thing. Montine made it easy on me. My perception was that this wonderful person had made peace with her time on this earth, and was completely ready to move onto the next adventure, whatever that might be. Rusty told me she was in that same peaceful place all the way to her final breath.
Assuming she would lead the way to our next adventure ahead of me, I asked her to please watch for me. Because if there is another chapter after this one, I want Montine to be an important part of the story.
Saturday June 27th @ 2:00 pm
Happy Camp River Park Pavilion
Office Doors Now Open Between 9 AM and 1 PM, Mondays Through Fridays
To make life easier on everyone concerned, we will immediately begin opening the front door of our office and store between 9 AM and 1 PM, Mondays through Fridays.
If you need to reach our office outside of these hours, we have administrative staff at work inside the building during normal workdays from 9 AM until 4 PM.
There is a free Internet connection around our building for members. The girls in our office can provide details.
Our phone number is 530 493-2012. There is a voice mail system. We will return your calls.
In the case of an emergency, Our Director of Internal Affairs, Rich Krimm, can be reached at (510) 681-8066.
Unless things change, I should be returning to the U.S. in mid-July.
Thank you very much for your kind support, and I hope to cross paths with you out on the river later this summer.
Dave McCracken, General Manager
New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012