Laguna Woman, found in Laguna Beach in 1933 by Howard Wilson, are the Oldest human remains in the western hemisphere. At 17,000 years old, Laguna Woman is the first American.
Laguna Woman - The First American

"You're not going to bring that old thing in the house...are you? " - Grace Wilson


When the sun began to sink low to the horizon and shadows became long, an exhausted but exhilarated Howard returned home with his prize. It still had pieces rock and dirt clinging to it, and could use a good scubbing, so he went out to the backyard washing sink to clean it off under the faucet. As the dirt washed away, and he had time to think about it, he began to question just exactly what it was that seemed odd to him. He had seen other skulls of the local Indians before in books from the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. But something looked a bit different with this skull.

Pictograph of manIt seemed to have a much more gentle slope from the eye sockets up and over the top of the skull, not the usual abrupt rise he'd seen on the other skulls in the books. Was this important he began to wonder?

And the fact that it was encased in very solid rock began to puzzle him too. How long would it take for soft sandy soil to turn into hard solid rock, he wondered? Surely the local Indians couldn't, and wouldn't, bury this individual in solid rock. He knew how hard it that rock was was, and knew that he'd never heard of nor seen any type of Indian tool that could dig through that kind of material. And the fact that the first bone he'd found - which he now recognize as part of a leg bone -was found at a random angle above and behind the top of the skull. It just didn't fit in with the idea of a normal burial.

Maybe the bones washed out of the hills above a long time ago, he thought. Or maybe this individual - Howard had begun to think of the skull as a man - had been crushed under some sort of rock avalanche, or trapped in a fast flowing stream and buried under the mud, which after maybe a thousand years would turn to rock, or.... well, he just didn't know.

His mother, Grace, came out to see what Howard was doing and to tell him to get washed up for supper, when she saw the skull in his hands. Howard proudly and excitedly began showing it off to her. Grace Wilson was a sweet and nurturing soul who loved that her son was so interested in the local Indians, but the thought of a dead man's skull in her house gave her pause.

"You're not going to bring that old thing in the house...are you?" she asked.

"Yes! Of course!" said Howard happily.

"I think you should throw it in the trash" Grace replied hopefully, "I don't know if I want it in the house."

"Oh, but I'll keep it in a box so won't ever have to see it." Howard replied smilingly.

Grace could now see that it was very important to Howard, and like it or not, she also knew that there was going to be a human skull in her house.

"Ok then, wash up now and come in for supper", Grace smiled in resignation.

I'll toss it in the trash when he's forgotten about it, thought Grace to herself. He'll never miss it.





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© 1986 - 2010 Steve Turnbull
last updated May 22, 2024