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.


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I used to tattle.
Yes, I didSusy & Doll Tahoe copy.
My three brothers– I’m third in line– say
I’d start something, make sure it was going well,
then run to tell our parents.
I’m not at all sure that’s the way it went but
that’s their version. It could be true,
or not.
We freely roamed the hills, at one with forests and streams.
Living in a state park meant no neighbors
so we had3 boys van damme copy to put up with each other…
sort of.
I had braids, wore blue jeans, had scabby knees and elbows.
We ran and slid, hiked, jumped and climbed trees,
although I sometimes hesitated coming down.

The older two taught me naughty songs but
usually left out a word or two.
Mademosusy van damme copyiselle from Armenttieres or Hinky Dinky Parley Vous
was one of them.
The words came right back to me–
“The maid went out to milk the cow, parley vous;
The maid went out to milk the cow, parley vous;
She pulled the tail instead of the tit,
And all she got was a bucket of sh..t,
Hinky Dinky Parley Vous.”

susy & Rich, rail fence c.c. copyThis was a wartime song and apparently there were far worse verses but this was the one I was taught. I hadn’t thought of it in years.

childhood 1951

The four of us singing Christmas carols while our dad accompanied us on his accordion.

We were very patriotic and my eldest brother
would make the rest of us stand up in our beds and
salute when the national anthem played Peter & Richard raft Twin Lakes? copyon the radio,
usually when our dad was listening to boxing. matches.
Scan 7 copyAnd we regularly slaughtered each other with our toy guns (often homemade from sticks) while also shooting Japanese airplanes out of the sky.
There were military songs to learn as well:The Halls of Montezuma, Cassons, and others.

Friends of my parents, whose daughter was my little brother’s age, had to deal with the dad (also a park ranger like our dad} being in the Navy.
I think we were a little jealous of his uniform and we learned her
song, “Bell bottom trousers, coat of navy blue,
we love a sailor and he loves us too.”

Susy 13From the coast, where jeeps frequently patrolled,
we moved back into the mountains where
the war seemed a little more distant for young children.

We all grew up and eventually developed our own opinions–
on almost everything. Today our viewpoints are widely diverse
and the energy put into them has dissipated somewhat,
but we are still outspoken.

I no longer need to tTwight brothers & Susy 1998 copyattle. At age 79, hear mePeter, Susy, Richard copy roar.

More About Hezekiah Malone

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About a week ago I received an email from someone named Jo Davidson who asked whether I had a larger picture of Hezekiah Malone’s wedding picture. Who could this be?

Malone Brothers pic

Malone brothers

We began to communicate. Jo Davidson is the great-great granddaughter of John Walter Malone, one of Hezekiah’s younger brothers. Since I am a great granddaughter of Hezekiah I knew she had to be quite a bit younger than I am. Jo Davidson is putting together a book about her ancestors and has done a lot of research. We ended up sharing information and photographs. She also sent a picture of herself and yes, she’s a lot younger than I am!

I thought the picture she was referring to was not a wedding picture, although Hezekiah and his wife, Emma, were dressed up. I was more inclined to think they were dressed for a formal photograph or for some special occasion since they were both quite young when marred and this appeared to be them in middle-age perhaps. Hezekiah was my mother’s grMr. & Mrs. H. P. Malone in Dunedin, Floridaandfather and I’ve written about him in a couple of previous blogs.

My mother had actually met Jo Davidson’s great-great- grandfather and had written a description of her memory of him in some writing she did about the family history for my brothers and me. I was pleased to be able to send that to Jo. Of all the brothers she could have met I’m glad it was Jo’s great-great- grandfather whom she met and wrote about. What are the odds? One in six I guess.

I’m not sure what to do with all the photos she has sent, but I will try to save at least the ones that directly relate to Hezekiah and his family since my grandmother, on my mother’s side, was his daughter. Hezekiah Pennington Malone had seven brothers and one sister. He and Emma Hart Malone had three children, my grandmother and her two brothers.

Mr. & Mrs. H. P. MaloneI’m going to share some of the pictures she sent and any additional information that may relate to my two previous blogs about that part of the family. With all those children there are too many for me to consider tracking them and/or their descendants, but some of the relatives are trying to do this. It’s a bit like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle I think, finding pieces that fit together to make the whole.

H.P. Malone & granddaughter Mary Whitfield.-1911JPG

H.P. Malone and granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth

It’s too bad my mother isn’t still alive to see how people are able to do research and to communicate with each other via the computer. I know she did some sleuthing on my father’s side of the family but mostly by exchanging snail-mail letters with a few relatives who were still alive. But to be able to compare notes so quickly and to see photographs would have been like magic for her. She always felt guilty at having taken the family bible to school and losing it because so many births, deaths and weddings had been recorded in it. The hand-written notes can never be replaced but her sadness would be much alleviated by learning that the information is readily available online for those who want to commit the time and effort. And there is even a library in Dunedin, Florida that has a section devoted to those ancestors. And there is a college named after the Malones. She would be so pleased.

