Sawmills and Scalps

The first sawmill in Del Norte County was established in 1853 in a gulch near the intersection of Third and C Streets in Crescent City. The machinery shipped from Pomona and it was F. E. Watson who built and operated it for R. F. Knox & Co. of San Francisco.

Much of the lumber was hauled over Howland Hill from Mill Creek. To transport the logs, loggers used “two large wheels about twelve feet in diameter, with an axle between and a long tongue, on which the logs were loaded, and partly dragged and wheeled by oxen.”

The mill was enlarged and relocated in 1855 to the corner of G and 7th Streets. It was destroyed by fire in 1856, and some of the equipment was salvaged by a Mr. Kingsland who used to build a small mill on Elk Creek.

Meanwhile, W. Bayse built a water-powered mill on Mill Creek. And while the road over Howland Hill was improved, the cost of transportation was too high and Bayse soon went bankrupt.

Finally, a horse-powered mill operated briefly near where the Elk Valley Mill subsequently stood. It was not considered a good investment and soon shut down.

There was also small sawmill at the Waukell Agency on the Klamath in 1859, but its production was reserved for the government. Jus’ a few miles away, after all, was Fort Ter-Waw which housed Company B, 4th Infantry, U.S. Army.

But it was further north, where A. M. Smith built his mill on Smith River, where it was later spanned by the bridge built by the Crescent City & Smith River Railroad. The Fairbanks Brothers also opened a small mill near Smith River Corners. Later, N. O. Armington became interested in this undertaking and a grist mill was added.

It is in the Smith River area where a number of clashes took place between settlers and indigenous peoples — namely the Tolowa. Generally, speaking, the Tolowa came out on the losing end of these battles.

Historian A. J. Bledsoe recounts in his book, “The History of Del Norte County,” about 50 Indian settlements were destroyed along the Smith River between 1855 and 1863. However, recent archaeological evidence shows his figures were off as much as 100 settlements.

He has been criticised for misrepresenting the figure — but it must be pointed out, many of the 100 settlements not listed were not know about at the time. In fact it wasn’t until the early 20th Century that archeologist rediscovered many of these places.

What’s also from missing from Bledsoe’s account are references to paying for Indian scalps. But a semi-annual Statement of Audit printed in the Crescent City News, February 16, 1894, shows the county paid out $50.20 in 1893 for bounty on scalps.

Then there’s the letter L. F. Cooper, who had served as a Del Norte county board supervisor as well as district attorney, sent his son August 26, 1895. In it he told him not to bring any scalps to Del Norte County as the county was no longer paying for scalps taken in Siskiyou County.

In fairness to Bledsoe though, his recollection is missing this information because the book he authored was printed in 1881.

Cathy Dunlap, 1956-1976

The accident happened sometime in the early morning hours, jus’ north of the Trees Motel. The vehicle Cathy Dunlap was in drifted off of Highway 101 and slammed into the trees lining the road.

Dad said Cathy, who had turned 20-years-old the month before, had died on impact. Whether that was true or he had jus’ told me that to make me feel better, I never knew.

It was later in the day when he informed me that he and I were going to go clean up the scene. It was something Dad had me doing since I was nine years old.

We drove by the site but since there wasn’t a turnaround close by, we had to go to the old sawmill and drive back to it. Dad turned on the fire-rigs flashing lights and we climbed out, put on our gloves, and opened the paper bags we used to place things in.

There wasn’t much in the way of personal items like there can sometimes be in a traffic accident. A car or truck flips over the windows break and objects get ejected and sometimes lost in the activity of trying to save a life.

There was a blush compact and a hairbrush as well as a shoe, all picked up and placed in one of the bags. I was down below Dad scanning the ground when I found a few drops of blood.

I asked Dad, “What do you want me to do?”

“Scatter it as best you can,” he answered.

So I spent the next couple of minutes trying to erase any sign of the blood by kicking the stones and dirt with the toe of my tennis shoe. Then for some reason, I looked up.

Gently waving in the air, hanging from a fracture tree branch was a twist of blond-like hair. At one end I could see, what I can only describe as a tag of skin, hanging from it.

My heavy work gloves wouldn’t let me get a hold of the hair, so I removed my left one and pulled the strands from the tree’s branch. I rolled it around between the tips of my fingers and thumb for a second and then stopped.

It was like a hot shower had jus’ washed over my face – tears were streaming and I felt so warm I became sick to my stomach. I had jus’ realized that Cathy, a girl I knew and had gone to school with had been killed and I was holding what remained of her.

Dad was quick to come down to me. He took the hair from my hand and placed it in a plastic bag as I stood there crying.

To this day, I’ve never passed that spot in the road without recalling that memory or of Cathy.

Return of the Skinny Man

“I think I jus’ saw a ghost,” Julio said as he walked into the newsroom.

It caused me to flash back to a couple of weeks before, when Paul came to work at his regular time. I was putting the finishing touches on my top-of-hour newscast when he sat down in his usual spot.

Once I was done with the cast, I left the control room and returned to the center console to continue working. That’s when Paul said something – but I didn’t quite hear him.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“I hope I didn’t do something to cause me a problem later,” he responded.

