As I Remember, Chapter 35

This entry is part 35 of 39 in the series Ted Bio

CHAPTER 35

Subject…MOSAICO

Sunday morning, Aug. 21,1983.

      Bought myself a new typewriter yesterday. So guess I will give it a little work out. It is a bright and sunny morning. I am in the town of LaVerkin Utah. I am in my trailer, which is parked at the Gate Way Trailer Court. Space No.1. I guess the reason for this name, is because this is where the road turns off to Zion National Park. Which the entrance is only a few miles from here.    I have been in Utah now for about four months. I come here the twenty fifth of May. It has sure been swell visiting my family. The kids have sure been great. Most every Sunday, after they get out of church, they have me over for dinner. Boy have I got a good looking bunch of grandkids. And great grandkids! And lots of them! There is sure not much going on around here, to entertain an old goat like me. Not even a movie, this side of Saint George, which is close to twenty miles from here. However, there are lots of churches. Mostly Mormons. I guess they devote all their spare time to going to church. Also this has been the off season for winter visitors I guess that when winter comes, lots of people from northern Utah, come to spend the cold winter months.

      However, I have kept myself quite busy. Lorin and Bertie have taken me through the Zion National Park several times. The scenery is really fantastic. I got the urge to do some painting. So I got my brushes and went to work. So right now, the walls of my trailer, are literally covered with paintings. Going to have a sale one of these days. Either that, or give them away. Anyhow, this has helped me pass the time away.

      Last fall, while I was in Prescott Arizona, I received a telephone call from my darling daughter, Sandra. She asked me to write the story of my life. Well, I did just that and sent her a copy. This summer, I gave Bertie my copy. She and Lorin read it. Also they are getting another made. Bertie had one comment about the yarn. “Daddy, you left out a lot of things that I remember. For instance, about the Mosaico. Yes, I guess I did leave out a lot. I only hit some of the highlights. But, I wanted to get her a story. Since I finished the thing, I recall so many different things that probably would have been in there. And Bertie thinks they should be. So in my spare time, I will sit down at my new typewriter and put things down as they come to my mind. And right now I will start with the MOSAICO PROJECT.

      During the years I spent in Central America and my many trips through Old Mexico, I always admired the tile, which they called Mosaico. I don’t think I ever as much as walked on a wooden floor all the time I was down there. All of the floors were made of this colorful tile. Everything from the flimsy hut of the peasant, to the sky scraper buildings in the cities, were made of Mosaico. Even the sidewalks. There were hundreds of different designs. Everything from pretty red roses, to ancient Aztec designs. Many a time, I wondered why the stuff was never seen in the U.S.A. Surely there should be a market for it. So being a curious guy, I went to several places that made the tile. I watched them and asked a lot of questions. Writing down the answers.

      On one of our many trips back and forth to Nicaragua, Dell and myself were coming home. We were driving a Chevy station wagon. About two hundred miles the other side of Mexico City, an axle bearing went out of the car. We were stranded. We finally got towed into a town with a garage. The guy had to go to the city for parts. We would be there for several days. We got us a hotel room and waited. I guess we were there for about a week. We really got aquatinted in that small Mexican town. One thing that really interested me, was the Mosaico plant. I spent a lot of time watching the guy. He was really an artist. When we finally got out of there, I was sure I had all the answers. I bought a couple of dozen of his best designs and loaded them in the car. Maybe we could build the stuff back home.

      When we got to Idaho, I showed everyone the pretty tile I had brought back. Most everyone agreed that it was beautiful and it would make lovely patios and walk ways. Also cover ugly concrete floors. As I remember, Lorin and Bertie were visiting in Emmett. I showed them. Also Stanley and Gertrude the tile I had brought back. All of them fell in love with it. I showed them my notes and told them what I had learned about making the Mosaico. Which was a very simple process. About all it would take to start up in business was some molds and a fifty ton press. The molds could be bought in Guadalajara, Mexico. Also the press.

