Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Oh, the horror"

I promised myself that I wouldn't do this post. I wanted to ignore the annual shamefest that people seem to want to delve into.

Recently Jerry Rohde, a respected North Coast historian, wrote an article and published it in the North Coast Journal, a respected North Coast publication. The article was about what most of us already knew, the early settlers were scoundrels, thieves, murderers, and ne’er do wells. Much like we have here today.

I hate these revelations over what “really” happened in early California history. Certainly there was a genocide of the Indian people. If any of the young people, that advocate anarchy, would just look at California’s history from the 1800s, they could easily see what anarchy is like. Greed corruption, and yes, even genocide will occur. May-the-toughest-thug-win. Lawless conflict will turn even the meekest toward the lawless pursuit of survival.

Few understand the pressures placed upon people when they are put into a lawless environment with the challenge to survive. Many will bluster and act tough, with the hopes of scaring away any challengers. We see it all day long in Southern Humboldt. The people that don’t have law enforcement for protection will stockpile guns and ammunition. Many times, automatic weapon fire is heard echoing down the canyons. Most of the people that I know, that have those weapons, don’t really intend to use them on anybody, but they want anyone that might mess with them to think that they would. Beautiful-little-meek-but-rich-girl Patty Hearst readily grabbed an automatic weapon and helped her captors rob a bank. She did that out of trying to impress her captors that she had value, and to not kill her. It’s called Stockholm syndrome in psychology. But, the issue at hand is the pressure that the people of the 1800s found themselves in.

The “Murdering scum” that the North Coast Journal’s Hank Sims referred to were people like the Kelsey’s. The Kelseys that Kelseyville was named after. Their trip to California was to come over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Kelseys and a man by the name of Bidwell, (Maybe you have heard of him) had hired Indians on several occasions to guide them. The Indian guides that they hired invariably led them into ambush, where they would have been killed if they hadn’t been well armed. They finally abandoned the idea of hiring Indian guides and decided that they would have to make it over the mountains on their own. Mrs. Kelsey was only sixteen years old and had an infant child to care for. In trying to find a path over the mountain they left Mrs. Kelsey behind with their provisions. When they returned they discovered that Indians had stolen most of their provisions while Mrs. Kelsey hid. The Kelseys and Bidwell lived on wild game that they could find. Game was scarce in the high snow covered elevations. They finally made it to the Sacramento Valley in the area of Stockton. They almost starved, and they almost froze to death. On their trip to California they gained a deep and abiding hate of Indians that they kept up until the day that they died. Many more reasons for them to hate Indians came up during their lifespan. It is said that a Kelsey would shoot and Indian just to watch him jump.

These are the kinds of stories that I hate to tell because somebody will always say; “The Kelseys didn’t belong in California anyway”. Like it or not the Kelseys are an important part of California history. They were involved in the Bear Flag Revolt among other things. Mrs. Kelsey, who was the first white woman to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains, was also the one that made California’s first flag. The Bear Flag. Yet, there are people that want to change the name of Kelseyville because the Kelseys killed Indians. There are people that want to change the name of Larabee Valley because Larabee killed Indians. If that were the criteria for changing name of a town, they will have to change the name of all of the towns named after the California Missions, or the Franciscan Monks, including san Francisco, because they all ruthlessly used, and slaughtered, the Indian people.

Jerry Rohde hinted at some of the thuggery that can abound in the absence of law and order. He mentioned the rancher that was killing other ranchers and blaming it on the Indians. Many ranches became part of other ranches that way. It was hard to protect yourself against that kind of person. You had to be on his side, or some value to him, or you might be the next victim. To survive on the north coast you had to be tough as nails, or belong to a group of people that was. Clearly people feared for their lives. They conducted themselves in such a fashion to appear that nobody should mess with them. When the Indians on Indian Island were killed, it was well understood that it was the act of a conspiracy of a large, and tough as nails, group of people. Nobody gave any information about the murders out of fear. Those that said anything probably voiced approval. It wasn’t healthy to go up against the group of thugs. But, I’m also sure that not many in the group really liked what they were doing. Many felt they had no choice. It was clear that the law wasn’t going to help them. They had petitioned many people, many times, to no avail. Yet, many in the group probably didn’t even tell their wives what they had done.

I know many stories about how brutal and ruthless the Indian people could be, and I know many stories about how brutal and ruthless the white man was. The fact remains that it was a failure of law and order that allowed what happened to happen. To say that the Indian owned the west and that the white man was the interloper is ridiculous. The intrusion in the west by the white man wasn’t anymore stoppable than the recent intrusion of the “Newcomers”. The only difference was Law and order. The Newcomer came to the north coast, and law-and-order made him pay for the land. Never mind that the white man “stole it” from the Indian people.

