John and Marge

This a story of some very special people that has made such impression on my life that I wish that everyone could have met this loving and strong couple and could have had as much fun as I did with, " Mom and Pop "! When I was introduced to these people I had no idea that such a fantastic, yet inspirational relationship was to unfold. The two people that I will tell you a little about were John and Marge Little and were my salvation to the harsh reality of the life I had led with out guidance that was so badly needed. Both were rock hounds and were the foundation, I thought, that all rock hounds were made of and there wasn't any finer.
I was asked one time to go on a rock-hunting trip with a couple of guys that I had worked with in the construction field and decided that I needed a break for the work was terrible. I followed these two into the Owyhee Mountain range in my old GMC to go after thunder eggs that they had found a couple of weeks before. We hunted all day and all I had to show for a tank of fuel and a couple of dime size blisters and a scratch or two were these two thunder eggs that were about the size of a grapefruit. When I asked if one of them would cut this egg in half, since I was informed that you don't brake the darn thing, both said to go to John Little, that he had the saw and the experience to do such a job. So, I contacted this gentleman and told him of the task that I was asking for his help with and he replied, "bring them over anytime and I'll teach you how to do it"! "Ya, right"! I've learned to work at cutting glass, working and balancing rifles and pistols, tying flies for the trout that I love to fish for and then run a construction business and this person thinks that I'm going to cut rocks. Well, with that in mind, I now do my own silver and gold work and cut very expensive opals just for fun of it now! When I finally met John, I met his wife as well and there were two to pick from that you could call "Pete and Repeat" for the match was a good one at best. John was a thin man of about 5'9" tall and almost white hair and his wife Marge was about 5' tall and hard working midwestern farm girl from Nebraska and heavy set. Both with the heart as big as the state of Idaho and was always ready to share some of that heart. John did the cabbing and Marge could facet a stone that you could find anywhere else's if you were to try. They offered me in that day and were glad to share their knowledge as well as their hospitality and was a day that will always be remembered. Because from that day on the three of us were seldom apart.
I was in the hospital this one fall just after meeting John and Marge with an ailment that was as life threatening as you could get and I was alone in this isolated sanitary room. I had been given a sedative to try and get some sleep and was awakened by this feeling that someone was on the bed that I was occupying. As I turned to feel what I was experiencing, I felt this hand rubbing mine and I could hardly open my eyes due to the surgery and tried to peek though these slits that were once upon a time my eyes. There was Marge rubbing my hand and I turned upward only to see this thin little man looking through his glasses filled with tears and heard him say," son, are you alright"! To this day, that phrase had never been said to me in the 37 years of my life and was the beginning of calling them "Mom and Pop"! Every time they ever introduced me to any of their friends, neighbors and even relatives, I was always called their son. Now, a son is to protect his parents and that was put to the test one year at the annual Nyssa Thunder Egg Days Rock Show in Nyssa, Oregon.
This one-year at the show we had been separated from each other's spaces because of one reason or the other and I was in one area and the folks were in another area. I had been at my booth for over five hours when a friend came by and I was able to relay to him that I needed to take a walk and take breather from the "look-e-lews" and the people who could always find it "cheaper"! He agreed and off I went to find the folks and see how they were doing in sales and such. As I walked down the isle I noticed that there was this guy about the same height as John at the booth and I thought that I would just stop shy of their booth at the neighbors and past the time till this fellow had finished. If I were to know at that time what this character was going to do I would have crashed the party sooner and stopped what was about to happen. It came as a shock to me when this so-called human being began calling Pop a liar and using words that you would expect from some drunk from the local bar. I was appalled at first, and then became angry as in the fact that I could see this mans bones breaking in my mind. Without making a sound as my for-fathers did when they ruled the land, I was able to slide up behind this imperfection of a man without him knowing I was even there. I was so close to this man I could count the sweat beads on his neck and watch the sun dance the sparkle of moisture on each strand of his hair. He is about to understand that he is going to get a first hand glimpse of the action that happened at the " Battle of The Little Bighorn"! As I was about to take action, I had noticed that John hadn't taken his eyes off this guy and Mom was looking right at me with the best poker face that had ever been given. Now, I forgot to tell you that I was at least 130 pounds heavier than this character an about a foot taller, get the picture! When Mom very slowly turned from her side with Pop and started to walk around the tables and proceeded to come towards this guy. He still didn't know I was there till Mom came up and slid her arm around my huge right arm and hand as to stop what she knew could be this idiot's last stand. Its then he turned and cocked his head upward to see that he was looking into the eyes of a half breed Indian called, " War"! The first thing Marge said was, " son, he's not worth killing and I don't want to have to clean up the mess"! This guy was so scared that he released in his trousers and we all had a good view of wetness as he left running. The neighbors all knew the relationship between us and knew that I would defend John and Marge to the death. They were about to do something on their own till they saw me arrive on the scene and decided to stand down and watch the upcoming attraction. It was then this lady who had heard the conversation asked John," Would he have hurt that man"! Pop said," maim I couldn't stop him with a 357 magnum, but his mother can stop him in his tracks". But let her say "sickem", ---- lady have you ever seen a 6'3", 255 pound pussy cat with 10 inch teeth, her reply was "no" and John said," I haven't either and don't want to"! The rest of the local dealers that witnessed the show were all laughing and some were laughing so hard at what they had just seen that they were crying and holding their sides. All agreed that it was one of the better floorshows that they had seen in years at the show and was always ready to tell anyone of the event that made the day. From then on they knew that they were protected from all they could imagine and the love for them was always there.
