A Brief Note to Mom

Dear Mom —

Thank you for raising me with a firm hand. I know now as a parent myself that I needed it.

Thank you for making me take a bite out of a bar of soap and chew it till gone because I lied; thank you also for sending me out side to select a willow branch so you could give me a whipping after I took something that didn’t belong to me; thank you still again for the backhanding you gave me in front of my friends after I dared talk back to you.

You brought me up the right way and to prove it I’m not in prison for life today.

Love, your son —
Tommy

Harry’s Energy Summit Hype

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says construction on the world’s first hybrid power plant is starting in northern Nevada. Reid says Enel Green Power North America’s geothermal plant in Churchill County is adding a solar project.

The plant will combine geothermal and solar power for maximum generation on hot summer days.  Geothermal energy is thermal energy which is generated and stored in the Earth, while thermal energy is that which determines the temperature of matter. 
   
The announcement came minutes before the start of the fourth-annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. Politicians and green technology leaders are attending the meeting to discuss energy security and independence.

Like this wasn’t planned to be announced during this event. By the way — Reid has hosted this conference since 2008.

And also as if on-cue — one Las Vegas’ resort says its stepping up recycling efforts.  MGM Resorts International boss Jim Murren and guest-speaker at the summit says the company now recycles one-third of all the resort’s waste to conserve water and other resources.

Also attending the summit was Vice President Joe Biden, who says the United States can’t lead the world in the 21st century with its current energy policy. He says the U.S. will trade its dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign clean energy technology if the nation’s leaders don’t act.

National politicians and green technology leaders are attending the conference to discuss energy security and independence. This includes Secretary of Energy Steven Chu who says oil prices will increase while green energy will become cheaper in the future while adding science education is a top priority.

It’s actually a vacation to Sin City for these folks — more or less.

However, audience outbursts interrupted testimony to a Congressional panel on employment and improving federal job training during the summit. Three people were removed from the hearing by police.

A 54-year-old woman was heard shouting, “I need a job!”

Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck says he shares the protesters frustrations. He says his daughter, a recent graduate in a hotel program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had to move out of the state to find a job.

This is scary — if a U.S. Congressman can’t find his daughter a job — how can anyone else expect him to find them a job?

Of course — after three-years of playing host to this summit, Nevada is brimming over with “green jobs.” In all truthfulness — Nevada leads the U.S. in the number of people unemployed with a statewide rate of 12.9 percent.

Finally — Southern Utah University will be the home of a new center for the study of public lands named for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a former student. The Nevada Democrat is scheduled to be at the Cedar City campus to deliver a lecture and unveil plans for the Harry Reid Center for Outdoor Engagement at Southern Utah University.

The university has not released details of the center, saying only that Reid will make a special announcement after giving a talk about his background, including his time as an SUU student. The news was welcomed by the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Have you noticed? The only people naming buildings after each other these days are elites and liberals.

Secret Files

As settlers continued to arrive along the North Coast of California and move in on what had been traditionally Indian lands, trouble when from being jus’ violent confrontations on the local front, to the creation of legal proceedings. This of course left the Native population at a serious disadvantage.

In April 1849, the Alta California, a San Francisco newspaper, wrote that the miners realized “it will be absolutely necessary to exterminate the savages before they can labor much longer in the mines with security.” Less than three years later, the newspaper declared the native peoples “must fade before the Saxon race as the cloud in the west before the light and heat of a greater power.” 

The Alta California was owned and edited by Edward Kemble and Edward Gilbert, and began as a weekly in January 1849, becoming the city’s first daily paper in January 1850. In 1867, Mark Twain sent his letters from his tour of the Holy Land to the paper, letters which were later republished as “The Innocents Abroad.”  The paper ceased publication in 1891.

By 1851, the federal government appointed three commissioners to negotiate treaties with the California Indians. By the end of the year, 18 treaties had been negotiated with 139 tribes. 

These treaties set aside 7,488 acres of land strictly for Indian use and amounted to a third of California. During the first two months of 1852, the California Legislature discussed the treaties and concluded the agreements “committed an error in assigning large portions of the richest mineral and agricultural lands to the Indians, who did not appreciate the land’s value.” 

The Legislature instructed the U.S. senators from California to oppose ratification of the treaties and called for the federal government to remove Indians from the state as they had done in other states. President Millard Fillmore submitted the 18 California treaties to the U.S. Senate for ratification. 

The California senators were recognized, and the Senate went into secret session to discuss the treaties. The Senate failed to ratify the treaties during the session, and ordered them placed in secret files, where they remained until 1905. 

Hard to imagine the Senate keeping such secrets.

Army Sergeant Returned to Reno

Reno  2011 — A Reno soldier was found dead in his barracks room at Fort Carson, Colorado.  Army officials say they discovered Sgt. Jacob Sitko’s body on August 13th.

Post officials launched a full investigation into the soldier’s death. So far they have not released any information discovered during their investigation.

Sitko was returned to the Reno Tahoe International Airport, August 22, where he was met and escorted by the Nevada Patriot Guard. His funeral services were handled by Walton’s Funeral Home, 875 West Second Street, Reno.

The Darndest Thing

As a kid I loved to watch the TV program, “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” with Art Linkletter. This was back when it came on in the afternoon.

One afternoon, I told Mom, “I’m going to be on that show one day!”

“Really,” she said in a factual tone of voice.

