Summer 1965

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ranch top of meadowBack to the rising at 5:30 a.m. routine with Bob leaving at 7:00 for work. It was nearing the end of July and on this day I scrubbed the upstairs as well as one can with a sponge mop—mostly in the middle of the floor and around the edges of boxes. Washed three small rugs in the washing machine. Bob brought the cat out, hoping it might help with the mice problems.

The next day I mopped the downstairs and washed diapers. Bob had figured out how to run the lamp that my parents, Mary and Ben, had given us and it really was nice. Gave a soft light instead of the harsh glare of the Coleman.

My days were full and often fractured as I adapted to and tried to establish a routine for life with a newborn—the nursing and changing, the wonder and the fatigue—along with trying to keep up any sort of house and yard work. There were visits to the doctor in town for baby checkups (July 18th she weighed 10 pounds) and to buy groceries. “Haven’t accomplished much today” was a common journal entry. She had colic, often beginning around dinnertime, so a lot of time was involved in holding her and trying to ease her discomfort.

We loved having the shower upstairs and off the porch. Bob could take a shower before going to work and, with the gas hot water heater, I didn’t have to have a fire in the stove for us to have hot water, a particularly uncomfortable situation in the heat of summer.

One night in early August, we heard a strange sound around 3 a.m. Bob went out to see what it was and discovered two porcupines, one on the ground and one up in the nearest apple tree. The one in the tree was getting apples. I saw the striped skunk a few nights before that. I think it was getting grasshoppers as it was hunting on the lawn. The flashlight didn’t seem to bother it. In fact, it came toward me, up to within about 15 feet of where I was standing on the porch.

Bob Jones came with his D-6 cat to work on the road. He and Bob worked on the road for a full 12 hours. They got the stump oout by the rock sliode and nearly finished working on the creek channel.

My parents wrote that they were to be transferred from Turlock Lake to Bliss State Park at Lake Tahoe. They were delighted and really looking forward to being back in the mountains and away from that hot reservoir park.

I found time, over a few days, to put another coat of varnish on a kitchen cabinet and to carry rocks from driveway down to the cellar ara and stack them.

One day Denny Bungartz (sp?) (U.S. Forest Service) and his wife and Abe Nunn and another man arrived. Denny dropped off Abe and the other person who then drove Hondas up the hill to inspect trail work that was being done north of us.
One thing about having an outhouse is that you see things in the middle of the night that you wouldn’t otherwise—the stars that are so distinct with no lights to interfere, and animals that are just going about their nocturnal business. I saw the skunk again (August 9th) last night. There was a nearly full moon and both the skunk and a porcupine were out on the front lawn. When my light hit it, the skunk crouched down. Then it ran directly toward me, toward the ramp up to the porch. My first thought was that it was rabid. But it went under the porch right near the ramp, forgetting to take its tail along. Then it remembered and the tail also disappeared. I tiptoed softly across the porch and went on to the outhouse.

After the recent bulldozer work, the road was much smoother and easier to travel.

We had a rainstorm and of course the laundry was hanging out on the line. A good time to bake a few cookies though with the cooler temperatures. That weekend Bob cut slash in the creek and worked on the tractor. I managed to find time to put one more coat of varnish on one side of the kitchen cupboards but otherwise was busy with “domesticity”.

The baby was getting more and more social, smiling and making noises and responding to smiles. She could raise her head for long periods. She seemed fascinated by the rafter and knots in the pine boards of the ceiling upstairs.

The following Tuesday when I got to the gate with the truck there was a low whistling noise coming from the radiator and I noticed steam coming out from under the hood. Decided it was just as easy to go down the two miles to the highway as to go the two miles back to the house. I let the engine cool down near the highway, found an empty beer can along the road and put two cans of water from Prairie Creek into the radiator. At Big Bar I got the radiator filled and drove on into town. Carl soldered it for us to hold us temporarily.

Bob was spending time after work and on weekends cutting slash in the creek or working on the tractor. He put handles and hinges on the cupboards that I’d varnished and they looked so much better. We had a lot of old half pipe from mining days that we had hauled from downriver someplace. (I think that’s the pipe that we hired David Adrian, Bob’s brother-in-law, to haul for us shortly after we were married. It was a lot of work. We ended up using a lot of it for downspouts for culverts to prevent erosion.) Nancy and David and their two daughters stopped by one afternoon.

Toward the end of the month I was up at 4 a.m. with the baby when I heard a loud noise from downstairs—sounded like a huge mouse! I took the lantern and looked out the window in the door and there, gnawing on the doorsill, was a large porcupine. Bob came down and we chased it clear around the house on the porch. It would go to the edge, look over and then continue. Finally, we threw chunks of b ark from the woodpile at it and it went off the porch, dropping about three feet to the ground.

That August we had rain at least one day a week. And usually when there was laundry on the line.

New Beginnings

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ranch spring lilacs

By Mother’s Day the phone wire on the Prairie Creek side was strung as far as the main line and we had 900 feet of culvert delivered. Progress! But even before any larger projects there were always maintenance things to be done. We drove out to the creek again but had to cut a fir out of the way that had been leaning across the road, supported by other trees, since the last snow.

