Posted by: notsofancynancy | February 28, 2012

Three Generations

Dad and Pop

I am a third generation rock hound. My mothers father hunted, polished rocks and made Jewelry for my Grandmother and Mother back in the 50’s and 60’s. I still have lots of stones and findings (metal pieces with which you make jewelry) from that time and a few pieces of jewelry he made. My father was close to my Mom’s dad. Grandpa served in WWI, he had no son’s and I know he was proud of my fathers service. Dad was from Nebraska and moved to California after serving overseas in WWII in 1945.  Him and my mom married in 1944, but that is another story. Since his family was not here and he respected my mom’s parents they became his family.

Pop, as my grandfather was called shared his love of stones with my dad and he got the rock hunting fever from Pop. They hunted in the desert for the perfect stones to work.  It is said dad had my mom camping out, in a tent when she was 7 months pregnant with me in 100 degree weather in the unforgiving desert. I think she also had to walk miles and miles in army boots… Grandma’s Sister, My Aunt Dick (long story) lived in Arizona and there were a lot of trips back and forth to visit them. Between here and there they took frequent breaks hunting in places they read about in rock books.

Three Generations of Rocks

Pop had all the equipment to polish the stones. The only thing I remember from that time is listening to the stones tumbling in the tumbler. It was out in the garage that was attached to the guest room of my grandfather’s house. This was the room that we got to play in when we visited. The constant tumbling of the stones were a muffled but familiar sound at Pop’s house.

My Biggest Crystal Point

My Grandfather crossed in 1972 and the stones where passed to my father. Dad finished the stones that had been started before my grandfather fell ill. All the equipment was put into our garage and the “shop” my father kept, that was attached to the enclosed patio my father built. Dad also made jewelry for family members and even my mom wore it proudly. Dad even made a shadow box for grandma of the rocks Pop had started and dad finished.

My father loved outdoors and bought a camper. We camped a lot and dad taught us to love the hunt. He taught us to see beyond the hard exterior of an unpolished stone and see what it might be when the rough edges were smoothed and the outside was polished to a shiny finish. It taught us patience as it is not an overnight process. It took months for the rocks to be polished. Now the tumbling of the rocks were a familiar noise in our garage at home.

Crystal Cluster

After my Grandmother passed away in 1994 we had to sell her house. My siblings and I went out to help clear it out. In the garage I found coffee cans of finished and unfinished rocks. While the family wanted this or that piece of furniture, or jewelry, or whatever other valuable that was there, I wanted the rocks. There was not one of my family members that wanted them, but I did.

Before my Father passed away in 2001 I felt very privileged to be able to share a jar of these stones with each of my family members along with a poem I wrote about Grandpa and Dad. In bad times these wonderful stones bring me great comfort.

Now I am the rock hound but I am not as picky as Pop and Dad were. I bring home any rock that tickles my fancy. My yard is full of treasures from small to a three guy rock (yep, took three guys to put it in my truck.)

Stones Polished by my father and Grandpop

I have a new tumbler and once again I hear that muffled noise from my childhood of the rocks tumbling in the garage. Now, finally I turn the darn thing off at night!  I have that equipment that was in my Pop’s garage although it is not working it was hard for me to give it up when it was offered to me. I came to find out that Pop made it all from other things.

I think that between our daughters we may have a couple of the grandsons who will make it four generations of rock hounds. I really am trying my best to teach them what I know and the places we have found to find rocks. Some of these places are the same ones Pop and Dad hunted. I will never forget wearing my grandma’s honey opal necklace in the same area where they found the material I was wearing. Sadly there is not much opal left on Opal Mountain.

The grand kids have their own piles in my yard. They are allowed to put rocks they want to keep into their pile, but not take them home. What they do not know is that they all share the piles. Thankfully they never remember what was in their pile when they left it last. It has worked so far.

Here is a copy of the poem I wrote in 1996. I gave each family member a jar of rocks and as they opened the present I read the poem. I will never forget the tears my father shed that day. I really think he was proud of it. Happy that I wrote down his memories and shared them with the other family members.

Apache Tears found and Polished by Pop and Dad


Once there was a Rock Hound,

He had a Son-in-law

Together they went rocking

Getting up before the dawn

They hunted in the Desert

The weather was so hot

Looking, searching, all the day

For the perfect rocks

They took them home and tumbled them

Around, around they’d go

Night and day around the clock

Those rocks they tumbled so

The stones you see are said rocks

This you need to know.