“And I plan to say something really stupid, too,” I responded.

“That,” she shot back, “I can believe, Tommy.”

I wonder what she meant by that?

Cultures of the Tea Party

Reno 2011 — A sociology researcher says Tea Party voters are more likely than other voters to fear change and harbor negative attitudes toward immigrants. The study, called “Cultures of the Tea Party,” is being presented in Las Vegas at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting.

Of course the key word, “illegal,” is left out of those supposed “negative attitudes.”  I don’t even have to wonder why, either.   

Sociology Professor Andrew Perrin of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is the lead author of the study. He says researchers noted voters who felt favorably toward the Tea Party movement also valued deference to authority and libertarianism saying they told  researchers they felt “things are changing too fast.”   

Perrin fails to mention the fact these “changes,” are the side stepping of the U.S. Constitution by creating mandatory national health care, appointing Executive Branch Czars and bailing out privately held companies. And as for “deference to authority,” it’s the Tea Party movement which refuses to compromise — and that is anything but deference.

The findings are based on a telephone poll of registered voters in North Carolina and Tennessee conducted last year. The researchers also conducted interviews at a Tea Party rally in North Carolina.

It’s obvious that anyone can draw any sort of conclusion from a few telephone conversations and attending a single rally somewhere — especially when editing the data to make it fit one’s premise. I jus’ hope Perrin printed his study on toilet paper, so it’s easy to use.

Inspired Writing: Laura Ingalls-Wilder

It was Mrs. Valeria Damm who first introduced me to Laura Ingalls-Wilder and “Little House on the Praire.” When I say “me,” I actually mean the entire third grade class she was reading the book too.

Later on, my sister Deirdre received the book and as soon as I saw that she had finished it, I grabbed it up and spent the next couple of days reading it. I liked the book so much that I finally got the entire set and I read most of the series to my son, Kyle.

Now, I know about the stories that claim Wilder’s daughter, Rose, actually penned the series. I don’t care about the rumors or to even speculate on this.

What I do care about are the simple sentences and the small words used in the stories, which endear these books to generation after generation of readers. It’s these two qualities that I decided to emulate as I searched to creat my own personal style of writing.

Stamped as Stupid

While stationed at Brooks Air Force Base for technical school, I decided to go buy some postcards to send to family and friends. I also needed to buy some stamps since I forgot to get some at the base post office before they closed.

After finding about a dozen postcards, I headed to the downtown post office, where I stood in line. What makes this story different is the fact that when around folks with “southern accents,” I tend to pick up their “twang.”

As I stepped up to the window and asked for a book of stamps, I couldn’t help but lilt a little Texan. The woman didn’t seem to notice until I took the book of stamps and stuck them in my back pocket.

“You ain’t from ’round here?” she asked.

A little surprised, I answered, “No, I’m not. Why?”

“No one put stamps in their back pocket,” she stated, “‘cuz they’d stick together.”

“Oh, thank you,” I responded as I pulled them from my pants and placed them in my shirt pocket.

As I headed for the door, I overheard her say to one of her co-workers, “Bless his heart.”

I later learned that was a short southern prayer for: “Dear Lord, Please look out for the person as he’s either stupid, lacks common sense or both. Amen”

Splash Down

“And we have splash down!” some news reporter would exclaim as the capsule dropped into the sea and bobbed about, waiting for the signal from the swimmer that it was okay to open the capsules hatch. If it was opened to soon the craft would sink.

About that swimmer: Not once has the Navy sent a man out to greet the awaiting astronauts. It has always been an Air Force Pararescueman.

During the first splash down of a U.S space capsule some reporter said the swimmer was Navy. It’s was an easy mistake to make after seeing the swimmer jump from a Navy Helicopter.

But the Air Force’s top brass was so offended by the slight they ordered the letters, “PJ,” stenciled on the back of the swimmers headgear to identify him. Too bad the top brass never got around to telling the media that “PJ,” stands for Pararescue Jumper.

As for Apollo 9, its crew consisted of Commander Jim McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart. After launching March 3, 1969, they spent ten days in orbit.

Chutes Away

There was always that point in the re-entry process of a space capsule where the news reporter would say, “The capsule has entered the radio blackout zone.” It was spoken with some amount of dread in their voice.

These silences are also known as ionization blackouts, or reentry blackouts. These are caused by an envelope of ionized air around the capsule, created by the heat from the friction of the craft against the atmosphere.

It’s true that for about three minutes, the Apollo capsule would be completely out of contact with ground communication. It had to be the longest three minutes in the lives of both those on the ground and those in the capsule.

Imagine the relief — seeing all three parachutes opened, above the capsule.

In Orbit

One of my favorite news reporters was a guy by the name of Jules Bergman. He worked for ABC News and covered NASA’s Apollo space program for as long as I can remember.

What I liked about his reporting of the rocket launches and such were the various ways he would explain what was happening and what would happen in the near future with the rocket, capsule and the astronauts. He used various ways of demonstrating stuff – either by drawings or by models.

I tried to duplicate what I saw on TV.

Bergman made the complexity of every mission easy to understand. That’s because he often took part in the same training and simulations the astronauts did.

He later covered the missions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s unmanned space probes, notably the Viking  and Voyager programs. He also covered the Space Shuttle program from its first flight through the 1986 Challenger disaster.

Jules Bergman passed away in 1987.

