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Family Story

Yes, that's obsidian

I can remember EXACTLY when my interest in geology was ignited. I was 8 years old when my mother's parents drove from Sutter Co, California to visit our family, newly assigned to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Work, Texas. I was soon to learn that Grandpa DeWitt was a geologist. He was very pleased by my interest in testing for limestone with household vinegar...oh, and learning about trilobites! After all, we did live on the edge of the Edwards Plateau.

I was later to discover more about him: Richard C. DeWitt was the first person from his county to go to university. Personally I think that growing up in a ranching and farming family in Sutter Co. was the reason for his choosing to attend the Colorado School of Mines. The Sutter Buttes is the smallest mountain range in the world and it was part of his family's land. That had to be an important element in his interest. After he graduated, his first job was working for Rube Goldberg's father in redesigning the water mains after the big earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco.

Years go by and I signed up as a potential geology major at university, but was dissuaded from continuing by an esteemed paleontologist who feared that I, as a woman, would be discriminated against (ergo psychology and math).

Much later my husband and I visited my Aunt Bernice, Grandpa's oldest child, who lived in Woodland CA. As we visited her, she invited us to her patio for a cold drink. Walking through her home I noticed a big lump of obsidian.


Me: Wow, that's a huge piece of obsidian!

Aunt: Oh, my! You are the first person in 40 years who's walked in here and knew what the hell that was!! Do you want it?

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