Friday, November 7, 2008

Spyrocks Mom.

Eel River canyon at about the location of Spyrock.
I have a commenter that has amazing tales of history that I’ve not heard about before. He has many stories to tell about his experiences, and I’m fascinated by them.

Being from an old family in the Laytonville area, my ancestors go back to the gold rush on all sides of my fathers family. During family gatherings, we frequently relate stories of ancestry, of who is related to whom, and how all of the valley’s history stories connect. So, to have another link to history, that I have not known about, is like discovering gold to me. But, from an editorial standpoint, I get a little nutty when Spyrock posts here. I have come to look forward to his postings, and they are tales about adventure, courage, dedication, getting by, and stories that fit my own background so completely, that his stories are like telling the story of my life, and the life of Laytonville. The stories fit Laytonville so well that I know they are not made up.

The problem that I have is the same problem that I have with most “anonymous” postings. Names and people mean a lot to me. They are the fabric from which I am woven. “Spyrock” in his need to remain anonymous, and leave out first and last names, is immensely frustrating to me. I’m sure that some of you out there enjoy his stories and the names mean nothing to you, but to me it is like telling a great tale of mystery and leaving out the “who-done-it”.

I’ve come to understand that some people like to remain anonymous… I don’t. I was raised with phases like; “Do your family proud; Make a name for yourself; I’d stake my name on it: Proud enough to sign my name to it;” There is many more, but you get the idea.

I was taught that, good bad or ugly, if you did it, you stand behind it, and take the responsibility for it. You get the credit, responsibility, or blame, if the case may be, and there is no stay-out-of-jail free card if you screw-up.

So needless to say, when the new-people moved in and had names like “The Man That Jumped over the Moon, Woman that walks a Cow, Sally Strawberry, Marymae Earthdancer” and so on, but you get the drift… I didn’t trust them. Real people, to my mind, had real names and real families. I was always taught that if a person was proud of his name, it didn’t necessarily mean that they were any kind of a saint, It just meant that they were proud of who they were, and they had character.

So, when I ask who you are, your name tells me who you are, and your history. If you leave out your name, I might as well watch cartoons on TV for entertainment. It doesn’t connect for me.

Spyrock, you have a wonderful and dramatic history, and I like and relate to the way you tell a tale. I speak your language. You are the kind of person that I hoped to attract when I started this blog. I just wish I knew who you were, and all you families names, first and last, and how you are related to one another.

I know from reading your story about your mom that she would have been very proud to give her name, first last and middle. The people that knew her were so proud of her that they put her NAME on a school so she could be remembered. Do your family proud and give us her name!

The following is from "Spyrock", the amazing man hidden in the mist of mystery.
"spyrock said...
"my mom was born at the indian reservation hospital in covelo back in 1911. her father carried her by horseback 15 miles back to the west side of the eel a mile from spyrock where they lived. my mom and uncle delbert rode a white mule to spyrock school. they lived in a log cabin type house on the south side of shell rock creek just down the hill from the old simmerly house. from the 3rd floor of the simmerly house you could see their house. when my mom got old enough to go to high school, they moved and later my mom lived in mill valley with her aunt and rode the ferry boat to san francisco state which was downtown in those days. she became a teacher but when she got married they tried to hide the fact from everyone and got married in napa because a married woman couldn't teach in those days because of the depression. so she lost her job and got hired teaching school for kids in a hospital that had tuberculosis and rheumatic fever. i still test positive for tb. when the war started, she got a job driving a school bus and eventually got hired as a teacher again. a year after i was born she went back to teaching. a year later she was made the principal of the have to remember, this was back in the days of radio, no tv. the pta meeting was the main event in town back in those days, the whole town would show up. and every holiday there would be a christmas pagent that the whole school would participate in, a great holloween event and so on. this was back in the days of paddles and all the kids were terrified of my mom. they would litteraly run away from me when i was a kid. she had a backup 8th grade teacher nicknamed mr. goodnight who would paddle the bigger kids. so all the kids kept their distance from me when i was young. i was never referred to by my own name until i went away to college. i was always referred to as her son by everyone in town except friends my own age. after ten years of being a principal, they made her a superintendant because they built another school. she could have been the county superintendant, but she turned them down. after she retired, they named a school after her and she served on the county board of education until she was 91years old. no one would run against her. i was never comfortable with this situation. i always had to dress up and be an example for the other kids and if i didn't there was hell to pay.but for growing up in spyrock, my mom achieved a lot more than most women did in her day. she was a trail blazer and i'm proud to be her son."
End story

Spyrock brings a tear to my eye, a tear for the mom that he is so proud of, his Nameless Mom.