After the better part of fifteen years in their lives, it was in the spring of 1996 that after a long illness and battle that Marge decided to be in the arms of our Lord and left John and I. It hit John very hard after some 38 years of marriage to this wonderful woman. John spent the summer that year traveling to see friends and relatives that he had not seen for years. It was my pleasure to take him to the shows that we all had attended for so very long and so many years and was able to bring a smile to his face when he needed it. But, he was lonely without his " Marge" and it was December that same year that mom called him home to be with her. I was able to be with both of them in their last few moments of life on this glorious globe that we call," Earth". There are people in this world that we will always hold very dear in our hearts and become the rocks of our foundations as humans. But, somewhere in our vast comprehension of life there will be certain people that will stand out more than others and will be our inspiration and teachers of the understanding that is needed to survive in this world.
I have many fawn memories of these two people and the love that they shared with so many of us as friends, and yes, even their kids. They were always someone that you could go to and pour your heart out to and they never judged you for your faults or your shortcomings. They never had a harsh word towards anyone and wouldn't tell you if they did, because it wasn't their way of life. I can remember when I could have done something wrong and John would sit me down and give his version of the "fatherly advise" and then Marge would take me off to the side and give me the motherly "what for and the why not" which seemed to go hand in hand with what John had to say. But, as we all know that mother could always smooth out the wrinkles when we were kids growing up. Mom had two favorite sayings that echo in the back of my mind from time to time that always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear it. She would say," why not" or "it ain't worth it"! John's was, "sometimes the least said, the better"! All three still have a sort of grip on me and the memories of them and of their conversations that were educational. The joy of having known them, I wish I could share with all of you and have the time to write the short stories that comes to mind that involves our travels around the Pacific Northwest but the computer isn't big enough. So I'll have to settle with this story and hope that it has touched you as it has several of their kids and friends that knew them. I hope that you, the person reading this short story, finds someone that will inspire you as much as these two people did for me and saved my life along with many others. They were saints and didn't know it.

Thanks for reading!



GOD AND MOM

GEORGE AND ANITA VON BRANDT
This is yet another story about a couple that put a lot of effort into this persons life to see if I could succeed at keeping my nose clean and out of trouble. I first met them at the Caldwell Rock and Gem Show in Caldwell, Idaho on a hot May afternoon about two days before the show was to set up. John and Marge Little introduced me to this character that was boastful, short, dark facial features, no neck, round as barrel and the voice that had this tone that when you heard it, you listened! He was about 5'4" tall and about 245 and had arms the size of my legs, wore glasses and the eyes were eyes that could look clean through a person and chill ya clean through to the bone! He sounded rough and tough an attitude that seemed to say," don't tread on me"! John walked up to this man with me tagging along as if I was a lost sheep and spoke to him and asked that he would like to introduce him to the kid that they, John and Marge, had been telling him about. Well, without any hesitation this man reached out to shake my hand as if it would be a cordial way of accepting the fact that I was John's friend and let me tell you that was my first mistake. This man had a grip that was like putting your hand into a vise, the pain of it all and I thought that I was strong after 20 years of construction work. That handshake almost brought me to my knees in a heartbeat, but I wasn't going to lead on to either of them that it was to say, "Painful"!
