Sunday, March 15, 2009

What happened to Garberville?

As often happens with me, I started to do a post about one thing and got off on a tangent about all of the changes that I've seen. I think that nowadays I would be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Syndrome. To change the subject again, just a little bit, because this post is mostly about changes. We used to spell and pronounce “nowadays” as “nowdays”, just one other bit of change the newcomers brought us.

I started to do a post about education in California, and I got to thinking about all of the people that have given greatly to the local school districts. As my gentle readers already know my 3G Grandfather Benjamin Franklin Branscomb was instrumental in starting the school district in the Laytonville/ Branscomb area. My family has participated in education in some form or another ever since then. My mother was what would be known as a “teachers-aide” back in the fifties at the Laytonville grammar school. When we would have a PTA fair, or a party at the school, she would be there cutting the cake or passing out the ice cream. Most of the children’s mothers could be seen at the school from time to time. Quite often the teacher would call on some of the class mothers to help out at the school. When the state started hiring teacher’s aides it confused me as to why they thought that teacher’s aides would be better than having your own mother in the classroom. As more women were forced to enter the job market to improve their financial standing, their ability to volunteer was diminished, and the schools were forced to hire teacher’s aides.

My family is still involved in Education My cousin Penny(Branscomb)Comer still works in the Laytonville School. I’m going to add a sentence here because the newcomers say that you can’t use one sentence as a paragraph. Shows what they know! The fact that Penny is still in education seems like it ought to be its own paragraph to me.

Last week, the President of the Garberville Rotary Club had his bell stolen by one of the members. It’s a game that we play, the bell always gets taken care of, and it always returns. We have had the bell since 1938. The program that day happened to be given by the Save Our Schools foundation. (S.O.S.) They pointed out the desperate situation our local schools are in. One Rotary member, who will go unnamed, (not me) said that he would donate one hundred dollars to the school if the bell was returned to the president by the end of the day, and encouraged other Rotarians to do the same (and me). Over eighteen-hundred dollars was raised for the school. The money was raised from mostly people of modest means. We no longer have the generous wealthy lumber barons of the past that donated to the schools in a very big way.

Another change in Garberville is that the Rotary club members are not making the kind of easy money that they made it the past. Most of the people that make easy money live in what has become known as “The Counter-Culture”. Some of the counter-culture are very generous people and contribute to the local schools with anonymous donations. They also participate in the efforts of the local service clubs to raise funding for the schools, so they are not to be discounted out of hand. They don’t as a rule belong to the service clubs out of their need to not draw attention to themselves. Most of the big money in Garberville circulates underground now.

The Rotary Club used to be made up out of main street businesses. If you started down the street, every business would have a member in the Rotary Club. It would be rare that there was a business that didn’t have a member in Rotary. Rotary by it’s own definition is a “Club made up of Business and Professional People”. The local club’s membership has been around fifty-two people since 1938, up until around 1998. Membership has been declining, not because it’s not a viable club, but because the town businesses are owned by major corporations. Most of the people that work for these corporations are too overworked to give any time to the club. Some people have tried to maintain membership, but their careers gobble up all of their time and energy, and they end up dropping out. Attendance is a big requirement in Rotary because the club is supposed to represent the community, and if you are not in attendance you become a poor representative.

Some of the older local businesses still believe in community participation. In fact they encourage their employees to participate. I shouldn’t name names, but I will because of their outstanding service to the community. Blue Star Gas has served this community well. Blue Star’s local manager, Dennis O’Sullivan, has been a member of the Southern Humboldt School board, and a member of the Rotary club since shortly after his arrival in Garberville. He was also a Garberville fireman, and served as their fire chief for a few years. He was elected as “Citizen of the year” a few years ago. He was instrumental in saving the town of Redway from a major fire when he was involved in stopping a major leak in the large propane storage tank in Redway. Bill Stewart, One of the owners of Blue Star Gas, is a Rotary club member and true to his philosophy to “give back to the community that you live in” he has served on almost all of the boards of directors of the local districts and non-profits. Some of Blue Stars employees are prominent members of our local fire departments and rescue squads. Will Johnson was the incident commander at one of our major drills at the con-camp recently. Todd Barton has been the truck engineer on more fires than most people have been firefighters.

