Monday, August 11, 2008

Brace yourself, we are in for a dry spell...



Whatcha gonna do when the well runs dry

you gonna run away and hide

I'm gonna be right by your side

for you, pretty baby, I'd even die.

An old Ricky Nelson tune, stolen from and old nursery rhyme, about an old drought.


It occurred to me that this is the time of the year when the days start getting shorter, and the trees start sucking the sap back out of the leaves, and they get ready to drop. The evergreen leaves harden for winter, and they stop drawing moisture from the air and ground. The water sometimes comes back to the springs even before the rainfall, just because the trees have stopped drinking. It’s the time of the year that we usually have our worse wildland fires, because everything gets tinder dry, and the days are still hot enough to cause the fire to flare out of control. This year we had 100-plus-degree days in May. The dry lightning storm set the State of California on fire, and the most of them will burn until the next rainfall, and there isn’t one in sight.

Back in the early seventies, before Al Gore invented the Internet and Global Warming, we had a drought that only gave us twenty-two inches of rainfall. Back then all of the weather experts were predicting a “New Ice Age”… Yep it’s true. You could look it up!

Most of the springs, on land that the real estate people sold to the newcomers as “year around springs”, dried up. The people in the hills didn’t know what to do, so they bought a bunch of pickle barrels from Burrell Keating, at the old Eel River Salvage Yard, next to the drive-in theater. That was down behind the Renner Union 76 plant for the people that wonder where this all took place.

The people with pickle barrels went begging for water, they were met with much reluctance. Nobody wanted to give up their water. Outside faucets were locked, or removed, to keep people from stealing water. Finally the hill people started stealing water from the fire hydrants in the middle of the night.

Later in the summer, when it was realized that we had a dire water emergency, one of the emergency service groups set up a coin-operated water dispenser at the Redway Fire Department. The dispenser was connected to the fire hydrant in front of the fire hall. As I recall a quarter bought fifty gallons of water. (I may be wrong) It was a very popular feature. It was back before there was drinking water trucks operating in the area, and everyone hauled their own water. I remember one fellow that hauled his water in a water bed mattress in the back off his old half-ton truck it would squat and waddle like a duck going down the road but he got his water home.

The way things are shaping up it looks like we had better brace for a dry spell. Quite different from the last drought, the Redway Water District had their board of directors pass a resolution that the Redway Water Company could shut off the contract water haulers at any time that they deemed it necessary. Just so the people know that they may have to learn to drink dust if it gets dry. So, you have been warned.

My grandmother, who had an uncanny ability to know what the weather was going to do just from watching the wind and the direction that the clouds were moving, used to say that “a dry winter is a cold winter”. She was remarkably right. The year that we only had twenty-two inches of rain, the winter got down to 14 degrees in Redway. All of the wet barrel fire hydrants froze and broke. The old-timers had all of the storms of the winter season named, the storm that caused the fifty-five and the sixty-four floods were called the “December storms” or the “Christmas storms". I don’t recall them having any name for a drought, other than a dry spell. They never thought that anything could change the weather and they just took what they got.

Just like the Redway water Department, the Russian River people are trying to decide what they are going to do for water when Lake Mendocino dries up. They are now down to less than fifty percent of what the lake will hold. The Lake Mendocino gets some of it’s water from the headwaters of the Eel River. They acquired it a long time ago by contracts that were signed giving the Russian river people Eel River Water. The Eel River water serves a twofold purpose of generating electricity for them, and watering their grape fields. The water is also used for municipal water supplies. Our ancestors were probably caught at a weak moment, like the Klamath people were when they signed the contracts with the Klamath potato farmers to take their water away.

I had an old friend that said; “Whiskey is fer drinken’, Water is fer fighten”. After we get through fighten’ about water we will look back fondly on the days when all we fought about was who grew too much Marijuana.

36 comments:

"Bob" said...

