The Door

(August 1977)

The door knob is dented.
The door is closed,
Waiting to be opened.
It remains darkened
And musty behind it.

It is opened.
Clothes hanging,
All well used.
Coats and jackets.
And books.

Cramped and dusty;
An old grads’ gown.
And more books,
About years gone-by.
Moments and memories.

An American flag;
Holes and tatters.
Broken high-heel shoe.
Stamps from 20 years ago.
And an old shoe-shine kit.

Pictures of people not remembered,
Letters someone had forgotten.
An moths.
And old moth balls
Both powdered away.

Old loves,
And future lives.
Echoing the past,
Calling the future.
Living storage.

Locked Out

“Open the door,” Adam yelled, “Before I smash it in!” He stood on the outside of the trailer after I had tricked him into stepping outside to fight.

Within minutes we heard him get in his car and drive away. By that time though the meal was completely ruined as the dinner table had been turned upside down and nobody felt like eating anyway.

“Is your knee okay?” Mom asked me. She had noticed that I hobble over to the counter as soon as Adam drove off.

“Yeah, but he stomped on top of my foot,” I answered.

I was sitting down on the sofa by then pulling the boot off my right foot. Adam had tried to step on my right knee but I had been just quick enough to dodge the blow yet slow enough to get myself severely stomped on.

I looked as Mom and Del, asking them, “Are you guys okay?”

Del replied, “Yup.”

He had taken the main blow from the table as Adam flipped it over. He managed to jump up and step in front of Mom as the heavy oak top came crashing downward where she had been sitting. It bounced off of his back and onto the ground as Adam and I prepared to duke it out.

“How about you, Kyle?” Grandma asked as she looked at her grandson.

He didn’t say anything but rather shook his head that he was okay.

Then I said, “I’m sorry about all this.”

“No need to apologize,” replied Del. Then he added, “You were in the right asking him not to use that language.”

He was talking about the fact that Adam had been using the “F-word” in front of his four year old nephew while at the dinner table.

I reflected back to a few minutes ago, “Adam, please don’t say that in front of Kyle.”

He had asked his brother twice before not to say that particular word because he was certain the child would go home and say it in front of his mother.

On the third request Adam exploded and lifting the table up to get at me. It flipped over nearly injuring Mom.

He attacked me by trying to break my knee, missing it by a fraction but smashing my foot. He continued to rush after me until I ended up inviting him outside.

Once Adam stepped outside, I closed the sliding glass door and locked it. It was the only way I could think to get him out of the house without tearing our parent’s home apart.

Kayaking the Smith

(August 1977)

White water.
Ice water
And rocks.

And small,
Bouncing the little kayak.
Throwing it about.

Then up again.
In tormented waters
And hidden rocks.

Dashing in the water.
Rolling the raft about.

It’s done.
Thank God!
The kayak is gone,
Fractured and disappeared.
But you have survived.

Michelle’s Doll

(July 1977)

Blond hair;
Knotted and snarled.
Blue eyes,
Only one leg.
Thirteen years old.

Her doll;
Since she was two.
It’s no good.
But it’s highly prized.
Memorable value.

She says she’ll throw it away,
But she won’t.
She can’t.
It hurts to much.
Throw out a piece of life?

All smiles.
The feedings,
Rocking it to sleep.
Feeling foolish over it.

Thirteen years old
And still around.
A lot of time.
Yet jus’ a lovable,
Even with only one leg.

Down On the Pier

(July 1977)

Past the gate,
Up the walk way.
Advancing slowly.

Her and I.
Hand in hand.
Watching the sea,
As well as each other.

Crashing over the wall.
Spraying us.
But we don’t care.

In the distance,
begging gulls.
As they take flight.

The end-most of the pier.
We sit on the edge.
Watching a busy world.
It passes
And we don’t care.

The Dissidents

(May 1977)

As well as Jewish.
International pawns.
Pawns in a game.

Olympians they are not.
A deadly game;
Not a sport.

Against their nation.
Eight hard years
And more.

The world is shocked.
Human rights rejected.
People will rally;
Praying for freedom.

Freedom fighters?
Without weapons,
Yet dying
An uncertain death.

The Cracked Windshield

It happened somewhere around Santee, California. I am not certain, because I was actually lost.

It had been a number of years since I had driven those freeways in southern California and I missed an exit and long before I knew it I was miles off course. I ended up with a large crack in my windshield.

I had to live with that crack for a month before my insurance could take care of it.

For a month! It started to wear on me.

Everyday I went out to my truck to go to work and there it would be. However, it also caused me to think.

It made me realize was living a life of routine. I had gotten lost on the highway, taken the wrong turn so to speak and ended up with damage to my truck.

This took me out of my comfort zone. If I apply that to my life it would be the same and it made me uncomfortable and I did not like it.

That is what was really bothering me about the crack. Many times in my life I have ventured down life’s highway, gotten lost and found myself in a position of physical, emotional or spiritual damage.

It was time for me to learn from that cracked windshield.

There was simple beauty to be had in it if I just opened my heart up to it. Then it occurred to me that during his short three and a half year ministry Jesus Christ spent much of his time devoted to the healing of the sick and the lame.

In fact in Matthew 9:11-12, “…Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

We are all sick, because we are all sinners. There is only one who has ever been perfect and he died so that cracked windshields like you and me could find salvation not our comfort zones.

The So-called Seperation

For years we have heard how the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution separates church and state. This is not true.

The First Amendment reads in part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is interesting to note that the sentence is constructed in very specific language aimed directly at Congress and not the .states or the judiciary.

However, today it appears more and more that the First Amendment is being tested in the courts system at the state level.

Historically, this amendment was written to prevent a creation of a national church run by the government like the types that exist today countries such as England. There the parliament approves the bishops and other clergy members as designated by her royal majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Even their Book of Common Prayer cannot be changed without the approval of parliament.

France removed nationalized religion during the French Revolution, by severing ties with the Roman Catholic Church . Many heads were severed during this time period as well in the name of religious purging.