Herb Lane cut down a big snag in the creek and Bob was going to use it for abutments for the temporary log bridge. The lilacs and redbud were about past, and there were still a few apple blossoms. The iris were in bud and grosbeaks seemed to be everywhere. Just a couple of tiny patches of snow lingered on the mountain. The meadow was green with a white sprinkling of popcorn flowers. Woodpeckers had been pounding holes thorough the south end of the upstairs. We drove back to town, changed, and went to Junction City grange hall with Florence and Leonard for a Mother’s Day dinner, seeing many people we knew: the Snyders, the Bordens, the Rablins, and Coburns among others. I met Ola Peterson, who wrote a column for the Trinity Journal, for the first time.

The baby was due the 8th and I’d made arrangements to get all the report cards done a week ahead of time, which was when I was going to stop teaching. Gay Coburn, who was a board member and a teacher, was going to take over for the last week of school.

George Costa started on the new route for the road and roughed it out from the creek up to where it forked. He and Bob and another person finished the bridge on the 30th and Bob was able to drive the jeep back to town after all those months of it being up at the ranch. One evening we drove up the Glennison Gap road so Bob could look at some culverts and turnouts. Very pretty up there with much dogwood, and all still in full bloom. Bob cut two sprays for me, which I put in a vase on the dining table. Then we visited with the Varneys for a while. Fred was going to help load culvert into the store truck the next day.

My brother Peter and his wife arrived in Weaverville. He was going to be working for the U.S. Forest Service at Whalen Station that summer. June 5th he went with Bob and George to the ranch. They moved culvert and George buried it. They got home around 7:00 p.m. coated with dried clay. Bob was pleased because they couldn’t have gotten this much done without Peter’s help. Pete seemed to have enjoyed himself and later commented on Bob’s stamina and muscles.

Our daughter was born a few days later. “Such a tiny bit of humanity!” It seems so strange now but at that time the father could stay in the room up until moments before birth and then had to leave, not being able to see the baby emerge. He was allowed in immediately after that when the umbilical cord was still attached. Seems unfair but that’s how it was. My mother and father came to help for a few days, sleeping on cots in the little apartment. That Saturday Bob hauled the last of the culverts and said there was a rockslide on the other side of the bridge. He went out the next day with Jay Pruett and his backhoe and they put in more culverts. The slide was in a place where George undercut too far and about 400 feet of bank had begun to move.

We watched the 4th of July parade from in front of Morris Hardware—propped the baby up in a chair in the window where we could see her. Bob put up a “not for sale” sign. Some small boys began a heated discussion of whether or not she was real, one insisting that real babies weren’t that small and didn’t breathe that fast—that she was probably a robot.

July 5th the three of us went out to the ranch. We took the jeep and had Rebecca’s car bed in the front seat. Bob worked on the shower (upstairs now), finishing the drain and starting the water pipes. I cleaned out the two food shelves, which had been ravaged by mice. Also found a dead mouse upstairs in the tissue box. Mice were a constant issue any time we were absent for a while.

There is a huge crack in the bank above the new road, just beyond the rock bluff. This will undoubtedly come down this winter—really a mess. The rest of the road is in good shape with a beautiful grade.ranch spring w:redbudjpg

By July 19th we had a functioning shower, a hot water heater, and a gas washing machine. The washing machine and hot water heater were out on the back porch. The washing machine started by my pushing a lever with one foot, like starting a motorcycle. The clothesline was a pulley type and ran from the house to the second woodshed.

We moved out of the apartment and to the ranch on the 25th and Florence and Leonard came out that afternoon. Florence brought dinner, which was a big morale boost. We were discovering that moving with a baby was a bit more complicated than with just the two of us.

Christmas and Beyond

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ranch winter 1964

November 14, 1964

The day after Christmas, Peter, Richard, Charlotte, Bob and I drove out to Junction City. A cable had been strung across Canyon Creek with a small cart attached to it and we rode that across the raging water to the other side. There, a friend (Sandy Sanders) who lived a little further downriver, met us and took us down to Prairie Creek. We hiked up our road and discovered that the culvert across the small side stream, at the end of the long hill, had collapsed. Several places had washed out. When we got to the fill across Little French Creek, we found it completely gone. Apparently the culvert had plugged up and the high water had washed around the east end. There was only one log left from the original, old bridge and we were able to cross on that. My two brothers and my husband walked across, but Charlotte and I scooted across on our rears. It had been raining hard the entire time, and the log was wet and covered with gravel. I’ve never been good at walking across logs that extend over running water. And besides, I was four months pregnant and not inclined to take chances.

We hiked up to the house and had hot soup, sandwiches and coffee for lunch. Then we packed out our clothes and the cat, Aloysius. When we got to Prairie Creek, Sandy picked us up and took us back to the cable car at Junction City. We must have given him an estimated time to meet us because there were no phones.

By January we had found an apartment and started moving into it. January 3rd, there were three feet of snow on the ground in Weaverville and it was still snowing. But by the 16th we were able to drive out to Prairie Creek. A Bailey bridge had been put across Canyon Creek a short distance up the creek and we could drive up and over a hill on the Powerhouse Road. That was the way I ended up commuting once school started again. Eventually a new bridge was constructed across the Canyon Creek. I could be mistaken on some of this having to do with the bridges because my notes don’t mention any of it. I do know I had to use the Powerhouse Road for a number of weeks. When we got to Prairie Creek, Bob cut five trees out of the road and we stacked the pieces.

A week later we left the car about one-half mile up our road and hiked through the rain up to the house. We crossed logs downstream from the devastated fill. I took the decorations off the tree. The wind started blowing hard in the middle of the night and when it stopped it began to snow. By morning there were four inches accumulated. Bob did some surveying while I cleaned out the refrigerator and swept. We went home by way of the usual log and ate dinner with his parents.

