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  Personal Stories Contest

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The 2024 MMS Club
Writing Contest

The Rules


ELIGIBILITY: This contest is open to all MMS members in good standing.



When you first joined MMS, you were likely attracted to the idea of collecting, learning, sharing or identifying minerals. Over time, you have probably formed additional related interests and new friendships with other members. If you took the opportunity to talk to each other, you would be surprised to discover how much you can benefit from our wide ranging experiences. Some of us got into this field because we cannot stop ourselves from picking up shiny things. Others are retired geology professors with a mineral museum named after them. Most of us fall somewhere in between.


This invitation is extended to all members in good standing. You are invited to share your personal experiences related to rocks and minerals by entering your fascinating stories in the 2024 Personal Story Writing Contest. We are not looking for a master’s thesis on new theories of how dolomite crystallizes nor are we seeking the perfectly composed assignment from your senior year English teacher. Tell us about your trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula: the agates you found, the great places to eat, what tools you found helpful... Or your visit to your child’s science fair where the theme was earth science and the kids loved looking at your fossil collection...Or your recent adventures at the Tucson show.


PRIZES? We may not be able to publish all entries on the website, but certainly the winners will be posted. CASH? Yes, second place will receive $50 and the winner will be awarded $100.

Your story will be judged on originality, style, and composition. Your entry must be a minimum of 500 words, written in 2024, and submitted by August 31, 2024. Original photographs may be included but they are not a requirement. Winners will be announced at the Greater Detroit Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show in October, 2024.


Submit your story electronically in Microsoft Word or an easily read format, such as PDF or text file. Attach your entry to an email containing your name and contact information. Address your essay to AND AND (TBD). Title your submission MMS Personal Story Writing Contest 2024. Include in the body of the email your name and contact information.


By submitting your entry, you agree to allow MMS to post your article on our website and in the newsletter, The Conglomerate, in perpetuity.

Get to typing and send in your stories today!!



 P. Graves-Wesolosky


            We were young(er). We were somewhat able-bodied. We knew it all! That is why Mike Trelfa and I decided to climb the Phoenix Mine tailings piles for that best piece of copper. The owner gave us permission, and gleefully we went about our merry way.  

            Oh what a beautiful day to cut steps into the side of a very slippery and steep tailings pile. Climb we did!! Slide backward-we did! The faint sounds of expletives as we often slid backward further than we climbed upward. At some points as we climbed our own Mt. Everest, we would stop for that Kodak moment. The one you make up so you can catch your breath as opposed to admitting the journey was probably a mistake.

             I was the first to reach the summit. “Hey Mike!! Get up here. I’m finding lots!” “Okay,” he replied. More faint sounds of expletives. More loose rock sliding downhill. 

            Eventually, both of us were on top of the world-in God’s Country-doing exactly what we loved to do. We sat and dug in silence as the sun warmed our souls. We breathed in the pine fragrance as the wind came off Lake Superior. We could see for miles and smiled at our triumph. Those smiles lasted until we fully realized that the way back down was steeper and more foreboding than the trek up. Neither one of us was ready to commit to rolling down the path we climbed up. 

            We searched for the easiest route downhill and amazingly not far behind us, on the top of the pile, we found the two-track that is used to drive up to the top of the pile. Not only that, you can drive down to the bottom of the pile on said two-track. 

            Really? Were we THAT stupid? I’d say on this one occasion…we were.

2023 June entries

Learning to Dig Rocks

 M. Woodhouse


“The girls can flirt and other queer things can do.” That declaration from Mrs. Crompton, teaching my classmates and me in her eighth grade science class a handy mnemonic for the Mohs Hardness Scale*, marked the beginning of my education in mineralogy. For a long time, it also marked the end. 
           Unlike many MMS members whose stories I’ve heard about their interest in the subject, I did not have a lifelong passion for rocks. Oh, sure, I visited the mineral gallery in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History during my sixth grade safety patrol’s visit to Washington, D.C., bu
t that entailed a few minutes of oohing and aahing over the Hope Diamond before I dashed off to another “more interesting” area in the museum. For most of my life, my scientific curiosity has been focused primarily on living things of any and every kind. My main rock-related interest was whether you could dance to it.
           This all started to change when my husband, Mike, started collecting minerals, beginning with a few specimens from his father’s collection. (Those that his mother didn’t toss or give away when her husband died, a sad fate that even a non-aficionado could appreciate.) As Mike started to purchase specimens to grow his collection, I became his aesthetic adviser, as in, “Oh, that one’s pretty!” In the beginning, I told Mike that he was free to collect any mineral he wanted, so long as it ended in -ite. After all, we needed to put some boundaries on our purchases from whatever rock shop we happened upon during our travels. It wasn’t long, however, before that rule went by the wayside. Who doesn’t love a beautiful turquoise or opal? Further, not all the specimens we acquired are particularly stunning, but how could we not have a woodhouseite, followed quickly by a margarite?
           As you may have noticed, it is now WE who are collecting, and not just through purchases. After many years of attending the Detroit gem and mineral show, and picking up a membership application form more than once, Mike became a member of MMS in 2017. I joined the following year, mostly so that I could join him on club field trips. Still not being gung-ho on rocks, my main interest was in the companionship and just being outdoors. Over time, however, I found myself enjoying other aspects of being a member of MMS.

            I’ll start with the presentations at the monthly meetings. Initially, the speakers covered topics and used terms that were completely foreign to me. I thought of it as mineral-ese. But I’m pretty good at languages and have a solid base in chemistry and other sciences, so eventually, I began to get it. Plus, the other members, in their enthusiasm for their hobby, have been willing to provide explanations for as long as I’m willing to listen. 
           Regarding my original reason for joining, the field trips, I started out as green as they come, not knowing how to even begin. Early on, Jim Stoner advised me to go for the dark rock in the quarry, because it’s a lot softer than the light rock and therefore easier to obtain specimens from. Since then, I have experienced the elation of finding and extracting a nice specimen and shared in the happiness of others who make great finds. (It seems as though competitiveness doesn’t exist on the field trips; we’re all glad for each other’s success. That attitude changes somewhat during the mineral auctions!) Even recognizing that you’re never going to be able to get that gorgeous crystal out of that rock leads to an acceptance and gratitude that you were able to witness its beauty. I suppose it is only fitting that what led me to join MMS is the area that I have chosen to focus on as a volunteer. I now assist Jim in coordinating the field trips, and try to make sure that other participants have a great experience. 
           This spring, Mike and I made another visit to Washington, D.C., and to the Museum of Natural History. We arrived shortly after the doors opened and headed straight to the mineral collection. The Hope Diamond is still magnificent, and we duly admired it, but we spent a couple of hours reveling in the other amazing specimens before taking a quick lunch break, and then heading back to see the rest of their mineral displays. It was wonderful!
           I don’t expect that I’ll ever be fluent in mineral-ese, and I remain much more adept in identifying birds or wildflowers than in identifying minerals, including some in our own collection, but I have certainly gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of all things rock-related. If only Mrs. Crompton knew what she started. 

* Mohs Hardness Scale: 1 = talc; 2 = gypsum; 3 =calcite; 4 = fluorite; 5 = apatite; 6 = orthoclase; 7 = quartz; 8 = topaz; 9 = corundum; 10 = diamond

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