Speaking with Harold Cohn: A writer who knows how to tell a story
Hello Harold Cohn, Welcome to ABOUT INSIDER! What inspired you to write this kind of book?
Many years ago (1960), when this “Crazy Old Man” was a “Crazy Young Man” of seventeen years, I had finished boot camp at the Naval Training Center Great Lakes. I was transferred to the Shipfitter “A” School at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California.
If my memory is correct, it was a Saturday morning when I left the barracks (Sleeping quarters enlist men) to the Mess Hall (the place where ate) and had green eggs (powered eggs) and ham. Just the green eggs and ham in Dr. Suess’s book “GREEN EGG AND HAM”. I always wondered if Dr. Suess had ate the same green eggs and ham as I did?
After, I left mess hall and was going to the barracks I stumbled upon the base library. Since it was cold and did not want to go the barracks and do nothing, I went into the library. I took a seat at a table. On the table was “POPULAR MECHAMICS” magazine.
I started looking though the magazine and found an article about the “Lost Dutchman Mine.” After, I finished reading article I said to myself: “Someday, Harold you are going to find that mine!”
After, I got out of the Navy I went to work for the County of San Diego, California as a custodian and later on as Park Ranger. When I first started working as Park Ranger my duties included: cleaning the park and restrooms, painting and mowing lawns, an enforcement of park rules.
Years later with end of the Vietnam War, younger people whom had graduated from college started becoming Park Rangers. Also, a new word entered my vocabulary, “INTERPRETATION”!
All the young had gone to college to learn how be Interpreters. I was shocked! I was middle aged! I never could memorize things. The birds flew to fast. The flowers were too small. I was in deep do-do!
Then I got lucky! I was stationed El Monte Park, Lakeside, Ca. and a ranger there had passed away. She had started writing the “El Monte Park History. I said to myself: “Harold you are saved when I found her notes! I finished the “El Monte Park History” she had started.
In addition, I said to myself: “You can finish the “El Monte Park History” in one month.” Thirteen months later I finished the thirteen pages of the “El Monte Park History”.
Note: years latter, Mona Mills, Artist / Muralist and I would create “The El Monte Oaks Museum in an eight-foot by sixteen-foot building, an old pump house, at El Monte Park based on the El monte Park History. Please see photo below:
Years later while I was still a park ranger, I took a one-day class titled: “Indians of the Desert (Anza-Borrego State Park, California). It was here I first saw Native American rock. Years later, I would write and self-publish e-book: “THE STONE SPOKE” (barnesandnoble.com [haroldcon.com]). This book contains supposition interpretations of Native American rock art and related subjects.
The writing the “El Monte Park History” and “THE STONE SPOKE” gave me the research skills and the writing skills needed to write the “Lost Dutchmen Mine and Peg Leg Pete Mine”.
Fast forward fifty years or more from the time I first read about the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. I had totally forgotten about It. My grandson is a Native American.
I wanted him to know that Native American were more that just savages. So, I took him to the Anza-Borrego State Park to show him a pictograph I had seen many years before. As we traveling to pictograph site the trail was washed out. My grandson jumped from rock to rock and went on down the trail. Then the old fool (I) jumped from first rock to second rock and fell. At this time, I realized the first time I had been taken to this pictograph the instructor had look at the same washout and taken the group up an around the washout site. I had dislocated my left. I drug myself out of the ditch. When my grandson came back, I hobbled
back to my truck with the aid of my walking stick. My grandson took me to the hospital.
I spent the next three months in a wheelchair. A wheelchair is a mobile prison. Your movements are restricted and the TV set is your prison guard.
I got lucky when I found the website destertusa.com and article about the “Peralta Stones” and the Lost Dutchman Mine. I had my “Get out of jail card!”
The answer to the question: “What inspired to write this kind of book”, is “desperation inspired Inspiration!”
At 82 pages, it is short and sweet, was that your intention.
I had no forgone conclusion on how I was going write or how long the book would be.
I started with the supposition interpretations of the Peralta Stones because the Peralta Stones were modern man’s Native American rock, a picture story. Note: I wrote the e-book “THE STONE SPOKE”, a book of supposition interpretations of Native rock art and related subjects (barnesandnoble.com). Therefore, I was qualified write supposition interpretations of the Peralta Stones.
In conclusion, I did not lead the story; the story lead me. Eighty-two pages told everything I wanted to say!
Where does the balance lie between fact and fiction, in your opinion?
There is no fiction in my opinions (interpretations) in this book. The interpretations in The Lost Dutchmen Mine and Peg Leg Pete Mine are based facts, what was said by whom, and the symbols on the Peralta Stones. In addition, “Man talks and Harold listens!”
Did writing allow you to reflect and gain clarity on your research?
I answer questions at quora.com (QUORA) asked by writers. I recommend that writers read what have written aloud when they are editing. Listen to what they wrote as the listener would. Then make additions, subtractions, and corrections as necessary.
When a writer transfers his thoughts from his mind onto paper, he gains clarity of his research. And editing enhances this clarity.
Would you recommend reading it in one sitting, or spreading It outand reflecting?
If the reader is comfortable reading the book in one sitting, he should go for it. I personally would find more enjoyment reading the book slowly.
What part of the book sticks you the most?
The following quote: “Ich benutzie zwel von den Mexicaner lochern”. I used two of the Mexican holes. (*Does Waltz mean hole or cache).
• The holes Jacob Waltz used were dung holes (toilets).
Probably the only honest thing ever said by the Dutchman because “Man is lazy!” Harold. There is the old saying “Waste not; Want not” that applies here. If you have to take a dump use what is available!
What was the hardest part to write and why?
The Peralta Stones because you have to take symbols of places and find a pattern linking them with no information where to start.
If you could start your research over again, what would you change?
I would not have believed half the lies from half of the liars in the Lost Dutchman Mine story .
What would you advise budding researchers to get started in this field?
The same thing I tell budding writers on QUORA (quora.com): “You have the right to accept or reject criticism!”
Has reading been something you used to shape your writing style?
Yes, reading and life experiences is the base of all research.
To know more about Author Harold Cohn visit: www.haroldcohn.com