In late February we did some more cutting and pruning along the area where the phone line was going to go, but down closer to the highway. And a week later he and a co-worker hiked in and packed out some more things. Bob also pruned the peach trees and the small orchard trees. By now it was possible to cross the creek on some driftwood below the washout. The daffodils were about to bloom. Bob started up the tractor but something was wrong with the rear axle.

In March we took the small, store truck (Bob’s parents owned a hardware store in town) and some old boards and drove out to the sunken culvert at the foot of the long hill. He built a sturdy little bridge across it , which the truck could just go over and which would be perfect for the VW. He cut the oak out that was across the road. Then we drove up to the switchback and cut that tree out. We were then able to drive to the gate at the top of the hill above the long descent to the creek. I noted that the redbud along the river was about to bloom.

A week later we drove as far as the creek and walked up to the house. The weather was beautiful, a gorgeous spring day. Bob surveyed and marked a road route for a new stretch below the house. I planted flower seeds and changed sprinklers on the lawn. There were many goldfinches, robins and Steller’s jays that day. The trees all had swelling buds and the maple was about to bloom.

The next day he cut branches out of the black walnut. We measured the fall from the lower spring to where we were going to put a generator below the house as well as the length of pipe needed to convey the water. The daffodils were all in bloom, but the lilies had been chewed off by the deer. Oso berries (Indian plum) were in full blossom, filling the air with their fragrapicket fence ranchnce.

In late April Bob worked on the phone line, climbing and putting up insulators. I laid one out by each tree. The apple trees and the lilac were in bloom and I took a picture of the redbud. Down at Prairie Creek a dogwood was in full bloom. The next day, while he put up more insulators, I worked on science worksheets for school.

I had been fortunate to have a cooperative group of children during this time. With just one teacher you are on duty the entire day—classroom, recess, noon hour, etc. When it got to where I couldn’t run around on the playground with them it was fine for me to just supervise standing or from a chair. Sometimes the phone went out. This happened one day when one youngster decided to run away and there was really nothing I could do about it. His sister suggested leaving his lunch near the driveway, which I did. Sure enough he came back when he got hungry and was happy to join us again. May 5th there was a surprise baby shower for me at school!

Road or Trail?

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ranch christmas card

First Christmas Card

My husband said more than once, “This road wants to be a trail.” And it certainly did seem that way. The dirt road spanned four miles, with the first two, starting from the highway, slowly winding up the east side of a canyon. From the top of that ridge it was a mile down to the creek, mostly shaded, and edged by a steep, rocky hillside. After crossing the stream it was another mile to the house with more open terrain. Keeping the road passable meant brushing ceanothus on the east slope; cutting any fallen trees; maintaining the water bars so that storm water would run off the far edge instead of eroding ditches by running down the road; and periodically cleaning out slides and rocks. We got adept at a quick flip of the toe to clear smaller rocks when we were walking.

The day after my long hike to get to school it was snowing. Bob put chains on the VW but they were hitting the body because of the large snow tires so he tried wiring them onto the jeep. That evening, just before 5 p.m. I was driving the VW home and, just above where our nearest neighbor lived, close to the highway, there was an oak across the road. It had split in two and both pieces were blocking access. I backed up, turned around and called Bob from Big Bar, just before he left his office. I had a cup of coffee and a piece of pie while I waited for him. Big Bar is a tiny community but it had a good café, a small store and a post office. He cut the tree with an ax, that he must have purchased or borrowed, and we drove home. (Instead of calling and asking your spouse to stop for milk or eggs it was—bring an ax or saw!)

We both had the next day off, Veteran’s Day. He put in the last rafter upstairs and nailed some boards on the edge of the roof to keep the drip off the porch. Then went over to the oak tree, dragged it up the road and sawed it into pieces. I spent some time stuffing insulation in cracks between the logs downstairs. By Friday we had four inches of snow although there was none in Weaverville. From this storm we lost the top of the black walnut on the south side of the house and there were branches all over the ground. We also lost a chunk out of the English walnut at the top of the orchard.

Saturday was foggy but no storm. The trees were covered with snow and lovely. Bob cut wood all morning and in the afternoon wrapped the pipes under the house. I tacked black felt paper over the spaces between the logs and the ceiling upstairs and he put the third section of plywood on the floor up there. Sunday was clear and beautiful. The snow melted rapidly with a steady swish and splash from the woods around us as it fell from the trees. Bob worked on the tractor and the jeep most of the day. I hand-washed a few things, picked frozen apples from the tree by the woodshed and made applesauce. Then wrote a couple of letters and wrote up a test for the fifth grade. The temperature had dropped to 24 degrees night before. We had deer browsing under the walnut tree in the morning.

There was a school Christmas program the day before Christmas vacation started. Friends from the Bay Area, Julie and Bob Wilson, arrived on the 19th to stay for a few days. It was raining. On Sunday, Ted and Betsy Lewis and their two small children arrived from Berkeley, just for lunch and dinner. Bob Wilson and Ted were classmates of Bob’s at Stanford. We had put up a small Christmas tree decorated with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Still raining.

Monday, the 21st, Bob drove the VW into town to work and I drove the jeep in a little later to get groceries, leaving the Wilsons on their own. I could see that the river was quite high. That evening we decided to put their car on the other side of the creek. The next day we packed Christmas presents and two suitcases and left. Bob put the tractor on the far side of the creek and we left the jeep at the house. Our creek was about four feet deep and 20 feet wide and small logs were being washed down.