"An old Ricky Nelson tune, stolen from and old nursery rhyme"

I don't know about the nursery rhyme, but that was a Fats Domino song before Ricky had his hit with it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Bob, you are right of course! How could I have ignored one of my favorite singers. I should go back and correct it, but I think that I will leave it there to see if anyone else notices. It was beating on the back of my head that I’d heard it before Ricky Nelson. Thanks for the correction.

Does anyone know the nursery rhyme that it originally came from? Or was it old Fats himself that wrote it?

Anonymous said...

It was written by Fats and the legendary Dave Bartholomew, a pioneer of R&B in the 50's. These 2 guys were some of the originators of the New Orleans sound. I had all Fats' 45's when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

It's called "I'm Walkin'," BTW.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anon, thanks.

I went on the internet and googled it and i found all kinds of "dry well" refernces in history, but none with anything close to the words in the song, so I guess we'll give ol' Fats credit for it.

ben said...

I have a precious Video of "The Girl Can't Help It". The greatest rock 'n roll movie ever made. Fats sings "I'm Walkin'". Jayne Mansfield! Yikes! I saw it thirteen times in the theatre. My granddaughter Looooves it. Pat Boone also made bucks off black rockers. Compare his insipid "Tutti Frutti" with Little Richard's version. White stations would not play Black Rock in LA 'till they realized we were all flocking to the stations that did. It was a music revolution that led to huge support for the Civil Rights Movement among young white kids. My Mother, bless her Southern Indiana heart, called it "Jungle Music".

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben, Jungle music is polite for what most people called it.

Remember "Wolfman Jack" Radio Station XERB. He was a white guy that talked black. We used to listen to that all night.

Robin Shelley said...

50,000 watts of PURE SOUL!!!!
Ow-woooooooooo!!!

EkoVox said...

Ok people, back on topic. It's about Water, not Wolfman!

XERB, eh? Bob Humblogger and I were partial to XPRS, The Mighty 1090am also with Wolfman Jack and Art Laboe.

We could get it crystal clear up in the Klamath-Trinity Area on clear summer nights. Also KFRE from Fresno, KDWN from Las Vegas and KPNW from Eugene/Springfield

On a really good night, we'd listen to KSL from Salt Lake City and KEX from Portland.

Now, about that water. How much would you pay for a water truck full? Will Renner go into that delivery business, too?

Ernie Branscomb said...

We already have a fleet of trucks that deliver water to the hills. They charge by the trip and the water is free.

Back off-subject: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "X" stations were broadcast out of mexico, and they were 1000,000 watts of pure throbbing power.

We only listened to KSL when we couldn't get anything else.

We listened to KEX a lot though.

Ernie Branscomb said...

One of the great things about this blog is that doesn't bother me when we get off-subject, as long as it's interesting.

I must have a mild form of attention deficit disorder… (Okay, the Doctor says that it is severe, but he’s a quack!)

Robin Shelley said...

Thanks, Eko! I knew XERB didn't sound right... XPRS it was... out of Tijuana or someplace nearby (like Los Angeles?!!)... 50,000 watts of pure soul, right? Went to sleep many a night listening to the Wolfman on my transistor radio... remember those? My grandmother gave me one for Christmas... a Japanese transistor radio... ahahahah! Really!
Not to change the subject but... how IS your boogaloo?
(;

Ernie Branscomb said...

Read and weep sucka's. Don't never beard the Lion in his den!
From wikapedia

XERB: The Mighty 1090
1090 AM started out as XERB.

In the early 1960s, Bob Smith (a.k.a. Wolfman Jack) was living in Del Rio, Texas and appearing on the "border blaster" AM radio station XERF. After several violent incidents at XERF's transmitter, Smith and partner Marvin Kosofsky (referred to as 'Mo Burton' in Wolfman Jack's autobigraphy) purchased daytime-only AM station KUXL in 1964 in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota. Smith relocated in Minnesota, and never appeared as Wolfman Jack on KUXL, but rather worked as the station's general manager, while shipping Wolfman shows on tape to XERF.