Laying Bear the Facts

A group of animal activists presented Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s office with a petition of 15,000 signatures asking him to delay Nevada’s first ever bear hunt. However NoBearHuntNV.org was met by the Governor’s staff as they claimed he was in Homewood, California for the 15th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit.

The problem with this is the summit wasn’t scheduled to begin until the following day. So either Sandoval’s staff was misinformed or they used the occasion to dodge the organization and the possible media fiasco it could have caused the Governor.

As for the summit, Sandoval and California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed an agreement allowing the state’s to work together creating water clarity for Lake Tahoe down to 94-feet by the year 2076. Unfortunately, I will not be around to check on their progress by that time – then again neither will Governor’s “Sandocrat,” or “Moonbeam.”

Meanwhile, Nevada’s inaugural bear hunt remains on target.

Blast Off

It was a typical rainy day and instead of letting us drive her crazy, Mom put Adam and me to work drawing and coloring. It was one of my favorite things to do aside from playing with all the other kids who live in the neighborhood.

Mom was in the kitchen making dinner and Adam was sitting at our dining room table with me, busy doing the same thing. It’s one of the few times I can recall the two of us not squabbling with one another.

In the corner of our living room was an old black and white television set Dad had borrowed from Pa Sanders. Jus’ recently on it, I had seen a rocket zoom into outer space and a space capsule float to earth, landing in the ocean — and it inspired me.

I think I drew as accurate a series of pictures as any little kid can of the Apollo 9 mission.

In-Fighting Indian Fighters

Learning how the whites dealt with the native population during the early years of Del Norte County has often caused me to reflect on how I deal with people. In the case of A. French’s murder and the rushing to judgement, I have discovered other problems tend to crop up.

In this case — for a while it was the Klamath Mounted Rangers versus the Coastal Rangers.

The hanging of the three Indians did little to curb the growing tension between white settlers and local Indian tribes. Soon violence erupted during 1854-55 when 30 natives were killed along the banks of Lake Earl during various encounters.

The killings were in part due to the retaliation of the death of the white farmer French. But before the murder of French, a group of defenders were formed to protect settlers from hostile Indians.

Called the Klamath Rangers, they were formed on April 27, 1854 and comprised of 66 men. Henry Kennedy was the company’s first lieutenant and W. J. Terry as their Captain. The Muster Roll of this company is dated “From May 2 to June 5, 1854″, and shows the Klamath Mounted Rangers served that length of time in actual service.

The troop saw a great deal of action when the unit in company with the Union Volunteer’s, (now Arcata,) took the field against the Indians of the Tule Lake Region, in a short but bloody campaign.

Three times Terry wrote to Adjutant General William C. Kibbe, in regard to his command. In the first letter dated June 25, 1854, he expressed his regrets that the arms had not been received in time for the Fourth of July, as they had planned to give that glorious day a grand celebration.

He also complained another militia company had been organized, saying it was unnecessary as one company was sufficient to keep the Indians in subjection. He added that this new company called, “Coast Rangers”, under Captain Thorpe was composed of “beach combers and sailors who had no experience in the mountains.”

Evidently someone else had said the same thing to the general about the Klamath Mounted Rangers. It appears being called a beach comber and/or a sailor was quite the insult back then.

The Coastal Rangers organized themselves on May 13, 1854, under the command of Captain Thorpe. His first course of action was to write to reported to Governor John Bigler on July 12th asking for army revolvers and that his commission be sent by the next boat. Four boxes of percussion rifles and accouterments were shipped to the company November 14, adding to the twenty he had already received September 15th.

The company made good use of the arms as the Indian attacks continued from December 27 to January 29, 1855. The Coast Rangers and Klamath Rangers, together with volunteer citizens, under the command of First Lieutenant Myers engaged in several skirmishes, killing about thirty Indians and resulting in one of their own men being wounded.

Myers gave the Adjutant General a brief report of the activities by letter on March 10th, in which he informed the general that he had requested Mr. P. Bryan to make up a payroll of all the services and expenses incurred. But it seems there was some contention over the nonpayment of the officers, as the Lieutenant explained both he and the Second Lieutenant had paid their fees to the Captain to be sent in to Headquarters, but had been lax in-sending his money in.

The Lieutenant concluded his letter to the general, “…Captain Thorpe has moved away, some time back, and that I have taken command.”

It seems the Captain had better things to do than fight Indians or lead his men. Of course Thorpe wasn’t the only officer to vacate his post.

Of the three letters from Terry to the general, two were addressed from Crescent City. The third, dated October 30, 1855, however is from Yreka and signed simply William J. Terry.

From the manner in which the letter is written its apparent Headquarters was trying to call together all the State Militia in an effort to attend an Encampment  Terry told the general he would like to comply with the solicitation, however Klamath Mounted Rangers were disbanding.

After all, the company had been composed of miners, mechanics and merchants, most  having left their jobs to serve. They would be reluctant to attend the Encampment in Sacramento, preferring to return home to their families and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, residents along the Smith River feared revenge from local Indians for the execution of Black Mow, Jim and Narpa. Their paranoia led to the surveillance of Tolowa Rancheria at Yontucket, where Yurok, Rogue River, Chetco and Tolowa could be found living.

This, along with the discovery of “secret trails,” raised the whites’ suspicions. Word went out that a “possible Indian uprising” was being planned and with that the white’s decided to strike first.