Prior to 1790, it was viewed ‘that the Congregational Church was the ‘official ‘ church of the Thirteen Colonies; however this came to an end with the ratification of the First Amendment. And it remained that way until after World War II, when a constitutional battle arose over the use of public funds for transporting children to and from parochial school.

Then in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that bible reading and classroom prayer violated the First Amendment and had to be stopped. At the time reading from the bible and classroom prayer were considered commonplace throughout the United States and had been upheld by the lower courts of a majority of states where it had been first challenged.

Today, the battle not only includes prayer in our schools, but there is a challenge before the courts to remove our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ from our currency, to remove ‘Under God’ from our Pledge of Allegiance and just recently the Ten Commandments on a monument in a state building was ordered removed by a Federal Judge .

According to James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”

Jus’ for perspective, these cases are being decided by the courts and are in no way being infringed upon by Congress.

The Old Man Longs

(July 1996)

I can’t help but get all jacked
Up when I look back
To see what I’ve become
With things said or done.
An’ how each season
Brings on new meaning
An new reason.

Time’s an endless set of cycle
That Mother Nature won’t forget
Dry or wet,
Rain or shine,
Where time and season
Have no boundary line.

Man can fly high above a cloud
But he still can make a cloud
In a cloudless sky.
So why do we sit an’ worry,
What is our hurry?
We live,
We die.

That’s why this old man longs
For the cattle and their song
On trail way up high
Within the open sky
Never so free have I been
In life
Like I am nearin’ death.

Midas Fever

(May 1977)

Yellow bits of metal.
And shining.
Everyone likes it
And all want it.

Wash gold;
The vein still hidden.
Hard work.
And sluicing.

Four months,
Allowed for dredging.
Mother lode.
Troy ounce.
Twelve to the pound.

Sore arms
And tired back.
A shovel
And a pick-ax.

Still nothing.
Still dredging
And digging.
The pains
And the sorrow.

All for what?
A few flakes of gold.
Keep trying.
Don’t give up.
Mother lode to find.

Jetting the Klamath

(August 1976)

Damp morning air,
It fills my nostrils.
Running water,
It fills my hearing.
And she fills my mind.

We are together,
In nature.
The boat is launched.
With grace.

The wind;
Cold and wet.
Yet refreshing.
We huddle
beneath our yellow blanket.

Keeping warm.
Foggy morning mist.
The hills;
Rocky banks,
Running into the river.

And fishermen.
The next bend
And the clouds break.

We remove our blanket
As well as our coats.
A lovely day.

No clouds.
The river is peaceful.
A gentle lull.
The water rushing passed
And the steady hum of engine.

A cormorant.
And gulls.
A blue egret.
The Kingfisher.

My arm around her.
She smiles gently.
The sun on her face.
Black hair
And delicate dimple.

The boat docks.
Sand under foot.
Bags in hand;
On the veranda.

Only in the shade.
But who cares.
Not us.

We skip flat stones;
Hopping across the river.
She splashes me.
I threaten to dunk her,
But I don’t.

Again to the boat.
Time to leave.
And happiness.

The return is quicker.
She’s tired.
I’m tired.
My arm around her.
Her head on my shoulder.

Under the Klamath Bridge.
Our Golden Gate
With big boats beneath it.
The journey is ending.
Home once again.

There’s a nostalgic memory.
Of her and I.
A cruise.
A romantic day
And ourselves.

Beach Walking

(August 1976)

The waves.
Sand between your toes.
Salty air
And sea water.

Pebbles on the shore
And an occasional shell.
The soft breeze,
With mist
And the roar.

Smiling faces
And sunburns.
And beach balls
And running children.

A seagull.
The otters,
Looking for shellfish.
Playing in the waves
And tidal pools.

The driftwood;
Lying still on the sand.
A scurrying crab,
Dashing along sideways.

And periwinkles.

National Annus Vertere

(July 1976)

The parade.
Decorated cars.
Fire trucks.
The Crowd.

And the laughter.
The fire cracker
A smoke bomb.
The children.

And soldiers.
Games to play.
The booths.
A logging show.

And other colors too.

Like a clap of thunder;
The sound of rockets,
In flight.
O can you see
By the dawns early light.

A nation.
Newly formed.
A struggle to survive.
And the flag,
Still flying.

Peeking Across the Fence

(July 1975)

Crane the neck.
Look up.
Over the fence.
The eye’s see,
As the nose pops over the edge.

Look there!
Someone comes.
A trailer Dweller.
The neighbor walking the dog.
The dog does its thing.

Jus’ gawking.
Seeing nothing important.
Feeling dumb.

Again the neck cranes.
Look up;
Look over the fence.
It’s a couple of girls.
Nothing important?!

But the walk off.
Never noticing.
Passing by.
Jus’ visiting.
Oh well…

A Leadership Guide

While at work it has occurred to me that I am lacking in leadership skills. With that in mind decided to sit down with my bible and start compiling a guide of what makes a great leader.

1. “…If anyone wants to be first , he must be last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Learn to serve to become a great leader. One . key element to any successful leader, whether it is a person of the church, a company or a household, is that they must learn how to serve the people they work with. Many times a CEO will look at his or her position as the head of the company, they cannot see themselves as the main service provider for their employee. Serve with humility .

2. “Simply, let your ‘Yes ‘be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’  ‘No ‘…” (Matthew 5:37) ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is a complete sentence and requires no explanation. It is a natural to justify why a decision has been made, yet it is completely unneeded. If you say ‘No’ and keep moving them or return to your work if you are stuck behind a desk, then the answer is sufficient.  Parents with children take note: You are the parent and your word is law, period you say ‘No’ and keep moving them or return to your work if you are stuck behind a desk, then the answer is sufficient.

3. “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he nuts it on the stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 11:33) Be the light that shines. When you come to work and you have a spring in your step and you’ are whistling a happy tune and you are doing the same when you leave, it is infectious. Pretty soon everyone wants some of the same.

4. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Be aware of individuals, companies and corporations that place profit ahead of people or principles. It has been said time and again, ‘The customer is always right. ‘ Outwardly this may appear to be good customer service, however customer service is both internal and external. Employees are the internal customers that a strong personal leader serves. In the long run though, the ‘Customer is always right’ theory fails because it considers only the profit margin, the bottom-line, and the greed factor.

5. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:15) Conflict resolution is an overlooked communication process that can provide both individuals and companies with employees that trust one another. Yet it is often avoided because is appears to too difficult a process to develop and follow through on.

6. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)Whisper if you wish to make a point. Time and a again, co-workers, husbands and wives, friends find themselves angry over something and before he or she realize it, that anger has turned into words that cannot be taken back. A smile and good manners will help over come the possibility of a real disagreement.

7. “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1) Setting aside the rules for one person or a group of people is not only unfair but it is deceitful. Some corporate owners or company managers expect better customer service for their ‘preferred ‘ client list. This is the same a stealing from one person to prosper another person . In home life, Little Johnny gets a dollar bill for doing his home work and Little Janie gets nothing for doing the same homework assignment, teaches a child that it is okay to cheat your neighbor.

8. “…That all of them may be one…” (John 17:21) Teamwork. It is essential to the function of all workplace activity. Owners, managers, supervisors and labors should be shoulder-to-shoulder and elbow-to-elbow working to complete the task at hand. It is demoralizing to see one of the essential elements listed above standing around the work environment with his or her hands idle.

9. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)  Creating a work force is a challenge. Search for people who are like­ minded but with varying talents. Do not be afraid to hire someone who has better credentials than you. Talk with your co-workers and search out their likes and dislikes, looking for the weaknesses and their strengths. Look to assist him or her using your talents. The same came be applied at home. Trade off if a husband hates to mow the lawn but doesn’t ‘t mind cleaning the house.

10. “Warn a divisive person once, and then you warn him a second time . After that, have nothing to do with him.” (Titus 3:10) First you ask the employee to change his or her behavior, next you tell the employee to change the behavior. If they still don’t change it, discharge them from your employment. With each step you must inform the employee what the next step of action and. final outcome will be. It is that simple. In the family setting, the actions are the same. Make certain that the discipline is greater than the offense.

Again, this is by no means a definitive list. Leadership by nature is as personal a choice as what kind of ice cream you might like after dinner.

In the Mill Yard

(February 1975)

The rocky road.
Brown with oil,
Caused by the trucks.
Passing trucks,
Rolling onward.

Into the yards.
All flat;
The logs stacked up
On the cold deck.
Waiting to be barked.

The fork loader comes.
Menacing jaws
And fanged teeth.
Looking very hungry
The logs are its food.

It attacks.
Biting the first log.
Then the next.
The last one.
A full stomach.

It leaves’ Truck now barren.
The load is gone.
Put up the trailer;
Time to go home.

Arachnean Death

(February 1975)

The spider stops;
Sensing another being.
It raises its legs.
Move onward.
Changing directions.

It stops again.
Resting upon its web.
Swiftly crawling.

The black fly.
Buzzing wildly.
Into the sticky net.

Down drops the spider.
Viewing its quarry.
Moving gracefully.
Void of hurry.

The attack.
The Panic.
The thrashing.
Struggling to the end.

And victory.
Hunger satisfied.
The spider pauses,
Then moves on.

Let Me Out!

(April 1980)

“Let me out!”
She screamed and cried
As she put on her pretty little pout
Then sighed.

I was sad for this little gal
As cute as a bugs.
She needed a lift in morale
This I could plainly see

For days I went to see
To Cheer and make laugh
For this little bug’s ear
Till she had a day and a half.

Soon she’ll be out
And jus’ as feisty as ever.
Will she never quit running about?

“I’ve been couped up to long!”
Says she
And she’s not far from wrong,’
For I work here, so what about me?

The Newspaper Business

Newspapers in Del Norte County date back to 1854, and top honors go to the Crescent City Herald for being the first to publish in northwestern California. The Herald was hot off the press in June of that year.

The Herald’s initial run beat the Humboldt Times off the press by a few months. Its run lasted only until 1861, when the Herald’s owners discontinued publishing here due to lack of interest, and moved their operation to Jacksonville, Ore.

The county was without a paper until 1872, according to many historical sources. But Frances McBeth identifies a publication called the Del Norte Investigator, which existed in 1868 and was connected with the Lyceum.

The next publication to spring up was the Crescent City Courier, which published from September 1872 until March 1875 and again from November 1879 to February 1881, when the Del Norte Record purchased it to augment its publication that had begun in 1879. Northwestern California Newspaper Project’s Website quotes Ralph Hughes, who worked for Crescent City News in 1908 at the age of 14.

The paper’s reading room, he remembered, served as a library that was “Mecca for a lot of people who wanted to know what was going on in the world.”

Crescent City News started about 1892, merged with the Del Norte Record, then the Coast Times in 1910-1912 and the Del Norte Argus in 1912 to form the Del Norte Triplicate. A second iteration of the Crescent City Courier began publishing at about the same time, lasting until 1930.

It competed with the Crescent City News and also the Crescent City American, which began in 1926 and became the Crescent City Sunday American in its last year of publication. In 1969, Crescent City Sunday American merged with the Triplicate.

Renamed The Daily Triplicate, Del Norte County’s newspaper is one of the longest running newspapers in Northwest California.

A few short-lived newspapers within the county are the Smith River Herald, which published in 1925, Klamath Chinook in 1932, Gasquet Gazette, published by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, and Pelican Bay News in 1945. One of the former owners of Crescent City News started life in Del Norte County as an invalid with $3 in his pockets, but went into local history as one of the State of Jefferson movement organizers.

Judge John L. Childs, an immigrant of Irish parents, became self-supporting at the young age of 14. He began toiling on a New York farm, later eking out a living as a teacher.

Childs went on to graduate from Starkey Seminary and became principal of Greenville Academy in New York. His life there changed when he developed pneumonia and was advised to seek a climate change.

Childs found a job tutoring in San Diego, but moved to Gold Beach, Ore., to teach school. From there he came to Crescent City to take his teacher’s exam.

He apparently liked Del Norte County so well that he decided to make it his home.

After teaching for a number of years, Childs bought the Crescent City News. His political life began in 1892 when he was elected county clerk.