In 1965, Smith made an arrangement with the U.S. agent for XERB in Baja California. Smith began selling ad time on the Mighty 1090 and recording Wolfman Jack shows for his new affiliate. Initially, Smith controlled the station's affairs from Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1966, Smith, along with fellow KUXL staffers Ralph Hull (a.k.a. Preacher Paul Anthony and The Nazz) and Art Hoehn (a.k.a. Fat Daddy Washington) relocated to Southern California to run XERB full-time.

Wolfman and his associates were able to make the station turn a huge profit by selling programming to radio proselytizers in 15-30 minute blocks. Because they had such a large following and made so much money, the radio evangelists were never too hesitant about paying huge fees for airtime.

As if being on one border blaster wasn't enough, Wolfman began broadcasting pre-recorded shows on three different Mexican stations at different times of the day, XERB, XERF, & XEG 1050 kHz in Monterrey, Mexico.

According to his biography, by 1971 Wolfman was making a profit of almost $50,000 a month. The Mexican company executives that leased XERB noticed this and got greedy. They wanted to throw him out and make all the money themselves. So, the owners bribed Mexican officials into politically squeezing Wolfman off the air. The Mexican government did this by passing a law that stated there could be no more Pentecostal or religious programming on Mexican airwaves. Since XERB made most of its profits from airtime sold to the prayer-cloth preachers there was no way Wolfman could continue to make payments to the owners each month. “That was it." Wolfman remembers, "In one stroke they cleaned out 80 percent of all the money we were expecting to make." So, he and business partner Marvin Kosofsky had to turn control of the station back over to the Mexican owners.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ernie, maybe you could ask your quack for a 215 prescription. Just a thought.
In Ketchikan, people had city water but everybody else in South East Alaska used rain water. It ran off the house into tanks of up to 10,000 gallons and had a little pressure pump. We got on average 180" of rain a year but during August and september it would sort of dry up. I think it was $125 for a truck load (5000 gallons?) of water which I bought a couple times a year. However that took care of 4 of us.
There is no such thing as a well in that country, all rock.

Didn't anybody ever listen to KRAK out of Sacramento? Johnny Cash, George Jones.

I know somebody in Oregon that doesn't have an Oregon drivers license. hee hee

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Nope, I never listened to the Krak Corral.

Really, Robin doesn't have a drivers license? Somebody should tell her they are much cheaper up there.

Ernie Branscomb said...

XERB radio, listen here!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

If it didn't work for you, click on the arrow that says "Listen Here"

Anonymous said...

I think KRAK used to be "Country Crow".

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

The radio crackles. Hank Williams fades in and out on the "K-R-A-K Krack Corral of Country Hits". The heater's on high, wind whistles in through the lowered ...

How come everybody is so quick to say I'm wrong, and sooooo... darn slow to say "I'm sorry, so sorry, wont you please accept my apollogeeess."

Ernie Branscomb said...

Gee Robin, I'd really like some photos. Since it is such a well known rock, do you think that it would be okay to put them on my blog, just to show the destruction? I wish I had a picture of it when I was a kid. Even though it was almost in the road, back then few people knew about it.

This must be almost like you saying. “I’m sorry Ernie, for thinking you were wrong!”

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Ernie.

However, back in the 60's it was Country Crow.
You have led me astay once before. I remember you telling me that Cape Mendocino was the most West point in the continental US. I always took you at your word. You were right when you told me that LA is farther East than Los Vegas.
I do forgive you though, we were only kids.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

I hope that I told you that LA was further east that RENO.

Anonymous said...

Well maybe. LOL

Oregon

EkoVox said...

KRAK.....Yep, we got that in too. Out of Sacramento.

I remember they had a live country music show in the 1970's from a club in Sacramento. Good Stuff.
You could tell it was THE station for long haul truckers.

