Something Groovy

While doing some work research, I stumbled onto this nugget of gold! I'm not entirely sure of the era, but I'm guessing from her Jean Harlow looks that this may have been early 1930s.


Miss E. D. “Ethel” Hook, of Sacramento, California, insofar as we know, enjoys the distinction of being the only woman in the United States, to purchase gold in commercial quantities. This blond, young woman, is employed by the California MacVan Company, and is given full authority by her employer, A. E. Vandercook, to buy gold in any quantity.

Grizzled old men who have aged in the hills hunting gold, young fellows getting their first callouses, and even women- turned miners to boost family finances— they’re all familiar to her. Sometimes they come with a great deal of gold, and go away with a great deal of money, sometimes they bring as little as 15 cents worth of gold.

Almost two years ago, Vandercook wanted a secretary, who could learn the buying end of the business, because he is away a great deal, attending to various mining properties. Miss Hook had finished a secretarial school course, and was chosen for the work. After three months of careful attention to what was going on, she bought her first gold.

Miss Hook will buy gold dust, nuggets, gold bars, dental, and jewelry gold, and pays for it at the mint rate for gold. Not many buyers do that, and, as a result, scores of miners make regular trips to Sacramento, to sell gold to her. Some days, after a heavy rain, there will be a long line waiting in the hall—then again, only a few stray customers drop in. All of the melting is done in the laboratory at Placerville, and the gold bricks are sent to the Mint, when about $1,000 worth has been accumulated. Sometimes it takes a week, sometimes two weeks, and during very bad weather, three weeks.

When the gold is brought to Miss Hook, she goes through it with a magnet, to clean out the black sand from the panned gold, and then weighs it. If there is a lot, she advances the miner $30 or $40, or whatever he needs, and when the gold is refined, she sends him a check for the balance. Not many nuggets come in, but “for variety we get gold teeth, watches, old bracelets and all sorts of things,” the ore buyer volunteered.

Miss Hook takes great pride in her distinctive calling, and says it is an education in itself to meet and talk with the men who have gold to sell. She says, “They are all dressed rough, but many are highly educated, highly trained, and they certainly are courteous to me.”

Satisfied customers have contributed to her popularity, and a reputation for square dealing. From her income, she supports her mother, and herself, as she has been doing for the last six years. She worked her way through secretarial school, and crowded two years’ study into one, and graduated with honors. She has a hobby —and literally rides it, because it is a horse.

So valuable are Miss Hook’s services, and particularly her exactness in the buying of gold, that her superior officer, President Vandercook, of the California MacVan Company, has insured her against marriage. So, gentlemen, come with your gold dust, but otherwise hesitate and exercise prudence—at least until the insurance policy expires.

I think my favorite part is that she is insured against marriage! What a neat lady.


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