Take them out and in your hand

Roll them to and fro

Feel the love, feel the vibes,

The pride the workmanship

Look at each and every one

Remember its uniqueness

Take them home and on your shelf

Clear a special place

Take this very special gift

And always keep them safe

When you’re feeling down and low

Give the jar a shake

Remember the Rock Hound and his Son

THIS is how memories are made.

Nancy Woodside Copyright 1996



  1. I love this, it brings back memories. My youngest daughter started as a very young child picking up rocks on our walks and giving them to me, she called them my jewels. As she got older, her love of rocks never disminished and we bought her a tumbler and went on many walks to find jewels.

    • And THAT is how memories are made! lol

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a great tradition to pass down, Nancy! I remember my Grandpa with fond memories of the Wild West and all his books. I don’t know what happened to the books but I pray that they are still in the family. We would sit for hours pouring over the wild wild west! I wish I knew how to make my family closer but I don’t know how. Mostly what I pray for now is to start a new family of my own and adopt all their memories and make new ones! 🙂 You are truly blessed, dear friend!

    • Thank you so much. I love history…. who knew that I had so much to hand down???
      Thank you for reading my blog and encouraging me in my journey!

  3. What a wonderful insight into your family history and the poem is truly lovely.

    • Thank you so much. This would be about my father and my mothers dad. After the war Dad became real close with them. But if I tell you more it may be a spoiler in the end of Dad’s story. lol
      Thanks again!

  4. As you know, I have a tumbler and do the same, with agates and semi-precious (and questionable but fascinating) stones I find on Pacific Beaches. I would really like to see a picture or two added to this post, or in a post by themselves?? 🙂

    • Great idea. I was new at the blog game. I will add some.

    • Ok I added pictures let me know what you think!

  5. Great story. My family dug bottles, but also collected rocks. Boxes of them inhabit my garage. I never could pass one by. As a little kid, I used to pick shiny Platte River jaspers out of the gravel in the alley next to my grandpa’s house in Fremont. Bags of them. Now Dad asks me to bring a big one from Wyoming whenever we go hunting to put into his rock garden. What great memories.

    • I just added pictures to the post in case you are interested. I always have rocks in my pocket! lol I always try to bring one home whenever we go somewhere. I just can’t stop looking. lol

      • I “liked” it again! The pics add a great element and when i saw those apache tears, well, I almost sh..
        We have some that I bought on Etsy, but the volume isn’t enough to send through the polisher. Mark likes them and the story that is told about them, so they’re pretty much his stones. I also give him all the clear, yellow, sugar and other transparent type agates. I keep the others, the agatized bone, petrified wood, jaspers, carnelian and so on. I like color!

      • The Apache Tears are the ones that mean the most. I know that most of these Grandpop found and polished. The story was told to us when we were growing up. There are two shades of them. Some are traslucent black and some brown. It is said that the brown ones are from the hill where the Apache’s jumped. I was told the place is no longer allowed to be picked. I am not sure if that is just a story or not though. Grandpop made jewelry for Grandma. I have a necklace, bracelet, and earrings he made for her. I have a coffee can full of unpolished ones, but my polished supply is getting really low. lol I keep giving them away.

  6. Did you really keep your crystal cluster in the fridge? If so, why?

    • hahaha No We bought industrial shelving that sits in front of one of our windows in our sunroom. It does kind of look like a fridge. It took me off guard at first I did not know what you were talking about, till I looked at the shelves and then it hit me it does look like a fridge. tehe That cluster now lives outside along the walkway into the house with another huge one on the other side.

  7. What a nice post about your dad and grand dad. It was a nice memory to share and the passing down of the rocks… nice tradition. Nice of you to continue it. 🙂

  8. What a beautiful tribute. I too am fascinated by rocks, and all my young daughters, to different degrees, enjoy picking up unusual looking rocks and giving them to me to hold. They sometimes forget to get them back from me before I have to take them back to their mother’s house, so I hold onto them and can often remember just where and when they acquired them. It helps keep the happy memories fresh.

    • And “that” is how memories are made. Awesome!

  9. I always have a pocket full of rocks! I taught my kids well too since they now all stop and look for pretty rocks to give to me. 🙂 My oldest recieved a rock tumbler for Christmas ansd it turned into something we all enjoy. Out of all of your pictures the Apache Tears are my favorite! Beautiful! 🙂

    • Sweet! I am teaching my grand kids the same. In fact got a note from my niece and I gave her son his first crystal when they were here a year ago and it is his favorite rock! We rock!

  10. Such lovely memories! And I love the poem … what a great tribute to your father and grandpop. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by and following me! Thanks for the kind words. I felt I had help from beyond with the poem. I had never written one before and none since.

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