This great service to our community is all made possible by the farsighted wisdom of local people like Bill Stewart and Blue star Gas. (It's own pargraph)

My own philosophy is to give back to the community that I live in, but I can, in no way, give back to the extent that Blue Star Gas does. I actually allowed any member of my crew to be paid their regular salary while on fire calls. They were always responsible about it, and made a conscientious effort to not exceed the boundaries of their responsibly to my business.

The crew that I had also helped me build the local markets. Up until a few years ago my company built and maintained most all of the refrigeration in the Garberville area. Branscomb Refrigeration installed all of the refrigeration in the Ray’s Sentry in Garberville. They are now owned by a major corporation, they have their own refrigeration people, and I’m now “Ernie who?” at Ray’s. I’m not looking for sympathy, I enjoy not having to be responsible, night and day for their problems. But, because of the downturn in service calls from the local businesses that are being scooped up by big corporations, I’ve gone from four employees down to just myself. I’m still a firefighter, but no one else from my business is. The fire department is also hurting for staffing. (Remember when we used to call it “Manpower”) Most of our firefighters would come from the ranks of the local businesses.

When someone’s house or business was on fire, it was considered to be important enough to close your own business and jump on a fire truck. I remember Ray Hartig, who owned a small grocery store, who had a sign made for his door that said, "Closed, On a fire call”. He would place the sign on the door as he locked it on his way out. That business is now called “Chautauqua”. Great folks by the way, but no firefighters amongst them. As a side note of great importance, Ray was a community minded person that gave back way more than expected, he died at a fire at the Benbow Mill. In respect for this man, the Rotary Club gives a scholarship each year to a worthy student in his name.

So what has happen to this town, that used to be so giving, and many ways still is. Why is it that the fire department can’t get people to join their ranks? Why is it that managers don’t see the Rotary Club as being worth their time? Why is it that we don’t have one single firefighter from the corporate world in Garberville. The corporations themselves do contribute money to our schools, and all of the people that work there are good people, but they are held on a very tight leash.

Well, our schools, service clubs, and fire departments are all in trouble, and education in Southern Humboldt is in the midst of an economic fire storm. I’ve looked for solutions, but I don’t have any suggestions. I sure do long for the day’s that when our neighbors were in trouble it was even important enough to close our businesses long enough to help them, or at least made sure that our employees were available to help.


Kym said...

Ernie, That was a great post. I hadn't realized that one of the side effects of having a corporation take over a business in a town was a lessening of participation in the service organizations. Although now it seems obvious. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You sound alot like Barrack Obama and his call to volunteer. What we really need is a volunteer coordinator to direct people where to volunteer their time in the best way to honor their passion. You could be this person, with a good grant proposal your passion to create a better world will be fulfilled just contact for more information on how to make your every dream a reality on the government dime.
Thank you for living the dream

suzy blah blah said...

o Ernie yuo joker you are harping on that same odl string agian, and wailing the blues wah wah wah the good ol days wah wah whered they go and like some sphinx yuo like to follow yr wail with riddles and then reject all solutuions and then yuo end up shaking yr head and saying i told u so its impossible... its yr faveorite game.

Maybe Bunnie and you really should try doing a paragraph together but i dunno you so i dunno about that.

So back to the thread --of course there IS a solution 4 all these problems whitch yr crying the blues about and if you look in the rite place (not that same old familier tune) you will find it -if you try.

But before you can hear what im talking abuot you need to realize that both yesteryear and nowdays or nowadaze, (either or eyether each other) the fact IS that sometimes... oftentimes Ernie --when a tree falls in the forest it does NOT make a sound,

Suzy can garentee you that from personal experiance, Batman.

Indie said...

Do you think someone who was really praising Obama or advocating for his policies would misspell Obama's name?

Another rhetorical hint that the above comment is strange is this phrase: "on the government dime."

