Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Memory lane, Garberville California

Just as I abandoned the "Vroom, vroom, yeehaw" post below, it took a tangent that I been wanting to explore anyway.

I think that it was Cousin Jim that asked if anyone remembered the dump. Of course a few of us did, then Kym did a post about it.

Then Jim threw a trick question at us; “Who knows about the original Wagon Wheel Bar, next to the sheriff's Garberville sub Station? I’ll give you a hint. It was actually 2 or 3 buildings north of the sub station.”

It was not a very good hint, because the Garberville Substation and Jail used to be on Thomas Flat, that used to be the flat that the Southern Humboldt Building Supply is built on now. The flat was huge and it was once used as the town park. The freeway took out most of the flat. The flat was where the town ball games were played, and when the circus or a carnival came to town, which was at least once a year, the flat was where it was put.

There also used to be a creek there that ran just north of the building supply. The creek had a sandstone bank that had thousands of fossils in it that the town kids would spend endless hours digging the fossils out of the stone. Monroe Tobin, as a child found a whale bone there. The creek is now buried beneath the freeway.

The Midway Motel was built on the north end of the huge flat, about where Redwood Drive crosses the freeway on the north end of Garberville. The Midway Motel had Garberville’s first coin laundry in it. I serviced the Bendix-Westinghouse washers. They were front loaders, and had to be bolted to the floor to keep them from walking away.

When the freeway was built, they took a huge amount of soil from Thomas flat, and lowered the grade at least forty feet. The soil was used to fill Bear Gulch; the Newcomers call it Bear Canyon, just south of where the Alderpoint Road goes up the hill. The last lonely remains of what was once a glorious hunk of flat real-estate can still be seen between the freeway and Redwood drive just south of Bear Gulch Bridge. Heading south, look up and to the left as you pass Bear Gulch. It’s the flat top hill that is left there as an island.

Southern Humboldt Building supply was built originally as a bowling alley back in the mid fifties, it was the most popular place in town, and you had to belong to a league to even get a chance to roll a ball in it. The buildings between the freeway and the building supply are some of the remains of the motel units that were the Midway Motel, and they were moved there before they built the freeway.

The trick Question that Jim asked about the Wagon Wheel Bar that was run by Al West, is tough to visualize because the terrain has been lowered and the roads repositioned. But, the Wagon Wheel bar was built in a building that backed up to the bluff that you peer over between Bear Gulch, and the freeway, at about the south end of the guard rail. The trees that were behind the building are still there, but the dirt that the building sat on is gone to the fill in the gulch.

The back porch was where they had their refrigeration units. When I worked on their refrigeration units, all that there was between me and a three hundred foot fall was a rickity old railing. If I dropped a wrench, I didn’t even look to see were it went. They say that it takes a brave person to do something that scares the hell out of him. I can tell you that I didn’t trust the porch, I didn’t trust the railing, and I would even go back there if anyone else was back there. I didn’t go for any clowning around. But I did it, so I was one brave kid. The Orange Spot Market was on the south end of the Wagon Wheel and it sort of got smaller as the bar got bigger. It was all in the same building. And, the north end of the Market was more of a fruit stand than what a person would think of as a market.

Now, I apologize to all of my out of town fans, but I’m going to indulge us OLD-timer locals for a bit.

These places were all gone before 1964
1- Where was Foxworthy Lane?
2- Where was Poorman’s Auto Parts?
3- Where was the Pass Café?
4- Where was the Ace Café?
5- Where was the Coffee Cup Café?
6- Where was Buds café?

I have more, but you can start with these. If you can add to the list, please do, but everything has to be pre-sixty-four. That will separate the newcomers from the old-timers. One of the above is a “Fudgie” because it existed past ‘64. Which one?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Vi French’s Chocolate Peanut-butter Oatmeal Cookies

It has been brought to my attention that we haven’t had any good recipes lately. If you have a sweet, chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie tooth, you’ll like these. They are kinda‘ like a cross between a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and an Oatmeal cookie.

This recipe is an old South Fork of the Eel recipe, and was given to me by a dear friend, Viola French. She and her husband, Percy, were the founders of French’s Resort and Campground in Piercy. You know it as the current battleground for the “Reggae on the whatever it’s Currently Called”.