Now, to get to my point of this whole manuscript. What pains me is the need to continually pick the scab of old wounds in the name of “history” or “getting it right”. Sadly, for the later-day-historians, they will never get it right, because there is too much that they don’t and never will know. There are too many stories that will never be told. Stories about rapes and murders and mayhem on both the Indian and white side. If the historians were smart they would listen to the very wise Indian people that say they have forgiven the white people. As indeed, I have forgiven the Indian people for the things that they did to my family. I take the blame and the credit as Hank Sims said that I should. The Indian people and the whites have, for the past 140 years, have lived in peace and harmony. Indeed, they went to the same schools, intermarried, hunted fished and worked together, and have become close friends.

It was the same white settlers, that the later-day-historians claim whipped up the hate against the Indian people, that actually petitioned the Governor, and indeed the President of the United States, to solve the Indian/white conflict. Little or no help came. The Government solution was tantamount to telling the settlers that the Government officials understood that they needed protection, but we're busy right now. The government and law enforcement came too little, too late. It was a failure of government and law-and-order that led to the inevitable chaos that settled the West.

The locals, both white and Indian learned to live together and respect each other long ago. In a lot of cases we are one family. I have many Indian relatives and friends. Usually when an Indian person is outraged about what happened and wants to drag up the past, pick open the scab, and bring back the pain, it is an outsider Indian. Not many locals want to start the fight over. They do not want to bring up who-did-what again.

I’m sick to death about “Oh, the horror” every time the horror is brought up. There was horror enough to go around on both the white and the Indian sides. What I would like to see more of is “Oh, the History” or “Oh, the culture”. I would like to see more of how the Indian people made baskets, or how and why they burned the land to manage the bush and provide new shoots for making baskets. I would like to see more of what Ben Schill recently did. He translated an Indian poem, "Abalone Woman" about how the flint came to the ridge behind Salmon Creek, and how the red marks came to be in the abalone shell. Why a man said “Women don’t like me, only squirrels I will eat”, and he became an eagle. Great and interesting stories, about how the north coast came about according to the Indian Legends. One thing that I’ve always wondered, is how did the Indian people know when to not eat mussels to avoid paralytic shellfish poisoning? So much has been lost and so much time has been wasted on, “Oh, the horror”

I want to see the tales of the horror ended. Too much has not been told, on both sides, to delve into “Oh the horror.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank you Olmanriver.


I think you know that Estle Beard is one of my heroes. Without the book Genocide and Vendeta I wouldn’t have been able to put together the many verbal tales of the settling of the Long Valley and Round Valley into a cohesive story that finally made sense to me. His book dotted the “I” and crossed the “T”. for me.

About midway through the book, it hit me how horribly brutal the settlement of the west was. Just like many nouveau students of north coast history I wondered, why didn’t they just leave the Indian people alone. So I dug through the information that I already knew about my own folks migration west. Many of my own family was killed by Indians on their way to California. My 3G grandfather Cull and his son being among them. I also had a group of relatives that were attacked in Arizona on their way to California, only in that attack they were the survivors. It was my grandfather Middleton that had the Indian sneak down his chimney in the middle of the night. I’ve heard many fabled stories about that.

All of my relatives on my fathers side originate in California in the 1850’s. My 4G Grandfather Benjamin Taylor was a wagon master that brought the Branscombs to California. He owned a ranch in Sonoma County. My 3ggrandfather Benjamin Branscomb worked a ferry in the Marysville area. Then moved to Sonoma county and started a dairy that sold milk to the booming San Francisco area. Only later did they move to Branscomb California and build the small town with their wealth that they accumulated in Sonoma.

Once the migrants headed to California their die was cast. There was no turning back. The further west they came, the more persistent the Indian attacks on the migrants were. At some point the migrants were past the point of no return. They couldn’t turn back to civilization and make it home, and their desperation began. They had to make it to California, where they felt that there would be safety in numbers.

The safety in numbers that they sought turned out to be blood thirsty miners fighting over gold claims. The “civilization” turned out to be disease ridden filth, with little or no organization. The law was mostly by mob rule. ALL of my family members HAD to leave the Sacramento Valley to live. They had no choice.

Not everybody came to California for gold. They had heard about the great fertile land that could grow crops year around. By the 1850s most of the Sacramento Valley was being ranched, and farmed, by thugs and big time thieves and racketeers. Even the great John Sutter had a brutal and shady side to him. My family chose to move to the Laytonville area, to drive their stake and build themselves a life. They had ever reason to believe that the pony soldiers were going to keep the peace.

Little did they know that the very peace that they expecting from the pony soldiers turned out to be quite the opposite. In the attempt the round up the Indian people and put them on reservations, they only scattered them and caused mass starvation amongst them. The Indian people were hungry and bitter. Just like any human will, they turned against the white man and they felt that eating their cattle and horses was inarguably justified. The settlers needed their cattle for survival. Few settlers were in the class of the great cattle barons of the Sacramento Valley. They had what we would nowadays call an old MacDonald farm. The had a few chickens, they had a milk cow, a pig, and maybe a horse or two. The more successful of them had a few head of cattle that they hoped would bring them some prosperity. A few of those were people like Jack Farley, Jeremiah Lambert and Bob Poe.