Finally on New Years Day 1855, some Smith River settlers, the Klamath Mounted Rangers and the Coast Rangers, attacked the Rancheria, killing 30 natives. There were no reported injuries or deaths among the whites.

There is no further recorded activities of the Klamath Mounted Rangers other than remarks of the Adjutant General’s Report for April 1861 noted the company had been disbanded. As for the Coast Rangers they disbanded without notifying anyone and have faded into history.

Can you say: From bad to worse?

Looking for Uncle Vince

Researching family history has led me down some very interesting paths. Lately, I have been looking into Grandpa Tom Darby’s military records.

While I haven’t found very much about his service, I have located the ship on which his brother, Vincent was assigned. This also led me to a second cousin, whom I had never spoken to until recently.

Also named Vincent Darby, my cousin is about ten years older than me. Out of the blue he called me one afternoon and we began to talk.

And while he knew little to nothing about Grandpa Tom – he told me a lot about his Dad.

Uncle Vince, as I always heard him called by Dad, was a couple of years older than Grandpa Tom. And like Grandpa Tom, he too served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

While I have yet to find out what ship or boat or barge Grandpa Tom was aboard, Cousin Vince did point me in the direction of a ship his Dad was assigned. That was the USS DuPont (DD152/AG-80.)

I hope that by discovering the ships history – I’ll discover some long-lost family story.

Uncle Vince joined the US Navy in 1942 — shortly following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. It’s from there I pick up the ships history.

The Du Pont rescued 30 survivors from a torpedoed merchantman on March 15th, 1942 as she continued through January 19th, 1943, to guard convoys from New York and Norfolk to Key West and Guantanamo Bay. After an overhaul, the Du Pont returned to the Caribbean to escort tanker convoys between Aruba, Netherlands West Indies, and Guantanamo Bay until May 17th, 1943 when she sailed from Aruba to the Mediterranean.

She arrived at Algiers, Algeria, June 1st, and put into Casablanca five days later. The destroyer sailed on June 9th, for New York in the escort for Card, rescuing four men from downed aircraft during hunter-killer operations en route. She arrived at New York, July 6th.

Between July 17th and September 12th, 1943, the Du Pont made two voyages to Ireland on convoy escort duty. On September 25th, she sailed from Norfolk for an antisubmarine patrol with a hunter-killer group centered on Card.

By October 6th she had joined the screen for aircraft carrier USS Bogue during exercises in Casco Bay and Long Island Sound. The group sailed from Norfolk November 14th to give close support to a Gibraltar-bound convoy.

During the return passage December 12th, one of the Bogue’s aircraft sighted and bombed a German U-Boat. The Du Pont and USS George E. Badger continued the attack, driving the submarine to the surface on the morning of the following day.

The destroyers opened fire and after the submarine’s conning tower exploded, the DuPont rescued 46 survivors including the captain of the U-172, as it sank. The Du Pont shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the Bogue task group for distinguished success in operations against submarines.

The Du Pont escorted a convoy to Gibraltar and back to Boston between January 25th and March 9th, 1944, and then returned to escort duty in the Caribbean. She left Norfolk June 11th in the screen of the seaplane tender, USS Albemarle sailing by way of Casablanca to Avonmouth, England, arriving June 28th.

The Du Pont returned to Boston July 13th with the Albemarle, carrying casualties from the June 6th D-Day invasion at Normandy, France. After overhaul and refresher training, the Du Pont put into Charleston Navy Yard September 16th, 1944 to undergo conversion to an auxiliary vessel.

Reclassified AG-80, September 25th, 1944, she sailed from Charleston October 9th and arrived at Key West two days later to act as target ship for Fleet Air Wing 5. She rescued two downed aviators on November 24th, and two days after that transferred her doctor to a Norwegian merchantman to render emergency treatment.

She continued to serve off Florida aiding aviation training until April 1st, 1946 when she arrived at Boston. In addition to the Presidential Unit Citation received in 1943, the DuPont was awarded three battle stars for her service during World War II.

The Du Pont was decommissioned May 2nd, 1946 and sold for scrap March 12th, 1947.

While my research as only scratched the surface of Uncle Vince’s background, I now have a place to look. And even if I fail to discover any further details in my great-uncle’s life during World War II, I hope that sharing this finger-nail account of the ship he was assigned to will open the door for you to start searching too.

Celtic Knot

Elizabeth and Duncan were married for jus’ over 14 years. He became sick from cancer and died this year.

The two were deeply in love and deeply involved in all-things Celtic. That’s why Elizabeth wore a ring, given to her by Duncan as a wedding band, fashioned in the design of a Celtic knot.

The Celtic knot dates back to around 600 AD, and many rune stones and crosses were adorned with the classic design. The roots of the Celtic knot may be Pagan, but as the Celtic people embraced Christianity, the knot was viewed as a symbol of the  Trinity.

On the night Duncan passed away, the left side of Elizabeth’s ring developed a fracture. The crack in the metal wasn’t like that of a ring suffering metal fatigue – it simply split in two.

Elizabeth thought nothing of it at the time as the stress of having jus’ lost her husband was her overwhelming concern. She decided to take it off temporarily and made plans to have it repaired by a jeweler in town.

It wasn’t until three weeks later that the ring made itself known once again. Incidentally, this was also the same day she received Duncan’s ashes from the funeral home.

That night, as she sat looking and the urn, crying because she missed him, she decided to go get the wedding ring he had given her so many years ago and put it on her finger. She hoped it would bring comfort to her broken heart.