When we arrived at Prairie Creek we were met with water backed up on the road for about 50 feet. The culvert was plugged. I got out and waded in far enough to be able to tell that there were no holes and the two VWs drove through. The river was very high. We could see the center was higher than the sides, big muddy waves forming peaks, and large logs being rushed downstream. We could hear rocks cracking together in the torrent. Bob and I were entranced by the power of it all and stopped to look but our friends were really nervous and wanted to keep going so we did. At Eagle Creek water was washing against beer cans along the highway. At Junction City people were trying to plug up a large drain so water from the river wouldn’t wash through it into the community.

Bob got to work around 9:30. The Wilsons left in early afternoon to head for San Francisco. Florence, Leonard and I drove out to East Weaver (a small suburb of Weaverville) to take boxes out for the Howells, whose home was being undermined by East Weaver Creek. Many homes were ruined out there. The U.S. Forest Service was hauling furniture in their trucks to the Civil Defense Building (built in the days of civil defense concerns, now used for community events and known as the Veterans’ Memorial Hall). Then we drove to Junction City and watched the bridge across Canyon Creek collapse, cutting off traffic on Highway 299.

We spent Christmas with Bob’s parents, as did my younger brother, Richard, and his wife, Charlotte, who had planned to spend a rustic Christmas with us at the ranch but had arrived to find chaos instead. My sister-in-law and her husband and two children were already spending Christmas with them. I’ve never seized to be amazed at how much Florence could handle with caring for family!


Summer and Fall

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Lake Anna copy

Lake Anna

Having deadlines makes time go by very rapidly and the summer months with their good weather were speeding by. I used some of the yellow paint left over from when I’d painted the wooden part of the outhouse interior to paint an old shelf and moved it upstairs to use as a bookshelf. Washed all the windows. These were the original windows, complete with bubbles. Bob was making trips into town, when he had time, to bring back gravel and cement for the cellar.

We were able to squeeze in a couple more camping trips. We took the Corral Bottom road over hills and down to the South Fork of the Trinity. There were many clear-cuts along its edges on private land. The South Fork was a beautiful river that made me think very much of the Smith—big, deep, emerald-green pools. We ate lunch at Underwood Creek, where there was a suspension bridge over the river, and then backpacked downstream from there about a mile, crossing around one bluff where there seemed to be nothing to hold onto but poison oak. We camped on a gravel bar, went swimming, and then Bob succeeded in catching a fish.

The next morning, we had a hot fire going quickly, using dry driftwood. Our drinking water came from a little spring behind camp, very cold, that tumbled down a rocky grass-covered slope. It was a pretty spot with small yellow monkey flowers and a few ferns. During our brief stay along the river we saw water ouzels, a heron, sandpipers and a pair of kingfishers.

I began preparing for the school year, spending time at the school decorating bulletin boards, getting library books, etc. My mother rode from Modesto to Redding on the Greyhound bus and I picked her up there so she could visit for a few days. On one of our walks by the creek we saw a rattlesnake.

Bob continued to work on the cellar, getting longitudinal and horizontal rods for supports (rebar). He and I took my mother for a drive up Swede Creek. There was an old, beaten-up log cabin and a barn which appeared to be held up by only a cable, and a chicken coop. Back at the house she and I made ice cream while he worked on the cellar. After a couple of days I took her back to Redding to catch a bus home.

On August 25th Bob came home and said that a big fire was burning near Douglas City. Someone had set a total of five fires between Douglas City and Hayfork. Two joined together into one huge one. The next day I rode into Weaverville with him to attend teachers’ meetings most of the day. Wilma Smith, who taught at Douglas City, and I drove to look at the fire. It was burning hard on top of a ridge behind there with flames high above the trees and smoke billowing up. Borate planes came in and dropped their loads while we watched—swooping right in at the head of the fire–not borate but similar and pink. Many people had to evacuate. The radio said 7,000 acres and 1400 men on the fire lines. They had a fire camp on the flat below the school along the river and one at Deer Lick Springs.

School started August 31st and that’s all I said about it in my journal! But I do remember that during that year I had anywhere from 13 to 22 children, including several sets of siblings. There was a U.S. Forest Service station in Big Bar and I had a brother and sister from one family and a little girl from another. There were two brothers who lived on a small ranch. There was a brother and sister who lived a couple of miles up a nearby hill. And there were children whose parents were in the timber industry—some of them had to move away for part of the year, depending on where there was work. With five grades and no teacher’s assistant I sometimes had older children helping younger ones—or a line more or less patiently waiting for help.

I moved to Trinity County two years earlier, to teach grades 1-4 in a two-room school in Douglas City—no teaching credential, just a B.A. in Wildlife Conservation from UC Berkeley, with an English minor. My previous job had been working as a seasonal ranger-naturalist at Crater Lake. They were desperate.

As one school board member said when they hired me shortly before school started, “She sure doesn’t know anything about teaching.” The board member was correct but the upper grade teacher gave wise advice; I loved the job and the children, and they seemed to learn. I met my husband-to-be on a pack trip into the Trinity Alps that weekend. Later, when I went to San Jose State to get a credential (driving on the Bay Area freeways with my rural driving experience, knuckles white on the steering wheel), my requirements were cut in half because of the previous teaching experience. And I could tell, because of that experience, that some of my instructors hadn’t been in a classroom in a long time!

old Cox Bar School 1965 before demolision

Old School

Cox Bar Elementary School had been in existence since the 1860s. The original school, about 16 x 20 feet, burned and was replaced before 1887, and was replaced again around 1922 by one a little larger. In 1870 there were 19 students but in 1894-1895 there were only seven. (information taken from the 1967 Trinity, the Historical Society Yearbook, in the article “Big Bar and Vicinity” by Robert J. Morris) I was lucky. My school was brand new (dedicated May, 1964) and quite modern, much larger, and had a tinted window extending all along one wall. It was roomy and full of light.

