In July, 1947, Western Folklore published a letter from Gertrude May Lutz. It seems that Lutz couldn't help but relate a wonderful tall tale from one Joe Koenig, a "colorful character" who had worked at the Golden Gate Mine near Coleville, Mono County, in the early years of the century. In turn, I also can't help relating it. So here it is, in both her words and his:
There was hard-packed snow on the mountainside, and one of the experts who was inspecting the mine decided to slide down, sitting on his shovel, with its handle between his legs as a steering-stick. He had no sooner started than he lost control and began to shriek as he went faster and faster. Finally he was able to get a boot-hold and stop himself. Joe, who had been watching, spoke: "Yuh know, I had a pardner who tried jist such a tom-fool thing. It was like this. We heerd about a claim on top of a mountain, so steep that that the sheep on it had to tuck in their front legs to keep from falling over backwards. We finally crawled up and was so doggoned tired we couldn't stand up for a week--and then, would yuh believe it?--thar warn't no claim. Tim, that was my pardner, he was so mad he sprawled on top of a shovel, jist like him." Joe jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "And went a slam-bangin' down that hill so fast I couldn't hardly see him. When I clumb down, I found the shovel all right...." He shook his head, remembering. "Would you believe it? He warn't thar a-tall. Thar warn't nothin' in that shovel, but a dad-blamed grease spot."