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'Calico Ambassador' promotes Calico Days

YERMO • Eighty-year-old Liz Mauk is a regular face in Calico Ghost Town. Visitors will ask to take a picture with her. Shop owners and employees will stop to talk to her.


“When I go to a meeting of any kind,” Mauk said, “they introduce me as the ambassador of Calico.”


The historic mining town kicks off Calico Days today through Sunday with mining-related entertainment activities, including a parade and costume contest, silver guessing and gun fighters.


“It is a good place to go have fun,” she said. “And people that have been always want to go back.”


It will be easy to spot Mauk during Calico Days. She will be decked out in jewelry, a fancy hat and an elaborate Renaissance costume made by her late mother, Dora Brown.
“I have a dress at home and she put 2,000 pearls in it,” she said.


Mauk started her first job selling spices at the Spice Shop in July 1967. For more than a decade, she coordinated events and tours to promote Calico. She continues to hand-deliver fliers about the town’s special events to every motel in Barstow.


A three-inch binder is filled with old newspaper clippings, letters and photos of Mauk’s involvement with Calico. In 1974, she was inducted into the Calico Hall of Fame. She made her mark starting a hat contest, signature Civil War reenactment and formed the Old West Calico Gun Fighters.


She meets regularly with ladies in the Red Hat group. Wearing purple dresses and fancy red hats, they visit a different restaurant every month.


Lupe Etken remembers meeting Mauk for the first time when she started as an employee at Lane’s General Store about 21 years ago.


“You were going to hail and farewell at Fort Irwin and you had on your little cowboy outfit on and you danced for us at the general store,” Etken told Mauk. “How could I forget that?”


Calico’s active superintendent Wayne Watkins has known Mauk for about three years.


“She loves Calico with all her heart — always trying to promote it,” Watkins said.


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