On Labor Day weekend we backpacked in to Lake Anna, via Bowerman Meadows. It was steep toward the end but otherwise no problems. We had the lake to ourselves and enjoyed a beautiful sunset with pink thunderheads and a lovely sunrise. We saw a porcupine swimming in the lake in the morning. It was quite cold though. The second day we hiked as far as Van Matre Meadows and ate lunch at Echo Lake. We camped up where springs start from under a huge rockslide. One of the most beautiful campsites we’ve seen. Again, we had it to ourselves. The next morning we hiked out and down Red Mountain to where Bob’s mother, Florence, had left our car. A perfect trip except for the cold and the lack of sleep.

This was a fall for relatives coming to visit. My parents arrived on September 25th and stayed for the weekend. They were traveling around the countryside looking for possible places to retire. In early October my eldest brother and his family arrived. My brother helped Bob haul some pipe and I went with his wife and two small children to see the school and then to get the ingredients for ice cream. Bob’s Great Aunt Nell and her cousin came out for dinner on another day.

just school

New School

November was the start of realizing we really were dealing with some distance issues as well as the lack of a telephone. I was driving the jeep truck to work on school days and November 9th started out as usual. But down on the one small, flat area, about a mile from the house, the clutch went out. I had no choice but to leave the vehicle and try to walk to the school, which meant three miles more on our road and then a couple of miles along the highway. I began hiking as fast as I could and reached the highway in 50 minutes. I knew I’d be quite late and was really worried about the children. At that hour of the morning there was very little traffic on the highway. With the river to my right and the highway to my left I tried to keep up a good pace. But I was lucky. A U.S. Forest Service employee, on his way to work, saw me and pulled over. I was so grateful!

We Move to the Ranch

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One key log broke on the old log bridge and it collapsed. George Costa, an expert cat driver wranch interiorho owned a mining claim along the river, was hired to clear it out, build a log culvert and put in dirt fill.

In February we backpacked in with friends, using the original trail. The road was deeply rutted at the lower end due to a combination of runoff from rain and snow. After the road was passable, Florence brought out many flowers from her yard and we planted pinks, tiger lilies, Shasta daisies, purple aster, columbine, etc. Most of the new orchard trees, that we planted a year ago February, were blooming as were the peach trees and the pear. Down at the creek Indian rhubarb and yellow violets were blossoming and fawn lilies along the road. There were no leaves on the oaks or maples yet but the maples were heavy with blossoms. Spring was in the air.

In June we were in the process of moving from Los Altos to the ranch. While still in Los Altos we purchased a green, jeep pickup and filled it with our few possessions. Our other vehicle was a VW beetle, which we left in Weaverville.

Bob began working on the road with the tractor, smoothing out the new fill area. Unfortunately most of the flowers we had planted died or were eaten by deer.

A few days later we drove to Big Bar to get gas for the tractor and I dropped him off on the way back so he could do some more work. Just before I got to the house, on the turn that required backing up to negotiate, the brakes gave out. I drove the rest of the way to the house, parked it, went inside and fixed a lunch, then walked down to the bottom of the road, using the trail. Together we ate lunch, then walked back to the house and drove the jeep into town, using only the emergency brake. The brake-fluid tube had snapped. We left it for repairs and borrowed a car to get home.

On our anniversary we drove out to Mt. Meadow Ranch and camped at Big Flat, elevation 5,000 feet. It’s a very pretty area with a big meadow on one side, spikey trees and mountains rising up on the other. It began to sprinkle while we unrolled sleeping bags and spread them out in the back of the truck. We ate dinner at the lodge and the rain held off until we were nearly back to camp. That night, it was very cold. The next morning we decided to not go to Caribou Lakes but to hike to Josephine Lake. This involved three miles of road and one of trail because it is private land although surrounded by wilderness. A caretaker showed us how to get get to the lake. After scrambling over rocks and through brush we finally crossed the saddle to the lake, small, long and narrow. Water was coming in from melting snow in the basin of cliffs. A large stream plunged over a waterfall about ten feet high and ran over clean, white sand for about 40 feet before entering the lake. We saw trout there. By 7:00 we were back at camp. After an even colder night and a collapsed air mattress (we turned the other one sideways for upper body padding) we fixed pancakes for breakfast and left– a day earlier than planned.

Bob began working for the phone company on the 22nd, leaving the house at 7:00 a.m. I began to establish a routine in his absence, usually taking a walk in the morning and then doing various chores. There were three outbuildings on the property, one a shed right next to the house, one a small woodshed and the third a small barn below the house that may have been used more for storage of equipment than a regular barn. The shed next to the house still had jars of canned goods – fruits and vegetables mostly. We cleaned that out and worked on organizing the barn space. He took apart the woodshed and stacked the pieces in the field for fall burning.

