Leaverite Society of Jerome AZ

In 1982, I showed an interesting rock that I found near Jerome to the President of the Mingus Gem and Mineral Club. “Could you please tell me what kind of rock this is?”

“Young lady, what you have there is a genuine leaverite.”

“What is a leaverite?” I asked.

A smile curved into his lips: “One you leave right there.”

Leaverite bridge by Michael Grab

Oh, what Michael Grab does with leaverites. www.gravityglue.com

The Leaverite Society

In 1985, Dana Driver, Susan Dowling and myself formed the Leaverite Society of America to provide some humorous counter balances to Jerome’s contentious politics.

Before two months went by, The Leaverite Society had 75 paying members, most of them Jeromans. All had a major love affair with rocks. Rocks were fun. They weren’t jealous or possessive, weren’t political, and didn’t talk back! The ideal companion for us leaverite philanderers!

‘Leave No Stone Unturned,’ was the first motto of the Leaverite Society. “Hot Rocks or No Rocks at All” was the second. After the disastrous pot bust of 1985, which led to the arrest of sixteen Jeromans, including two members of the Jerome Town Council, a Leaverite Society member who wished to remain anonymous proposed a third motto: “Everybody Must Get Stoned.”

At our first official meeting, Georgia O’Keefe was given an honorary membership. Once a week she arranged her living room around a special rock.

The Leaverite Society made commemorative hats, held potlucks, complete with rock scavenger hunts, and published two newsletters. The second issue featured a love story by Tikky Trachyte (the inimitable Katie Lee), and an article by Ayers Rock (Joe van Leeuwen’s moniker) on the Cock-of-the-Rock, a bird that inhabits the rocky ledges and shallow caves of South and Central America.


The cock-of-the-rock is the national bird of Peru. Jo van Leeuwen of Jerome, Arizona proposed that the bird be adopted as the mascot for the Leaverite Society of America in Jerome AZ. Image is in the public domain. See: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30221/30221-h/30221-h.htm. From a free e-book, Birds: illustrated by Color Photography first published in 1897 by the Nature Study Publishing Company, Chicago, IL.
Book is on-line and the photographs of birds and their descripts are beautiful.

It also included a fiendish British-type crossword puzzle by Whitecliff (Dana Driver’s Dad) called “100 Arabs-Egyptian Rock Group.” British crosswords are known for containing clues that are both straightforward and cryptic. I couldn’t even guess the straightforward answers to “Seek complaint in first-class rodent,” “Utah resident hunting antelope in Nepal,” or “He takes his half of the road out of the side.” I did not know one Leaverite Society member who solved the puzzle.


Geologists you’d expect among the rock lovers of this fabled billion dollar copper camp. They’re serious leaverite hounds.

In the seventies and eighties, dozens of world-renowned geologists roamed the area around Jerome to figure out when and how the super rich massive sulfide ore bodies formed. They’re the ones that turned Jerome into a fabled and very wealthy copper mining city.

Jerome Arizona’s ore bodies are called massive sulfides not just because they are large (some geologists describe roughly shaped spheres that can extend a mile or more down into the earth), but because they are so dense with precious ores, like copper, zinc, gold and silver. The official definition massive sulfide ore bodies are those contain more than 50% minerals to a ton of rock.

The ‘when and how’ answers that geologists came up with are straightforward—the massive sulfide ore bodies are 1.738 years billion years old, and were formed in hot springs vents in deep undersea volcanoes virtually at the same time as the large undersea volcano that hosted them—the copper colored Cleopatra formation that dominates views when people look up at Jerome from the Verde Valley.

Jerome AZ illustration by Anne Bassett

The twin pyramid-shaped mountains that dominate Jerome are the Cleopatra formation. Illustration by Anne Bassett-www.jeromeartistannebasset.com

Incredibly more convoluted are answers to the questions about how the ore bodies remained intact over immense and varied cataclysms over such a long period of time and the dynamic processes that led to a tip of the United Verde ore body being exposed to the air, which enabled its discovery. The geology of the Jerome area is a giant, intricate puzzle with quite a few missing pieces.

According to Verde Valley geologist Paul Handverger, “The Jerome area is one of the most interesting geologic phenomenons of North America. Much more interesting than the big ditch,” (the Grand Canyon.)

One could earn a PhD in geology by studying just this small patch of real estate.

The Quest for Gold

During his quest for gold in Northern, Nevada, John McNerney found a new method for its discovery—and a new use for gold. He designed a mercury detector that used gold film sensors to analyze minute quantities of vapor rising above the soil deeply buried gold deposits. John founded Jerome Instrument Corporation in 1979 to manufacture these detectors.