I kept Vi’s refrigeration working for many years. After they sold out, I kept the heat-pump working at her house. She was a dear lady that limited herself to few pets. One that I remember was a little house finch that had broken its wing and she nursed it back to health, but it was “unable to take care of itself” so she kept it as a pet. Any of us would have traded places with any of her pets.

I guess I was her pet Refrigeration Man, because she gave me her favorite cookie recipe. She liked it because you could whip it all up on the stove top, and spoon it out onto a piece of wax paper, and be done. It seems like there was always a fresh batch of those cookies on the counter whenever I came to service her heat pump.

Vi French’s Chocolate Peanut-butter Oatmeal Cookies

First ingredients:
½ cup milk
1 cube butter (¼ pound)
2 tablespoons cocoa
1½ cups sugar

Second ingredients:
2½ cups quick oats
½ cup crunchy peanut-butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Boil the first ingredients for exactly one-and-one-half minutes, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, stir well, then spoon out onto a sheet of wax paper. (What could be simpler?)

It takes an hour or two for them to set up. But, we usually have them eaten before that happens.

Ekovox should chop up some drained maraschino cherries, and stir them in with the last ingredients, for that Cherry-a-let flavor. Here is some music to play while you are making your cookies. Click here: Cherry Chocolate Rain.

If you don’t try these cookies you are missing a real treat!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vroom, vroom, yeehaw, peace brother, and pomp and circumstance, all on the same weekend!!!

Holy horse crap Batman! There is a great conjunction coming together this spring on the week-end of June 13-15th.(Thanks Kym, I had the date wrong earlier)
The wise folk that have perpetrated the local Harley Run upon us have run their Run into the Garberville Rodeo Weekend. What great confusion for this town full of back-to-the-land environmental activist hippies. To add to the confusion, the second/third(?) week-end in June is also the same weekend as South Fork High School graduation. And, isn't that also the same weekend that the Oyster festival in Eureka happens?

The confusion happens because the month of June happens to start on a Sunday, which is technically the first day of the week, not the week-end which is actually Saturday. Got it? That's good, because nobody else got it.

Sadly, the Harley Run people probably won’t be bothered by all of the date confusion. They won’t know about the rodeo, so they will be here dumb and happy. I can hardly wait for the Parade through the middle of town with all the bikers lining both sides of the street. Maybe they can toss beer to the audience along with the candy. Most people will get along just fine, because bikers and cowboys are mostly truck drivers anyway, so they should know each other from the road. I’m sure that there is enough hippies around here to take care of themselves, don’t you think? They can just use to Gandhi non-violent approach. Hey, it worked in India. What do you mean; “This ain’t India”?

You know what would be really neat, is if the war protesters would show up that same day! Maybe they could talk their logger protest buddies into showing up too. They would never find a greater audience, and the Harley Riders and Cowboys are all the exact kind of people that need to be converted.

The great thing about this, is for the people that work their butts off to make these events happen; we can all say that we are working at the other event, and just take this year off. Darn, I hope it doesn’t rain that weekend and add to the confusion.

The only thing that could be more fun is if they did something really stupid, and had TWO reggae events, like Reggae Rising and Reggae on the River on the same weekend.
Not really! That was a joke…. I hope!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Right on schedule.

I don’t know how many people know it, but this hot spell that we are having is not only predictable it is right on schedule. We often have a hot spell in February.

The Old Timers could tell you that we almost always get a few seventy plus degree days in February. They used to depend on this warm dry spell to do the early plowing. They would use a turning plow to turn the weeds under to rot. Later on in the spring they would plow again and then harrow, then plant their oats for oat hay.

According to Laytonville folk-lore, at the end of summer there was a little bunch of showery weather, then it cleared up, then the weather would be dry and frosty, until about the end of October. Then there would be the “Fall Storm”. The fall storm brought heavy rains and it usually muddied the creeks for the first time. After the fall storm, the weather cleared and got cold again. Around Thanksgiving the river was low and fishable. Many years when I was young all of the men folks would spend the day fishing, then come home for Thanksgiving dinner. The fish were normally cured and smoked.

