The Orphan Boy

As appearing in The Gold Nugget, August 2007
by Court Young
Transcribed by Paul Nagy

"I could write a book," we have all said, usually with a wistful tone. To which Court Young would reply, "Yes, you can! And should! I have!"

While court was growing up, his father, Herbert T. Young, owned and operated the Orphan Boy mine, east of Keystone and 70 miles west of Denver in the Montezuma mining district. A small lead-silver operation at an elevation over twelve thousand feet, it provided a seasonal income for the Young family. Such small, family-run mines were more common a generation ago, before today's lengthy and expensive, but perhaps necessary environmental and safety regulations.

Herbert Young opened the mine after World War II and his son worked there when he could during high school and college years and beyond. What seemed normal and prosaic then has now passed to history and in fact has become unique in time. And that is the point. All of history is ordinary in the present and only gains interest in the past. You should write a book of your life with every confidence that it will be a valuable chronicle for the generations to come.

Court's greatest inspiration was the scenic vista at the mine itself. A boy sitting alone on a slope in the beauty of the Rockies could be moved beyond the rigors of adolescence. As well, working underground whith his father in the mine provided a bonding experience hard to duplicate today when families are often fragmented into self-absorbed pieces.

With today's desktop publishing you can write that book in you. First, you will save and share family stories and history. Second, you owe your successors a chance to know you, as you have known those who preceded you. Last, you, whether you perceive it or not, are living through a historical event which needs to be documented and can only be documented by you. It is not simply a duty to others, though. You will find it emotionally satisfying to write of your experiences . . . and your relationships. You will better understand the world you live in and have lived in, and you will begin even to understand that stranger in the mirror.

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© 2007 Gold Prospectors of the Rockies