Three years later on Christmas Eve, he was admitted to the Bar. He opened his law office in April 1897 and was elected district attorney that fall.

He held the position until 1903 when he became a superior judge, a post in which he served until 1920.

Childs played an important part in the development of Del Norte County and in securing recognition from other sections of the country. Most notably was his election as governor of the then proposed 49th state – Jefferson.

Between Nov. 19 and Dec. 10, 1941, San Francisco’s newspapers, the Eureka’s Humboldt Times and Crescent City’s reporters and those representing The Oregonian in Portland covered the proposed state’s struggles to correct perceived wrongs in northern California and southern Oregon. The story was also covered by the New York Times on Dec. 5, 1941.

Horace Gasquet

The village of Gasquet takes its name from French immigrant Horace Gasquet, who arrived in Crescent City from France in 1853. The village’s name, however, is not the immigrant’s only legacy.

He is in history books as having been quite the entrepreneur, one with a hotel, general store, farm, barn, blacksmith, town bar and winery to his credit. But it’s his toll road that linked California to Oregon that put Msr. Gasquet into the history books.

The Gasquet Toll Road was built mostly by Chinese labor between 1881 and 1886, after the county’s board of supervisors granted Gasquet permission to undertake the project. Until the road was completed, the town of Gasquet’s only link was overland to Crescent City and on to San Francisco by sea.

The northeast overland route was needed to help ensure the county’s continued growth and development, and Gasquet’s Toll Road provided the link so sought after in the late 1800s. Described as a “corduroy road,” it was created by laying a bed of timers across its width on a surface of dirt and gravel.

Its route was along the forks of the Smith River, up the middle fork on the “left hand bank” for about 4 miles, then across the river. From its crossing, the road went to the mouth of Patrick’s Creek, up to Shelly Creek and crossed into Oregon about 3 miles east of the Robin’s nest.

Total length? Twenty miles.

The road has retained its original composition and construction, although it may have been repaired during the years with dirt and gravel. It’s still usable, although its drawbacks are the narrow gauge and windy path.

Prior to his corduroy road, Gasquet built a mule trail, one of the first of its type, to the interior and into Oregon Territory. He later built a second mule trail to Happy Camp on the Klamath River, where he opened another mercantile store.

Horace Gasquet, a French immigrant seeking gold in northern California, arrived in Crescent City in 1855. The businessman changed his plans to instead serve miners already living in the region.

Gasquet bought 320 acres and set up a village with a hotel, bar, stores, winery and blacksmith shop more than 15 miles from Crescent City, according to historical information from the National Park Service. He also decided to build a toll road connecting Crescent City to Waldo, Ore.

Chinese Americans completed the Gasquet Toll Road between 1881 and 1886. The 23-mile road would cost a man and a horse $1 to cross.

Pedestrian and pack animals cost 25 cents each, sheep and hogs cost 6 cents and horse and cattle cost 12 cents. A one-horse vehicle paid $2.75.

One of Gasquet’s ads, included in A.J. Bledsoe’s “Del Norte County” book, touted his resort and access to it in a bid to attract tourists for the summer. It featured trout and salmon fishing, along with deer and bear hunting and quail, pigeon and pheasant shooting.

“This place can be reached from San Francisco by Railroad, via Grants Pass, Or., or by steamer, via Crescent City, Cal.,” the ad stated.

Gasquet and his wife, Madeleine, added vineyards to the village of stores, hotel, mining camps and roads that they built using Chinese immigrants for labor. Madeleine Gasquet’s cooking and hotel management business skills helped the resort become a popular health spa that attracted visitors year-round.

The spot also hosted weddings and events. Madeleine Gasquet died in 1889, and her husband died seven years later.

But part of their efforts remain.

“The altitude and sunshine still support Horace’s grape vines, growing on hillsides,” according to the Redwood Empire Association, a California marketing group.

Car Rides with Grandpa

Grandpa Bill had a ritual he looked forward to every Sunday morning. He would take my sisters out for a drive for some bonding time.

On one particular Sunday, however, Grandpa had a bad cold.. Luckily, Grandma Leola came to the rescue and said that she would take the girls out.

Upon their return, Marcy ran to see Grandfather.

‘Well, did you enjoy your ride with Grandma?’ he asked.

‘Oh, yes, Grandpa,’ Marcy replied, ‘and do you know what?”

“What?” Grandpa responded, eager to know what she was so excited about.

“We didn’t see one dumb- bastard or stupid-shithead anywhere we went today!’ she gleefully stated.

Shipwrecks — remembered and forgotten

The Northcoast has proved unkind for seagoing vessels plying the waters west of Crescent City. A number of vessels were wrecked or stranded along the coast, including Amanda Alger, who went ashore at the Gold Bluffs in December 1871; Centennial, who stranded crossing the Klamath Bar in April 1877; and seven other craft, including California, Wall and Elvenia, who stranded near Crescent City during the three-year period beginning in 1878.

Seven more strandings were also reported to the Life-Saving Service between 1884 and 1905. Many of them, including Dauntless, were victims of Klamath Bar.

But on Oct. 21, 1907, the coast claimed a major victim: Queen Christina, one of the largest freighters working the Pacific coast at the time. She was built in 1901 at Newcastle, England, and displaced 4,268 tons of water.

She sailed from San Francisco on Oct. 19, 1907, with a cargo of wheat, bound for Portland, Ore. But two days later off Point St. George, she encountered heavy fog, fog likened to London’s famous pea soup variety.

Her captain, George R. Harris, believed he was holding a course seven miles offshore and eased his ship forward slowly. As the Queen made her way, those aboard heard a sound bound to horrify them – the hard crunch of iron against rock.

The ship was hard aground and taking water badly, according to the ship’s damage control personnel. Capt. Harris took the only action he could: He passed the order to abandon ship and got his crew ashore in two lifeboats.

Given the lore about Point St. George, Harris and his crew were lucky. The seas were calm and smooth, but storms were on target to hit the area from both the southeast and the southwest.