The Old Timers knew that they could almost always depend on a bad storm at the end of the year. About mid December the heavy rains would start again and they would have the “New Year Storm”. Mid-storm there was usually a few clear days around Christmas. Then the storm would set back in again. The two storms were thought of as one. And heavy rains would fall off and on all of January. The weather would clear in February and there would be more frost and dry weather, then the weather would turn warm, and it would dry the fields, then they would do the early plow.

In March the weather would turn back to showers and wind. March was known to have most of the snow that fell for the year. Around the end of march there would be what they called “The Equinoxual Storm”. It would be the last heavy rain of the year. All of spring would be cold and frosty, or cold and windy, with a few showers. When the wind stopped and the frost quit, they would plant the spring garden. That was usually some time in may.

They could tell by how fast and which direction the clouds were moving when the storms would happen. There were so many guesses about what the weather was going to do that almost always someone was right, and that made it appear to be very scientific. Most of the weather was predicted on the basis of their folklore. After all, they didn’t have Jim Bernard.

Strangely, My Gramma Ruby was almost always right with her weather predictions, she was far more accurate than the weatherman on the radio. I don’t think his life depended on knowing what the weather would do. My Gramma was raised in a time when it did.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A "Trip" down memory lane.

I've had a few people ask me where I got the Alcohol Prescription. It’s simple, I found the photo on the internet. So, I don’t have both sides. I found the photo while doing a little minor research about prohibition. I was amazed, as you will be, about how popular hard drugs were back before prohibition.

All of the photo's that you see, and everything in italics, is from something published on the internet, and shamelessly put here.

You could buy cocaine, heroin, and opium from your friendly corner druggist. The prescriptions were no harder to get than the modern day marijuana prescription, commonly called a "215 card".

"Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup was an indispensable aid to mothers and child-care workers. Containing one grain (65 mg) of morphine per fluid ounce, it effectively quieted restless infants and small children. It probably also helped mothers relax after a hard day's work. The company used various media to promote their product, including recipe books, calendars, and trade cards such as the one shown here from 1887 (A calendar is on the reverse side.)."

Can you even imagine giving an infant morphine. That must have slowed mental development a tad bit. “Let’s see, shall I learn something new? Or take nap? And the winner is!!! Nap time… zonk”. Although having helped raise a baby, I can understand how a mother could be tempted to take it herself.

"Benzedrine (racemic amphetamine) inhalers were available over-the-counter until the early 1950s. Some airlines even gave them out to passengers to minimize discomfort when the plane was landing and taking off. The Smith, Kline, and French advertisement proudly proclaims that over 10 million Benzedrine inhalers had been shipped by 1938, only 7 years after the product's introduction. This may have even outpaced McDonald's hamburger sales during their early expansion (Remember the "over x million hamburgers sold" signs on the golden arches?)."

They used to dispense this stuff for uncomfortable airplane flights. One little sniff and you didn’t even need a plane, you could just fly there yourself. It was called Racemic Amphatimine, Race-Amp for short. Talk about taking a “Side-Trip”.

"Cocaine-containing throat lozenges, "indispensable for singers, teachers, and orators." In addition to quieting a sore throat, these lozenges undoubtedly provided the "pick-me-up" to keep these professionals performing at their peak. This box of lozenges is from a Belgium pharmacy (c. 1900). Local pharmacies often bought their drugs in bulk and packaged them for consumers under their own labels."

Cocaine was thought of as being so harmless, and beneficial, that you didn’t even need a prescription. It was so popular that it was available in cough syrup, sore throat aides, toothache drops, even the favorite “soft-drink” of the time, CocaCola, contained cocaine. Wow, no wonder they are called “The Good Old Days, The Roaring Twenties” and so on.

Now we need to talk about today’s favorite drugs, just so that you out there won’t beat me to it. Cannabis is a very popular modern drug and is not FEDRALLY legal. Whether or not it should be, I don’t know, you tell me. Alcohol is still popular and legal, Nicotine, in it’s various forms of delivery is legal, and then there is my favorite drug, caffeine!

Sadly, the most harmful effect of many drugs is the thought that when you are addicted to one, that you are only harming yourself. The spiraling down into the abyss of uselessness and despair is felt just as deeply by those that love the addicted person, and the feeling of frustration that the loved ones feel is pain beyond description. The loved ones not only bear the burden of watching your life diminish, but having to know that they can do nothing to help you. And, sadly in most cases those that love you the most, are taken on that downward spiral with you, because they love you enough to not want to abandon you.