      All the presses I had seen down there, were a mechanical device, powered by a man on a wooden handle about ten feet long. Most of the plants, didn’t even have electric power.

      Lorin was working in Seattle. In his spare time, he had been building a new house. They had been really busy. There was still a lot to be done before it was finished. But as soon as it was complete, it would be for sale. The reason? Bertie’s health had been really poor lately. And I guess it was all blamed on the wet climate up there. They would like to sell out and go to California. Stanley and Gertrude were also looking for something different. So we decided on this. I would go to Seattle and help Lorin finish his house. Then the five of us would take a trip south.

      Several months later, we took off. After shopping around down there, we finally agreed to settle in the town of Lodi. Here we would start the first Mosaico plant. Lorin had the idea that the thing could be made to be completely automatic. He and Stanley did a lot of work on the project. But I guess they never come up with all the answers. Finally Lorin went back to Seattle and bought a press. This we would need before we could do anything. And what a press he come home with. It was really a whopper! A five hundred tonner! It was slow, but mighty. Finally they decided to give up trying to figure out a way to make the stuff without buying the Mexican molds. I went to Mexico and come back with enough to get us started.

      Now we had a press and some molds. We could go to work. Now it was my turn to do my thing. I mixed up a batch just like the man in Mexico. Put everything together, just like he had done. Everything went just great until I tried to remove the tile. The damn thing was stuck to the face of the mold and refused to let loose. Something wasn’t just right. Then I remembered. Before making each piece, the guy would take a brush and apply something to the face of the mold. “That’s the trouble,” I told them. “We got to have a parting agent.”

      We went to the local concrete supplier. He sold us a bottle of stuff that he said would do the job. Back to the press and the same results. The darn things just wouldn’t come loose! I guess we tried everything we could think of. Still, the same results. Yes, I had brought back all the information, but the stuff they used to keep the tile from sticking. I felt like an ass. And of course, we didn’t know of anyone in the United States to call. We were up again a dead end. Then Lorin asked. “Aren’t there Mosaico plants in the border towns?” Lorin and Bertie had an almost new Volkswagen. Lorin suggested, “It is only a few hundred miles to the border. We can drive down in a day.” The next day, we took off. The following day, we spent in Old Mexico. The next day we returned with the formula. And what did it consist of? Two parts kerosene and one part raw linseed oil. Like everything else down there, the answer was very simple. But it did the job! But we had lots of other troubles. Both Lorin and Stanley thought that this method was far too slow. They worked day and night trying to design a faster way. Then one day, they come up with a guy that said he had all the answers. I have forgotten his name. But this I remember. He was a building contractor from Utah. And a Mormon. He had been south of the border many times and liked the idea of adobe houses. Which most of them are down there. Now, here in California, in one of the towns close by, he was building adobe houses and they were selling like mad. He invited us to go take a look at a couple that were under construction. Which we did. The houses were real nice. I thought. The adobe brick he and his crew made themselves. Painted inside and out, they looked great. “I thought Mosaico floors and patios would go good with them.” He said. “So I designed and built a machine that is almost automatic.” “I don’t see any Mosaico around here.” I told him. “I am not using it right now.” he said. “In fact, I don’t think I will ever use it again. These adobe houses without the Mosaico are selling as fast as I can build them. So why go to the additional expense?”

