Senior beat: return to the Aucilla

By Jewel Pozefsky

It seemed like only yesterday when I volunteered to join the spring 1995 ARPP field crew. Despite it being my second ever experience with camping, it was eventful, fulfilling, and definitely different! My two buddies, Jody Barker and Terry McKibben promised to see that my camping would be something to remember. Well, no one thought the heavens would open up the one night. Tents do fill up with water, and I was grateful that there was room in the bunkhouse (that is, once we moved Joe’s dog!). I felt like a sissy, deserting my buddies, but it wasn’t long before they too joined the group in the bunkhouse!. Cozy? you bet! The meals were scrumptious, especially the spaghetti and meat sauce, and we did have time to relax and have many entertaining discussions. It doesn’t take long to become friends in such close quarters!! The days were filled with gathering fossils on the dredge, and watching Jody, Terry, Joe, Andy, and Joan get ready to see what they could find and record on film. Made me think more seriously about learning to dive, which I am doing now. There were two of us on the dredge most of the time, but I was the only one bundled up like an eskimo, because the huge dredge hose didn’t always spurt out the water and fossils where I wasn’t. This Florida native wasn’t used to such cold water!

The thrill of finding half a bone pin made my week, though. In fact, if I remember correctly, the other half was brought up by one of the divers. Naturally, I was jealous of the divers. It must be a wonderful feeling to be underwater and, after fanning the sand, to find artifacts that have not been touched for thousands of years. The mastodon’s tusks were still down there when they were working the bottom. I wondered if I would ever see them, not knowing then that three years later I would be able to study the seasonal growth patterns revealed in a longitudinal section of these magnificent tusks.

The time went too quickly, but despite my “slight” problem with the downpour, I had hoped to return yearly, only to find that I wouldn’t be free until October, 1998. My tour of duty on the 1995 ARPP roster was prior to the end of the field season, when all that equipment had to be recovered from the river, serviced and stored for next season. I wondered what that entailed. How much work could that be?? It was a good thing there were many hands, because the equipment didn’t get there by osmosis and had to be returned by us. It was good meeting old friends, but this time, yours truly slept in the car - no more tents for me. Also, we didn’t have to do any cooking, because meals were brought to us from Perry. This time there was no rain, BUT did we have mosquitos? It was difficult sitting outside at night and almost impossible to outrace them getting inside the car. One should never spray the outside of a car with insect repellent - the coating on the outside mirrors will forever be evidence of those fierce insects. However, they only came out at night!!

Before we broke site camp, a professional film crew came to document our field activities (see “ARPP featured in FLMNH video”). It was fun watching them set up the mirrors, the cameras, the ‘actors’, and seeing how many takes were needed (actually 16 for the diving action and 5 for the screendeck, with yours truly reenacting the discovery of an artifact). There were other fossils coming up, but nothing as big as the projectile point they wanted to show. Once the filming was completed we began dismantling all the operations equipment for transport by vessel back to base camp at Nutall Rise. After transferring the gear from vessels to trucks, we then had to make a run to Thomas Farm, eventually ending up in Tallahassee for dinner. All the canoes, boats, hoses, buckets, fossils, chairs, etc., etc., had to be stored for the next season. Dr. Webb, Bill Gifford, Andy Hemmings, Bob Coughter, and many others made light work of returning all this stuff. Certainly couldn’t do it with only a few hands. It was enjoyable seeing the ending of the project, and I anticipate being able to join the group next year! It is an experience not to be missed. Where else can one find good friends, good food, great music, and all the mosquitoes in the area.