As I sat there beneath a tree that may have provided afternoon shade to my tent in that long-ago year of 1978, more stories came to me.
When we first set up camp in Meadow Valley Wash, about 14 miles south of Caliente, I was the only woman in camp. It was early in the summer field season - mid-May - before most of our college-student help was available. I was hired early. I was done with school, having successfully defended my Master’s thesis the month before. Three other young geologists were available for similar reasons, so we went ahead and set up camp, starting out with four young geologists, two off-and-on camp-boss geologists, one helicopter pilot, one fuel truck driver, and one cook.
As the only woman in camp, I was the subject of some unwanted attention, but not by any of the geologists in camp. George, the short, grizzled, 78-year-old camp cook plied me with candy bars, which he hoarded in the camp refrigerator and gave out like the rare objects they were. Or, that is, he tried to ply me with them. I wasn’t much of a candy bar freak in those days, and though I constantly turned them down, he never really comprehended my lack of interest in his prized chocolate-covered treats, sure in his heart that all young women could not resist them.
Other unwanted advances came from the fuel truck driver, a young, wild, ski bum who took odd jobs when he wasn’t at some mountain resort skiing. He liked to run around shirtless, the lower half of his body covered by the shortest of shorts. [I'm sure his attire wouldn't have been popular in certain quarters of the partly Mormon town of Caliente, NV, located just a few miles up the road.] He tried to get me to show some interest, but that just wasn't going to happen. He kept trying, though, and I kept saying no. He would ask me to mend his shirts and pants. He asked me to get coffee for him, from George. For some reason, he kept taking the approach of trying to get me to do things for him. L and G, the Western District head honchos, thought it was funny; I thought it was annoying.
I was twenty-six years old. I have no idea, anymore, how old the fuel truck driver was; he was probably somewhere in his twenties, but his age was immaterial. His final ploy was to ask me to model a swimsuit he had supposedly bought for his girlfriend back home. He said he wanted to make sure it would fit her, and she and I were supposedly the same size. He kept coming to my tent about this. This was too much for me: I did not want him coming unasked to my tent, which was my refuge from all the people I ate with and worked with, my bit of privacy amongst the trees below the cliffs. L finally stepped in and told him to lay off. Thankfully, upon threat of losing a summer job, he did.
...To be continued...