Vernon Dawson died this week, tragically youmg. He was a miner, a craftsman, a drinker, a gentleman, and a friend. Perhaps his problem was the one mentioned long ago by Jimmy Buffett in “A Pirate Looks at Forty” (Forty!): “My occupational hazard bein’ / My occupation’s just not around.” The days of the hard rock miner in Magdalena have passed…
His manners were impeccable. Libby remembers the first time she met him. H’e was sleeping in the alley, but woke as we passed. He took off his hat, saying to her, “Ma’am, I don’t believe we have met.” Then turning to me: “Hello Stephen. Have you written anything good lately?” He then laid his head on his jacket and went back to sleep.
He was meticulous about tools, and it pained him to see them neglected.Once a person who perhaps had more dollars than sense had a flood in his basement that covered his guns with mud. They were not fancy– a couple of Mosssbergs , a Remington .22, two sporterized SMLE’s- but were useful working guns hat had hitherto been well-maintained- and O was just going to leave them encased in mud.
“That aint right”, said Vern to me. Then to O: “See that spool table over there? Pile em up on it, get Stephen a fiifth of vodka and me a case of beer, and find us a hose, some paper towels, and some oil. We’ll put ’em right.”
We did, too. By the afternoon’s end, we were drunk, but he guns were in better shape than they had ever been in….