One irony: although some geologists bought a few mercury analyzers as a prospecting tool, the major market turned out to be the United States Navy. Its submarines needed to instantly know when mercury based instrumentation broke and fouled the air. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system and can turn people into mad hatters.

As an aside, John’s wife Iris was convinced all Jeromans were wacky because of the mercury that exists in the soils underneath Jerome’s feet.

The second irony is that John is now avidly against the opening of new gold mines because of their environmental destructiveness. He helped lead a major movement in Todos Santos, Mexico against a mine that would have likely fouled an area aquifer. ‘Aqua vale mas que oro’ was their rallying cry. (Water is worth more than gold).


While geologists were combing the hills, perhaps many as forty people in Jerome were jewelers, carvers and sculptors. Dana Driver and Susan Dowling, two founders of the Leaverite Society were jewelers. I just liked leaverites. (My husband liked to build retaining walls on our property.)

Flamingo pendant by Dana Driver

Jeweler Dana Driver’s beautiful pendant beach stone and silver pendent. See others at: http://www.danarocks.com

For a few years, Dana Driver, president of the Leaverite Society, became fascinated with beach stone. She polished them, incised them with gold and silver, made them into pendants, flowers and insects. www.Danarocks.com. Dana is among artists that continuously reinvent themselves and stretch artistic boundaries. A few years after her fascination with beach stone, she got into making fine jewelry from bottle caps, tin cans and bits of rusty metal.

Susan Dowling collected malachite and azurite from Jerome’s mines and made rings and pendants.www.foxazhandmade.com

Malachite ring by Jeweler Susan Dowlng

Malachite ring by Jeweler Susan Dowling.

As a child, Jesse Dowling, Susan’s entrepreneurial son, sold leaverites to tourists for extra candy money. (Today, Jesse serves on the Cottonwood City Council.)

I’ve always marveled that Bob Hall, who makes some of the most delicate hand-faceted bead necklaces, has also built some of Jerome’s largest hand-stacked retaining walls, including the wall behind the Jerome fire station and the wall flanking the basketball court, adjacent to the sliding jail. Retaining walls are Jerome AZ’s most overlooked architectural treasure, even though hundreds are in view every day.


You Know When You’re From Jerome When. . .

A few years ago, Denise Lerette started a Facebook craze in Jerome when she posted, “You know you’re from Jerome when. . .” The responses crowded my mail box and many of them were hilarious. Many were from children of sixties and seventies parents.

Nobody ever stops living in Jerome, even when they’re not there, and many favorite memories begin with, “When I was in Jerome. . .”

I couldn’t top some of the great one liners, so many of them memories of the kids as they grew up in Jerome. Here are my favorites.

Kathleen Williamson
When you breathe deeply and inhale the Milky Way.

Aaron Bacharach
You have to walk two miles just to get drunk or laid.

Had to ride a wooden Radio Flier wagon two miles into town with my mom to get water and then get pulled back home by my mom with jugs of water beside me.

Told tourists that there is a gas station about 5 miles out Perkinsville Rd.

Go trick-or-treating in the Gulch and get grapefruit.

A tourist asks what elevation the deer turn into elk.

Scott Hugues
You remember Pat Bacharach (Montreiul) coming from Perkinsville road, 3-4 feet of snow on the ground, on her little red ‘K-Tel’ skis with little Aaron in tow!!! A vision I shall never forget!

Riding my bike to MUHS in Cottonwood and then catching a ride back to Jerome on the big purple bus!

Jesse Dowling
The house you grew up in started out as a goat shed and was rebuilt with lumber from the burn pile.

You used to hang around the Spirit Room and wait for ‘the chip man’ to give out the expired bags of chips after he delivered new ones

You made extra candy money by selling tourists ‘leaver-ite’—the rare and hard to find mineral that you only find in Jerome…
If you ever swung from the upper park flag pole out over Main Street

Susan Dowling (Jesse’s mom)
When you know that stream of blue and brown water coming from your neighbor’s garage means they’re carving turquoise and pipestone

People in the houses up town can see you sunbathing nekkid in your garden

Mary Nickerson finds a tourist car that didn’t make the turn nose down in her garden.

You hear Kathleen’s goats calling her to come milk them

You walk up the gulch to Petra Lomeli’s store so you can weigh your baby.

The telephone guys and the electric meter readers stop at the bottom of the Gulch to take a pee behind the old dilapidated store.

When the septic was a hole in the ground, shored up with wood and tin.

Know where the old apple tree is up Allen Springs Road so you can have a snack while riding.

Diane Johnson & Cherry Waters
You check the parked cars to see if your friends are at Paul and Jerry’s yet.

You call all the dogs on Main Street by name.

You check the “free box” for your summer wardrobe.