The prediction was that Queen Christina, only six years on the water, would be pounded to pieces on the rocks. Word of the wreck in Crescent City dispatched the steam schooner Navarrro, owned by local lumber giant Hobbs, Wall and Co. to head for the wreck site.

Her crew got a line aboard the stricken freighter but could not pull her off the rocks. Hearing the update, Capt. Harris employed the Hobbs, Wall and Co. vessel to help his crew salvage as much as they could from the wreck.

To Harris’ discredit, he tried to blame the crew manning St. George Reef Lighthouse, who he said were not sounding the facility’s fog horn. Most mariners backed the keepers’ claim they were using the fog horn by pointing out that it’s possible to be “right on top” of a fog horn but not able to hear it.

To her builders’ credit, the Queen held herself together until 1909. She withstood the winter of 1907-08, lasting with her lines in place.

Her epitaph was a 1909 story published by the Crescent City News that stated the “stranded steamer Queen Christina is a complete wreck … there is nothing visible of the ill-fated craft except a portion of the bridge … heavy seas roll over it … the masts have gone by the board.”

Although they are not some of the best-known shipwrecks, the foundering of the Magnolia and disappearance of the South Coast were big news in Del Norte County. Magnolia was a 49-ton coastal freighter, small when compared to the other vessels working their way along the Northcoast when the 20th century was young.

She ran into trouble as trying to cross Klamath River Bar on April 8, 1916. The seas were rough, and she was carrying a cargo of shakes as she attempted the crossing.

Caught in the breakers, Magnolia capsized, drowning her four-man crew. The vessel drifted out to sea, where the Coast Guard cutter Humboldt Bay found the stricken craft, put a line on her and towed her to Eureka.

An unidentified vessel was stranded at the same spot about eight years before Magnolia lost her battle with the breakers.

Between 1917 and 1929, two craft were lost off the coast along the coast of what later would become Redwood National Park. Named the Mandalay and the Sharp, the two vessels wrecked in 1918 and 1924, respectively.

Between them came the demise of a vessel owned by Hobbs, Wall & Co. The craft stranded on Point Arena on July 27, 1917.

Then came the South Coast, carrying lumber, 80 tons of high-grade chrome ore, tons of butter, seven passengers and her crew. A veteran steamer, the 301-ton vessel was built in 1887 and purchased by Hobbs, Wall in 1915.

She left Crescent City during calm weather in September 1930 with a track record of several charter trips between the city and Coos Bay, Ore. Capt. Stanley Sorenson commanded the vessel and her 18-man crew as she left Del Norte County heading north to Oregon.

She never made her destination.

That evening, residents of Gold Beach, Ore., saw a flash at sea, heard a loud noise described as a “dull boom.” The next day a crew aboard the General Petroleum Tanker Tejon spotted debris that included logs, lifeboats and a pilothouse about 40 miles south of Cape Blanco and 30 miles seaward.

Tejon’s captain radioed word to Hobbs, Wall and the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Humboldt Bay. Coast Guard cutter Cahokia headed to the scene.

Finding no survivors, the crew recovered the pilothouse and lifeboats and took them to Eureka. Examination of the debris found that the lifeboats were never lowered, rather they were ripped from their davits.

The pilothouse was battered from the deck. From that evidence, Cahokia’s captain determined the vessel had struck Rogue River Reef in a fog, which caused the cargo to shift and capsized her.

Seven years later, South Coast’s grave was located by a Department of Commerce-owned survey steamer, Guide, whose crew was taking soundings off Port Orford, Ore. The position she rested in confirmed her having hit Rogue River Reef.

During the 1940s, two vessels wrecked off the coast. Susan Olson stranded at Crescent City on Feb. 3, 1948, and the 69-ton Garrison went down in 128 fathoms of water off the north head of False Klamath Rock.

The Original Requa Inn

Morgan G. Tucker was born Dec. 28, 1822. He was proprietor of the Crescent City Hotel in 1854.

He was also one of the jurors in the trial of the three Indians accused of murdering A. French. He was friends with Nicholas Tack Sr.

When the Tack family arrived in Crescent City Morgan met Nicholas’ daughter, Emma Louise Tack, and began courting her. Tucker married Emma on Sept. 19, 1858, at the residence of Nicholas and Eleanor Tack.

Morgan and Emma had four children, Albert, George, Emma, and Lillian.

When the Indian Agency and Fort Ter-Waw closed after the floods of 1861-62 Morgan Tucker constructed a building at Requa, an Indian village near the mouth of the Klamath River and moved his family to Requa. His building served as a store, hotel, and restaurant for travelers between Crescent City and Humboldt County.

The government created a post office in Tucker’s building and appointed him the postmaster.

In October 1865, Emma Tucker contracted typhoid fever and died. Morgan was left with four small children. Lillian, his youngest child was only 13 months old.

Morgan tried to be both father and mother to his children, but after a few months he realized that he could not provide the care they needed. There were no babysitters at the time.

He decided that he needed to find someone who would raise his children, so he brought them to Crescent City and placed them in the care of relatives of his late wife to be raised by them. Nicholas and Eleanor Tack took Lillian to raise.

At the time Nicholas and Eleanor were living in Altaville.

Almost forty years later, in 1890, the Klamath Packing & Trading Co. opened a cannery, merging two canneries that operated along the Klamath River. Schooners brought salt, tins and other equipment and exported fish.

Daily catches could total up to 10,000 fish at the canneries, with 1912 marking the record catch at 17,000. In 1908, the company shipped out 6,500 cases of salmon.

But some businesses and fishermen took too much and in 1934, commercial salmon fishing was declared illegal on the Klamath and Smith rivers.

Mail Service, the Old Fashion Way

The first white settlers of Del Norte County had contact with the world only through a scant trail system and the ships that stopped here. Although it was a more primitive system than available to travelers now, the number of roads was not so many more than those of modern times.

The first trails were cut through the forest. One crossed Cold Spring Mountain into Oregon, the other crossed the Siskiyou Range to the gold fields. The Oregon route cost $3,000 to open and maintain.

Teamsters would load up in Crescent City early in the morning so they could go over Redwood Ridge at daybreak. They could ranch their stock at a ranch owned by John Mavity, who served as a county supervisor in 1863-65.