Puzzled, I asked, “What are you talking about?”

Paul explained, “I walked into the break room and in front of the soda were a bunch of aluminum cans arranged in the shape of a cross.”

I stopped what I was doing, “Are you kidding me?”

“No,” he answered.

Mind you, I was the only person in the building the last two and a half hours — and it wasn’t me who set the can’s up like that. Now Julio was standing in the newsroom, obviously shaken by what he’d witnessed.

 “I saw someone walk through the hallway and into the conference room,” he said, “But when I went to see who it was – nobody was there.”

Boogie looked at me as I asked, “What did this person look like?

“Tall and skinny,” Julio relied.

“Okay,” Boogie interrupted, “I’m getting goose bumps jus’ thinking about this.”

“Well,” I returned, “That fits the general description of whatever it is we’ve been seeing.”

“What are you talking about?” Julio wanted to know.

“Both Tom and I’ve seen the same thing,” Boogie answered, “So welcome to the club.”

Boogie has seen the skinny man at least three times, I’ve seen him twice and now Julio has seen him. What the skinny man is or why he travels the radio station hallways, no one seems to know.

Inspired Writing: O. Henry

It was during my banishment from Margaret Keating School and while attending St. Joe’s that I learned about William Sydney Porter. He’s better known by nom de plume as O. Henry.

Now I had heard of O. Henry and knew at least one of his short stories, that being, “The Gift of the Magi,” but I didn’t realize he was known for this kind of Genre – the twist ending. O. Henry’s stories are famous for their surprise endings, so much so, such an ending is often referred to as an “O. Henry ending.”

Porter was born September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. His middle name at birth was Sidney; he changed the spelling to Sydney in 1898.

Later he moved to Texas where he worked in a bank, was accused of embezzlement and lost his job but was not indicted. From there he wrote and drew for a publication he started called “The Rolling Stone.”

In less than a year the publication failed and he returned to working in the banking industry. However he was caught embezzling and charged with the crime.

But before he could be brought to trial, he fled to Honduras.  Then he learned his wife was dying, so he returned to the U.S., where he was immediately arrested.

In short order, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to five-years in the Ohio State Prison. He was eventually released after serving only three-years, due to good behavior.

Porter’s most prolific writing period started in 1902, when he moved to New York City.  While there, he wrote 381 short stories.

By 1908, his health started to deteriorate and it affected his writing. He died June 5, 1910, of cirrhosis of the liver cirrhosis, complications of diabetes and an enlarged heart.

From O. Henry – or rather William Sydney Porter – I discovered a simple twist, coupled to a health dose of humor, makes a story interesting in the end. Furthermore, he’s a prime example of overcoming failure, maintaining a personal goal and eventually finding success.

Dave Barnett

Our falling out started shortly after I went to work at KNSS. He left the station about the same time and went to work at KROI.

Dave Barnett and I hadn’t gotten along for a number of years afterwards. Finally in 2000, I went and asked why was so pissed off at me.

When I started at KNSS, I decided to use a catch-phrase I’d been hearing for three or so years by another disc jockey in Eureka. “Dingy-Dandy-Dancin’,” Dana Hall was the morning talent at KRED at the time I left the coast and headed for Nevada.

Since I was nearly 400-miles away and I liked the catch-phrase, I tried it on the air — but it jus’ didn’t fit my personality, so I dropped it. Dave heard it and it felt slighted,  believing I had stolen it directly from him.

Evidently Dave used a similar catch-phrase, but I didn’t know it at the time. I explained this to him and apologized for the difficulty it had brought, to which he accepted.

Unfortunately — the damage was done and we never spoke again after that.  And now — well, now — it’s too late to rectify the situation, as Dave passed away July 9th, 2008.

Political Temper Tantrums and Jobs

Nevada’s unemployment rate held steady at 13.4 percent in September as jobless figures fell in other states. The September figure is a drop from a year ago at 14.9 percent.    

State employment department economists say 10,000 jobs were added, but most were seasonal and the net job gain was closer to 1,800.  Governor Brian Sandoval says the stabilizing numbers are a good sign but officials still need to work to spur job growth and re-training.    

The Las Vegas metropolitan area continues to post the highest jobless numbers, with 13.6 percent unemployment last month, compared to 12.6 percent in the Reno-Sparks area and 12.4 percent in Carson City.  Nevada lags behind the national September jobless rate of 9.1 percent.

But the state’s GOP leadership has bigger fish to fry, as the chairman of the Republican National Committee is urging Nevada Republicans to delay their caucuses by three weeks to February 4th. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus says in a letter that changing the date will benefit Nevada in several ways, including giving it a more prominent place on the nomination calendar.      

Several Republican presidential candidates and the state of New Hampshire are furious over Nevada having scheduled its contest for January 14th. They argue that would wedge New Hampshire’s primary too close to Nevada’s voting and Iowa’s caucuses, which are slated for January 3rd.          