When Jack Farley brought the high bred horses from Indiana to California he expected to breed and sell them to make his fortune. The people of Long Valley petitioned the Government for protection against Indian depredations. It was about that time that the pony soldiers left, almost completely, to fight the Civil war. Jack Farley and the ranchers of Round Valley were left with little or no protection. Without doing something about the Indian depredation they would have to leave the country. There would be no surviving without their animals and safety. After petitioning the government with little or no response they organized a group to force the Government hand in protecting them. The government authorized groups like the Eel River Rangers to round up the Indian people and put them on reservations. The Rangers only drove the poor Indian people into worse desperation. They fled in mass to the Long Valley, were they had in the past been treated fairly by the local ranchers.

Coincidently to the local Indian people showing up in Long Valley, a group of marauding Modoc Indians showed up from the north. The Indians banded together and started killing the cattle from local ranches. They killed Jack Farley’s horses. He he had most of his money tied up in them. That formed the mindset that the ranchers had to protect themselves. They took the group that they had already formed. They went after the Indians that had driven the horses to Horse Canyon. The Indians had killed the horses and were busy cutting up the meat when Farley and his group found them. There is rumors that I have heard that the ranchers killed hundreds of Indians. If that was true there would have had to have been far more ranchers than the four or five that have been named. There are still many inconsistencies. Among them, the date that this all happened. I have heard many dates, and I’m sure that it happened in the early 1860’s but I’ve never heard an exact date.

I believe that it must have been like the statement from Olmanrivers article said. “I can imagine Uncle Jack on seeing this--I'll bet he had red crosses in both of his eyes”. They started killing the Indians, at first with no remorse, then soon they started dreading the killing, but they went on to kill most of them. At some point they lost their stomach for the fight. They took the remainder of the Indians to the reservation in Covelo and took the babies home with them and raised them as their own children.

I have heard stories that some of the ranchers suffered great remorse for what they had done, but most steadfastly agreed that they had no choice. I also heard that Jack Farley became a great friend of the “Good Indians” and they had taught him their “Medicine”.

This is a compilation of the stories that I have heard and I have told it much as I heard it. Without justification or comment. I made the statement that the historical accounting was as: “The following story is just the fuzzy recollections of a person recalling stories about Uncle Jack.” To some, it was probably one of the best accounting of what really happened. But, I’ve heard many, many stories. Some much more brutal than this telling, and some that claim the Bloody Run was much exaggerated.

With the great respect that I have for Oldmanriver, I still put the story in the category of “one more story”. But, I want to hear all of them. I have deep gratitude for the research that River has done for the Indian People and my family, and the whole Eel River Valley. His research has been far more important to me than even Estle Beard. River has found deep truths, that I would have never have known without him. I most especially want to thank him for the great and kind things that he has done for the local Indian People. Some of us have the great privilege of knowing him personally. All I can say is you would like him. He walks the walk.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Andrew Jackson Farley

I was born and raised in the South Fork of the Eel River canyon. Most of my young life was spent in Laytonville. In 1955 we moved to Garberville where I have spent the rest of my life up until now. I have had the good fortune to have known many people that knew many local history stories. I loved hearing the stories, but I have noticed that all the stories that I have ever heard was different, depending on who was doing the telling. Most of the stories had about five different versions.

Sometimes I would point out that I had heard a different version. Often the person that I was listening to might say; "Who told you that was the way it happened?" If I said "John" told me, the answer was always "well you know John, you can't believe a thing he says." Or "Fred" or "Jake" or "Lafe". All the names I mention were made up, but you get the idea. Whoever was doing the telling was certain that they had heard, and was telling, the only true version of what “really” happened.

Some where in the back of all these stories is the truth. I soon learned that if I wanted to hear all the stories, I had to listen like it was The-God's-Honest-Truth. It never did me any good to shut somebody down, or point out a “lie”. That seemed to be a good way to never hear another story. I always tried to get my story tellers away from everybody else. Especially away from the girls in my family. The girls always to like to point out that they knew better than what was being told, and that would be the end of sometimes a great and epic tale. There is no wetter blanket on a story than some of the girls in my family... and... maybe a few of the boys.

I ended up having heard most all of the versions of every story, because all of the old story tellers knew that I hung on every word that they said, and that I absolutely, unconditionally believed the stories. Which I really did. I always understood that there was a logical explanation for the differences in a story.

As I said, I've heard about five different versions of every story. With “Uncle Jack Farley” I've heard about ten different versions of his life history. He was a man that cut a wide swath. The following story is just the fuzzy recollections of a person recalling stories about Uncle Jack. This is the kind of story that I love to hear, and it adds a dimension to the things that I all ready know.