Ernie, my opinion is that the next generation of "counter-culture" hasn't been raised to understand the concept of philanthropy. Easy money puts people out of touch with the concept of give-and-take.

Indie said...

My comment is referring to that of Anonymous 1:45.

suzy blah blah said...

Ernie u better hury up and smokle a bowl before its legal andu cant brake the rule!

hmmm ...on the other hand in soHum NOT smking is breaking the rule --sorry my bad.


Ernie Branscomb said...

I guess that I didn't make myself clear. The counter culture DOES contribute, but only from their hiding spot. It’s just like all of the Anons on the blogsite, they contribute anonymously. Some contribute, and some take away from the post.

Indie, I picked up on the factitious nature of Anons offer. I went to the websites that s/he suggested. And the first was a site that you can send money to, with no guaranteed return. The other is a rah, rah Obama site.

And Suzy! Quit being mean, it’s not like you! Bunny and I work together all the time. Bunny helped organized the Rotary Clubs Super School Fundraiser, which was an annual event held at the Benbow Inn. Altogether it has raised over one hundred thousand dollars for the local schools. We share a birth date. She was also a volunteer firefighter. She has often sacrificed her business for the good of the community. She works as a Cancer Support Volunteer. We are very much on the same page. The only thing that we don’t agree on is our favorite drug. Alcohol or Mary Jane. Big deal. In fact it just occurred to me how much Bunny and I really do have in common, maybe that’s why I like her so much.

Happy Birthday soon Bunny! Here’s to you. Toke one for me.

Suzy, watch out for those quite trees! There is nothing worse than a sneaky tree. But at least you are back signing off with "oxoxo" but I was hoping for "Huggles"

Anonymous said...

Blogger Indie said...

Another rhetorical hint that the above comment is strange is:

how about its on Ernie's blog

Bunny said...

It's a little bit early Ernie but I will... just for you. Good night.

Eric V. Kirk said...

We actually have an unusually large number of nonprofits here and considerable volunteer time gets put into them. But thank you for your perspective. I'll have to check out your prior posts on the changes.

I think one of the biggest changes is the loss of young people and families. When Les' daughter Paula was in Redway School there were over 600 students, with about 120 kindergarteners. Now there are just over 200 students with about 40 kindergarteners. Sometimes the community feels like that movie Children of Men.

suzy blah blah said...

I was hoping for "Huggles"

Ernie sweethaert, plaeze dont hold it against me ..sometimes Suzy just isnt myself, knowwhatimean?... its kinda like what Orson Wells said in The Ticket That Exploded --every day isnt a good huggle day...


Olmanriver said...

A plethora on non-profits have concerts to raise money for this great cause or that one...maybe you need to get the ear of one of the local production companies for a local services benefit, or save the schools benefit. (over and over)
We will have to be creative and utilize many of the resources already operant to get through the economic slow time.
To this area's credit,volunteerism is a huge and ongoingly active mainstay of the folks of this area. I think that there are a lot more human resources to be tapped, and it will be neccessary to cooperate more for survival.
Indie is so right..there is a highly visible younger generation more into the toys of wealth. One hopes that they pass through the allure phase of material wealth and rejoin the community in responsible ways eventually. One hopes.
Eric points out significant changes in demography...
Write an article for the paper on the towns' needs Ernie.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I think that Eric nailed it. There are more "good causes" than there have ever been before in history. More people are volunteering than ever before, but their time is being used up by those other causes. For instance, the Garberville Rodeo and Parade was our big event for the whole year. Now there is something happening every weekend.

We used to make up the fire departments from the local businesses. Back then most people lived near town. now most people live in the hills. But the working people are not allowed the time off to participate in the local fire departments like before.

Carol said...

Thank you, Ernie, for inviting me and Greg to the Garberville Rotary last summer. You have a great group of people to work with, but I can understand that you need more people.

Anonymous said...

suzy blah blah is dumb.

Stop raining on ernies parade. This is his blog, you dont like how he writes dont read it!