His wife on the other hand, was a caring looking lady and had the look of a lot of hard years to her face, but kind just the same and was sort of a laughing, jolly type person. She was about 10 inches taller than her husband and at first I thought,"Mut and Jeff". She looked like she had all the business smarts between them and had the talent of running any major corporation along with being the C.E.O., rather than a Rockshop in downtown Oregon City, Oregon, a part of Portland. She introduced herself with a kind of giggle voice and told me that her name was Anita, the better half of the two and immediately George perked up and said," in your dreams sweetheart"! I won't stand for this "bull-it "to come in second best on this deal,,,, but if you say that I am,,,, then your right dear! Now you want to talk about someone giving you the impression of mixed messages, it did then! But, after a few times being around George and Anita Von Brandt it became obvious that they too, were going to be friends for life. It wasn't till a couple of years later that I was in their shop and was looking over his (Dad) shoulder as he was doing some gold work that he backed up from the bench and asked," what do ya think son"? After all this time of being around them and their jokes and antics I answered back real quick and said to him, "looks pretty good dad"! I thought that he was pulling his normal joking attitude again when he asked me that question but he wasn't. He was serious and meant what he had said and it was then that I found out why he had chosen to say this to me in the manner that he did. I've never regretted that conversation with him on his life and what he had been through all the years before I had met him. In honor of what he told me it will always stick with this person and never be revealed to anyone ever again. It was like having a conversation with God himself and I treated it as if I was talking with God, knowing full well that he was only mortal and not our spiritual leader. It was then I remembered a long time ago that a friend of mine called his dad," God", which stood for, "good old dad"! It stuck with George and seemed to fit in my eyes that he should be called this in admiration of his position towards me and its been our greeting ever since. It has been more prevalent since the passing of John and Marge Little. George and Anita have never got over their passing and I never will!
It was at the Caldwell Rock show that I saw how this short, fat, no neck German could take care of himself and what he had on the tables. This young kid was trying his best to be secretive in what he was doing, which was being up to no good. He was trying to case George's tables as to see what he could steal and get away with, without being caught of course. I noticed the kid doing his little dance and worrying about being discovered, when I noticed that George was onto him. George turned his back for a second and sure enough, into the pocket went this ring that was about $300.00 as George turned back around. George in his rough, big and bad voice asked the kid, "How bad do you want that ring young man"! The little shaver wasn't but about twelve years old and he looked at George and said," I don't have any ring"! George looked over the counter that was about four feet wide and said to the kid, "put it back and you won't get hurt"! Well the kid turned and began to run and what I saw next was nothing short of an Olympic record dash over this glass case and the table by this walking brick of a man and before this kid got twenty feet from the counter, George had him. George had caught the kid by the belt and loops of his Levis's and proceeded to hoist this kid above Georges own mid section with just one hand. Now this kid was about a hundred pounds and by this time was kicking and yelling to let him go which caught the attention of security. Several of us that were there putting up tables for own wares were also on the move to see what was going on and was at the scene when the security got there. This kid was screaming at the top of his lungs to make George let him go and that wasn't going to happen because George had a hold of him like a bear holding a jar of honey for ransom. I didn't say anything because of the security, that I saw the kid do what he had done and knew which pocket that the ring was in. George then with the other hand grabbed the kid by the ankle and hoisted him now upside down with his head just an inch or two off the concrete floor and proceeded to search the pockets. Sure enough, there was the ring and George had it in his hand when he released the kid's ankle from his death grip and the kid hit the floor, rolled over and ran out of the building never to be seen again. I would venture to say the kid either was taught a lesson or is in prison by now from doing some other criminal act.