      “Do you want to sell the machine?’ One of the boys asked him. This guy was pretty shrewd. I thought he would bear watching. Slowly he nodded. “Yes, I guess I would sell it.” “How much are you asking?” one of asked. “Being as how I don’t figure on using the darn thing, I will let you have it for just what I have paid out to get it going.” “And how much is that?” I asked him. As I remember, he didn’t come up with an exact price, but I think it was somewhere around two or three thousand dollars. “And it is all set and ready to go?” One of us asked. “Well, not quite. I had it going real good. Made a whole bunch of tile. It is partly dismantled right now. But I will show you just how to get the darn thing going.” “Where is it?” we asked. “It is over in my shop. “We will drive over there and I will show it to you.” The thing was really something. He had several home made moulds fastened to a revolving chain. Several bins to hold the material was across from where a person would stand. At the end, was a cross belt to carry the tile away after the moulds had dumped the contents on it. I think I can best describe the thing by saying. “It looks like something that Major Whoople would build.” Maybe you don’t remember Major Whoople. Where the thing dumped the tile on the belt, or was supposed to, sat an empty metal barrel. I should say almost empty. I took a quick peek inside and saw the remains of several tile that had been scraped off the moulds. I had just one question for the guy. “What do you use to keep the tile from sticking to the mould?” He had all the answers. All but the right one. He grinned. “Most any kind of parting agent will do that.” It looked to me that the guy was trying to unload a bunch of worthless junk. I don’t think the boys were really impressed. Anyhow, we didn’t buy the damn thing. But I guess it gave them some new ideas to fool around with. I had begun to wonder if we would ever make and sell any of the pretty Mexican Mosaico tile.

      While the boys were working on the new automatic model they intended to build, I wished them a lot of luck and went ahead and made up several hundred tile. Each a foot square. For a beginner, I think they looked pretty good. I wondered what the public would think. Stan and Gertrude had rented a house. Lorin and Bertie had sold their house in Seattle. Their next move was to buy an acreage here. It had a nice house on it and the land was covered with all kinds of grape vines. A real nice vineyard.

      As for me, I was staying in a rooming house and eating in cafes. Right across from where I was staying, was a nice one. It also had a bar. Two brothers owned and operated the thing and served very good food at a reasonable price. It was called THE WOODBRIDGE INN. I ate there most of the time and got quite well aquatinted with the pair. I have forgotten their names. Anyhow, I took several of the tile and showed them to these two guys. Evidently they liked the looks of them and asked me what it would cost them to put them on the floor of both of the rest rooms. I measured them and gave them a price. I would lay them myself. Their answer was yes. So here, was our first job. Lorin and Stanley had a new project that they were working on. Stepping stones. Instead of foot square blocks, or tile these were much larger. Probably about thirty inches long and fifteen wide. And two or three times as thick.

      I could never figure out why Lorin had bought such a huge hydraulic press. Instead of a fifty ton, which was recommended, this monster was about ten times that powerful. Also it was very slow. Sure wasn’t very practical for making the tile. I think this is why they decided to make these large stepping stones. It would take a lot of pressure to make one that large.

      The new floors in the rest rooms of the Woodbridge Inn caused a lot of comment. And all of it good. The two brothers were very pleased and began making more plans. They wanted me to give them a price on all new sidewalks completely around the building. Also there was a nice park in the rear. Here they wanted new walkways. Also a big concrete table that was used for picnics, would be covered. And there was more. Many customers were asking where this beautiful tile could be bought.

      Lorin and Stanley had finally finished the mould for the stepping stones. They made a few samples and took off with them as soon as the material was set up. I guess they called on a lot of different places. Mostly floral shops, I think. Anyhow, a few days later, they come back tickled pink. Most all the places they had called on would handle this product. They said. Immediately, they began building the big stepping stones. In the meantime, the boys at the Woodbridge Inn gave me the go ahead signal. I told Lorin and Stanley. “Boys,” I said. “I also have good news.” and I told them about the deal I had made with the guys at the Woodbridge Inn. I will never forget the exact words that Lorin told me. And here they are. “We are not going to do business with shitty places like that Woodbridge Inn!” Then he went on to explain. “About everyone I called on wants to put in a stock of these stepping stones. And they are all good reliable places. We don’t need to do business with a place like that.” I didn’t know what to say. As far as I was concerned, this was by far the best restaurant in town. And like most nice places in California, they also serve liquor. I didn’t know what to say. So I just kept my mouth shut. The boys had paid for all the equipment. Also the rent and other expenses. They were the boss. I only had a few hundred dollars in my pocket, when I come down here. And I still had enough money in the bank to get me back to Emmett. So I decided it was about time for me to take off. I wished the kids a lot of luck and headed for Idaho. So, that is my version of what happened in Lodi.