I really don’t know if ALL drugs should be legal, or NONE, I’ve never been really good at knowing things like that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Click on the pictures to enlarge.
This is a picture of my Grampa Bill by his gas station. Grampa is on the left, The little girl is Mom, The woman is a renter, she and her husband rented the upstairs of the main house.
This is a picture of my Mom and her dog Buster. You can see the gas station in the background. They tell me that the dog and my mother were inseperable. It must have been hell to be an only childs dog. She had it trained to sit, and wear a hat.
Mom and buster doing what, I don't know.
Grampa Bill loved to garden. This was a little raised bed vegetable garden that he had on the south side of the gas station. He would work in it between fill-ups.
New shipment of Fisk tires.
Grampa, the renter and Buster,he was a very popular dog because he new so many "tricks".
Another picture of Mom and her dog, it was just so cute that I had to put it in! Mom's eighty-five years old now, but if you look hard you can still see that sweet little face on her.
This is how you got legal alcohol during prohibition. I think the hippies call it a 215 card.

When I was a kid growing up in Laytonville, there was nothing that I would rather have done than sit around and listen to the old-folks talk. They used to tell lots of Indian stories, and they would almost always end up talking about prohibition. Alcohol was outlawed from 1920 to 1933. The old timers would still talk about who made the best “hooch”. I never heard it called “Moonshine”. But, every now and then it would come up that, out at my Grampa Bills Service Station, he had “special bottle” marked battery water. The old batteries used to use lots of water, the new ones that we have today are Maintenance free and they don’t use water. Grampa Bill had a whole row of Distilled Battery Water, but I guess one of those Five gallon glass jugs was pure white hooch.

On hot summer evenings they would all gather around Grampa Bills El Primero gas station. They would set up a card table and some chairs in a room behind the office and they would sip hooch and play cards until the cows came home. Grampa dearly loved to play cards. Also he dearly loved his hooch. My mother said that she remembers the card games in the back office but she doesn’t remember the drinking. But, I’ve heard too many stories to ignore.

Grampa’s gas station was unique in that he sold three kinds of gas, Shell, Richfield, and Associated (Flying A). He Sold Fisk Tires, and he always had a good supply. He had a "Loudspeaker" on the service station that could play music to most of the valley.... But that's another post.

Friday, February 8, 2008

More on Rancho El Primero's tractor.

Click on the pictures, it will expand them for greater detail.

Posing for the picture. I have no idea what the sign say's above the tractor.
An early three man logging operation.
Just like grampa, pulling five plows with a four plow tractor.

This is what I found out about the tractor that was in the posting a few days ago. I researched the internet for photo’s of the tractor and found a few, but they were all misidentified as something else. So I when back to Grampa’s photo’s and -bingo- I found a few more photos that led me to identify the tractor and I was able to find the following information:
International Harvester Mogul 12-25
General tractor information: Manufacturer, International Harvester
Model: Mogul 12-25
Type: Farm/Agricultural tractor
Years produced: 1913 - 1918
Tractor power: Drawbar (rated): 12 hp. Belt: 25 hp.
Plows: 4 (14-inch)
Engine Manufacturer: International Harvester
Fuel: kerosene
Cylinders: 2
Rated RPMs: 550
Firing order: 1-2
Transmission: Forward: 2, Reverse: 1

Some interesting facts for those that just skimmed over these spec’s is, that it ran on kerosene, and it had a two cylinder engine. I chuckled when I saw the firing order of the cylinders, one-two, like that would clarify anything. It could just as easily been two-one. Because one comes after the other either way…. Oh… It’s a four cycle engine, and it would be one-two-wiffel-wiffel, one-two wiffel-wiffel, …I get it now! Otherwise it would have to be two-wiffel-wiffel-one. Probably some mechanics are following this, but everybody else is over at Eric’s blog now!

Anyway this is Grampa and his Famous Tractor. The mogul was the “Model-A Ford” of the tractor world. It was the first small mass produced tractor for general farm use. The company went on to be International Harvester Company that is still around today. An International Harvester truck, or tractor, or harvester, was known by the Old-Timers as a “Cornbinder”.