I've come to think of the stories that I've heard as “Bullshistory”, because you can't totally believe them and you would be a great fool to base any kind of an opinion on them other than something important happened back then, but we will never know the truth. I've said it many times and I will say it again. “We can't judge people back then with todays standards”. We know about them because they survived. We don't know about my 3great Grandfather Cull because he and his son disappeared on their way to California, about the same time that Jack Farley was headed out here.

Another thing that I often say is “I don't know the true history, but I know where the bodies are buried.” and I used to know who to ask.

The photo below is a photo of the headstone of  “Uncle Jack”, Andrew Jackson Farley. His headstone reads: “Andrew Jackson Farley” “Died April 11th 1908” “Aged 104 years” “Pioneer of 49”

As you might guess, I truly do know where most of the bodies are buried. Maybe the only true thing that I do know.

The following story is from the Mendocino Historical Bulletin. My friend "Olmanriver" found it and emailed it to me. I would really like you to know "Olmanriver", he is a great researcher, and has provided me with many new stories about the South Fork Canyon and my checkered history. But alas, he wishes to remain anonymous.

The story is a little crude in the telling and the spelling, but what you see is what you get. The notes in maroon are mine.

Photo by: Janis Branscomb

He was a pioneer of 1848 and came to California by way of Bakersfield. He and a companion were scouts for the party. They had agreed to be back in camp on a Friday night, Only Uncle Jack showed up. They waited all day Saturday, and on Sunday went look­ing for the other man. They found he had been scalped by the In­dians. Up to this time they had been trying to get along with the Indians. After that Uncle Jack said he would kill 25 Indians to get even for the one scout they had killed.

I did not hear of any other Indians being killed on the rest of the trip. They did not starve like the Donner party, but were awfully hungry.

They came upon a cow which they killed and ate. The cow be­longed to the Spanish and they got caught with it. The Spaniards made them work out the price of the cow and more,

Jack got to California just after the gold strike. He mined at Placerville, or Hangtown, as it was known then. In 1849 he went to Willits, then to Napa, 1859 and 1861 found him in Auburn and Oroville. In 1851 he was in Trinity County, All of these trips were made in good weather, and he would stay in Napa for the winter.

The trip from Trinity County was a long one, so he decided there was a closer way. In 1852 he came by the way of Covelo, do down the river to Dos Rios, over the hill to Long Valley, When saw that valley, he fell in love with it.

I don't know how patents worked, but he had a patent on the property, dated 1855, I think he had to mark out his property, build his house, and it was his.

Now back to the mining in Trinity County, He had a dog who was always with him. This dog could smell trouble a mile away and would let him know.

The Indians up that way were under "Happy Jack," a half-breed. He was a lot meaner than a full-breed. He stirred up what we call the Modocs and wanted them to kill all the miners. He sent about three or four Indians up each creek, killing and scalping the miners. When his dog let him know that the Indians were coming, he would get behind a tree and wait,

Uncle Jack called his gun "Old Meat in the Pot," He also had a six-shooter. Both were cap and ball. He would shoot one Indian with his rifle and the rest with his six-shooter. He scalped them because -the Indians believed that a scalped Indian could not go to the- Happy Hunting Ground, This happened two years in a row. Af­ter burying all the miners, he would get out before they found what.-, had happened.
On his way out he found a ledge of quartz, just full of gold. He broke off several chunks-and put them in his saddle bag. We had a piece at the ranch when I was a kid. I don't know what hap­pened to it, but the 1 1/2" square piece had a least an ounce in it). It was five years before they got the Indians out of there and put them on an island in Tule Lake, He went back looking for that ledge, but he never found it. He went almost crazy trying to find it again,

Being a horse lover he went hick to Indiana and got an Arab­ian stallion,a Palomino with flaxen mane and tail, as well as five good mares. He planned on raising some good horses. He paid over $5000 for them.
All of this travelling was on horseback. After he returned, one evening he went out to look at his horses and could not find them. The next day he tracked them over the hill and down into what is now called Horse Hollow. There he found them killed, dry­ing. Being alone, he went back to Long Valley and got a lot of help to punish the Indians and put them on the reservation at Covelo’

These Indians were Yukis and Tatus. They were not the same as the local Indians; they were Kaza-pomos, but not true Pomo. They spoke Athabascan language, and had already made their peace with the whites and had begged them not to kill them when the white man's stock disappeared,
Uncle Jack got all the people in Long Valley who had lost stock. He was a captain and I was led to believe that he went to Fort Bragg and got the soldiers, but thanks to Estle Beard, I have found out the truth. William Frazier was a Lieutenant. The others were J. P, Simpson, Jeremiah Lambert, B. S, Burns, Robert Poe, Woodman and W. H. Cole, and probably others. They had all lost cattle. They decided to put the Indians on the reservation in Covelo.

(Jeremiah Lambert was my 3G grandfather, Robert Poe was My 3G grandfather, I believe that Kym Kemp might know who W.H. Cole is.