She found it where she had left it; however the Celtic knot was now broken in half.

Three Indians and a Dead Man

For whatever reason, much of the story of Del Norte’s history seems to start with the death of a white settler named “A. French.” Many times his is the next name found in articles right after explorer Jed Smith.

I’ve never been able to learn what the “A” stood for.

As the story goes, in the morning of November 1, 1854, a farmer named A. French set out on a hunting expedition. With him were four other men — all unidentified in the general record.

French was to guide them to an area about 11 miles east of Crescent City. He planned to return to his ranch that evening while the others planned to return in three or four days.

However, the next day Mrs. French came to town worried her husband had not returned as planned. Two days later, November 4, the other men returned and were reportedly alarmed to learn French had never made it home.

A search party was formed and made an intensive search of the area between Mill Creek and the South Fork of the Smith River, but he wasn’t was found. When the search party returned to Crescent City, they found the citizens in a complete state of anxiety.

Many thought the Indians on the South Fork of the Smith River had murdered French. That same evening, a mass meeting was called which resulted in 20 men being appointed to round-up all the Indians in town and the surrounding area for questioning.

An Indian woman living in a village where Battery Point Lighthouse is now located said she had been on her way to the woods in the area where the French party had traveled. She said a Chetco Indian named Narpa, accompanied by his sister, had traveled to a village at the mouth of the Klamath River near Requa.

This is the first hole in the story — remember they were headed east. Klamath is south of Crescent City.

She told authorities that Narpa, his family and tribe had suffered some sort of injury or insult by the whites and he wanted revenge. At Requa he asked another Indian named Black Mahu to kill a white man.

But Black Mahu refused as he was known to be a good friend to the settlers.

The Chetco Indian then offered Black Mahu his sister if he would kill a white man. Supposedly Black Mahu couldn’t refuse the offer of the woman.

Armed with this information white authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Black Mahu, his son Jim and Narpa. This leads to a second hole in the story — two Indians suddenly becomes three and no explanation is ever given why the increase in suspects.

A new search party was organized and the body of French was found lying under a log, partly covered up. Records indicate French was found jus’ east of the Elk Valley area.

This is the third hole in the story. Elk Valley, for the geographically unknowing is east of the city.

An eight man group of Klamath Mounted Rangers was formed to catch the suspected murderers and the three Indians were captured at the mouth of the Klamath River. They were taken to Crescent City November 17.

The following day many of the citizens of Crescent City assembled at the Eldorado Saloon on Front Street, where a trial date was set. From there a jury of 12 men was selected.

By law the three defendants could not testify on their own behalf or enter any evidence in their favor. After an hour the jury returned with a verdict of “guilty” and sentenced the three to be hanged at noon November 24.

On that day the three were taken to what is now Battery Point, but at the time an Indian village and hanged. It is believed the village was chosen in order to send a message to other Indians’ that this is what would happen to them if they killed a white man.

Unfortunately, the evidence against the three Indians, if there ever was any, has been lost to time. Moreover, when I was kid, many Yurok elders claimed French died of natural causes and was hidden by a scavenging bear bent on having his remains as a meal at a later time.

Whatever, happened — I’ve always thought the three hanged men got a raw deal.

Marine with Nevada Ties Killed in Action

A U.S. Marine with ties to Nevada has been killed in Afghanistan.  Sgt. Joshua Robinson had lived in The Topaz Ranch Estates, south of Carson City, while stationed The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickel Meadow. 

Robinson, who grew up near Nelson, Nebraska, died August 7 while on combat operations in Helmand Province. A spokeswoman with the Department of Defense says he was shot twice in the left side of his chest while on patrol.

Robinson was on his first deployment to Afghanistan but had been deployed to Iraq twice before. He enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and had earned a Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon during his service.

Robinson was an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, which is based at Camp Pendleton, California. He is survived by his wife, Rhonda and their two sons who live in Bennington, Nebraska.

A League of Her Own

In 1992 a movie directed by Penny Marshall, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Lori Petty hit the big screen. Since, “A League of Their Own,” debuted I have always watched it with the memory of a family doctor we had while growing up.

“What would Dr. Wagner think about this movie?” I nearly always manage to ask myself when it’s on the television and I imagine her saying, “Hogwash.”

However Teresa Goodlin, who worked for Audrey, but now lives in Arcata, believes differently, “I think would have enjoyed the movie.”

Audrey Wagner is one of the sixty original founding members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A two-time member of the All-Star Team, she ranks eighth in the all-time list with 29 career home runs while her 55 triples rank second all-time to Eleanor Callow and an outfielder who played from 1943  through 1949  in the League.

She earned Player of the Year honors in 1948, and also led several offensive categories over her seven-year career in the league. Audrey later became an All Star outfielder in each of her four seasons in the competing National Girls Baseball League of Chicago.

Born Genevieve Audrey Wagner, December 27, 1927, she grew up in Bensenville, Illinois and began to play sandlot ball  with the boys of her neighborhood when she was a little girl. At age 15, she attended Bensenville Community High School where she heard about Philip Wrigley and his plans to create a women professional baseball league during World War II.

“Her brother, George, whose my father, was the one who told her about the tryouts at Wrigley,” Forest adds. “He was the one who drove her to the tryouts.”