Sally Stricker

You saw Kathleen Williamson riding up town on her donkey and tying her up at the Flat Iron while she went in and had her espresso

Alishia Amber Craig

You know that Jerry pays the town Santa every year with two cases of Budweiser.
long ones in Jerome.

When centipedes in other towns don’t freak you out as much as the mutant foot long ones in Jerome.

Denise Lerette
Watch Zach and Danny ride their skateboards down the hill

You’ve seen this bumper sticker on the back of Lang’s police car—”Bad cop, no donut”

Walk up to bake at Macy’s at about 4 am in the morning after a huge opening at the Exposure Gallery—Paul Nonnast was featured that night—to find the bartender of the function, Benny, peacefully snoozing in the street in front of the gallery!! Now that was funny, Benny!!

And who can forget Katie Lee riding through town on her bike naked in honor of Harvey’s passing. Love Katie Lee!!

Jane Moore, one of the owners of Made in Jerome, made this for Katie for her 93rd birthday.

Jane Moore, one of the owners of Made in Jerome, made this for Katie for her 93rd birthday.

Sonya Wilson
Pllayed hide and seek in the old high school, did magic tricks on the big steps for money for Cheetos and soda, and made the flumes into your own private water slide Woo Hoo!

You go down to Guy’s house, walk in and you dad is there! You say “Dad?!?! What are you doing here?” to which Guy replies “Same thing you’re doing. Now sit down and shut up.”

Rayna Phelps Bachman
Broke into the old bomb shelter in the elementary school and getting drunk for the first time (courtesy of booze Troy Harris stole from his dad). Then being ditched there by Troy, TK, and Steve and being carried to Karrisa Baltz’s house by Ron Barber (the sheriff) so they could call my mom. Ah, good times.

Rode the flumes

Had a huge snowball fight with the cops.

Made out in the glowing rock room at the Douglas Mansion.

Pretty much existing on apricots from all the trees around town because you were too busy playing to go home and eat.

Joe D. Garrett
Swung off the swing set in the park using the rope on the flagpole (probably why it’s locked up today)

You get stoned under the steps in the park or in the abandoned apartments above the park or in the sliding jail or everywhere in Jerome !

Denise M. Ford

The tourist you just served the bloody mary to asks you what you do for a living

Larry comes uptown on a motorized bar stool

Silkie is pouring a beer with a cig in her mouth and a baby on the breast at PJ’s

You use the noonish siren as an alarm clock

Heather Johnson
You remember when there were more tumbleweeds than cars on Main Street

You remember playing “ditch the cops” when you were out after curfew!!

Teri Horinek Von Gausig

You can remember the officer on duty on Sat & Sun would stop the tourist traffic in front of the Spirit Room so we could all pour out into the streets and dance!

You can remember “sneaking” a mattress down the stairs onto Main St. from the old Connor Hotel late at night with Tesa and trying to be quiet about it so that George wouldn’t hear you…..

Noel Fray
Remember sneaking into the old empty hospital on Halloween night to see if you could find any ghosts.

Omar Fray
If you’ve ever had a VW Bus try to park on your front porch.

Remember playing “ditch the cops” when you were out after curfew!!

David Solomon
You’re sitting on your deck or working in the garden and a tourist asks if you work here, in Jerome, like it’s a reenactment stage or something. Not that you could be at your own home or anything. I made up an elaborate story about how we all lived down in the valley and were 9-5ers. People believed it!

Kim Smerek
You’re happy living in the projection room at the high school with one other person, a dog and someone else’s stuff.

Terry Molloy
When you sit on your front porch at night and watch Pedro the donkey stand in the middle of the road stopping tourists in their cars begging for treats…….

Doyle Vines
Remember the days when it was too iced up for traffic to come up the road from Clarkdale, so we sledded down and caught a 4WD back to town

Lisa Hesterman
Katie Lee is standing in front of you with her guitar singing and crying while you’re watching a black and white slideshow of what used to be Lake Fowell (Lake Powell)

Terez Storm
As a member of the Fire Department you set fire to wooden palettes at the Little Daisy Hotel for “live” fire and rescue drills

TK Gustafson
Mailing postcards to someone addressed ‘General Delivery’ in Jerome and having it tacked on the bulletin board in the post office for the entire town to read

Charlie the UPS driver leaving you gallons of fresh milk on his way through his UPS route and then making the UPS truck backfire to scare the shit out of the tourists!

Adam Martin

when you know the name Jim Faernstrom and know where his head stone is

When the D. A. R. E. Cops came to school and only pull you out of class

(Soon to be published in Diane Rapaport’s book, Home Sweet Jerome, Rescuing a Town from its Ghosts, forthcoming Spring 2014 from Johnson Books (Big Earth Publishing).