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Brenda's Swimming Pool


My grandfather, Herman Jerrett, was born in 1877 on the Mother Lode, the Georgetown Divide between the North and South forks of the American river, in the metropolis, Georgetown, California. His parents ran a hardware store/livery stable business frequented by such characters of the times as John Marshall, the very person who started the world wide rush to California for gold by picking up the first nugget and identifying it. Grandfather had vivid memories of attending Marshall’s funeral as a boy. He, AKA, Pompu, went on to become a hydraulic mining engineer, first employed by the Loon Lake water company in which capacity he charted the headwaters of the major rivers on horseback from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, including Owens river which became the source of water for Los Angeles. I mention this brief history because it has bearing on my sister’s swimming pool in Sacramento. As a child we use to drive along the American River up hwy 50 through “Hangtown” Placerville, my mother’s birth place, turn west on hwy 49, “the pioneer highway”, through Coloma, where gold was first discovered, and on up to Georgetown to visit grandfathers parents and siblings. On the way out of Sacramento along hwy 50 we passed mile after mile of large sand dunes dredged up from the bottom of the American River, a left over reminder of all the destructive hydraulic mining operations through out the gold rush of days bygone. I remember the flooding of Sacramento by the American river from the silt build up. Now mid 1960’s my sister Brenda and her husband ken looking at a new neighborhood and house for their growing family. They choose Arden Park, at the time the outer suburbs of Sacramento. In the back yard, a swimming pool cast in concrete with sand from those very dunes along the American river. The first time I went swimming in that pool I got out soaking wet and laid down on the concrete to dry, what I saw blew my mind. Ten years before I had spent the summer camping and mining on Pomp’s abandoned gold mine, Cranes Gulch. This experience of hot, hard and dirty work day after day with a pick and shovel then hiking the mile or so to empire stream to sluice the tailings only to find nothing, was enough to convince me of better dreams. Now here I am laying poolside not a thought in my mind and suddenly the water on the concrete is alive sparkling everywhere with glittering gold. Particles washed from the mountains down the streams into the American river dredged up as silt and piled into sand dunes, whole mountains washed down the streams had now become housing foundations and swimming pools. Can you imagine my wonder sitting poolside amongst the sun, the water and the glittering gold!

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