      But that is not the end of the Mosaico story. There is more. So I guess I might just as well tell THE REST OF THE STORY. When I got back to Boise, my first stop was brother Dell. He and Shirley were renting a house there. They had an extra bedroom, so I moved in with them. Dell and Shirley had been down in Nicaragua operating the gold dredge that they had taken down to the Waki Was River. Which was one of our projects down there. “How goes the tile business?” Dell asked me. “I don’t think those guys intend to make any tile.” I told him. “They are more interested in developing a machine that will do the job. Maybe they will come up with something. If that Mosaico could be built cheap enough, there should be plenty of market for it.” I had brought back about ten dozed pieces of what I had made. I showed them to him. “And you made these?” he asked. I nodded. “Mind if I borrow a few of these?” “Go ahead and take them.” Boise Idaho is noted for it’s construction companies. Such as The Morrison Knudsen Co., Turtlings, J.H. Wise, Paul Wise and others. Some time later, Dell told me. “I showed those tile to Paul Wise. He is one of the biggest builders around and he would like to talk to you.” I went to see Paul. He was definitely interested. And he had a press. A sixty ton hydraulic and it was fast. Perfect for making the tile.

      I got in contact with Lorin and Bertie. They were busy in their vineyard. And I guess they had closed the Mosaico plant. The stepping stones, hadn’t gone over as good as they as they expected. Of course, they weren’t using the Mexican moulds, so I asked them to send to Boise. Which they did. It took only a few days to get the thing going. In a couple of weeks, I had several thousand of the things made. Curing, submerged in water. Just like I had learned south of the border.

      Paul was a very thorough guy. There was no guess work as far as he was concerned. When we took the first batch out of the curing tank, he looked them over very carefully. Showed them to a lot of prospects. Then he told me. “There is just one thing that bothers me.” “And what is that?” “Down in Mexico and Central America where they use this stuff, the weather is very moderate. No sub zero weather. Freezing and thawing might raise hell with this stuff. And I think that our market for it here will be for outside use. Such as patios, sidewalks, garage floors, etc.” “What do you suggest?” I asked. He had all the answers. “The college has a lab for testing just such things as this. They will give it the acid test. Freeze and thaw it thousands of times. They can tell us about what it will look like twenty years from now. Or a hundred years.” “And how long will that take.?” “About two or three months. So we hadn’t better make any more until we get the results of this test.” I agreed with him. And I could why a big business he operated couldn’t afford to take a chance.” “What will we do with those I have made?” I asked him. He grinned. “Why don’t you see if you can sell them? Just don’t mention my name.” I remembered the Woodbridge Inn in Lodi. They had been easy to sell. I gathered up a few samples and took off. I drove out to a bar on West State Street. I had been there a few times and had met the owner. I thought this would be a good place to start. I guess I am a natural born salesman. Anyhow, before the day was over, the guy had fell in love with the tile and would soon have new sidewalks around the building. Now there was nothing to do but wait for the returns from the lab. Or was there?

      One day Dell come up with a bright idea. “These damn things.” he said. “Would sure make a pretty head marker for a grave. Why don’t you make them about twenty four inches and sell them for headstones?” “Are you kidding?” “Hell no. And I would buy one right now for ten bucks.” “I could make the stones alright. But they would have to be engraved.” “That limestone face should cut alright.” Dell remarked. I think Paul Wise has a pantograph. That should do the trick.” Well, I never thought I would make tombstones, but I decided I would give it a try.