How about KEEN in San Jose Also Country.

Of course, KGO was the powerhouse, but, who wanted to listen to it. Only my grandmother would stay up late to listen to Bob Trebor.

Speaking of talk radio, does anyone remember when our own 1480 KGOE used to be the Top40 popular music station as KRED-1480am. Then it was the country king for a while after the KATA Kowboys turned into the rock station. Who would have thunk.

Um....don't get me started.

Robin Shelley said...

According to the info you provided, Ernie, XPRS was XERB waaaaaay before my time.
My mother always listened to KRAK out of Sacto & I enjoyed it, too, but it was affectionately known as KRAP to the kids around town. KFRC was our teenage choice!
How about Okie Paul Westmoreland's Hayride out of...um...Chico? I only know about that because of the Blackwells... back when I was a little tiny girl sittin' on Dewayne's knee... & he was just a boy!
And, Jimmy... well, Ernie, I think he's delusional! Maybe you better come up here & check on him.
I'll send him some pictures anyway.

Robin Shelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Shelley said...

I wish you had a picture of Indian Rock from when you were a kid, too, Ernie. I would like to have seen what it looked like back then. It looks to be in pretty good shape to me, considering how old it must be & how long it has been exposed to the elements. It's location is not a secret... it's right alongside the road... & SO MANY people live up there now. Sometimes people leave "offerings" there... trinkets, candles, sage & such... so somebody must respect the spirituality of the place. It's not protected or advertised. I have never been able to find out much about it... nobody seems to know who made the petroglyphs. Any so-called studies I've seen about it have been disappointing.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I just wrote a big long piece about the Bullshistory of spy rock but I liked it so well I think that I going to send it to the paper instead.

Thank you for sharing, "Spyrock", You have provided us with a complete new page to our history book. We need to get together with my cousins and swap some history. My cousin Penny Comer asks all the right questions and she is a excellent historian in her own right.

Ben, you have no idea how interesting this new information is, These are all names that I recognize from out of the past. This is the first time that I have ever been able to connect them to anywhere.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Okay, okay. I'll post it here also. But the paper won't print anything "Prepublished". They want exclusive. Can you imagine an "Ernie" exclusive???

Robin Shelley said...

Dang, Ernie! Spy Rock says the pictures I sent to him are not of the rock he remembers. He says the rock he saw was perfectly round & surrounded by trees. I have not seen that rock. Have you?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Robin, That's what I remember also. And the rock had writing on the top. That's why I thought it was defaced, But the rock doesn't seen to have any young surgery. Also I have seen others, so I may be confused. Imagine that!

But, that is definitely the rock on that road. (Does that make sense?)

Ernie Branscomb said...

People hide those rocks for good reason. Most trusted researchers know where all of them are.

Robin Shelley said...

Yes, I know, Ernie. But, like you, every time I think I know something, well, I find out different! I think it was you who said something like that... anyway, I don't know where the round rock is but I sure would like to see it.
I've also heard tell of a "bottomless" well or hole somewhere on Spy Rock. My dad told me about it years ago but I've never been there, either. Ever heard of that?

Anonymous said...

Which Renner runs the Garberville 76 bulk plant these days?

Carson Park Ranger said...

I remember listening to XERB when I was a kid. They broadcast from the little beach town of Rosarito, just south of Tijuana.

Another surprise was Johnny Otis who was a great black musician (Willie and the Hand Jive) and father of Shuggie Otis. He had an FM music show for many years in Los Angeles. I heard an interview with him on NPR once, and was surprised to find out that his parents were Greek immigrants.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, Thanks for your blog, which has evoked pleasant memories of an aggressively idle summer spent long ago in Redcrest along the Avenue of the Giants, in the South Fork of the Eel River, and along the "Unknown Coast," among other places in your area. It was all too easy to take for granted. And, yes, listening to KRAK radio at night was part of the experience. —Brian G. in Chicago