Wrigley, who was in charge both of the Wrigley Company and the Chicago Cubs, decided to found the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as a promotional sideline to maintain interest in baseball. The league started its first season in 1943 with the teams Kenosha Comets, Racine Belles , Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox, and each team was made up of fifteen women.

Audrey was assigned to the Kenosha Comets, where she played her entire career in the circuit. But due to her studies, she saw limited action until graduating in 1946.

She entered the AAGPBL as a pitcher, but Comets manager Josh Billings promptly moved her to the outfield because of her hitting abilities. Audrey moved around center and right field.

In 1943, Audrey hit .230 in 73 games, scoring 30 runs  while driving in  27 more and tied for second in triples and tied for third in home runs. She also appeared in the league’s first All-Star Game during the midseason, which was played under temporary lights at Wrigley Field , between two teams composed of Blue Sox and Peaches players versus Comets and Belles players.

It was also the first night game ever played in the ballpark.

The Comets had the third-best record at 56-52, but had won the second-half title, earning them a berth in the playoffs, only to be swept in three games by Racine. Helen Nicol, who led league pitchers in wins, strikeouts, ERA and shutouts, inexplicably failed in the playoffs after going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Audrey dropped to .189 with 26 RBI in 1944, but still managing to score 30 runs in 90 games. It was the only time in her AAGPBL career in which she failed to hit a home run.

The Comets again placed third and made the playoffs after win the first half. They took a 3-2 lead over the expansion Milwaukee Chicks  in the Championship Series, but Nicol lost an 11-inning pitching duel with Connie Wisniewski  in Game 7.

Audrey rebounded slightly in 1945, batting .198 with 26 runs and 26 RBI, but she led the league with nine triples and tied for second in home runs in a dominant pitching league. After becoming a full-time player in 1946, Audrey improved her offensive statistics by hitting a .281 average and leading the league with nine home runs and a .413 slugging average .

She also led in total bases and tied for the doubles lead, ending fourth in hits and eighth in RBI, while her average ranked fifth. However the Comets were out of contention in both years.

By 1947 the AAGPBL moved its spring training camp to Havana, Cuba. Audrey did not go to Cuba for Spring Training.  School was still in session during that years’ spring training.

“Audrey would have never missed school for any reason,” writes Forest Wagner, her nephew and God-son.

That season she batted .305 of average and again led the circuit in home runs , doubles, total bases and slugging. She also topped all hitters in RBI and hits and ended second in triples.

Audrey lost the batting crown by a single point to Dorothy Kamenshek. She was however named to the All-Star Team, while Kenosha did not classified for the playoffs this time.

Her hitting stayed about the same in 1948, which was good enough to win the batting title win a .312 average and by leading all-hitters with 130 hits, all career-highs. Besides this, she led all outfielders with a perfect 1.000 fielding average and posted career-numbers in games played, runs, RBI, on-base percentage, walks and triples.

In addition, Audrey tied for fourth in homers and tied for eight in RBI, while hitting a hefty .446 of slugging. She was named Player of the Year and again made the All-Star Team.

The other two All-Star outfielders were Racine’s Edythe Perlick, who averaged .243 with two home runs and 51 RBI, and Grand Rapids’ Wisniewski, who hit .289 with seven homers and 66 RBI. Meanwhile, the Comets advanced to the playoffs but were beaten by Rockford in the first round.

In 1949, Audrey slipped to .233 with 28 runs and 40 RBI in 97 games, but she hit three homers to tie Thelma Eisen  and Inez Voyce for the league lead, giving her three home run titles. For the second consecutive year the Comets gained a playoff berth and were defeated in the start, this time by the expansion Muskegon Lassies .

Audrey moved to the Parichy Bloomer Girls of the National Girls Baseball League in 1950, because she was offered the same salary and no extensive travelling. The games were played in the Chicago area, so she could be home every night closer to school and her studies.

She helped her team to clinch the Championship Title in 1950 and made the All-Star Team in each of her four seasons in the NGBL. Her most productive season came in 1952, when she led the circuit in doubles, triples, home runs and total bases, ending second in the batting crown race with a .364 average.

“I think I have her old baseball card somewhere — she autographed it for me,” Crescent City resident Kay Vail says.

While playing baseball, Audrey attended Elmhurst College where she received her bachelor’s degree  in pre-medicine.  She then went on to the University of Illinois  where she earned her Doctor of Medicine degree and did a major portion of her residency at Cook County Hospital.

Later Audrey would work as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Crescent City, California . There she earned her private pilot license and served on the Crescent City Council.

“Lois and Audrey lived across the street from me for years when I was young,” writes Jennifer Bechtold Merrill, formerly of Crescent City, now living in Arcata, ” They were amazing women and I have lots of fond memories of spending time with them.”

Of course, jus’ living next door isn’t the only way Audrey effected the lives of her neighbors.

Tami Klein Lallo adds, “Dr. Wagner delivered my daughter.”

This is seconded by, Michele Bigler who writes, “Dr. Wagner delivered my daughter in 1983.” She continues, “I had to have a C-section and the last thing I remember before going under was Doc conducting classical music with her scalpel.”

It wasn’t jus’ Audrey who was effecting the community, so was her life partner, Lois Halls, a register nurse and community college instructor who initiated the nursing program for the College of the Redwoods, Del Norte Campus.

“Lois was my nursing instructor in the early 80’s,” says Donna Van Matre Parker, who continues to live in Crescent City, “Ours was her last class, we graduated just before her accident.