B.S. Burns adopted "Foxy" Burns.  Foxy was an Indian that was an infant at the time of the Bloody Run Massacre. B.S. Burns took foxy home in a gunny-sack strapped to the saddle horn of his horse. Foxy was raised and educated by the Burns family, and to my knowledge he was treated as one of the family.

My 3G grandfather Poe adopted two Indian Children. I'm not sure if it was one or two children, but I know that one of the Indian children got into the grainery and ate so much grain that it killed him.

I have a relative that was raped by two Indian men. The men were tracked down and hung. I have more to that story but some things don't need to be told. 

There is no truth to the story that Indian children were kept mostly as slaves, at least not occording to the stories that I've heard about the Laytonville area. Most of the adopted Indian children were treated as well as any of the other children. I should add that all children were raised with a very firm hand back then. People today would certainly claim that it was child abuse. Again, I will have to place this under the heading of Bullshistory. The stories that I've heard certainly paint a fine picture of the early pioneers, but I'm sure that they weren't saints.)

They went out to Horse Hollow and found the Indians had moved. The men tracked them down across outlet Creek and up over the hill to the Eden Valley side.

It was late when they came upon them and decided to wait until morning. They camped about a mile away from the Indians. During the night a cold wind came up and the Indians moved to the Outlet Creek side of the mountain. When the men awakened the next morn­ing and found out what had happened, they tracked them back over the hill and found them camped on a creek. They slipped up on them. The Indians were still sleeping. The first one out was the chief, and on his belt hung the flaxen-colored tail of Farley's stallion. (I can imagine Uncle Jack on seeing this--I'll bet he had red crosses in both of his eyes). He shot the Indian in the belly to get even for that trip back East to get the horses than having the Indians kill them. This shot woke them all up and they came out fighting. I have heard that they killed two or three hundred. They did kill 37 bucks and two squaws, captured 17 and put them on the reservation.

-I have heard how the battle of Bloody Run got its name. Some say it was horse blood, from washing the meat.I know better. This chief stumbled over into the creek and all the wounded too, as it was downhill and that is how Bloody Run got its name. Even after the railroad was built and later, when student doctors from U.Co would go up there to find skeletons and take them back to U.C. where they would assemble them.
Another time, just after this, Uncle Jack was out looking for his stock. There were no fences, so they roamed wherever the best food was. He was riding down Cherry Creek with "old meat in the pot" across his saddle in front of him. All at once an arrow hit his cantle, just in front of him. Looking to see where it came from he discovered an Indian under a manzanita bush, lying oil his back with his bow across his front. At that time he was reaching for another arrow. "Old meat" was pointed was toward the Indian. Uncle Jack pulled the trigger and caught the buck lengthwise. It made him mad, he killed the Indian and scalped him, cut the skin off of his back and tanned it.

I know he made a knife scabbard out of it, and maybe a razor strop. The San Francisco Examiner, January 29, 1895 said that he also covered a chair with it. I do not believe it. He was not that gruesome. However, The Examiner had a picture of him sitting in his chair with the 25 scalps hanging on the wall.
Uncle Jack died in 1908. The inscription on his headstone read that he was born in 1804. There is a nice iron fence around his grave that he claimed to have owed his long life to being friends with the local Indians and learning all of their medecines.

I've heard stories about Uncle Jack that made him sound like the greatest man that ever walked the face of the Earth, that he was the epitome of charcter, that his word was as good as gold, a man to be looked up to. Others say that he was a monster worse that Hannibal Lecter. One thing that is undeniable, He survived! For 104 years!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Doing laundry.

In the business world there is a term for cleaning up things that have been hanging out there to long and need to be dealt with. Like dirty laundry that has been in the hamper too long, It begans to smell. So every now and then a business will do what is called "doing laundry". And they will deal with things that are long over-do, like a blog post.

There is a rumor out there that I'm remodling the store, and building new check stands. Every now and then, I see a friendly familiar face poke in the front door to make sure that I'm busy. The news seems to end up back on my blog that, sure enough, I'm building something. Others speculate that I'm on vacation.

Oregon wrote:
”If Ernie is building something you can take my word for it, he is on vacation.”

Oregon knows me all to well. There is nothing quite as much fun as building something. Oregon and I built many things together as kids, he went on to be a world class saw-filer, and I went on to be a refrigeration guy.

You city folks probably don't know this, but the saw filer is the guy that makes a sawmill run. Whether the mill makes or loses money depends on how good the saw-filer does his job. Being a saw filer is the most important job in the mill. If you don't believe me, you should see how many fingers are pointing at the saw-filer if production drops off. But, of course, all fingers are pointing at themselves if things are going smooth.

I spent a lot of time with Oregon as a kid. I have to say that I've never enjoyed working with anybody as much as I enjoyed working with him. He always knew what I want wanted, before I knew myself. He'd be right there doing it for you, or showing you what was needed. We never needed to talk out loud to be able to communicate, which is a great quality in the places that we worked. "The woods" is not a quiet place.