Not until 1858, when Horace Gasquet’s City and Yreka Plank and Turnpike Road opened for use, did residents have a third connection to the world. Five-hundred mules were used to freight.

Most of them left the area after the plank road was finished From Oregon came the seeds that early settlers used for crops. From San Francisco came their other goods.

Shortly after Gasquet and his largely Chinese work crews finished the City and Yreka Plank and Turnpike Road, Nicholas McNamara Sr. and his partners, Stateler, McKay and Dobson” (no first names given), advertised their newly formed freighting company, the Northern California or Southern Oregon Mountain Express. The group owned at least 75 mules, which bore the loads during the area’s five-year heyday of mule train teamstering.

One pioneer’s writing states the group paid $50,000 for the animals and other pre-opening expenses. Crescent Herald reporter George P. Johnson identified the company’s operation base at Dugan & Wall’s store, and its lead Agent, A.B. McElwain.

“The route led through Sailor Diggings (later known as Waldo, Ore.), Althouse, Applegate, Sucker, Canon and Gallice Creeks.”

It connected at Jacksonville, Ore., then went to Yreka. The company advertised “letters procured from any Express or Post Office in California … treasure, packages and letters carried at reduced rates.”

T.H. Miles described the trails that teamsters drove their “long teams” across as “ankle deep dust in summer, and practically stopped by mud in winter.”

Little thought was given to making easy grades, and no attempt was made to eliminate the hairpin turns.

The trail led from Crescent City over Redwood Ridge, crossed the Smith River at Peacock Crossing (near the present-day golf course), and along the North Bank of the river just past its confluence with the North Fork of the Smith River. From there it was upriver to Cold Springs Mountain, into Illinois Valley and onward to Sailors Diggings and other camps.

More than a quarter century later, mules still were used to deliver mail to the Klamath area, where Joe Fountain would drop mail. From there a man identified only as “Hayes” packed the mail to Trinidad, a three-day round trip.

Nicholas Tack Jr. served as Constable of Mountain Township from 1863 to 1864. He was road overseer from 1867 to 1869.

Jean Napier was born April 4, 1842 at Port Robinson, Canada. Her father was a stone cutter on the Niagra Falls suspension bridge.

In 1861 she married John Purdy. They had three children.

John Purdy died before 1870 leaving a widow with two daughters and a son. In 1870, Jean Purdy came to Del Norte County to be a nurse and companion to Laura Tryon, mother of Dennis Tryon.

Jean Purdy married Darlan Tryon, a son of Dennis Tryon, but later divorced him. On June 30, 1874, Jean Purdy married Nicholas Tack Jr.

At the time, an old bridal custom was practiced. When a widow remarried it was proper for her to wear black for her wedding dress.

Jeans’ wedding gown was black. That gown is on display at the Del Norte County Museum.

Nicholas and Jean had three children.

Nicholas Tack Jr. was the proprietor of a saloon. It was located on the southeast corner of Fifth and H streets. Their home was located behind the saloon of Fifth Street. Both buildings are still standing and in use today.

Nicholas Tack Jr. died June 22, 1917. He was almost 83.

Nicholas Tack

Nicholas Tack enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest Mason in the county. At the time of his death at 91, he was also the oldest man in Del Norte County.

Family history says that a member of the House of Teck in Germany killed an officer of the German Army during a dispute and had to flee the country. This incident happened sometime in the 1700s.

The young man was related to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Queen Mary of England. This allowed them certain privileges and gave him a certain protection.

The young man and a brother fled to America where they settled in Pennsylvania and changed their name to Tack. Johanne C. Tack was born about 1773.

He married Maria Helfrich on May 14, 1796, at St. Michael’s Zion Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Johanne and Maria had seven children.

Their youngest child, Nicholas, was born on June 5, 1811 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he was a merchant tailor.  In April 1832 he married Eleanor Megagrge and the two had 12 children, 11 of whom were born in Pennsylvania.

In 1855 Nicholas Tack, left Harrisburg and sailed around the Horn for California and arrived in Crescent City the same year. The following year, Eleanor came west to join her husband with eight of their children.

Their eldest son had married and remained in Pennsylvania. However Eleanor and the reaminder her children, ranging in ages from two to 19, sailed to Panama and crossed the Isthmus on mule back.

Eleanor brought with her a chest of drawers and the first sewing machine to come to Crescent City. Their son, Nicholas Jr. was later born in Crescent City.

Nicholas Sr. was one of the first innkeepers in Crescent City.  He was proprietor of the ‘No. 8 Hotel’ in Crescent City in 1856.

In 1857 he leased the ‘American Hotel’ and completely renovated it and added a bar. He opened the hotel  on July 1, 1857, and ran the hotel until 1859.

That same year, Nicholas Sr. was elected Del Norte County’s first sheriff.  He also served as a supervisor from 1860 to 1861, then was justice of the peace from 1863 to 1865.

In 1863 Nicholas Sr. opened the ‘Altaville Hotel’.  He ran the hotel until 1879 when it closed, due to the closing of the mines.

“A filthier, dirtier, nastier, noisier place I have not struck in the state,” wrote land surveyor William Brewer about Altaville, California in December 1863.

Located at Low Divide on the Pioneer Road — a major route into the cooper mines — Altaville was laid out in 1862 about 11 miles southeast of Brookings, Oregon, and 20 miles northeast of Crescent City.

Nicholas Sr. moved his family to Smith River in 1879 where he was involved in a number of business ventures.  Nicholas went into partnership with Theron Crook and ran the ‘Delta Saloon and Billiard Parlor’ in Smith River for a number of years.

Eleanor died March 7, 1897 and Nicholas Sr. died June 19, 1901.  Both are buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Crescent City.

James Brookings

James Brooking became one of Del Norte County’s pioneers because of his reaction to receiving a pick and a pan as his pay from an irate sea captain. History writer Esther Ruth Smith does not explain in her book, “Del Norte County Pioneers,” why a pick and a pan was his pay.

But Brooking, son of James Brooking, Sr. of New Hampshire, gave up the sea and went mining because of the insult he perceived. He had left his home in Grofton County, New Hampshire, when he was 11 and had seen much of the world during the eight years he was at sea.