      The first thing I did was to make a mould. Which was much like the ones the boys had made for the stepping stones. It worked like a charm. I went ahead and made up a whole bunch of them and put them in water to cure. Wise told me. “Go ahead and see what you can do. Just don’t put my name on anything until those tests come back.” To that I agreed. The first stone I engraved, I put Dell’s name it. Also the day of his birth. All it needed was that last day. And to my great sorrow, it was only a short time later, that I put that on and put it to the head of his grave. Also, I made one for my father, John C. Dewey. Then later, one for brother Bob, Robert Gene Dewey. Two years ago while I was in Emmett, I went to the cemetery and took out a bunch of flowers. Those Mosaico headstones were still there. And in excellent condition. Now back to the story. At that time, I had a cousin that lived in Boise. He name was Dewey Cline. He was a swell guy. Several years younger than myself and out of a job. I showed him the head markers and told him my plan. Which was something like this.

      I would make up about fifty of the stones. The surface would look like pure marble. On each one, I would engrave the name, Tom G. Jones. On the left side, would be the day and year of birth. On the other side, the final date. I didn’t really need Dewey to go along with me, but he would be good company on the road and he was a good salesman and out of a job. Being as how we didn’t know how the stones would stand this cold weather, we headed south, California.

      There are usually two undertakers in each town. We would pick one from the telephone book and set up an appointment. Then one of us would call on him. Here was the pitch. Hand him the engraved stone that looked like pure marble, then give him the words. “This is manufactured marble that is called Mosaico. It has been used in Italy, Spain and all the Latin American countries for hundreds of years. We sell them only through the undertakers. And we are setting up one in each town as we pass through. These beautiful markers sell for the low sum of forty dollars. On each, you make twenty. Just send us the names and the dates. Plus twenty dollars. We mail the stones to the beloved ones.” By this time, the guy was usually sold. Undertakers never pass up an opportunity to grab an easy buck. The last thing is this. “Of course you will need a sample to show. You may have this one for the low wholesale price.” Usually it didn’t take over ten minutes and would walk out of there with a twenty in our pocket.

      Now back in those days, twenty bucks was about like a hundred now. Gas, twenty five cents a gallon. A good meal for a buck. A nice motel for a fin. At least we had a good thing going, if we never so much as heard from these lovely undertakers. Soon, we were out of samples. We must return home. We were in grape country and there were lots of wineries. Dewey liked to stop at these and sample the wares. And he loved those big long wine cellars. In one of them, he found a wine that he really liked. He was a darn good cook as well as a salesman. He liked to use wine in some of his dishes. He bought a gallon of the stuff and put it in the back seat of the car. “I will cook you up something real good when we get home.” he said. We stopped at Las Vegas on the way back. Played the games and took in a few floor shows. We had a ball. Dewey Cline liked his drinks. Wasn’t the type that gets drunk but he could sure put away a lot of stuff and he seldom had a hangover.

      It was Saturday afternoon when we hit the Nevada City. I was late Sunday afternoon at a small town in Utah. Got us a motel room, took a shower, then walked up town. It was a hot evening and a cold beer would taste mighty fine. We found a couple of stores but they were both closed. Then it dawned. This was Utah, Mormon country. Everything was locked up tight. Even the grocery stores. Sunday was church day. “It looks like we will have to settle for a drink of water.” I told him. Suddenly his face lit up. He was all smiles. “Don’t be so damn sure. I just happen to know where there is a whole gallon of wine.” So back to the car we went. I unlocked the right front door and swung it open. Dewey reached inside and pulled up the catch that locked the back door. Then took hold of the handle and swung the door wide open. The gallon of wine must have been sitting on something up against the door. Anyhow, as it opened, the bottle came tumbling out. It hit the concrete pavement with a crash. The gutter was running red. I will never forget the look on Dewey’s face as he looked up at me. These words I will never forget. “Did you ever see a grow man cry?” Dewey Cline is dead now. While fishing on the Payette River, between Banks and Garden Valley, he slipped while jumping from one rock to the other, and was drowned. He was one swell guy. He died just a few years ago.