The tractors were the first “Transformers” they were used mostly as a stationary power sorce, and had an outboard belt drive that would power up a pump, saw, generator, or any other stationary item that needed power. That's why it had a dual power rating, (I2-25). The twelve equaled the pulling power of twelve horses for eight hours right off of the drawbar of the tractor. The Twenty-five equaled the power of twenty-five horses right off of the motor itself. They didn't lie about the horsepower back then. Today they would probably call it a 500 hosepower tractor.

Dang, I hope somebody got that sunset.

I use the camera on my cell phone a lot. It takes passable photo's for a blog site, but every now and then I wish I had a camera that I could change the settings on.

If I could reduce the contrast on my phone-cam it would improve a lot of shots. The real trick to get a colorful photo of a rainbow or a sunset is to reduce the light setting a few f-stops, because sunsets and rainbows are all light, and they drown themselves out while the exposure meter on the camera is reading the background. (Am I exposing my “Old-School Technology by talking in film SLR talk?)

Anyway, the last two photo’s that I have taken have been deficient because I knew how to take the photo, but didn’t have the technology to do so. They make cell phones that do all kinds of stuff that I’m not interested in. Why don’t the make a quality cell-phone/camera? The most beautiful part of this sunset was rendered as a white blob in the middle. It makes me feel the same way, I'm so disappointed, that I feel just like a white blob.

This sunset was dramatically beautiful, and I missed it. I hope someone got a good photo.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Where in the world is Ernie?

I took this photo with my cell phone. It usually takes good photos, but it can't handle too much contrast, that's why it's all fuzzy. I think that the fuzz adds to the mystery. Where was this photo taken? Can you guess?

First hint: That is the South Fork of the Eel River

Second hint: You can click on the photo to enlarge

Third hint: It's less than five minutes off highway 101.

Fourth hint: The white in the middle is a water fall, and the 101 highway is at the bottom edge of the sunshine.

Fifth hint: The highway at the edge of the sunshine is a freeway, and people often get speeding tickets there.

Sixth hint: The picture was taken looking North. To the West of me is a "Big" feature of the river that the old-timers would know, but it now has a Newcomer name.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Night Dreams

Ed Dennson put a jinx on me. He told all about a weird anxiety-dream that he had, and he made pretty good sense out of it on his blog site. Not so in my case. I had a really good dream last night, and when I woke up, I couldn't wait to tell my wife about it. The dream really made me happy and left me in a good mood. As I rolled it through my head trying to put it all together, I just plain couldn't any make sense out of it at all.

The first thing that occured to me is that there was this "Other Woman" in it that she might not appreciate. How do you explain to your wife that you have an "Other Woman" in your dreams. Well this "Other Woman" was not an important part of my dream. She was not the type of person that would appeal to me anyway, just so you know that. So, my dream was not really about an "Other Woman".

Then there was the part of my dream where there was a woman who was carrying a puppy inside her coat, and his cute little face was poking out of the top where a woman would normally wear her necklace. Don’t think that I'm weird. I know that you have seen the same thing. Anyway, I decided that I couldn't tell her about that puppy part of the dream, because she could have wondered why I was looking where a woman would wear a necklace anyway.

Then there was the part about the boat that wasn't near the water, and the frog that knew how to sing. I'm not sure what the white lines were all about, but they wiggled. Don't try to read anything into this, it doesn’t make sense. Then the guard rail turned blue and it made sense in my dream. I still don't know how the five-speed truck transmission got under my pillow, but it belonged there in my dream. I decided that rather than trying to rationalize my screwed up dream that I had dreamt, that I would just let it drop. I know that there are others out there that do rationalize their dreams, and I know that they are either lying, or they dream much more lucidly than me. Because, if my dreams make sense, I know that I'm still asleep.

So rather than tell my wife about the dream that I had, I just told her that I had a really good night, and that I had a great dream. And, she said; "Oh yeah? What about?

Monday, February 4, 2008


These little flowers are called "Slink Pods" I don't know the newcomer name for them, but I'm sure I'm wrong on the "Correct" name. I sometimes call them "rain flowers" because most of the time that they are blooming, it is raining. They wither rapidly when the weather clears.

If you have never seen one, you've never taken a walk in the Redwoods in February. Either that or you were to busy looking up at the Redwoods while you were standing on these, I think some people call them adders tongues? Is that right?