Donna concludes, “She was such a wonderful person and great instructor and is greatly missed.”

Audrey and Lois died in a small plane accident near Rock Springs, Wyoming, August 31, 1984. Prior to the fatal crash, the couple suffered the tragic loss of Halls’ teenaged daughter, Tina in a traffic collision just north of the town of Crescent City, August 5, 1983.

“Lois Halls was my mother-in-law,” Kay writes, “I remember and loved them both.”

She adds, “Lois had 4 children — Albert, Peter, Matthew, and Christina. Tina was killed in the accident, Peter, whose my ex-husband, still lives here, Matt is in Seattle, and Albert is in Iowa.”

As for Audrey, she didn’t have children. She did however have a brother, by the name of George living in the Chicago area.

Audrey is part of the AAGPBL permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown, New York which opened in 1988.  She was inducted posthumously in the Elmhurst’s Bluejay Backer Hall of Fame in 2003 and in the Fenton High School Alumni Wall of Fame in 2005.

Josiah Gregg

Josiah Gregg is generally credited with the rediscovery of Humboldt Bay and authoring the book: “Commerce of the Prairies.”  However he should also be given credit for establishing the first overland route that led to Del Norte County.

Gregg died on February 25, 1850, from injuries received after falling from his horse. The location of his grave is not known.

Less than a year after his death, the first incident of open murder recorded by white historians occurred when two men were killed about 18 miles from Union — which is now Arcata.  A second followed shortly after on the forks of the Salmon River when whites took revenge by burning three villages and killing a number of Indians.

The situation worsened the next year, prompting the hiring of Colonel Redick McKee, a U.S. Indian Agent who was summoned to Northern California to negotiate treaties with the tribes. In some cases the arrangement worked out.

Other tribes did not acquiesce so easily. Those included the Chilula and Redwood Creek Indians.

Though most of the Indians accepted the arrangements in good faith, with some minor disagreements, white American settlers continued to push for the removal of indigenous peoples from Northern California. Pressure from both sides resulted in Brigadier General Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commander of the Department of the Pacific, establishing a military post on the Humboldt Coast.

Ground for Fort Humboldt was broken in January 1853 — where future U.S. Civil War General and U.S. President Ulysses Grant would soon be assigned. Following a short war between white settlers and rebellious Red Caps, work soon began on buildings for an Indian Agency.

The first two were weather-boarded houses at Kepel and Wau-Kell, near the Klamath River. Arrangements for the Indian reservation on the Klamath River were finalized in April 1855 by S.G. Whipple, Indian Agent for Klamath County.

The establishment of the reservation system in Del Norte County eventually brought about greater conflict.

World Bank

When I was a youngster there was only one “World Bank,” I ever had to worry about. It sat on a shelf in my bedroom, where I deposited pennies I found on the play ground, sidewalk, floor or wherever. Don’t you wish things were still that simple? I sure do.

Between Lake Earl and Dead Lake

There’s a small body of water called Dead Lake, jus’ southeast of Del Norte High School. Sadly, I became acquainted with this body of water when skipping school.

All I had to do was go west on Washington and turn right just before McNamara Air Field and head northerly a few hundred feet and I’d have a quiet place to hide from truant officers. Back then it wasn’t a maintained fishing area like it is now– its brackish waters paradise for bass.

The lake wasn’t named by Native Americans, but rather white settlers who took the name from a Tolowa story. In the story, a serpent named Li-le-sti, — which means, “to the east he lies” — lives in Lake Earl.

Stories about him are traditionally spoken of him in the wintertime, when his relative, snake, sleeps. Li-le-sti wears a long dentalia shell on his head, which is also used as currency by many coastal tribes.

Tolowa tradition holds that young men would go out onto Lake Earl to earn his dentalia. If Li-le-sti believed the young man’s intentions were good and if proper respect was given, the serpent would let the young man remove the dentalia.

If not, the young man would drown. His body would then somehow mysteriously appear in Dead Lake, miles from Lake Earl.

So far, no one has been able to prove or disprove that an underwater passageway exists between Lake Earl and Dead Lake.

Spirit Amid the Trees

As a youngster, I was vaguely aware of the political undercurrent that was taking shape in Klamath. I only knew what I did because I would lay awake listening to the conversations of those who came to my folks house for a later dinner and drinks.

Many of the people who came by were Native American and deeply involved in making the community a better place for “their people.”  Some of these people were lawyers, doctors and other Yurok tribal leaders.

It was while eavesdropping on adult conversations, that I first learned the Yurok Tribe has a constitution that begins with the tribes origin. It reads: “Our people have always lived on this sacred and wondrous land along the Pacific Coast and inland on the Klamath River, since the Spirit People, Wo-ge’, made things ready for us and the Creator, Ko-won-no-ekc-on Ne-ka-nup-ceo, placed us here.”

Spirits took the form of trees, including the Redwoods, and the fountain of water took the form of woman. The Yurok people would spread along the Klamath River and their constitution recounts thousands of years of the tribe’s trade, transportation, social aspects, currency, economic system and crafts expertise.

I was always certain I was walking among spirits when I was hiking in the forest.

Tolowa Creation

In fourth grade our class was introduced to the history of California. I wasn’t as interested in the state’s history as much as I was the local history of the northern most part of the state.

Fortunately I grew up when there were still enough tribal elders around and willing to share their people’s history. Most of these men and women are gone now, as we all will one day be, but I have managed to recollect their memories.