Bunny said...

Oh throw him a bone Spyrock. At least give him a couple hints to chew on.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ernie, now Estelle is a loser just like you!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Anon 2:18
If that is the case, I am in great company. I llke my friends and they like me. I spend more time losing than winning. Such is life, but we take that risk.

So, what have you do done for your fellow man lately... I mean something that you would sign your name to.

Anonymous said...

With attitudes like anon 2:18 I know who the loser is.


Ernie Branscomb said...

‘If your friendships are not sincere, your friends are not either.”

“A life without passion, is a life without meaning”

“If your losses aren’t bitter, your victories aren’t sweet.”

I wish that I had said that... Oh, hey, I did!

Robin Shelley said...

"Our elections are free - it's in the results where eventually we pay."
-Bill Stern

ross sherburn said...

is spyrock and iron peak the same mountain????

Ernie Branscomb said...

Hi Ross, welcome back. No, Spy Rock and Iron Peak are not the same, but within a few miles of each other. Spy rock is just east of the Eel River North east of Iron Peak.
I was hoping that you would check back. I miss your reminising about old Garberville.

spyrock said...

my mothers name was sybil nye. grace simmerly was her mother and she married lewis nye who homesteaded 160 acres near the simmerlys in the early 1900's. lewis was born in brighton, england. his family raised hereford cattle in england and lewis and his brother archie later brought over a big bull named "domino" from england to their ranch in stinson beach back in the early 50s. so they are some of the people responsible for improving the hereford breed in america. after leaving england, lewis and his family went to south africa to visit an older brother but they were shipwreck off the coast near durban and wound up coming to california instead. i still have relatives in south africa. most of the family settled in mill valley near blythedale canyon in the early 1900's so when the railroad was built along the eel back then, lewis went up to homestead and met grace. this is just a snippet of that story.
on my father's side, i have 3 aunts all above 90 years of age who do have a few different values than i. and out of respect for my elders, i don't attach their name to things i say. spyrock is my medicine name and many people who know me in my life are fine with that. that is also a real photograph of me.
i know a great deal about the history of my father's family but my dad was born in a sod house in kansas and there was a terrible drought in kansas and they left for los angeles around 1912, etc etc etc. but they never lived in my mother's part of california.
i can tell you that i am a direct decendant of patrick henry via olive king who was married to my great grandfather and that my most famous namesake, big george, was the teacher of john wesley powell.
also, i was in a 12 step program for quite a few years and i totally understand why people wish to remain anonymous and i have respect for what anyone says out there without signing their name to it even though i jokingly might tell them to join a 12 step program. i have sat at the table and watched many anonymous people remain silent while everyone else talked and just maybe, months later, they might just tell a bit about what they have been living through. so i'm not so demanding that i know the persons name, i think that the healing that sometimes manifests is a higher priority.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks again Spyrock, I can respect your desire to remain anonymous, even though I have come to know you as "Spyrock. My Grandmother Ruby Branscomb used to talk about the Nyes, but for that life of me, I can't remember what she said. I'll ask my mother what she remembers and maybe I can give you some history back. For some reason the name "Emmet Nye" rings a bell for me...

As for the twelve step program, I’m still hung up on being an alcoholic. I drink one 12oz. Beer a day. (honest) Sometimes I forget to, other days I might drink two if I’m at a party, but I always get sick before I get drunk, so being a total drunk just doesn’t sound like fun to me. They say I’m lucky. I don’t know, sometimes it looks to me like people that drink a lot have a lot of fun.

Thanks again, you have made connections to history for a lot of people today.