Anyway I put this here because Kym, the Redheaded Black-belt didn't know what I was talking about when I told her about this cute little February flower. When they first open they are black and white, then they fade to black and purple before they wither.

I wish I knew how to post a picture directly into a comment box without having to link to it. What's up with that?

P.S. I stole these photo’s off the net. I think it was okay though, I didn’t see any threatening messages.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My roots are mingled with Horseradish.

My dad and a friend of his, Clarence Sedestrom, were partners in horseradish manufacturing, for their own purposes.

Mom and Dad owned the Briceland Bar and Restaurant back in the early sixties. Jim the Sissie’s dad Tom Newland was a partner.

Dad and Clarence raised wiener pigs in a pen behind Clarence’s house. The food scraps from The Briceland Bar restaurant, and Tom’s spoiled milk and cream from his dairy fed the pigs. The horseradish plants were raised just below the edge of the pig pen. All the pig crap was washed onto the plants and they grew like weeds!

In the fall of the year Dad and Clarence would pick and grind the horseradish roots in the restaurant kitchen, with the commercial grinder. The odor was so pungent that it would drive everybody outside onto the front porch to drink their beer. It was hard to keep the fact that Dad and Clarence were running off a batch of their mildly famous, wildly pungent horseradish. After everybody got run off from the smell, they would come drifting back through for a little jar of fresh ground horseradish.

I still remember Dad and Clarence In the kitchen grinding their horseradish. They would be crying like babies while grinning like little kids. Every now and then somebody would get brave enough to go inside and watch. It was considered to be a real test of manhood to watch for a while, even for the women.

The pigs were butchered and made into roasts, chops and sausage. Dad was also famous for his smoked sausage. My Mother was best known for her remarkable tolerance. The horseradish was used on the pork roasts. It was a real win, win, win, win, situation. The restaurant got rid of it’s garbage, the dairy got rid of it’s spoiled milk. We got to eat the pigs. Dad and Clarence got their horseradish. That is, if you can believe that garbage, rotten milk, slop, pig crap, and grinding horseradish is in any way a good thing.

Damn, what fun!

(Inside joke; I'm not sure, but I think that "Jim the Sissie" eats his bear with garlic. I'll stop calling him "Jim The Sissie" when he starts telling a few of his stories here, I KNOW he's got them, I just hope that he doesn't start telling stories on me! Just remember I've got veto power with my delete button!)

Horseradish Pork ala la-la-la.
1 (2-pound) pork rib roast or loin roast
1 tsp Fred's horseradish (or stoop to using other horseradish after getting this great recipe!)
1/2 tsp Dried marjoram, crushed
1/2 tsp Dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp Dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

1. Set oven to 350: F.
2. Wash your hands, then rub horseradish over the surface of meat, and place in small baking dish, then wash your hands again.
3. While the oven is getting hot, set aside. Or you could just leave it right there if it's not in the way!
4. Mix dry herbs. Sprinkle over roast. oh, what the hell, rub them onto the horseradish on the roast, but wash your hands before and after if you do, and don't touch your eyes.
5. Drizzle, one teaspoon of olive oil over the roast.
6. It cooks best if you go ahead and put it in the oven, uncovered. Cook about 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer registers 160: F. Let the roast stand 5 minutes (if you can). Slice to serve.
7. Serve with more horseradish, as needed. It will be if you like horseradish.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The trouble with being a super-taster.

Carol and Greg, we were in your town today (Loleta) on our way home from Eureka. The meat shop by the old railroad tracks (Loleta Meat market) is the only place that I can find "Fred’s Horseradish" anymore. I like Fred’s, because when it is fresh, it is never bitter.

If there are any of you who like good fresh sweet horseradish, try Fred’s Horseradish. The only place that I can find it anymore is Loleta.

I’m what they call a “super taster”. If anybody knows what that means, they know that I have too many taste buds on my tongue. A bitter Brussels Sprout can turn me wrong-side-out. That’s the down side. The good side is when something tastes good, it tastes oh-so-good.

When the store in Garberville got sucked up by Ray’s mega-corp. they dumped poor old Fred. I found an old bottle of Fred’s and I found a phone number on it. I called the number just for the heck of it, to see if I could find where to buy it.

I thought; this is going to be an exercise in futility! The phone rang for a while, and my mind wandered of into that fog that comes over me when I’m expecting to listen to some recording.

