It was winter. I was in warm Tucson selling my jewelry in yet another in a long series of craft shows. I had done forty that season.
The show was busy and the potential of making money was in the air, something not so heard of at that time of year.
An endless line of potential clients paraded by my booth, some stopping and trying things on and a few handing me checks and cash for my efforts. I was busy and I was happy.
A little Native American woman lugging a heavy suitcase, not much taller than four feet and almost as wide came up to my booth. With a highly wrinkled tentative grin, not too many teeth left, she got my attention by placing a quarter inch wide, eight-inch long, perfectly formed, double terminated quartz crystal on my glass case and saying in horribly broken English, “you buy Crystal?”
I hadn’t ever seen such a perfect example of double termination and I motioned her to come in the back of my booth to spread out her wares.
The surge of potential clients doubled at that moment, but I didn’t want her to walk away. Crystals were the hottest selling thing those days and I needed an infusion in my stock terribly.
I motioned her to lay out some crystals on my chair while I waited on customers. When I got a second I turned and looked on the chair and lined up neatly in a row were eight or ten of the same long, slender, perfectly shaped relatives of the first one she’d presented to me.
I had customers to wait on, so I hurriedly asked in Spanish how much and she motioned with her fingers, fifteen. I assumed dollars and though things were busy, I had not yet made much money so I motioned back to her with two fingers, handed her thirty dollars then turned back to the crowd. Fifteen dollars apiece was still a pretty good deal, though not as good a deal as I’d hoped.
When I turned back to see what she was going to give me for my money, she was gone. Sitting on my chair lay two, one kilo plastic freezer bags full of crystals.
I looked around for her. I wanted to leave my booth and chase her down to buy the whole suitcase, but I was alone and the show was so busy I couldn’t leave my booth, much less find a small native woman in the sea of faces.
Not all of the crystals were in as good a shape as the first ones she showed me, but there must have been twenty perfectly double terminated long fingers. Later when I got home and really went through the two bags, I found a hundred small, thin, perfectly-formed pairs for earrings, another hundred slightly fatter pendant points, a few hundred with one end broken and a box of non jewelry grade crystals that I put in a small box in my booth and sold for a dollar each. I made quartz crystal jewelry for years for those two bags of crystals.
To this day, I still have a handful of those crystals laying about as a reminder of that Tucson moment.