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Letters : Tough Act to Swallow

April 04, 1987

Good luck to Paul Dean with his very interesting expose of Capistrano. Myths die hard ("An Old Myth Comes Back to Capistrano," March 14).

Many many moons ago I ran into two undisputed facts about a myth called Superstition Mountains--allegedly gold-laden hills in Arizona.

Fact 1--Experienced geologists who study rocks and such told me there was no way gold could be found there, even though a Dutchman claimed he found a lot.

Fact 2--That same Dutchman worked at the famed very productive Vulture Mine (I think it was Vulture) near Wickenburg at a time when management was lax and miners stole a couple of nuggets for each one turned over to the company. During this period this Dutchman cashed in a pile of gold, in ore that was identical to ore from the Vulture, claiming he had found it in the Superstitions.

Armed with these two facts I attacked the Superstition Mine myth fearlessly, proving to my satisfaction it was certainly a myth and feeling confident by exposing it with facts the myth would surely go away.

My city editor's reaction was to assign another reporter to write a series of stories extolling the virtues of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, complete with maps showing its location.

Both readers of my story--there weren't many in Phoenix who could read in those days--called in to accuse me of being a communist bent on destroying Santa Claus, the Golden Rule and the Constitution of the United States. My wife said I was a spoilsport with no romance left in my cynical soul.

But I at least got the truth out, as Dean did about Capistrano, which is the basic duty of a reporter.

I wish Dean would get a reading on the number of people who visit Capistrano to see the swallows come back at their appointed hour and compare it to the number of Superstition Mountain maps sold to prospectors who know damn well there's gold there, somewhere.

Be prepared to conclude that there aren't many people in Los Angeles who can read either.

Or else be prepared to live with the fact that Dean is a spoilsport with no romance left in his cynical soul.

Or both.

I enjoyed the story. I don't believe it, of course. But it was very well done.


Rancho Mirage

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