We bought a new (used) gas refrigerator that was larger than the old one and had a top door freezer. It was painted brown and looked much nicer than the white one. Some of my chores included putting black felt paper on the upper half of the upstairs end-walls to make things more airtight and I put wallpaper over that on one end. There was also pentaseal to put on the new back porch deck boards and on the ceiling and beams upstairs. I’d go into town on my own or ride in with Bob to do laundry and ironing at my in-laws. When they were gone for awhile I watered their garden and picked some raspberries for our use.

We purchased an old claw-footed bathtub to use for a settling tank below the spring and he dug a hole to put it in.

Nature notes: While working upstairs I brushed a mud dauber off of myself and it dropped a big spider. Looked it up and the book said they partially paralyze spiders to feed their ranch spring young in the mud cells. I knocked a nest off and discovered about three spiders in it—apparently of a related species. Large mottled bodies, red, yellow or white. Bob saw a fox and a bear when he was hiking on the old trail with Jim Barrett. We saw a big porcupine in one of the apple trees. Later it was out on the lawn eating clover.

The old woodshed had also been part of a chicken coop. We’d put sprinklers on the roof of the house recently when a huge thunderstorm came through and the area had gotten wet. Whew! What a smell I had to deal with while cleaning up debris! Plus there was a piece of fence running through it and the remains of a garbage dump with rusty cans.

Nature notes: For a time we were besieged by Steller’s jays calling all day and hopping around in the fields getting grasshoppers. Many black-headed grosbeaks with young ones plaintively calling to their parents appeared around that time as well.

The river canyon was filled with fog this morning (July 15) when we got up. Now and then we could see through to the lookout or under it to sun covered slopes across the river. When I walked up to the top of the meadow the fog was breaking up quite rapidly and tiptoeing into oblivion as it flowed over the mountaintops.

Bob began putting insulators on trees (which he first had to trim) and stringing #9 wire for a telephone line. He started from near the house with the end goal being down near the highway. After he got this done as far as the creek, he began stringing wire. I watched with the first tree to make sure it didn’t tangle while he pulled it. He tied a rope to the free end, pulled ‘till the rope hit the ground; climbed down; pulled the wire to the next tree; etc. This project was to take longer than expected.

We were going to make the area under the back porch into a little cellar/laundry room and Bob began building forms for pouring the floor. I cleared out ditches in the orchard so we could water the trees with overflow from the water supply. There was always something that needed working on.

Toward the end of July I received a teaching offer from Weaverville Elementary School but wanted to check in with the Big Bar school first as two other people and I had been interviewed early in the summer. Big Bar would also be closer.

August 2nd I learned that, starting in September, I would be teaching grades 1-5 at Cox Bar, a one-room elementary school, in Big Bar

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…….

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The First Few Months

We spent our two-week honeymoon on an old homestead that would become a central part of our liranch for poem copyves for the next 20 years. It was 1963. My spouse was finishing up a PhD and working at Stanford and I’d just finished my first year of teaching –grades 1-4 in a two-room school in Douglas City. I had a degree but no teaching credential. Before we met, he and his parents had done a lot on the place to clean it up as the building had been abandoned for many years. He’d also hired a couple, for a small stipend, to live there, continue the cleanup, and to maintain things while he finished school. The logs, with their dovetailed corners, were in good shape, although needing re-caulking. The roof and porch were in desperate need of repair.

The two-story cabin sat about a quarter of the way up a large meadow that faced toward the Trinity River canyon. Just above the house was an old orchard containing a variety of apple trees and an English walnut. Concord grapes formed a short hedge along one side and there was a pear tree and a small peach tree. I planted a garden in the center of the orchard where the former homesteaders had their garden. The 150-acre homestead had been accessed only by trail in the old days. The land was perched in the upper reaches of a steep-walled, forested canyon and the winding, narrow, four-mile road (which we had to maintain ourselves) was built when some timber harvests occurred.

There were two rooms, the upstairs and the downstairs. The narrow steps leading upstairs had dips worn into them from the wear of foot traffic of previous owners. You could tell there had once been at least three little rooms downstairs by marks left on the ceiling from the former walls. The cabin was about 14 feet by 28 feet. The ceiling of the downstairs was also the floor of the upstairs, just a single layer of wide boards allowing dirt to sift downward through the cracks. I swept daily and cleaned surfaces. An outhouse, a small metal building, was located up a short slope toward the orchard, about 50 feet away. At some point I painted the wooden inside part yellow and put contact paper on the walls, like wallpaper.

After those two weeks we began to work on the cabin. By July 5th Bob was tearing off one-half of the roof. I hauled and pushed 14-foot knotty-pine boards up to him and he nailed them down. Then we unrolled and tacked down black tar paper on top of that. It looked like a thunderstorm was coming so we really hurried. A few days later he tore off the back porch roof and I finished planting the garden. Working on the roof was extremely hot with the sun beating down. Putting insulation on the roof involved putting aluminum foil down, then the insulation –lots of heat reflected from the foil.

July 6th my in-laws gave us a big reception at their home and I was delighted to see some of my friends who hadn’t been able to make it to our small wedding (a wonderful affair hosted by my parents in their yard at Turlock Lake State Park where my dad was a ranger).

Bob built a little barbed-wire corral to hold two horses, which his parents were going to bring out for us to use. We would provide the grazing for the horses and give them some exercise until his parents needed them for a pack trip. I had absolutely no experience with horses and the idea of riding that high up on something that much stronger than I am wasn’t appealing, but if I were going to be part of this family I figured I needed to get used to it. Target and Flash arrived in late July. We rode them one evening up the hill a way. I rode Target, who was old and wore out going uphill. Flash was a mare—she followed Target all the time. She always tried to get rid of whoever rode her and would suddenly start backing up and spinning in a circle. Bob stayed on.

