After panning out the sand that had collected in the riffles of the sluice boxes, the partners estimate they have dredged up perhaps $50 worth of gold. Elmer stretches out on a bankside boulder, sipping a cup of St. Elmo's fire. He hardly seems defeated.
"Ah, well," he says at last. "So we didn't find the Big Nugget. Maybe we never will. Who cares? This is what it's all about, anyway—the sun and the water and the pines in the wind. When you're hunting for gold, or anything else of value, there's always tomorrow."
On his first day at work on the new job this year, Randy Gradishar spilled some beer on the floor of the office. Actually, it was quite a bit of beer. A whole forklift load of Coors. It must have been quite a sight: the cases piled twice as tall as a man, teetering at first, then toppling with a horrendous, foaming crash on the concrete warehouse floor. You might think that such malfeasance would earn Randy a pink slip, but it didn't.
"It's not unusual," says the massive young middle linebacker from Ohio State who now plays for the Denver Broncos. "Nearly everybody comes close on their first day driving a forklift." And besides, Gradishar was just filling in temporarily in the warehouse. Coors was on strike and, as a management trainee during the past two off-seasons, Gradishar, like all the others on the management side, pitched in. Because at 6'3", 230 pounds he is bigger and stronger than any five other Coors executives, trainee or otherwise, Gradishar was assigned a night shift on the forklift at the warehouse on Denver's industrial southwest side.
"I majored in 'distributive education' at OSU," he says, "and Coors distributes things, so I figured, when they approached me about the program, why not? People will always be drinking beer. I mean, they've been doing it at least since the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs and they'll probably keep right on doing it. Until the strike, they had me in charge of the Hospitality Room. Coors gets from 300,000 to 500,000 visitors a year—some years we have to turn away as many as 100,000—and they all get a sip of beer and some pretzels and cheese in the Hospitality Room. I also take VIPs around the plant on guided tours. The tours take 2� hours apiece. Helps keep the legs in shape."
Gradishar is scheduled to report for forklift duty at midnight, but right now he and his wife Janet are relaxing over dinner at their favorite restaurant, The Forum. Pierre, the owner and ma�tre d', hovers over them with anxious eyes, twitching his pencil mustache like a caricature of a French headwaiter. Gradishar is cautious as he studies the menu.
"Randy was a meat-and-potatoes guy until he met Pierre," says Janet.
"That's not so," says Randy. "Norris Weese taught me to eat an oyster."
"Don't you mean, 'taught me to eat oysters'?"
"Nope. I only ate the one. That was enough."