There came another time when I was at the shop in Oregon City that I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't been there. This lady came in and was somewhat upset to begin with and asked for the piece of jewelry that she previously asked George to repair for her. George, as always, asked her for her repair ticket of which she had in her hand and gave it to George and he started looking for the envelope that contained her jewelry. He then turned to her and proceeded to explain to her what had to be done and that the cost was, I think, about $200.00 and was a little over what he had quoted her before doing the work. Well, what came next wasn't pretty and she was going to make an example of the issue. Now, I ask you, have you ever seen the film showing the atomic bomb blast going off in the desert and all the buildings being blown away and destroyed? Well, that's what this lady looked like as she tore into George and that brought Anita on the dead run from the back of the shop. This woman started in saying that he was crooked, no good, a thief, trying to take advantage of her, over charging and trying to steal her money. George was staying as calm as I have ever seen him and I knew that he was about to blow and if he did, I didn't want to be around! So, this lady starting hauling out her checkbook and a fist full of money, that would have choked a horse and all this time still going at George for what he was charging her. While she was still chewing, she handed him over a thousand dollars in cash and was writing a check for the repair. George turned to me an flashed this money at me as to tell me how much was there and then this gal handed him the check and was starting to leave, still cussing him out. I mean by now this woman was using language that you'd here on the ranch and would make a sheepherder blush! When in mid stride he stopped her and point blank asked this woman," are you through running off your mouth"? With that one statement, this woman looked like she had been hit with a baseball bat right between her eyes. She stopped yelling and asked the dumb question, "Why"? George looked at her and very politely asked," if I'm a thief, just how much godd-n money did you give me"! She looked at him and yelled," you know damn good an well how much I gave you S.O.B. "! "I wrote you a check for the damn bill and I hope you choke on it," she replied. George started into his yelling voice that if the door was open you could of heard him down to city hall on Main Street. "If I'm a thief and a no good S.O.B. why then did you write a check for the amount and leave this thousand dollars in cash in my hand"! "A tip", he exclaimed! This lady looked at him with this beet red face and then noticed the cash. She then also noticed that George was still holding her handbag in the other hand. Well needless to say she had at that moment realized she had made a grave mistake in trying to tackle the most honest person in Portland. This lady finally realized that if she was a good hunting dog, taught to hunt squirrels mind you, that she had just treed a cat," polecat" that is! Well we all had a good laugh and have been the best of friends ever since and she takes her jewelry to no one else but," George". Now days she just drops off the items that she needs repaired and there has never been a question since about the charge as she gladly shells out the money for payment.
Then there was the day that I was in the shop discussing business with "God" about our opal claims in Nevada when the buzzer went off from the front door. I happened to look up and my jaw hit the floor. Here were two huge black men trying to get through the door at the same time with this woman behind them beating them on the back yelling, "get out of my way"! Now what I saw next wasn't what I had expected, to say the least as this woman flipped back the hood on her parka and there stood Whoopy Goldberg. Now, I was a Star Trek fan and didn't want to miss any of the episodes that came on at home or in Portland and here stood the best actor of the show in the shop. You could have slapped me in the face and I would have never felt it, I was star struck to say the least. Dad was the first on the scene and welcomed her to his shop. She told him that she was making a film just around the corner on the river docks and that because of the rain that they called it a day early. That she wanted to observe the sights in Oregon City! As she was walking from across the street she said that something was calling her from across the street and she had to investigate what was calling her. I had several thoughts about this and none were what I called being smart, but stayed still and didn't say a word as I kept those thoughts to myself. Mom was standing next to me so I had better not said what I thought or I would have had some sore toes. Anyway, Whoopy asked what was behind the cabinet door that dad was standing next to? As she said that the felling she was getting was coming from behind that door.
Now I knew what was behind that door as I had seen it many times in the past. Dad many years ago at a show in California bought this plate of Smokey Quartz with this one crystal that was about 12 to 14 inches long that stood off at an angle at about 30 degrees and he had a name for this impressive piece that we will leave a secret. It had to do with a certain part of a male donkey, need I say anymore!
Anyway, back to the story
She again asked to see what was behind the door and this time with a discussion on what had called her into the shop from across the street in the first place. Dad again stated that what was behind that door wasn't her concern and wasn't for sale anyway. Now can you imagine this jolly type person that we all see on TV and has a lot of sayings and jokes at everyone being upset. Well, let me tell you, this person became ruffled and began to go head to head with dad and these bodyguards were getting a little "Yancey to boot" and I could see the outcome real quick. I wanted to stop dad and tell him that these two monsters could make us both look like chopped liver and I didn't like mustard that well. Well, after a little more cussing and discussing he finally agreed to open the door and show her the piece that was causing the entire ruckus. Then in a very stern voice she asked, "how much"! Dad about blew his stack and began telling her that just because she's a movie star that wasn't going to get her anywhere in his shop and that if she didn't like it she could leave. Now I can imagine the look that was on my face when he said that and I don't think it was the look of shock, but the look of disbelief at what I had just heard. Whoopy, then piped off and said, "I'll give you $5000.00 for it and not a penny more"! Dad said, "how much"! Again her reply was, "$5000.00"! Dad was then faster than greased lightning and said, "Sold"! After that she excused the bodyguards and told them to go back to the set and if they wanted her that she would be here at the shop and they could reach her here. That was the day of all days for we had lunch together and with the flip of a coin she won and sprang for the burgers that afternoon. The rest of the afternoon you would had to have been there to seen for yourself what fun we had, all three of us, crawling around on the floor on hands and knees looking at all the rock in the shop that dad called his "goodies"! We even got a Christmas card from her that Christmas and I have mine in the scrapbook and will always remember the day that Whoopy came to the shop. Oh, by the way! Dad told me that he bought that piece from a dealer that was going out of business and that he paid $100.00 for it. I asked him if he could sleep at night for that dastardly deed and the torment that we, mom and I, went through that day. His reply was, "what do you think"! I didn't have to think, I knew. She came back to the shop on several occasions and once again when I was there and as always it was if she had just came in contact with the long lost brother that she hadn't seen in years. She's got a hug that will take your breath away as she is strong! But a sweet person never the less! What she had to say about the government, welfare and the up bringing of kids today, well lets just say she would make a great rock hound and leave it at that..
