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Ruta Maya Coffee Is grown by a cooperative of Mayan farmers In the highlands of Chiapas. Ruta Maya Coffee Is 100% shade grown, organic coffee, certified by the OCIA. 218 west Fourth Street AustIn TX 78701 512 472 8637/ 800 510 CUBA cubltecom/ rutarniyarset Gold Rush, continued from page 16 would ordinarily have done with white women, especially things attached to family, like having procreative sex, going to church, and gathering with relatives. Rather than assuming they did without and spent all their time panning for gold, she looks for clues of alternative social interactions. “These transient, unsettled people […] turned the diggings into a grand field for human interaction and connectedness,” she writes, “not only in the ways they organized mining labor and domestic and personal service work but also, and perhaps particularly, in the ways they occupied themselves during their leisure hours.” Johnson sheds light on the many ways men “made do.” She shows them worshipping in makeshift meeting houses, where preachers used brandy casks or monte tables for pulpits. She reveals that miners attended dances at which men signaled their willingness to assume women’s roles by wearing colored patches on their pants; as “dancing boys,” they “gendered” themselves female. At “bull and bear fights,” men met in circular arenas to watch wild animals fight over roosters buried up to their necks in sand. Johnson concludes that men sought sexual gratification with other men, a subject up until now historians have considered taboo. She explains that we know that men paid what women there sex. Until now, we haven’t knownor haven’t been willing to acknowledge that diaries reveal that men may also have done more in beds together than slept. Not “homosexuals,” in 21st cen tury terms, they may well have turned to each other for comfort, solace, and even sexual gratification. Some readers may balk at Johnson’s analyses, as did some of my conservative undergraduates, who found her interpretations and conclusions forced. I remain open to her interpretations and grateful for her tenacious pursuit of lives too often hidden in historical shadows. In her final chapters, ohnson narrates the dramatic changes in the area due to capitalistic market forces occurring as early as 1852. Once the first wave of miners had picked the topsoil clean, subsequent waves had to compete more heavily with one another to make money. Returning to Murrieta and his sorry fate, Johnson documents fights and alliances among the various groups of diggers in an area that levied heavy taxes on “foreigners,” actively persecuted Indians and Mexicans, and upheld laws returning runaway slaves to their owners. In 1849, Anglo men might have viewed these “others” with curiosity and even disdain, but it was in their best interests to integrate themselves into a world of work and socializing that included and drew upon all manner of people. As surface deposits dwindled and soldiers and middle-class managers entered into the fray, Anglo men were less willing to tolerate and incorporate differences into their lives. As with virtually every tale of boom and bust in the West, water was a critical factor. With the decline in surface deposits, miners increasingly turned to water, to wash gravel and separate out gold. Controlling water, diverting streams, and building companies to manage flow became the next big business in the mines. Johnson expertly lays out the conflicts in the early ’50s between individual miners fighting collectively to control rights to water and a new, well-financed management elite, which stepped in to take over the diggings. She includes in her story a long explication of the political and economic travails of one-time presidential candidate John C. Fremont, who built his for tune on a dubious Mexican land grant and rights to diggings and water. Once again, ohnson shows how the categories of gender, race, and class were scrambled. Those in charge of the new water companiesincluding Fremontbecame the first Gold Rush elites, creating class differences where previously none had existed. With their affluence, they could afford to bring out their women, who were indoctrinated in cultural practices that kept them in the home and out of the work force. They set up proper churches and erected schoolhouses for their children. They had workers build post offices, hotels, and cottages. Not long after came the broad, paved streets, printing offices, newspapers, and banks. The bordellos, the fandangos, the alternative ways of creating community that had made the southern mines such a fascinating counter-narrative to the American story of progress and prosperity soon disappeared. Anglo miners were not uniformly thrilled with the changes they witnessed. “[I]n spite of white men’s frequent complaints that the mines lacked the ‘sweets of society,”‘ Johnson writes, “not a few such men paradoxically bemoaned the arrival of increasing numbers of Anglo women in California.” Only in the epilogue does she overtly engage with the short story whose title she has borrowed. In Bret Harte’s “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” a woman gives birth to a mixed-race baby and dies. A group of ’49ers tries to raise the baby they call “The Luck.” Though the men do their best to care for him, they, their camp, and The Luck himself are wiped out in a freak flood. Johnson reads the short story as a metaphor for the world she has documented: “This, then, is another piece of the Gold Rush of collective memory: ari amoral community of men confronts a baby’s birth and begins to build a world worthy of that child. It is an impossible social world, however, and it ends in sentimentalized destruction.” Cathy Corman is an assistant professor at Harvard teaching courses in early American history 9/28/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21