First Paid Publication

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It’s amazing what could make the news back then. This appeared in the Women’s Activities section of the Redding Record-Searchlight, February 3, 1954, page 6. I remember being quite excited about it. I think American Girl magazine paid me $5.

‘The magazine is published for all girls by the Girl Scouts of America and reaches more than half a million subscribers monthly.’ (I see a publication on line for a magazine by the same name but it is for girls 8-12 and doesn’t appear to be part of Girl Scouts.)

‘Susanne is a sophomore at the Dunsmuir Joint Union High School. Following is her prize winning essay which is entitled, “A Great Accomplishment.”‘

new clip 1954

“A very surprising thing happened to me the other day. I got out of bed within twenty minutes. The way I accomplished this amazing feat was this. First, I rolled over on my back and gazed out the window with half-closed eyes. Next, I yawned prodigiously. Then I closed my eyes again so they wouldn’t be strained by the bright light. With my eyes still closed I slowly wiggled my toes to see if my feet were still asleep. Finding they weren’t I drew my feet up until my knees were making a hump under the covers. This done, paused and rested for ten minutes after such exertion.

Being careful not to strain myself I got my feet and legs out of the bedcovers and completely relaxed for five minutes on my back, as all good hikers and people who exercise know is the best way to relax. Finally, with extra help from a pillow thrown by my brother, I sat up and laboriously dropped my legs over the side of the bed. This accomplished, got up exhausted and staggered in to wash my face.

Patent for this method applied for U.S. Pat. Off.”

Teenage Memory

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Mt. Shasta from trail to dome 1975 copy

Looking north from Castle Crags, up the Sacramento R. valley.

Going back through old photo albums often leads to going back through memories. I’d almost forgotten about the newspaper columns I’d written in 1955, during the summer before my senior year at Dunsmuir High School. Dunsmuir was a railroad/logging community perched in the upper Sacramento River canyon. This was before winding and narrow Highway 99 was replaced by the I-5 Freeway, a creation that made travel easier but changed the character of many towns along its path. During the 1950s a roundhouse along the river was still used to turn engines around and steam engines gradually gave way to diesels. Today, although bisected by the freeway, Dunsmuir still retains much of its small town charm.

When I graduated in 1956 there were about 250 students in the high school, 38 in my graduating class. Living six miles south of town, and with one car in the family, it was difficult for me to find any kind of work. Our closest community, with post office and a couple of grocery stores, was Castella, about a mile away, where two of my brothers and I attended elementary school. I think Castella’s population then was about 200 and many residents had lived there for a number of years so were almost like an extended family to each other.

Thanks to the support of the editor of the weekly Dunsmuir News (I think his name was Chapman Wentworth), and I’m sure my father– then chief ranger at Castle Crags State Park where we lived– I was able to practice overcoming my shyness and learning to introduce myself to total strangers, do a little writing and be published now and then in the local newspaper. I have copies of several different short columns. For the editor I suppose it was good Chamber of Commerce publicity for what the area had to offer visitors.

I would walk up to the camp or picnic site, introduce myself and tell them my purpose, and, if they were willing, write down names, towns, and what they were doing at the park. Sometimes I think the editor would send them a copy of the paper if they wanted it. There are even a couple of pictures that I took.

For me, who had never really travelled much, it was also interesting to learn about the distance some had traveled and what state or country they had come from. Some of the campers stayed as long as two weeks.

The first article is about Memorial Day weekend. “The Castle Crags State Park, just south of Dunsmuir, swarmed with picnickers and campers over the Memorial Day weekend. Some 41 carloads of campers fanned into the woods, stoked up the handy wood stoves provided at each campsite, and soon had the air deliciously perfumed with frying fish, hamburgers and the other whiffs of outdoor cookery.

They fished, hiked, climbed, or just lay in the sun or shade and snoozed.

Picnickers from Dunsmuir and other southern Siskiyou towns filled all the picnic tables, and kids, big and little trooped through the woods, swam in the iced-cold water, or played games in the cleared areas.” Usually there was a brief introductory paragraph and then the names, what they were doing and occupations. At that time many women were stay-at-home moms so often it was just the men’s occupations that got listed.

The occupations are interesting though: Mrs. Morrison is a chemist and Morrison a geochemist (these two were from Eugene, Oregon and another one in their party Nash, was attending law school at the UO); a paper box salesman, a carpenter, an elementary school teacher, an artist for an advertising agency, an assistant shipping master for the American President Lines in San Francisco, a sawyer in a cedar shingle industry, a barber, chief chemist for Spreckels Sugar Company, head custodian in a school district.

newspaper article 1955

Fisherman near footbridge. (My first name needs an s instead o z ).