On Jan. 13, 1849 at the age of 20, Brooking sailed from Boston on the brig Colonel Tayloe, under the command of Captain Charles Leavett. Their destination was Sacramento around Cape Horn. He was to be paid $1, of which 65 cents was to be held for “hospital dues.” It was a stormy voyage, and they had to wait five weeks off Cape Horn for the weather to ease. The ship reached San Francisco on Sept. 14 and continued up the river to Sacramento where the sailors expected to receive their pay.

Brooking had informed the captain that he was leaving the ship to prospect for gold. The captain was irate and refused to pay Brooking and instead gave him a pick and a pan for panning gold. Stranded Brooking was stranded with no money and had to do odd jobs to earn enough to reach his destination. He finally reached Redding Springs, and after working for six weeks was able to purchase two oxen then proceeded to the Trinity River.

From there he went to Redding Springs in January 1850 and lost the $5,000 he’d earned from gold. Brooking went to Salmon River and then on to Clear Creek where he contracted to build a dam.

This undertaking proved disastrous. The soil was too sandy to hold water and washed out of the stone work.

That spring, Brooking started a stores in Yreka and Jacksonville. He sold his business in 1852 for $3,000 and went to Scott’s Valley.

After operating mercantile stores in Yreka and Jacksonville, Oregon, Brooking headed for Waldo to organize a group of 11 people to explore the coast.

With the beginning of the California gold rush it became apparent that an ocean front settlement was desirable to transport supplies and materials to the interior mining operations. Brooking went to Sailor Diggings on Illinois Creek with a man named Picket H. Kennedy.

They set up operations to mine for gold. However, after three weeks J. F. Wendel showed up in Sailor Diggings eager to reach the coast and found a town.

The group formed for the purpose of preparing an agreement to found a new town on the coast. The agreement was called the ‘Paragon Bay Agreement.’

The company was the ‘Point St. George Exploratory Company.’ This agreement was signed on Jan. 31, 1853.

It established a company to locate and build a town on and near Paragon Bay, on the Pacific Coast near the boundary between the State of California and the Oregon Territory.

The group left Waldo, California, in early October 1852. Unfortunately for the group, the food they’d arranged to be delivered did not reach them and they were forced to return to Waldo a month later.

The town became Crescent City, and Paragon Bay became the Crescent City harbor. Losing his claim James Brooking  returned to Waldo in April 1853.

During his absence, many settlers had arrived and he found that he had lost his rights to the land that he had settled on. Undaunted, he went to Gold Beach in the Oregon Territory.

He remained in Gold Beach for four years and took part in the Indian Wars which were such a bloody part of the history of Oregon and bought a 320 acre ranch in Smith River Valley in 1856. He married Sarah A. Lane four years later and settled in.

However, shortly after the wedding he went on a very successful mining expedition in the Oregon Territory. Upon his return to Del Norte County, he resumed his ranching activities in the Elk Valley for three years.

In 1868, he built the ‘Brooking Hotel’ in Smith River, which at one time housed the first post office to serve the growing community. The hotel was moved at one point and was operating by the Brooking family until 1900, when the Brookings sold it to William Bates Plaisted.

James and Sarah Brooking had five children, Bertha, Walter, Helen, Harry and George.

Their oldest son, Walter, was born in 1861. In November 1900, Walter left his home at Smith River Corners with his dog to meet his friend Paul Fredericks at his cabin in Winchuck, about 10 miles away.

They were to go hunting together, but Walter never made it. The next day search parties were sent out, but no trace of Walter or his dog were ever found.

Bertha Brooking married Henry Westbrook Sr.

Brooking was a well-liked and important member of the Smith River community eventually becoming the town’s postmaster for 19 years, justice of the peace for 21 years, notary public for 28 years and county coroner in 1890.  James Brooking died on November 23, 1913, at the age of 85.

Thomas Johnson Turner Berry

Thomas Johnson Turner Berry was one of Del Norte’s early pioneers, who brought his last name here from Howard County, Iowa. Born in December 1858, he moved to California 20 years later, as the escort of the family of doctor who had set up his practice.

According to “Del Norte County Pioneers,” published by Esther Ruth Smith, the physician hired Berry to bring his family west on an immigration train. In 1950, Smith contacted Berry’s son, George Thomas Berry, Sr., to clarify information she had gathered for the publication.

He told her that he did not know his family’s genealogy, but recalled that, “In those days the railroads ran immigrant trains and furnished only transportation. The travelers furnished their own accommodations. It was in such a train that he traveled.”

After arriving here, Thomas Johnston Turner Berry decided to stay. He worked with Frank Burtschell, who owned a livery stable, eventually taking over the business and naming it ‘Eclipse Livery and Feed Stable.’

The business straddled a block between Second and Third streets. Berry married Emma (Jones) Livingston and fathered two children, George Thomas Berry and Ellen Berry.

The elder Berry served two terms as the county’s Republican assemblyman, elected in 1901 and 1907. The political bent ran in the Berry family.

Berry’s father sat as a judge in Colorado. His uncle, Charles Berry, published the “Cripple Creek Times” during the days that the storied was “a roaring Colorado Mining Camp.”

The uncle later served as sergeant at arms of the Colorado State Senate in 1905. During Berry’s tenure as a legislator, his son recalled that “Del Norte, Trinity and Siskiyou constituted the First District, and under the old convention system each county took turns in sending the representative.”

The son also told Smith that his father “was a ‘dyed in the wool’ Republican, having been a Lincoln man at the time of the Civil War.”

Berry represented the county at the State Assembly as a Republican, holding the office during the 1901 session during which legislators enacted the last change in one of the boundary lines of Del Norte County. His son, George, served as a page boy during the same session.

In his letter to Smith, the son recollected that the Klamath River had been one of the county’s boundary lines.

“The boundary shifted whenever the river changed its course, causing the Assessors and Tax Collectors no end of trouble,” the younger Berry wrote. “My father and the Humboldt assemblyman (Mel Roberts) and senator (Thos. Selvage) got together and agreed upon a trade of land up the river for land along the lower reaches, the result is the present boundary.”

