They call him the Blue Beryl Man of West Paris. His hands were covered in lacerations and his face was ever filled with excitement. I met Dave while prospecting for minerals and precious stones in the Waisanen Quarry of West Paris, Maine. At this point, all I had accumulated was some quartz rock and some flaky mica. He beckoned us to him asking if we knew what we were doing. Making his way to us he introduced himself, pulled us to his bucket and showed us his $200 specimen of apatite he had found – “just lying on the ground.”
Dave is an older man with large wounds on both his hands from getting them crushed under a tractor bucket during the blasting season. They told him he’d be lucky if he ever used them again. Lucky for Dave, he could continue prospecting and now held a beautiful purple gemstone in his hand. Dave was a learned man when it came to mineral specimens – he introduced us to bismuth, a soft pink mineral and the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol. “I keep a bottle of crushed bismuth in my house and when I have heartburn I’ll just stick some under my tongue, nips it right in the bud. Heartburn won’t come back for a year.”
Dave retired at an early age from any conventional job to work the quarries hunting precious gems and minerals. He has accumulated 300 different spots for prospecting. Dave has been blasting land for the past 30 years, and knows and works for the legendary Frank Perham of the precious minerals world. Dave also works with a cancer researcher from Canada, who on occasion will prospect with Dave telling him not to pick up radioactive elements from caesium to uranium to which Dave replies “damn it I’ve been blowing this stuff up for 30 years.”
While prospecting next to Dave, you constantly hear him call out mineral after mineral as he finds them and you find yourself wildly searching to find anything. After a half hour of this Dave looked up and yelled, hey look there’s Frank and walked past me leisurely dropping two minerals in front of me as he passed – one of which contained both bismuth and beryl, and both of which were better than any mineral I would find for the remainder of that day.
Dave is many things, but overall he is looking to enjoy life and have a good time. In a brief intermission, we heard Dave and another prospector joking about how many “shitanites” and “leavitites” there were in the area we were prospecting. “Some kids just don’t wanna grow up” Dave said as he climbed a stream bank hunting for rose quartz.
As it began to get dark, Dave continued working busily throwing buckets of water on the sides of the cliffs to reveal any color to find more minerals. Dave made a life of prospecting minerals. When asked if he had ever tried prospecting gold, Dave said he hadn’t, he was too scared he’d catch the fever – to which a grin crept across his face.
Written By: Anna Mueller