      Now back to the Mosaico. A couple of days later, we were back in Boise. There were no orders in from the undertakers yet. But this did not discourage us. I went ahead and built a bunch more. This time I loaded my Pontiac chuck full. All it would hold. This time, we took off for the Oregon Coast. My old stamping ground. The results were about the same. In a short time, we were back in Boise. This time, we expected to have a bunch of orders from our dealers in California, but to our surprise, there were none. I built another car load and once more headed for California. There was hundreds of prospects down there that we had not called on yet. We sold our load of samples and headed for home. I suggested that we stop at some of the first dealers we had set up and see why they were not sending us lots of orders. The first guy we asked, gave us this answer. “We showed the sample to the local granite guy. He says this stuff is nothing more than plastic and will fade out in a few months.” We called several more. Those granite boys certainly weren’t going to let us move in on their market. If they could help it! When we got home, there was still no orders. Those tombstone boys had sure been busy, we decided. Anyhow, we didn’t set up any more dealers.

      Then one day, Paul Wise gave me a call. The tests on the tile had been completed. I went down to his office. I guess they had done everything in the world to punish those poor stones. They looked like hell. He handed me one. “This is what they will look like here, in ten years.” he said. “And this one, twenty. This one thirty.” This was hard to believe. “I think they are nuts.” I told him. This tile that had been made and laid hundreds of years ago, was still in good shape. And it was everywhere in Mexico and Central America. Anyhow, that was the end of our partnership. And do you know something? I was right! Two years ago when I was in Idaho, I went to that bar on State Street. The one I had put the tile on top of the concrete sidewalk, and believe it or not, it looked as pretty as the day it was put down. Also, I went to the cemetery. The headstones I had made for Dell, Bob and Dad were still in good shape.

      But that was not the last of the story! Once more, lets go back about twenty years. Several years had passed. Dad had died. Also brother Dell. Bob was in a wheel chair with Multiple Sclerosis. He was staying with Mother and she was in poor condition. I decided they needed help, so I moved in with them. I went to work for Jack King. He was running the Dewey Orchards. I worked in the shop. Kept all the machinery and equipment going. Jack and I got along great. The harvest season was over and Jack and Donna decided to build on to their house. Their family was growing and the house was small. I still had a few Mosaico tiles that I had made in Boise. He thought they were beautiful. “I am going to build a fire place in the new house. I could lay it up with cinder blocks and cover it with these. It would be beautiful. Can you make up a bunch?” “All I need is a press.” I told him. “The moulds are over in Boise.” “Where could we get a press?” he asked. For a long time, I had been trying to figure out how to build one. A special Mosaico press. Something that was powerful and fast. Something light and inexpensive. In the back of my noggin, I thought I had all the answers. I told Jack. “If you will let me borrow the shop for a couple of weekends, I will build one.” Jack was all smiles. “Go ahead.” It didn’t take me long to build the darn thing and it was a dandy. There was an air compressor in the shop. I would use this for power. I would build it, air over hydraulic. Let the air drive an eight inch piston with a two inch hydraulic piston on the bottom. This two incher, would force the fluid into another eight inch cylinder. It was powerful and it was fast. All I needed now was the moulds.

      I made a trip to Boise. Paul Wise had moved everything to a new location. He had bought a much larger piece of land just out of town. Everything was a mess. We couldn’t find the moulds anywhere. Couldn’t even find the press! In Emmett, there was a guy by the name of Dale Cooper. He was in insurance and real estate. He was a wheeler and dealer. Liked to get in on anything that would make money. Recently he had bought the Cannon Orchards. Every once in a while, he would come around and visit me.