One time behind Eureka, he and I were building a logging road. There was a big old-growth redwood stump on a point that the road had to go around. I was on the top end of the stump with a Cat, cutting the roots and soil down around it and pushing it off below. As I cut the dirt down I was pushing it around the stump down to Oregon. He was on another Cat, pushing the dirt down over the hill below, to become the foot of the road. Once I got all of the roots cut. I was going to come down off the hill. I looked below me to see that he had cut the dirt out from under me, and I was on top of about a six-foot drop off. I looked over at him to try to figure out what the heck he was doing. He had a great big grin on his face. I had to build a new road off my stump.
He thinks that's called a sense of humor!

I often see that bumper sticker that says; "If you can read this, thank a teacher". Fair enough, but there should be another bumper sticker that says: "If you live in a house, thank a logger:.

Don't you people fool yourselves, I've been following every word here.

Now, I've got a quiz for you. I have included a few photos of a redwood tree that was recently trimmed downtown. The question is; did they kill this tree by cutting off all the limbs???

I knew the lady that planted that tree, she was Mrs. Tucker, Ted Tuckers Mom, Bruce Tuckers grandmother. The tree was planted in the side yard of her house that stood where the back part of the Gitty-up Coffee Stand is. I wonder what she would say if she knew what happened to her beautiful tree.

The tree has some history in Garberville. Several times in years past it has been gloriously decorated as the town Christmas Tree. The top blew out of it a few years ago, fortunately, nobody was killed. After that, a couple of years ago a whirlwind went through town about 6:00 am. A limb from that tree broke the TV antenna on top of our store, over two-hundred yards away. Again, nobody was killed. The owner of the tree wisely decided to trim it.

Recently a rash of business owners have decided to remove the redwoods downtown. The trees were causing damage to the buildings and were endangering anyone near them in the wind. As you know, city folks expect to be taken care of. So if a limb kills them, they always try to blame somebody else. But, the same people are out there hugging these trees, trying to save them. Bear in mind, all of these trees were planted in my lifetime. Sadly, there was such a fuss about what could, or could not, be done to these trees that the property owners took them clear out. They didn't simply trim them, like they might have done if there hadn't been the pressure to “save them.” Sad how things work out isn't it?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Band of Brothers.

I’ve often said that I can’t imagine a world where I would be bored, or have nothing to do. It seems to me that the world is a most interesting place. I know, that I make it sound like I drink a lot, but I don’t. I never drink in the middle of the day, and I never have more than one drink in the evening, that is if I can remember to have one. I can’t stand the thought that something interesting might happen, and I would be out of it. I would never even try Marijuana. Not even after having heard the hoard sing the praises of the glorious weed. I just don’t think that it could improve me in any way.

What would happen if a 747 aircraft had to make an emergency landing on the freeway? There I would be, stuck at home, because I would not be allowed to respond as a medical first responder if I was drunk. I have a friend who says; “I don’t want you to have a disaster, but if you do, I want to be prepared, and I want to be there to help you.” I fully understand that thought, and I would like to keep myself prepared, for the same reasons.

There is a real feeling of accomplishment to be part of a team that works well together and accomplishes the things that need to be accomplished. There is a feeling among first responders that can only be described as “esprit de corps”. We work well together, we train together, and accomplish together. Seldom does political influences enter our thoughts.

I try to avoid literary offshoots into big words and vague concepts, but sometimes the place that you find yourself allows no other descriptions. I read a lot, and I try to understand the things that I read. I try to keep an open mind and be objective. Seldom do I make a stand on any controversial issue. I’ve been warned that “being in the middle of the road will only get you run over”, but most times I can clearly see that there is more than one side to any issue. As I said, I read a lot, sometimes I think that I read, and think about things, too much. I often feel that I have understanding of things that others fail to even look at, or consider.

Years ago, I decided that I would see if I could understand William Shakespeare. There seemed to be a consensus amongst well-read people that he was one of the greatest writers that ever lived. So, I decided that I would read a few lines and try to understand them. Sometimes I would spend an hour trying to understand a single paragraph. Fortunately, there is a lot of things on the Internet to help you understand what he was saying. I read a lot of foolish girlie poems that didn’t impress me much, but soon I started to see the humor that he could stir in even the most silly moment. I started reading the more manly-man stuff, and more of what he had to say really resonated with the way that I think.

Firefighters often refer to themselves as “brothers” I thought that it had something to do with religion, but I later found out that it was from Shakespeare’s King Henry the fifth, so I became particularly interested in the St. Crispen’s Day Speech. I started with; “We few, We happy few, We band of brothers”. Okay, at least I knew where the expression came from, but I was still confused as to why they would call themselves “Brothers”. I went on the read the next part; “For he to-day that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother”. Whoa... Blood? Whatever they were doing together must have been important, shedding blood over anything sounds like serious commitment. I thought a lot about that. So, I started at the top of the Saint Crispen's Day Speech. It starts with;

WESTMORELAND to King Henry V. “O that we now had here
    But one ten thousand of those men in England
    That do no work to-day!”