Then I hear on the other end of the line; “Fred here.” Aghast, I said, “Thee Fred???” Fred; “Yeah, this is Fred, who’s this?” …Me; “Thee Fred, who’s pictures is on the bottle of horseradish?” Fred; “Yeah that’s me!” Me, coming to my senses; “My hometown store stopped carrying your horseradish, and I need to know where to buy it”.

He gave me a list of the places that I could buy it. I asked him why his horseradish was so much better than all the other horseradishes. He told me that it was ground fresh and only had vinegar and salt in it and it had to be refrigerated, but otherwise it was just plain old fresh ground horseradish. He said that he sold some of the restaurants around fresh root stock for them to make their own, but it wasn’t special.

I asked him if it was organic. He got kinda’ suspicious, like he thought maybe that I was one of those government inspectors or something. He said “No, it’s not labeled organic, I don’t want to have to go to all the trouble to meet all those government regulations that a person has to go through to get a government “Organic” label just to sell a bottle of horseradish. I’m a small operation”. I asked him if he used any chemicals or anything on his crop. He said “No”. He started getting even more suspicious of my questions, and I understood that I was making him nervous. Finally I said; “Was your horseradish “Organic” before all of the new Government regulations?” He said “It sure was”. I asked him if he had changed anything outside of the fact that he didn’t want to jump through any more government hoops and he said “NOPE”.

We went on to chat about the weather and the soil were he lives, we talked for about a half an hour, and he sounds like the kind of person that it would be fun to go fishing with, or share a cup of coffee in a coffee shop before work.

If you like horseradish on anything, try Fred’s! Take the lid off, and it will have you at first sniff.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wilhelm Heinrich Rathjens, "Grampa Bill"

Logging in the 1920's, El Rancho Primero Laytonville.<
I have decided to do a series of stories on Wilhelm Heinrich Rathjens, My mother’s father, born in 1888. He was known in Laytonville as “Willie” or “Bill”. To me he was “Grampa Bill“, or just plain “Grampa”. This man had such an interesting life that I could easily write about him for a year, and not run out of things to say.

I think that the thing that I would want you to know about him more than anything else, is that he was the kindest man that you could ever meet. He walked most everywhere he went. As a young man he was a foot soldier in the Kaiser Wilhelm the Seconds German Army and he just got used to walking. When he would walk to town, which was only about a half mile, he would come home with a bag of candy for each of the kids that lived on the ranch. We would always be excited when we saw Grampa head to town, because we knew he would be coming home with a big bag of candy, and each bag of candy would also have a bag of jerky in it. Then, of course, he would always have a bottle of schnapps for himself.

He loved to play cards, and I would sit and eat my candy and he would drink his Schnapps, and together we would play “Pedro” I’m not sure it was his favorite game, but he did love to play it, and it was simple enough for my young mind. He always won, and I think that he liked winning even against me.

There is plenty of time for details, but now let’s talk about the tractor. You non-mechanics can skip this part of the story. Grampa was a gifted mechanic and could make anything work. As I looked at the picture of the tractor many things attracted my attention. First the motor is mounted sideways to what a normal motor is mounted. The massive flywheel sticks out the side and it looks like it has a clutch assembly out-board of that. There are two exhaust pipes so it must be at least a twin cylinder engine. The wheels are Iron and they are ribbed in the front for better steering and they are cleated in the rear for better traction. This tractor was used on the ranch for everything; Plowing, logging, harvesting, as a remote power supply for buzz saws, or running pumps. Anyone that has ever used a tractor knows how versatile they can be.

The logging dolly is a story in itself, the whole think is hand made in a blacksmith shop. The handle between the front and the back wheel is a Peavey. A Peavey is used for leveraging logs to move them.

It looks like they just loaded the logs with the wooden ramps and the cables laying on the ground beside them.

Now here’s where I need help. Does anyone know anything about that tractor. I know nothing. It looks like an “m” in front of the flywheel in the edge of the shadow, and I’ve been told by a “Good Guesser” that it is a Fairbanks-Morris horizontally opposed motor. Click on the photo for a large view. I have really studied this photograph, I even looked for birds in the trees. It gets to be fascinating! Oh!, that’s Grampa Bill driving the tractor.