May 26 • 05:24 PM

Harold had knack of leading one to water

May 12, 2010
Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the June 18, 2003 issue of the Tri-City Times. Harold Gass passed away on April 28. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family.

Harold Gass has been around these parts for many years. He knows just about everybody and everything that has happened locally over the past eight decades. He'll attest to that.

His sharp mind contains as many memories of the way things used to be in the good old days as anyone around. And he has the scars to prove it.

Harold stops by the office from time to time; sometimes with a good scoop and other times just seeking to have something published in the paper.

No matter how long his visits, he seems to have another story or recollection of interest to share with the rest of us.

One day last week, while taking a break from the office to get a couple chili dogs at Dairy Queen, I happened on Harold sitting at another table.

Our conversation began with discussion about all the rain we'd been having. It soon transitioned into the rain's effect on crops, private wells and the growing concerns regarding the limited supply of fresh water in the world, much of which can be found in the Great Lakes.

Our conversation took an unexpected turn when Harold brought up his belief in "water witching," the age-old art of locating underground water veins using a twig, forked branch, wire or "divining rod."

Harold claims he's seen this mystifying practice work himself, but suggests that only some people have the power, and he's not one of them.

He says finding water underground using only a stick or wire is all just a matter of having the right electrical circuitry. Pointing out that human beings are essentially electrical systems, Harold says those who can find water are "positively charged."

He believes it has something to do with our capacity to either accept or repel electrical charges. For example, someone who is easily shocked is negatively charged and therefore unable to find water using a stick.

On the other hand, individuals who can place a pair of wires together and either not or barely feel anything are positively charged. It is these rare individuals who also have the capacity to be water witches.

I admitted to Harold, that like him, I cannot easily withstand electrical shock. So apparently neither of us has much of a future as a water witch.

I'm not one to question Harold's wisdom or opinions, and this is not to imply that I take this subject lightly.

And I firmly believe that Harold believes in the power of water witches.

But the next time the subject of water comes up with Harold, I'll be sure to wear my waders.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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