I read that to mean that Westmoreland thought that they needed a LOT of help.

The King had taken his troops across the English Channel into France, with the goal of taking back the land that the French had taken from England. The King and his troops had landed on shore, tired and seasick, many had dysentery. The troops were in no frame of mind, or body, to do battle. The English were greatly outnumbered, and were going to have to fight battle-ready French troops. If King Henry V stood any chance at all, he would have to stir the emotions of his troops to be willing to fight valiantly and successfully.

He mounted a rock in front of his troops and he said;

“What's he that wishes so?
    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
    If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.”

Now, if you take that apart and put it back together, it is a very good start to a rousing speech. What he said is simply:

“We may die here, if we are to die, let's get on with it. But, if we do this battle and live, we will have all of the glory for ourselves.

The fewer to share our glory, the more glorious our deed will become. Who would wish for more men?

I don't wish for wealth in the form of gold. Nor do I care who eats at my expense, I don't care who wears the clothes that I buy. Such outward things mean nothing too me.

But, if it is a sin to seek honor. I am the most sinful soul alive.”

Pretty good start, don't you think? Then he continues:

“No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man's company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.

The King goes on to make his point that he doesn't wish to share the honor with those who feared to join in the battle.

He says that the men that didn't have the courage to join in the fight should not be allowed to share in their glory.

He goes one to say, if there is any still any among them that doesn't want to fight this battle, to say so now, and he will by sent away, and that the King will even pay the expense for him to leave.

He is adamant that the person that fears to die amongst them, fighting for the same cause, shall not have the honor of fighting with such brave men.

“This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.”

Crispian's day is a similar holiday to our Thanksgiving, which has nothing to do with the fight, but it will become an anniversary to remember the fight that they had there in France.

He that makes it safely through the fight, and gets home again, will be proud of what they did in France. And they will peel back their sleeves and proudly display their scars.

“Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he'll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”

Old men forget, and eventually all things will be forgotten, but while we still remember, we will remember proudly that we fought and won the battle on Saint Crispins Day. All the names of the valiant soldiers will be remembered and named aloud. Every man shall teach his son, and it should be remembered until the end of the world, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he, today, that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother.

He closes with: Those that didn't fight with us, will think of themselves as cursed for not fighting the honorable fight, and indeed, will not be able to think of themselves as men.

It almost makes you want to be part of something glorious doesn't it? As I look back on my career as a firefighter, because I kept myself trained and sober, I have been to most all of the big events in the Garberville Redway area. It hasn't always been fun. But, I've been to some pretty amazing happenings. Happenings too numerous to remember. Some of the highlights are: I was at the Garberville Fire Hall/ Mateel Community Center/ Blue Star gas plant fire. (all one fire). I was at the Southern Humboldt Building Service/Branding Iron Bar fire. I was at the Trees Restaurant/Branding Iron Bar fire. (Yes the Branding Iron burned twice) I was at the One Log House fire. I was at the major propane leak in Redway. I've been to many plane crashes, and many more car crashes. I've been part of a team that has saved many lives and much property.

It's very rewarding to have the younger firefighters ask me about the “big ones”. We all sit around and play “what if”. Like in, “what would you do if you were the only one on the scene of a fire, and you had to make the decision to enter the fire alone? What would you do? There is no one pat-answer. So, there is the rule book, and there is reality. Sometimes nothing you can do is really right. Usually you have your “brothers" to help you make those decisions.” My life has been saved more than once by “my brothers” so a person forms a pretty close bond in the “Band of Brothers”.

But, it is always fun to sit around the fire pit at the Redway Fire Department Barbecue, our own little Saint Crispens Day, strip our sleeves, show our scars, and remember the “big ones” that we have been to.

Reading Shakespeare has helped me understand some of the feelings that people that work closely together in a serious manner have for each other. Knowing the bond that the firefighters have formed for each other also helps me to understand the bond that soldiers form for each other. I know in my heart that the soldiers that work together become "Brothers" even moreso than their own true brothers. The bond that they form helps them see through "the fog of war". (I went on here for a while, but decided to back out of it. I think that you can appreciate our soldiers in your own fashion, without my help.)

Anyway, I hope that some of you will pick out some great literary work and try to understand a little bit of it. Most of it didn't become great for no reason. It can be interesting. Have somebody recommend some good stuff for you. There is still a lot of winter left, and it will help pass the time......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Strange occurances.

Well, this post is going to be a little hard to follow, unless you are one whom normally tries to follow this blog. Then you will know that it leads nowhere, but it does so in a random fashion.

As you know, at least those that follow this blog know, I look forward to the comments that are posted here. I find that the comments are far more interesting to me than the stuff that I write. Maybe that’s because I already know the stuff that I write about. Are you following me so far?