My wife says that you are a good looking guy. Again, I’m not a good judge of that sort of thing, from my prospective.

spyrock said...

well, drink a beer for me. its my birthday today. neither one of my parents drank so when i married into an alcoholic family, i went to al anon to learn how to cope with all the crazyness. along the way, i learned how to drink a few beers as well. i did go to aa too but i never have had too much of a problem with alcohol. every once in a while, i'll try one of your home brews from up there. uncle delbert and howard used to drink 7 and 7. i think there were alot of whiskey drinkers up in covelo and spyrock.
i still do something like a 12 step program but its done indian style. near the full moon in a medicine wheel with a fire in the middle, they pass a talking stick. and they pass the talking stick clockwise around the circle and whomever has the stick gets to talk. they call it stringing the beads.

Robin Shelley said...

Ernie, you might be thinking of Emmett Nyhen... Jimmy Nyhen's dad.
Happy birthday, Spy! Happy, happy birthday!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Robin, you're remarkably perceptive. That is who I was thinking of.

Happy birthday Spy, I almost forgot that. I hope that you are having a good time, but don’t eat too much cake, it’s bad for the digestion.

Now some history back for you Spy. I asked my Mom if she knew any Nyes. She said no, but her father Wilhelm (Bill) Rathjens used to play Pedro with a fellow by the name of Fred Simmerly, from the Simmerly ranch. They would play their card games in Grampa Bill’s back room of his service station, on the Rancho El Primero, one mile north of Laytonville, just south of Woodman Canyon. This would have been in the late thirties. Was he anyone that you know?

Indie said...

Ernie, I agree with what you said (here? somewhere, or somebody else said it...) about Spyrock ought to start his own blog since he has so many good stories.

spyrock said...

no thanks, my girlfriends an artist and has a web site and someday when i semi retire and move up to her place in the mountains, i might do something on the internet with her. but ernie does a great job here and it really looks like a lot of work and a lot of tolerance. there's an old saying, if you don't have room for an elephant, don't invite one in. so i'm much more comfortable with being the bloggee rather than the bloggor. plus, i'm still sorting out 100 years worth of stuff from my parents estate which will keep me busy for quite a while yet.

Anonymous said...

So needless to say, when the new-people moved in and had names like “The Man That Jumped over the Moon, Woman that walks a Cow, Sally Strawberry, Marymae Earthdancer”

Ha! Ha! Ha! We had them too.

Raspberry Moon, Oceana Madrone, Bamboo, Fig, Apple, Mary Apple, and the list goes on and on....One of the newcomer couples had the last name of Cain. And so, what should they name their first male child? Raisin Cain. Today, the 39-year old goes by Ray.

I remember when I was in high school we were hanging out with the newcomers and one of their little kids asked my brother, "What is your fruit name?"
My brother casually replys, "I'm Kumquat Persimmon" and the kid referred to him as that for several years.

Take pride in your family name!

Anonymous said...

Spyrock. Some time ago I heard that you were looking for information about your family and how to get through all of the locked gates that are there now. You should hook up with Mervin Pinches in Willits because he always talks of the Simerlys and he has a diary from the 20s. His dad contracted to build some of the Spy Rock Road in 1922, which "they built with teams of horses and man labor". Mervin's grandfather had a stage stop past what Mervin called "the flat spot up Bell Springs Road." Another great source for you, Spyrock, would be Bud Bowman of Laytonville. I know that he'd have information about the Simerlys and probably your mother's family. Bud's grandmother was severely injured during an Indian raid in Humboldt county. This gentleman is in his 90s and a great source of information. You can find both his and Mervin's numbers in the local phone directory.

spyrock said...

