Horsing Around in Hawthorne


One of the best stories I have heard in many years comes from Freddie Reid, a "Clock Cocker" and one of the original minemen. He told this story at the 34th Reunion of Minemen at Charleston, 2008. Fred enlisted in the navy when the Battle of Guadalcanal was in full swing. After his October, 1942 enlistment, Fred was assigned to the newly formed Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada. Later to become a mineman, Fred was unloading ammo trains when he challenged a buddy, offering to guess his weight. The doubtful, dungaree-clad young man took the challenge. Fred told him to put his hands in his pockets and make each hand a fist, which the man did. Fred approached him from behind, reached around and grasped the closed fists and jerked him off the ground. Instantly, his dungarees split from the pockets to the hems. The distraught sailor asked, "What in the world are you doing?" Fred replied that it didn't go as planned and offered to again guess his weight after he changed into fresh dungarees. As the story goes, the poor dupe fell for the stunt a second time, then being the owner of two pairs of ruined dungarees. After telling the story, Fred laughed for several minutes. His wife, Millie, who was listening to the story for perhaps the twentieth time, just stood there and shook her head.

--Derick S. Hartshorn


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Derick S. Hartshorn - 2009-present
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