It has been along time since the days of old that we met. There has been several times to reveal towards the affectionate moments that I have had many a laugh at the life and times of these two. They have been the best of friends to the point of them wanting to meet every girlfriend that I dated for several years when I was single. There was one time I was telling them of this gal that I met and that they should meet her as I thought she was the living end. Dad piped off and said," bring her to Portland so we can"! So, I did! Dad and Mom took us out to dinner the day we arrived and they were so happy to meet this girl and wanted to know a little bit about her and what she did and etc. Well, all of sudden this gal became related to a clam. She had no answers to any questions, was terribly uncomfortable and was becoming shy and inverted to the point of becoming almost to tears. Dad turned to her and said," I for one would like to know something about you and if you're going to marry each other"! Wrong question to be asking this gal that I had only dated about two months and the "M" word was not in her vocabulary as yet. Needless to say when we got back to Idaho, I never saw that gal again. "Thanks Dad"! It was about 9 years ago that I met my wife and that very same year as always, dad said," bring her to Portland". So I figured out a way to get this gal to come with me to Portland as I did have some business to attend to with him anyway. Again, they found the time to take us to dinner and dad proceeded to ask the same old questions and mom just sat there taking in all the conversation and the facial expressions as well. Then after about two hours hammering away at this girl he stooped and asked her if she was planning on marring this so-called idiot that they called their son. She stopped after being brutally interrogated by this man and said to him, " when I think it's your business I'll make sure that you're informed"! It was with that answer that I thought the party was over and time to get out the boxing gloves for these two and get ready to start selling tickets for the fight. It was the biggest shock to me when he ruffled up like an old ruffled grouse and looked over the top of his gold rim glasses and looked her straight in the eyes and said," informed you say"! " I don't want to be informed, I want to be there"! This was a reply that I didn't expect and had no idea that she had even thought about it. But thanks to dad, we did get married at the Lakeview Show on August 13, 1999 and dad was there and mom cried as well.
There has been many a business deal that dad and I have done together and a lot of things that he has taught me as well as mom doing her share. These things I think made a better person out me than it should have and I owe a lot to them for what they taught me. Its been right at 20 years since that fateful day in May when I met these two and we haven't been to far apart from one another since. Dad is getting along in years but refuses to give in to age and moms still there keeping him in line as he puts it! They have had their health problems along with their surgeries and have scared the hell out of me a couple of times. But, they keep on stroking and try and not skip a beat as they still have their business that they've had for so long and their rock shop as well.
Again, it is so funny how certain people can influence others on this journey of life that we all travel while we live on this earth. Its people that have a heart that is willing to share their views and to lead others down the path of right. I hope that some of you that read these "half baked" stories that I write find what I have found in others and can enjoy life's unfolding mysteries as I have found. As they say about not judging a book by its cover holds true in people and you should always allow yourself to the time to open the cover. You sometimes are surprised at the story and of course the plot that can be the determining factor to want to read on. There are always people that are like a sad dish of chow and then are some that seconds are not enough to satisfy your appetite and can't wait till you're able to sit down at the table again. I don't think that I'll ever get tired of being able to learn from dad and mom and their encouragements about the business of jewelry making or life itself. As for my wife Cherie! She has become the favorite of those two and they can't wait to hear from her or see her as she has them at the top of her list as well. I hope that this story has touched a nerve in you as well to look at people a little differently than you have before. You never know when you'll meet the diamond in the rough till you look……. Thanks , Dad and Mom!!!


 

Home| Jasper | Agates | Opal | Facet Materials | Finished Gems | Finished Jewelry
Collectables & Collections | Specials | Equipment | People Stories
Ordering Info | E-mail Us