George Berry was able to visit with Jack London when the author visited Crescent City during the summer of 1911.

“I have a photo showing him with his four-in-hand before the W.A. Phillips store,” the younger Berry said.

Later in his life, George Berry and his wife both taught at Del Norte County High School.   Their son, George Thomas Berry Jr., served as justice of the peace of Crescent Township. His relative Ellen Berry Jones, born December 1, 1891, became a teacher in the Del Norte County School system.

Looking for Lodging

Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller once called Crescent City home – for a couple nights at least. He was just one patron of many who stayed overnight in some of Crescent City’s earliest hotels.

The first hotel, the ‘Cushing House,’ was built in 1853, the very first year the city was founded. It was on Front Street, which, at the time, was so close to the beach that driftwood and various other debris would wash up to the building’s facade.

A sea wall was later built to keep the debris from cluttering Front Street.

The ‘Cushing House’ did not retain its name very long, as it was sold the next year and called the Crescent City Hotel, only to be called the City Hotel by its next owner Gotlieb Meyer. In 1857, a German native, Francis R. Burtschell, who had worked in hotels in New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco, bought the City Hotel and renamed it the Bay Hotel.

But the Bay Hotel was not the only bedding place in the city. At around the same time the ‘Bay Hotel’ was being erected, an Irishman also decided to build a hotel on Front and J Streets. Nicholas McNamara, who was born in Dungarvan County Waterford, Ireland, came to Crescent City on March 12, 1853.

He noticed that many people were camping outside because there weren’t any hotels. To remedy this problem he built the ‘American Hotel’ in 1853, and it became one of the first in the city.

It burned down several years later and was replaced by a more sturdy brick building. However, it was the ‘Travelers Hotel’ off of Front Street that hosted Rockefeller and two of his sons. This hotel was located on Second and L Street until it was torn apart in 1942 and sold as lumber.

Crescent City’s first reported medical doctor arrived in 1853, after serving as a physician to a wagon train that traveled from Missouri. Edgar Mason would also hold the title of court judge.

Mason chaired a meeting to set a trial for three Indian men accused of murdering a white man in 1854, according to A.J. Bledsoe’s “History of Del Norte County.” A jury deliberated for an hour and ordered the three men hanged near Battery Point.

He acquired quite a bit of land in Crescent City, giving parcels for a school house, civic center and a masonic temple, as well as two blocks for a city plaza. During the Civil War, Mason sent money to the Confederacy and the family lamented President Lincoln’s election, according to Marin County Free Library’s history project.

Mason presided over a public vote in Crescent City on whether or not to enforce a law that prevented businesses from operating on Sundays, according to Bledsoe’s book. Proponents of the measure distributed petitions, as bars and other businesses racked up fines for staying open.

The public voted the measure down, letting businesses operate on Sundays.

Think of hotels when you consider the Burtschell family’s roots in Del Norte County. Their ancestor, Francis J. Burchoell – not a typo here, but the original spelling of the family’s name as it made its way to Northern California – made his fame as a hotelier during the county’s earliest years.

Burchoell fled France with two brothers as the French Revolution nipped at the aristocrats’ heels. Francis went first to Bingen, Germany, where he married Elizabeth Brougham, and changed his name to Burtschell.

The couple had a son, Francis R. Burtschell, March 13, 1825. The younger Francis traveled to New York City in 1846 and worked for two years in the hotel industry.

He traveled among New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York City and Germany during a short period of time. Eventually settled near Weaverville, building his first hotel there in the early 1850s.

Burchoell – which the younger Francis now spelled Burtschell – sold the hotel and moved to Shasta County where he repeated the process. He then moved to San Francisco to manage a hotel and found his way north to Crescent City in 1856.

A year later, on April 19, 1857, he purchased the ‘City Hotel’ for $900 from Gottlieb Meyer after having lived there about four months. The ‘City Hotel’ was originally ‘Cushing House,’ located at H and Front streets.

Because it was close to the ocean, the building was damaged when “a tidal wave” carried a tree into its lobby during the years Burtschell owned it. It also sheltered many of the survivors who had been on the Brother Jonathan when she smashed on St. George Reef.

After owning the hotel for six years, Burtschell leased the property to Jacob Reichert but managed it a second time after his wife died and he married Caroline Morscher, New Year’s Eve 1874. He remodeled the hotel in 1885 by removing the front section to across the street then adding a new section.

That same year, he purchased a 664-acre farm in Smith River.  By 1893 the dairy farm – located at the site of ‘Ship Ashore’ and stretching north to the Oregon border – had grown to 992 acres.

In its new form, he renamed the ‘City Hotel’, the ‘Bay Hotel.’  Three years later, he sold the business to a W. Woodbury.

Eventually the back of the hotel was torn down to make room for the ‘Lauff Hotel,’ which later became the ‘Surf Hotel.’

During his 53 years in Crescent City, Burtschell served two terms as a county supervisor and two terms as a city councilman and a school trustee for many years.

His son, Frank Burtschell Sr., worked as county assessor and owned the county’s first Ford dealership. Frank Sr., who established Burtschell’s Paints, was the last person in his family to get a driver’s license – his mother being the first woman in Del Norte County to do so.

Frank Burtschell Jr. was involved in preserving Del Norte County’s history. He placed the sign he made for the cabin 75 years ago on the ‘Addie Meedom House,’ the county’s assisted living center for seniors.

POST SCRIPT: Frank Jr. died in a single car accident on U.S. Hwy. 199 on October 3, 2003, when his vehicle struck a redwood tree.



In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship and it was also before commercial fertilizer’s’ invention, so large shipments of manure were common. It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, it not only became heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by product is methane gas.

As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern and boom!

Several ships were destroyed in this way before it was determined jus’ what was happening. After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the term ‘Ship High In Transit’ on them, which meant for sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks that any water that came into the hold would not touch the cargo

Thus evolved the term ‘ S.H.I.T,’ which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day. You probably did not know the true history of this word.

Neither did I — as I always thought it was a cowboy term.