Mineral show just rocks

Sean C. Morgan

The colors of the rainbow are not only meant for the sky.

They decorate the earth too, and Cathee Bethel’s display at the 69th Annual Rock and Gem Show demonstrated just how well they do it, placing first among displays by Sweet Home Rock and Mineral Society members, who organized the show.

The show, held in the Sweet Home High School Activities Gym, “really went well,” said Marie Ekenberg of the Rock and Mineral Society. “We had nearly 3,000 people go through here. I think it’s a very good attendance.”

Bethel, of Lebanon, was busy at the show Saturday and Sunday, demonstrating how to shape and polish stones.

“All of the stones that are in that are ones that I’ve done,” Bethel said. All are naturally colored. “God painted them.”

The stones come from all over the world, from the United States to Africa, she said. “To get all of the colors, I tried to put in as many stones as possible. I even have some fossils in there.”

She used rocks to form two rainbows – one polished, the other rough, of rocks in their natural state.

Each rainbow contained seven layers, like a real rainbow.

Bethel loves rainbows because they have “all the colors,” she said, “and rainbows are special to me because of the promise that’s behind the first rainbow.”

She was referring to the biblical account of Noah and the great flood in which God tells Noah, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:13-15)

In Sweet Home, Bethel said, she is known as the “rock lady” among students.

A substitute teacher, she is often invited to teach second- through eighth-grade students about the rock cycle.

When subbing, she wears the rock jewelry she makes, and the children notice and ask her about it. She’s been a rock hound for about 20 years.

“My grandfather got me started,” Bethel said. “He was a miner.”

She wanted to know more about the rocks he would find. To learn more, she got her daughter into the Clever Clovers 4-H geology class. By the next year, Bethel was teaching the class.

She loves “the fact that I’m always learning,” Bethel said. “I love picking up a stone and seeing what comes out of it” as she cuts and polishes them.

Bethel expanded the rainbow for a display at the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies show last year, she said. Many Sweet Home members were busy with the Jamboree that weekend and didn’t get a chance to see it, so she set it up for the Sweet Home show.

During the Rock and Gem show, children and adults were able to bid in silent auctions, purchase rocks, gems, jewelry, various lapidary supplies and more from vendors and vote on their favorite displays.

Demonstrations included flint knapping. A Springfield man who was planning to demonstrate how he makes rock and gem spheres had to cancel his appearance at the show.

People also were able to bring rocks to geologist Bob Rosé to have specimens identified.

Hidemi and Tomoko Kira of the Oregon City area placed first with a display featuring mirrors.

“I’ve seen their displays in the past,” Ekenberg said. They’re lively, playful and different.

Joe Start of Silverton placed second for an unusual display of pyrite plume fossilized wood, while Richard Hold placed second among club members for a display of fossilized wood.

Winners from the children’s egg carton displays will be published in next week’s edition of The New Era.