thanks for the information cousin. i've heard about mervin
pinches. i'm going to see some of my cousins on thanksgiving and tell them about mervin and mr bowman. i wrote down their names and that they are in the phone book. after my last attempt via iron peak mountain and the locked gate on simmerly road and all the people that showed up trying to find out what we were doing there, it didn't sound possible that i would ever get down to the old homestead near shell rock creek. but maybe we could get down to the river on spyrock rd and at least see spyrock and have a swim. that sort of looks like the safest thing to do these days.
my cousin karen wants to go but she has a problem leaving her horses and other animals for very long. little mel might want to try again. he got run out of there the last time when he was trying to see if he had any rights to the land up there. i found a paper from the county trying to deny great grandma laura benefits because they said she had an interest in that land up there. she said that she didn't but i'm not sure if she ever signed anything. her husband left the land to ben and howard with a life estate to uncle guy. and uncle guy had a heart attack when his dad died and he died soon after that. my grandma and none of uncle guys girls got any of the land. after awhile ben sold his land and moved to potters valley and his son john was living in montague last i heard but he sold that ranch and i've lost track of him. howard was burnt up sleeping in a mobile home after the old house burnt up and his son died years ago. his wife joy sold the rest of the land. guy's daughter catherine had four boys who grew up in ukiah but none of them got any of the land. larry, the oldest, sort of has hard feelings about that and doesn't have much to do with anyone on his side. little mel really just wanted to go hunting up there. as does richie and tom. they got told all these tall tales about hunting pigs and deer by everyone. but it's not the same anymore anyways. my reason for going there again is a bit different. a souix indian medicine man told me that i left a part of my spirit in spyrock when i was a child. his medicine name is walking buffalo. he said that when i went there as a child, i was so happy being there again that part of my spirit didn't want to leave and stayed there. he said that i needed to go back there and have something like a soul retreival. i was real happy up on iron peak mountain this last time because i could see where the old house used to be. but in my mind, i would have to go to where we used to play in shell rock creek to be with that part of my spirit again. but the more i think about it, and because of the great difficulty getting by all the locked gates up there, why should i take that happy part of me out of there anyway. so the connection is the important thing. creating the web. i don't have to physically be there to establish the reconnection. its happening on its own with all of your help.

Anonymous said...

Spyrock. If you find the owner's name now from either Pinches or Bowman, you could google earth and probably get a good picture of the area. Might be worth a chance and you wouldn't have to dodge rat traps or schrapnel!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spy, if the man you refer to as “Walking Buffalo” is named Scott, and he worked at Reggae On the River, I know him. He is a great person, and takes great pride in planting trees and caring for Mother Earth in the Indian tradition, much like the things that I believe in. You get out of life what you put into it. Walking Buffalo walks the walk.

We irreverently called him “Watering Buffalo” because he was in charge of the greenery and the grasses at Reggae. He seemed to find humor in being called that, but he took his job very seriously, and I much admired him. He worked very hard at his job. He preformed an Indian tree planting ceremony, and planted a tree near a natural spring on the Reggae property. The world would be a better place if we would all focus on the real things, and forget the hocus pocus. What he did was real, the grass that he kept green and the trees that he planted were something real to me, while he combined it with his prayers to the great spirit. I felt that I was in the presence of an honest man.

If it is the same person, tell him that Ernie the refrigeration man at Reggae said hello. He might remember me, because like as usual with me, he is the kind of person that I seek out to have a conversation with.

If it’s not him… sorry.

Also, you mentioned that you are related to the "Downeys" We have a man that lives north of Covelo who's name is Fred "Coyote" Downey. He is an Indian Spiritual leader, and does many Indian Spiritual Blessings in Our area. He does the blessing at the start of Reggae On the River, and also Reggae Rising.

spyrock said...

thanks cousin, i'm going to take your advice. i know where the place is on google earth and i've seen it from iron peak mountain but i'm not going past any locked gates without someone with keys and who knows what's up back there.

spyrock said...

i've heard about that downey indian. my cousin jerry ann married a downey and little mel is her son.
your walking buffalo sounds like a wonderful person but he's not the same one i met. this ones name is andrew and he lives in ojai. he does community sweat lodges. he's a young guy and his stuff is warrior type stuff. he has a thing where they take you down rivers in a kayak or canoe. of course, i've thought about maybe he would lead a kayak trip down the eel someday but i'm sort of liking just passing the talking stick around the fire these days.
my friend bob and his wife have been to his sweat lodges which i didn't know when i met him. we were both guests at a convention in santa barbara and wound up sitting next to each other and five minutes later he was telling me about part of my spirit being up at spyrock. his web site is called sacred ways. my girlfriend is the one with all the indian connections. her medicine name is lightning dove. she knows a whole bunch of people that appreciate the native american wisdom. i've met some of her friends and many of them have become my friends too.
but i'm still learning about it.
we do have two real medicine wheels on her property though.
the one by the house and the spyrock wheel were both certified or whatever you call it by a couple of earth wisdom keepers.
it sounds like your watering buffalo is into the beauty way. thats what i call what i like to do. create beauty on the land.
to me, thats the real deal. one of the names besides spyrock these earth wisdom people call me is pondtender. raising water lilies and fish (japanese koi) has been my hobby for the last 30 years.