Nature notes: “I found two blue-tailed skinks and a whole batch of their eggs in the sand pile. “
“We have twisted stalk, an orchid, in the boggy place across the road.”

Bob graded the yard with a small John Deere tractor and put in pipes so that eventually we could have standpipes at all four corners of the house. Our water came from a spring up at the top of the meadow and pvc pipe had been laid in a ditch from there down to the house. We used an old bathtub for a settling tank to take care of most of the sand or sediment that might wash in from the spring and the tub had to be drained and cleaned periodically, a pleasant job on a warm day. It was really good water.

An old Monarch stove that had belonged to one of my mother-in-law’s uncles occupied one corner of the kitchen, accompanied by a small two-burner gas stove, and there was a gas refrigerator. Lights were kerosene lanterns unless the propane -operated generator was working. There was running water in the large sink but hot water came from small tanks inside the wood-burning Monarch stove. If I wanted to bake or to have hot water I had to build a fire in the stove.

The covered porch ran around all four sides of the cabin and we had a shower stall on the north porch, making the trip from shower to the front door during cold weather a stimulating experience! That summer, whenever we had company for a couple of days, the visiting was actually like a vacation, even with extra cooking. They would sleep in their tents on the lawn—which we’d also planted early in the year—and we didn’t have to work. Sometimes friends and/or family came out to help for a day. We had lots of support.

In the fall, we moved to Los Altos and Bob went back to working at Stanford while I enrolled at San Jose State to get a teaching credential. We finished putting cedar shakes on the main roof in September. I’d carry them up the stairs and out a window to wherever he was working, trip after trip. My memory says we still had the porch roofs to do but it was the main roof that was most important.

In late November the log bridge across the creek collapsed.
To be continued

Bear Lake 1971

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Over the years I’ve kept journals, although not always consistently. But it seems to be a way for me to track my days, my existence,. It’s as if, by writing it down, I know that during these times I lived, I felt, I accomplished or didn’t accomplish. It’s also been a way of documenting history so that if I wondered when something occurred I have a reference. But being fallible, there are long periods of blankness, when I was too busy or too involved to take the time.

I’ve just read several from 1969-1971 and think there is another earlier one someplace in my belongings. But this is a good place to start. This is basically unedited. I looked through all the slides on hand and could find none of this trip.

September 2, 1971
“We drove out past Coffee Creek to the Bear Creek Trail. It was cloudy, showering now and then. WBear Lake camp sitee left the trail about 10:30 (had to check in at Coffee Creek Ranger Station). Ate lunch off the trail, after ditching our packs and walking down to a little creek. The trail got quite brushy and Bob and I began to get wet. Every leaf seemed to be waiting to dump its load of water on us. My new pack is very comfortable—I carried 30 pounds and Bob 40.

When we were getting close to the lake we passed through a little pitcher plant bog, which included a bear wallow. Here we met a couple on their way out. As we reached the lake we met another couple who seemed pleasant—she had long dark hair in braids, his hair was a little long and he wore a mustache. He said they’d caught some fish the day before and were going to try again. We went on around the east side of the lake, scrambling over rocks and through brush. I had troubles with my pack, which flopped around a bit—kept pushing down on my head when I crawled—my usual graceful method of rock climbing. We finally found a nice campsite—good view across the lake and out to mountains beyond. The lake itself is one of the prettiest we’ve been to: granite cliffs studded with brush and fir, very deep. We were cold, wet, and miserable. The wind was blowing hard; we were soaked to the waist, etc. Bob heated up water on his stove so we could have hot tea and a candy bar even before setting up camp.

I built a fire in the rocks and heated up water on the iron top that’s here. Dinner we cooked on the little stove. We went to bed early and wakened often during the night. Plastic over the tent top rustled in the wind all night.

This morning, Bob was still tired and cold so he slept in. After much struggle with wet, smoky, wood I got breakfast. After I’d cleaned up the dishes I left him a note and went up the hill behind here. There are a series of small benches rising up to the base of the final cliff. I had a marvelous time exploring. Several tiny creeks run through there and there were numerous little ponds in the granite and mossy miniature cliffs with tiny waterfalls trickling over them. The top pond was the largest and I disturbed some frogs there. I got back at lunchtime. It seems to be warming up this afternoon.

Yesterday, hiking in through the clouds and rain, the snowberry bushes were beautiful. Each leaf had a drop of water on it, which glistened brightly on one end while the rest of the drop shimmered, transparent, showing the green of the leaf through it.

Have been thinking about the children—we must get them on some trips. Bob was saying the thing to do would be to get them into one lake and just stay. (We began this a few years later, to a different lake.)

It’s so nice sitting here on the rocks in the sun—and so cold when a cloud goes over! There’s a chipmunk that lives nearby and he explores the camp frequently. He nibbled on the bar of soap last night.

Later—it’s after dinner now. The sun is still tipping the backsides of the spikey ridges around the lake. And it still covers the top of the bare-topped mountain off in the distance. An occasional puffy white cloud hazes its way across above us. We’re sitting by the fire, having consumed an enormous meal of bullion and beef stroganoff followed by chocolate pudding and tea.

We had our boots on the stone top, resting on the aluminum dishes, to try to dry them more. They got too hot though.