      One day he come in to the shop. He took a look at the press I had made. “What you got there?” he asked. I told him and showed him the tile I had made in Boise. “Beautiful stuff.” he said. “Any way I can get in on this deal?” I thought a minute, then told him. “The moulds have been misplaced or lost. There is none this side of Old Mexico. Probably the closest place would be the city of Monterey. “About how much will they cost?” “By the time a person drove clear down there and waited for them to be built, it would cost at least a couple thousand.” Dale grinned. “I just had a windfall the other day. So I got a few extra bucks. Also, I got an extra compressor. I will put up the money for the moulds, plus the compressor and we will be partners on them. o.k?”

      I was getting itchy feet. I had been there at the ranch taking care of Mother and Bob. Also working every day. I decided it was time for me to take a good long trip. It had been a long time. I told him o.k. He slipped me a couple of grand. Jack said he would keep a close eye on Mother and Bob. I got in my Dodge sedan and took off. You will probably wonder why I chose the city of Monterey. I will tell you. Most of Mexico’s heavy industry was there. Big steel mills, etc. I was sure they would have everything in the way of Mosaico moulds. It would be a long trip. Almost across the U.S. Then cross the border at Brownsville Texas. Then around the horn of the Gulf of Mexico, almost to the Atlantic Ocean. Why did I go there instead of Guadalajara, where I got those other moulds? I will tell you. The moulds I bought there, were made in Monterey and I had to wait there about a week before they arrived. Besides, I had some very unpleasant memories about that place. I guess I had better tell about it. The moulds come in on Friday evening. I would leave by bus the next morning. I bought me a bus ticket to Nogales Mexico. From there, I would take a taxi across the border and then get me a ticket back to Lodi. I got a guy with a horse and buggy to pick up the moulds at the train depot. He would take them to the bus station.

      The guy with the horse and buggy was late getting to the bus station. I was getting nervous. I counted my money. I barely had enough to eat on ‘til we got to the border. I wished he would hurry up and get there. But my luck held. The bus, was also late getting out of there. Finally the guy got there. We loaded the moulds in the freight compartment and we took off.

      It was about noon on a Saturday when we pulled out. We would arrive in Nogales sometime Monday morning. The first stop for our bus was at the town of Tequila. Time for dinner. The bus stopped and everyone got out. This was the town where the famous drink was made from cactus and before the bus left, most everyone bought a bottle to take along. But not me. In fact, I didn’t even eat! When I sat down at the table, and felt for my wallet, it was gone! Someone had lifted it. Picked my pocket! Then I remembered, back at that bus station, just before we left, someone had bumped into me about knocking me down. Another guy had grabbed me and kept me from falling. No doubt, they were the ones that had got my wallet. I had less than a dollar in loose Mexican pesos in my pocket. I looked like a long dry spell for me. I had my check book in my suit case, but getting a U.S. check cashed there on a Saturday or Sunday would be impossible. Anyhow, I guess that is the reason I headed for Monterey. Anyhow, everything went great, until I reached the town of Brownsville Texas. Here, I would cross the border and head for Monterey. This was a short cut. A new road that wasn’t finished all the way. But it would save me several hundred miles. But something happened in Brownsville that I will never forget. The hurricane season was on and one hit that fair city. I don’t know if it had a name or was truly a real one. But in all my travels, I have never seen so much wind and rain.

      I was driving down a narrow street, looking for a place to spend the night when storm hit. We have gully and flash floods in the west. Especially Arizona, but I had never seen anything like this. The wind was about to take me off the street when a wall of water come rushing down on me. Suddenly my car was floating. Going like a canoe on the high seas! Suddenly, the street made a bend. But the water didn’t. It kept right on going and me with it! Suddenly just ahead was a deep wash. An escape for the water I guess. Then head first, we were dumped right into the damn thing! The front of the car hit a big boulder and we come to a sudden stop. Water was running all around me. What a long night. It was late in the morning before someone come to my rescue. The storm had passed on and the sun was shining.