Luckily I have lived into the computer age, the age of the internet and have been able redress my errors by researching my facts and discovering more history than I knew was available.

According to the Tolowa the land had been settled when the world was created. Just south of the mouth of the Smith River, Yontucket marks the creation point — similar to the way that the Bible celebrates the Garden of Eden as the start of life of earth.

Tolowa elders disagree with theories that their people walked over — or descended from those who walked over, land that once stretched across the Bering Strait between Asia and North America. They believe the creator made people, after the sun, water, earth, animals and the Redwood trees, which marked the center of the earth.

The Tolowa would come to occupy lands from Wilson Creek to Six Rivers and north into the region that would become the Applegate area of Oregon, near Grants Pass. They also would be called Chetco and Tututni.

Lost Coast of Del Norte

Long before personal computers, the Internet and blogging, I used to write little one page thoughts about that which interested me. In the mid-90s, I collected up as many of these little vignettes as possible with the hope of publishing them one day in booklet form, entitling it: “Lost Coast of Del Norte.” Instead, what follows is that series.

It was third grade when I learned about not only our Pacific coastline, but about some of the people who lived in Del Norte County and the Klamath area long before me or any Anglo-Saxon. It was strange to be eight-years-old and suddenly mystified by inhabitants that no longer existed in their once natural form.

As a class we were taken by school bus to sites like the Yurok sweathouse that is perched above the Klamath River. The river, Yurok elders told us used to have so many fish in it that a person could walk across the water without getting wet.

We also visited the Tree of Mystery to see the largest privately collected Indian museum in California. It would always amaze me  that I grew up to hold the position of cataloging the entire collection as a summertime job.

Thus my interest in local history grew.

Arizona Sand

While the bride was away for a family reunion in San Diego, I decided to take matters into my hands and paint the living room — or at least one wall of it. This has been something I’ve been trying to get her on board with for nearly two years.

The color I selected is known as Arizona Sand. It is a bright yellow-orange color meant to lighten and warm the room up and make it feel larger.

Unfortunately, when the bride returned home, she was less than thrilled with the new color. In fact she dislikes it so much, she went to Home Depot and picked out new color to cover the wall.

Here’s the funny thing — it’s a burgundy, a color very close to the brick-red I had wanted to paint the wall in the first place. However the brick-red was poo-poo’d by the bride as being too dark.

Furthermore, I wrote a column recently about painting another wall of our living room a light brown, which went pretty much unnoticed by the bride, until I pointed it out. In that article I bemoaned I should have used red paint instead.

File this under: Me and my big mouth.

Secrets of a Stuffed Dog

After bragging about how old my stuffed toy dog was, I eventually brought it to work to show it off.  One of the people who I showed it to was my friend, Kay, who jus’ happened to stop by the station.

She managed to talk me into letting her take it home to show to her roommate Lori. I had a bad feeling about letting the toy out of my sight, even if it was for a night.

In that time frame though, the worst thing possible that could have happened to it — did happen. Lori’s dogs got a hold of the stuffed animal, tearing it to pieces and eating some of the cotton batting that made up the toy’s innards.

Needless to say I was very upset at the situation, after all I had the stuff toy dog since I was a toddler. As for Kay, she was in tears over the destruction of the dog.

Jump forward three years: I was cleaning out my closet, which included a wooden chest. I opened the chest and right there on top I found my prized stuffed toy dog.

I was overjoyed.

Then that joy turned to puzzlement as I tried to figure out how it ended up in that box after I had seen what the dogs had done to it. Kay swears up and down she had nothing to do with his reappearance.

I think toys not only have a secret life of their own — but the older ones are wicked masters at pulling pranks —  or time-travellers.

A Good Human

En route home from work, I turned from Glendale onto Rock near Baldini’s, when I saw a small rabbit dragging itself across the roadway and into the gutter. I knew at that moment I had to stop and do something.

Grabbing a pair of work gloves from the cab of my truck, I quickly but gently picked the injured Cottontail up and placed it in the bed. I could tell it had been hit by some a$$-hat in an automobile, who left the animal to suffer with a broken back.

Taking it home, I placed the tiny body in a cardboard box, lined with a couple of towels, hoping to keep it as comfortable as possible through the morning hours. After a few hours of sleep, I got up and took the rabbit to the Baring Animal Hospital.

There the receptionist took the box and bunny from me, offered me chocolate chip cookies and cup of coffee, as she disappeared into the back of the building. She returned my towels and thanked me for, “being a good human.”

Ironic isn’t it — I took a maimed animal to a veterinarian clinic to be euthanized — and that makes me a good human. Somehow — though I know my actions are right — I still can find it in me to feel all that good.

I’d feel better if I could confront the person who left the rabbit to suffer like they did — then I’d accept the whole “good human” bit.

Jim McQuillen, Sr.

Jim McQuillen, Sr., known by most as “Mac,” passed away March 11, 2011. He was born Jan. 19, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York.

Prior to going into law enforcement, a career that span nearly 26 years, Mac served four years in the United States Air Force, being stationed at Requa 777th Radar Station in Klamath, with my father. He also served on the New York Police Department as a patrol officer before returning to Klamath.

He started with the Del Norte County Sherriff’s Office in 1966, retiring after more than 20 years of service. During that time Mac was a sergeant and a range master and fire arms instructor for the Sheriff’s Office.

Mac was 75 years old.