We’ve been watching a little bird scratching on the duff. It’s large sparrow size, streaky front, rusty tail and wings, gray otherwise. Scratches by hopping off the ground with both feet at the same time.

This afternoon I sat on a rock overlooking the lake for about 45 minutes. Beside me was a fireweed. Hadn’t noticed before that their seedpods are the same color as the flower and quite long and slender. Also saw Indian paint brush, buttercups and columbine. Chipmunks were gathering seeds and running in and out among the rocks.

September 3rd
About 6:30 pm. We had a very good day today after another rather sleepless night. The wind blew very hard till after midnight—apparently the last vestiges of the storm. About 11:30 I had to get up so Bob suggested that I take the plastic covering off the tent—it was flapping all over and making a terrible racket. Even with all the wind though there was bright moonlight out and not a cloud in the sky. When I got up this morning around 8:00 there was frost on the woodpile and on shrubs around the camp. By 8:30 the camp was in sunlight. I took a quick dip as soon as the sun hit our swimming area, which is at the foot of a big, glacial-polished slide.

After breakfast I fixed lunch and we made a rather late start for the area where I hiked yesterday. We planned to go to Little Bear Lake. Up near the top of the gulch we went left whereas, yesterday, I’d gone to the right. When we topped the ridge, about an hour out of camp, we could see Mt. Shasta to the east and right below us, Little Bear Lake. It is a beautiful little lake, much deeper and larger than we’d expected. Very dark green in the deepest parts. It took about ½ hour to scramble down to it. There are several good campsites in the trees near the outlet and one on a point above the outlet. The lower end of the lake is pretty well crisscrossed with fallen logs. It sits in a granite basin similar to that of Big Bear Lake but there is more vegetation and there was even a tiny patch of snow on the north facing side. The water was a little chilly for swimming but we ate lunch and waded some. The campsites were cleaner than most and we were very impressed with the place. On the way out we followed down the outlet where there is another lake—pond sized but deep with shallow areas where a child could play (Wee Bear?). We talked all the way back to camp about trying to get children there next summer.

We contoured around the granite slopes on our way out, coming into Big Bear Lake at the lower end. Said hello to our neighbors and then came on around back to camp. The sun is gone from our camp by 4:15 and from our swimming area by 4:00 so we got in a quick swim.

It has been so much warmer today—didn’t need jackets till this evening. Saw and heard Clark’s Nutcrackers over at Little Bear Lake. That little chipmunk is investigating us again. It must have had a good time exploring the camp while we were gone.

Tonight is our last night. Our tent is sitting next to a row of dwarf oak bushes—live oak of some sort. Near the entrance is a rather scraggly foxtail pine where we have hung our packs. The campfire faces the lake—that is, one faces the lake when facing the fire! There are many small mountain hemlocks scattered among the rocks, foxtail pine and an occasional fir. Most of our firewood is small dead branches which have fallen from the hemlocks, bark from big downed pieces of fir or hemlock in the talus piles, etc. Some of it is pink from a borate drop, which landed in the rocks. Around an inlet from us is an area about 50 ft. square where a fire burned—it has a ditch around it, which smoke jumpers dug, and there are four, old paper sleeping bags around our campsite which they left behind.

Sept. 5
We got back to Weaverville around 3 p.m. Cleaned up, went to the grocery store and then over to pick up the children from the grandparents. More about these special grandparents another time.


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May Alice Malone #3Malone, Mary's mom copy“The Tampa Tribune, Nov. 10. 1909, Wednesday

DUNEDIN; Nov. 9-(Special) A beautiful home wedding was solemnized Tuesday, when, at the residence of the bride’s father, H.P. Malone, of Dunedin, Fla. and Montpelier, Ind. Miss May Alice Malone became the wife of Richard Bass Whitfield of Tampa.

Miss Elizabeth Malone, sister of the bride, was maid of honor, and Chester T. Collins acted as best man. Members of the immediate families and a few intimate friends witnessed the delightfully, simple, but impressive ceremony, which was performed by Rev. William B. Y. Wilkie of the Andrews Memorial Church. Immediately following the ceremony the happy couple held an informal reception in the artistically decorated parlors. Dainty refreshments were served and the bride’s cake cut amid much merriment. Mrs. Whitfield has been a winter resident of Dunedin for several years, and is one of this town’s most popular and attractive girls. ”

I have written about some of my mother’s ancestors, for instance my great grandfather Hezekiah Malone, and recently, Jo Davidson, who is a distant cousin (her great-great grandfather was one of Hezekiah’s younger brothers) sent me this article that she found in her family research. I also have a picture of my grandmother that she found although I don’t know my grandmother’s age at the time of the photo.

I love the descriptions in this article. It is my understanding that my grandmother was in her 30s when she was married but still is referred to as a “girl”. Maybe I can find this information someplace. They were fairly well-to-do at that time and I noticed the article mentioned “parlors” rather than parlor. Love the “dainty refreshments”.

It Might Be a Steller’s Jay

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frost on oak leafIt takes listening.
It takes noticing a slight motion
of a bird flitting through the trees.
After awhile there is
the faint sound of running water.
Follow that sound.
Move slowly, cautiously,
each step deliberate.
Sit on that small, mossy boulder
still slightly damp from dew.
Let soft, morning air move past.
You’ll start to see–
a caddis fly larvae moves in the silt,
a water strider dimples the surface.
And, over there, what’s that?
A small bird coming to its nest,
invisible until now.
A red-tailed hawk shrills.