I’ve never cared what people say here, as long as it was not mean to someone else, or completely filthy and disgusting, I even let filthy and disgusting slip by as long as it’s done in good taste.

Back when I was trying to be a sports fan, I followed the San Francisco Giants, and the Forty-niners. They would be doing mediocre-good, until I would take the time to watch a game, then it seemed to me that they would invariably lose. I got to the point that I wouldn’t watch the game, because I felt that I was jinxing them to watch. Finally, I figured out that I couldn’t be a very good sports fan if I refused to watch the game because I felt that my mere watching was causing then harm. So, if your team is doing real good right now, it’s because I’m not watching them.

I had to laugh at Bunny for thinking that she was “closing” the conversation by making a comment. I’ve felt that way myself several times. A blog would be moving right along with lots of comments, then I would add something, and all of a sudden it would end, and my comment would just be left hanging there. I would always wonder if it was something that I said, or the way I said it, that just chased everybody away. So, I feel compelled to tell Bunny that; No, you are not a “closer“. Please keep commenting, I enjoy your input.

Spyrock is busy defending his drug of choice, Diet Pepsi. I got a kick out of that. We all rabidly defend our favorite addiction. Mine seems to have become coffee. We have a very good coffee roaster in Redway, so I can enjoy good fresh coffee every morning. I’m sure that I wouldn’t make it through the day without it. Whenever I go to a strange town and want a cup of coffee, I ask the kid behind the counter at the coffee stand if they have any real coffee. They always look at me like I’m nuts, and say, “yes sir, we have a double-moca-frapaccino-decaf-deluxe for only $7.95. I usually just walk away, because I know that if I say anything that I’ll just get mad. But, through the years, I’ve discovered that I like the things that are good for me. I just instinctively know… I’ve always liked just a little REAL butter on things, while everyone else was scolding me about animal fats, and how much better the imitation butter crap was for you. Those of you that read a lot know that a little real butter is better for your health than the other hard margarines. See? My body knew that! Just like Spy knows what’s good for him. I think that “moderation in all things” is a good philosophy.

I get a big kick out of the old guys that have fallen head over heels in love with Suzy Blah Blah. Get over it boys, she’s much to smart for you! She’s the only one that knows the key to puzzle that unlocks the hole to China.

My life has been real busy lately, we are remodeling the Radio Shack store which if proving to be great fun for me. I like building things. Today we cut, split, hauled and stacked two and a half cords of Madrone for the Redway Fire Department barbecue this Memorial Day Saturday.

But, just because I’ve been busy is no reason not to keep posting here. I always take the time to read, even when sometimes my fingers won’t poke the keyboard.

Have you noticed any interesting happenings lately?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


As you know, I have a lot of photographer friends. Who is the better of them would be impossible to determine. Each is talented in their own way. All seem incredibly talented to my simple eye. Kim Sallaway is an outstanding photographer. I've gone to a few photography shows before, like the exhibit at the Humboldt County Fair. I never seem to agree with the judges as to who is the best, so I'm not sure if my taste is so much better than the judges, or worse. But, just like all critics, I know what I like.

The thing that I always notice about Kim Sallaway's photography is that I can never just glance at one of his photos and move on. I always seem to stare at them a while, and see where it will take my eyes. I put a few up here for you. See if you can see what I mean.

The top photo is a picture of Shelter cove from the north. I was so fascinated by the sunlit green wave with the foam on the top, that I called him to see if he had photo-shopped it. He assured me that it was a “Straight up, straight shot. No photo-shop”. If you place your hand over the buildings on the left, the wave becomes a grassy mountain with a snow cap. I spent a while doing that. I know that I'm easily entertained, but it amazes me how Kim always seems to evoke my curiosity.

One thing that Kim often mentions is; “We live in the most beautiful place in the world”. He should know he traveled most of it.

Fred "Coyote" Downey. Local Indian Elder

Did it take you a while to look at everything??? I thought so.
This is a link to Kim's photo sight


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I was working out on the store loading dock today, and I was using a pallet for a saw horse. I assume that the pallet was made in China, because what is not these days. At first, I didn't pay any attention to the spelling, because my poorly functioning brain doesn't pick up on typos all that good. After I looked at it a bit and saw what it said, I thought maybe it really was some kind of a word, but I finally decided that it was probably a typo.

I got to wondering; if something was important enough to label, wouldn't it be important enough to check the spelling, so the meaning wouldn't be lost? One of my favorite phrases is “if you know what they meant to say it's close enough”. The label on this pallet wasn't close enough to being right that it was clear to me what it meant to say. So it failed the clarity test.

I often don't know whether to laugh or cry over some of the Chinese/English translations. In many cases, it just gets too sloppy to understand.

So, I got to thinking, maybe the pallet really was RESUABLE, and not REUSABLE. Maybe, if I didn't like their spelling, and sued them over their lack of common diligence and lost, I could re-sue them, because the pallet clearly states that it is “RESUABLE”.