More occupations: a high school counselor, a doctor of chemistry at UC Davis, an ironworker, a commercial artist for General Electric, television set repairs and service, machine shop, insurance salesman, Solar Aircraft, McClellan Air Force Base, a post office clerk, an operator for the Cinerama in San Francisco, an attorney, a worker at the Mare Island Navy shipyard.

“The Wednesday Breakfast Club held its weekly meeting at Castle Crags State Park two weeks ago. The members have been coming down from Dunsmuir for three years. All of the members, who have been friends for 40 years, arrived at 8 a.m., ate breakfast and played canasta. “ There is a photo I took and a list of the names.

I remember two of these families who came nearly every year because my parents became friends of theirs, the Cinkes and the Tourys. I think they were related. Mrs. Toury was an expert at Hungarian cooking and taught my mother to make some wonderful pastries. It was their daughter, Shari, whom my father rescued when she was a toddler after she fell into, and was floating down, the Sacramento River near the campground.

“A bearded man and his wife, riding a motorcycle, attracted attention yesterday. They came roaring into the park entrance, rode up Kettlebelly Hill, and took some photographs with his new Polaroid camera. Said the man with the beard (about his beard), “I just let nature take its course …and besides, I’m mad at the barbers.” When teased about the long, curly growth being used as a windshield for his motorcycle (I’m sure by my dad), he said “Well, sometimes bugs get in there and they’re kind of hard to get out.”

And how about this one? This couple was from Berkeley. “Mr. Knudsen made the last splice on the transcontinental telephone line running from San Francisco to New York, June 17, 1914. In 1915 President Wilson opened the World’s Fair in San Francisco using that line. Knudsen, who was in charge of stringing the line through Nevada, was given the honor of representing the West, and so made the last splice. He had just retired from 40 years with PT & T.”

An interesting time.

Beads, Birds and Christmas Trees

Posted by Susy in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Beads, Birds and Christmas Trees
Christmas tree copy

Last year’s tree

Decorating the Christmas tree is not just putting decorations on the branches. The beads are not just beads. Well, some are. But the important ones are the blue glass beads that were my mother’s and her mother’s before that—real glass and fragile. The others are nice, but can be readily purchased and are plastic made to look like glass. And the blue glass beads are the memory
close-up #2 of my mother putting them on our tree when I was growing up. And the memory of my putting them on our tree when my children were growing up. Sometimes the old thread holding them in the string would break and our mother would carefully tie it back together. It’s a spliced thread of life that I am continuing.
closeupof decorations

And the glass birds? Those also were my mother’s and her mother’s. And they are extra fragile. This year only one of them still has the white tail feathers. I’m not sure what they are made of but they have a tendency to fall out and get lost. Evidence of past attempts to retain them show in the dried glue around the openings. When I was growing up each of my three brothers and I claimed one of these birds as 100_6491OUR bird. A few years ago I gave the red one to my brother, Peter, because I remembered that one had been his. He remembered that too. I’d have given my two other brothers their birds but I can’t remember which ones belonged to whom, not even my own. Just the red one that was Peter’s.

And then therealligator is the alligator. I have no idea how that came to be one of our childhood tree decorations but it was. It’s green, with springs holding each leg, and on the tree it jiggles about if touched. Very fond memories of the alligator. I probably ended up with the Christmas tree decorations because our mother lived her last years nearby. I’d select a few decorations to put on her tiny tree in the assisted living studio apartment though never certain, as time went on, that she could actually see them because of macular degeneration. She seemed to appreciate my effort.

During my youth, on Christmas Eve, after the stockings were hung, we’d sing Christmas carols, accompanied by our dad on his accordion. Usually there would be walnuts, in the shell, an orange and some small presents filling the stockings in the morning. We didn’t have a lot of presents under the tree but it alwaylittle houses seemed like a lot to us.It was c100_6495ertainly enough for those years.

For my own family, along with the usual glass balls, I began to purchase decorations from a catalog that had items from other countries: bearded elves; delicate angels; a tiny baby with a red and white blanket in a half-walnut shell; flat tin soldiers about six inches high; a small set of brass instruments; glass icicles (ten I believe, and now there are seven). I think they were from Santa though –elves must be international. As the children grew, and began to help with the tree trimming, some of their homemade creations began to adorn the branches.

Putting decorations on the tree isn’t just something to be done. Not for me at any rate. Some100_6496times I like to have music playing, sometimes not. But, at my current age, it’s not a time for chatting or distractions. In some ways it’s a ritual, a meditation, a measure of the passage of time, bringing memories of my growth from childhood to being a parent, and now a grandparent–one year after the next, beads on the string of time.