      I stayed there a couple of days waiting for my car to be dried out and a few minor things fixed. Then I was on my way. There was very little travel on this new road and it went through a lot of high mountains. In places, I had to make long detours to avoid the road crews. I made one detour that I will never forget. The narrow winding road passed right by an old abandoned city. Outside of a few tourists, who were stopped to look it over, the place was deserted. No one seemed to be living there. Everywhere, there were rows of stone houses Up against the side of the mountain someone had uncovered a whole city that had been buried for thousands of years. This was probably some ancient dwelling built by the Aztec Indian.

      I had a camera and some film in the glove compartment. I would take home some pictures of this, I decided. There were no roofs on any of the buildings. The stone walls were all that was left. Very likely they had used wood or grass to cover them. I got out the camera and snapped a few pictures. Then up just ahead of me, was a strange sight. A couple of goats were up on top of one of those high walls looking down at me. And close by was one of the houses with a grass roof on it. Someone was living there I decided. I stopped my car and got out. I focused the camera on the goats on the wall and snapped the picture. Suddenly out of the house with the roof on it, come a man. He was big and he looked mean and in his right hand, was a huge machete. Might just as well get a picture of him I thought. I rolled the film and raised the camera. Pointing it straight at him. Maybe he thought that I was holding some kind of weapon. I will never know, but he came straight at me, the machete raised high. I couldn’t understand the words he was bellowing, but I sure got the meaning. The engine was running on my car. I made a run for it! And I was just barely in time. I hit the throttle and got the hell out of there! And didn’t stop until I got to Monterey. I got me a room at a nice hotel. The price was very reasonable and there were many beautiful senioritis around and all of them available. I located the place that made the moulds. They would be ready in about a week. I was on my vacation and in no particular hurry. This was the third largest city in Mexico and the people were very friendly. I had a ball. A couple of weeks later, I was back in Idaho.

      Mother and Bob had got along o.k. while I was gone. They were glad to see me back and it was good to get home. Jack and I went to work on his house. There was still a lot to be done. In my spare time, I made up a few hundred tile. One of the things that the lab had against the tile, it was too smooth. On it, people could slip and fall. Then Jack come up with a bright idea. String back an forth across the face a handful of coarse rock salt. While it was curing in water, the salt would melt away. A few passes with a wire brush should open up the cavities. And it worked like a charm. Not only did it roughen the surface enough, but also improved the looks. We made up a bunch and covered his huge fireplace. It looked great. I wondered if I could make a sale. I took a few samples and went to Emmett. I stopped at a place called Headquarters. A place that sold beer and mixed drinks. Wess Crayford owned the place. I set a few of the tiles on the bar and ordered a beer. “What you got there?” Wes asked. I told him what I was doing. Gave him the works. He walked around on my side of the bar and pointed down. “All along this bar where these stools are at, I have to put down new tile every few months. People sit here on these stools and keep digging their feet into the stuff. Guys with hob nail boots come in here. They seem to enjoy tearing up the floor while they drink. How long do you think this stuff will last?” “I’ll guarantee it for ten years.” I told him. His next question was. “When can you do the job?” I don’t think he even asked the price. Anyhow, the answer was yes.

      Dale Cooper was tickled pink with the moulds and the tile I made. “We will get going on this thing one of these days.” he said. “Right now I got a project that I must finish.” We took the press and the moulds and stored them in the basement of the rooming house he owned. And I guess they are still sitting there.

      Shortly after this Bob died. Not long after, Mother passed away. And I got the hell out of there! I guess that was the end of the Mosaico. Probably not very interesting and sure wasn’t a big success story for anyone. It was just one of those things that happened. There was one thing for sure. I could sure sell the stuff. Two years ago, eighteen years after I had laid the tile in the saloon in Emmett, I went to take a look. It was as pretty as the day it was laid!

Series NavigationAs I Remember, Chapter 34As I Remember, Chapter 36

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