My first reaction is wanting to tell New Hampshire, the RNC and any boycotting Presidential candidate to piss off — but I’m think better of this. Instead state GOP leaders ought to move the caucuses so they end after all others. This would place Nevada right on par with being dead-last in the nation with employment as well as its highest-in-the-country foreclosure rate.

Jus’ a suggestion, since arguing over caucuses isn’t bringing jobs to Nevada either.

Perfect Bite Mark

Mom was baking cookies and had jus’ set the metal baking sheet on the counter to cool before lifting them off. Her last words were, “Be careful, it’s hot.”

Evidently, Deirdre wasn’t listening,  more focused on the cookies than what Mom told her and Marcy. Without hesitation, other than to check to be certain Mom wasn’t looking, Deirdre took a bite.

Mind you, she didn’t lift one of the cooling cookies from the sheet –- no -– she bit the cookie as it lay on the sheet. This was followed by the most painful scream a five-year-old could manage with a mouthful of hot baked goods.

Within seconds the evidence of what had happened was plain to see on Deirdre’s face as both her upper and lower lips were swollen with blisters. Mom took her to the kitchen sink and started applying cool water to her burn,  followed by some ice cubes and later a trip to Seaside Hospital.  

As for me, I recall looking at the sheet, with a perfect bite mark in one of the cookies, then — like a dutiful brother — laughing.

Switch Hitter

We were visiting some friends at base housing, when Mom forbid me to go explore the caves below the field. Instead of listening to her — I rushed off to the caves that were located below the base’s ball field.

When I finally came back up the hillside, I heard Mom hollering for me. I could see her standing at the edge of the upper level housing looking down at me.


As fast as I could I ran towards the road leading up to where she was, hoping to avoid her and whatever punishment she had planned for me. However Mom surprised me and started down the hill towards me.

Before I knew it, she had a switch in hand and a hold of my left shoulder. She proceeded whacking me on the butt and upper legs as we continued up the hill towards the housing units.

Needless to say that switch hurt even though I was wearing jeans. I think the most embarrassing thing about the whipping was the fact that I cried in front of my friends.

Now days a butt-blistering like that can’t be given without someone crying abuse.

Justice Delayed

This is a follow up on a story written last January called, “Murder in the Moon.”  The death penalty trial for two men accused of beating and strangling their Las Vegas escort service boss, then taking her body into the desert east of Las Vegas and burning it has been delayed.

The murder trial for Keon Park and Min Chang has been reset for August 20, 2012.  They were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping, first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon in the death of Yung Park.

I still find it difficult to drive by Keon’s old apartment complex on El Rancho and not think about what he’s done.

Dead-Fall Trapped

One morning I decided I was going to try to do something I had never done before. I was going to make myself a dead-fall trap.

With that in mind I found myself a good length of rope from our shed and I took it up into the woods with me. Next I found a trail to set my trap up on.

I tossed the rope over a high branch of a tree and tied it off to a large log.

It took me a longer than I thought it would to get the log up ended and leaning against the tree. It must have weighed a couple hundred pounds.

After getting the log balanced I set about creating a figure-four trigger. It took me a number of tries to get it to stay in place when the log was moved away from the tree.

Finally, I found the perfect balancing point between the trigger and the log. Satisfied with my work, I stepped back to look at what I had done.

It was like watching a slow-motion movie — as the log topple backward and the loop popped off the ground as the trigger fell apart. I jumped as I high as I could to avoid the loop as it flew underneath me.

I couldn’t jump high enough — fast enough.

The loop grabbed me by the calf of my left leg and I found myself flipped upside down, zooming skyward. I heard the log collapse on the ground and I suddenly stopped moving towards the branch the rope was hanging over.

It would take me about 20 minutes to finally gather the courage to cut the rope and set myself free — after all I was about 35 feet above the ground, hanging upside down. Unfortunately, I didn’t drop in slow-motion.

I’ve always imagined some old buck  — having seen me get caught in my own trap — laughing at my folly.

Bass Ackwards

Kay purchased a new bedside alarm clock shortly after her old one stopped working. It has easy to see numbers with a nice back-light and a gentle-sounding buzz that won’t jar a person from their sleep.

She set the time and the alarm and tested the new clock out the day before she put it to use for the first time. Unfortunately she didn’t hear it go off that morning because she also sleeps with a fan to drown out background noise made by others still up and knocking around after she’s in bed.

When she awoke, she realized she had less than five-minutes to get ready, get out of the house and get on the road before she’d be late for work. Later, when she returned home, she said she made it out of the house in about four-minutes and still managed to make it to work with around ten-minutes to spare.

The she added, “But the strangest thing happened to me on my last break as I was getting out of the restroom.”

I waited.

“I realized something was odd about my pants,” she continued, “They felt funny as I pulled them up and that when I noticed…”

Kay paused, “They were on backwards!”

“What?” I asked, not certain if I had heard her correctly.

“Yeah, they were on backwards most of the day!” she returned.

Then she explained, “I decided to wear my slip-on jeans, you know, the ones that are like a pair of sweat pants?”

“I know what you’re talking about,” I said.

When she first bought them, I had teased her that they looked sort of like the kind of pants a parent would buy for their toddler. They don’t have a real fly or front pockets in them and slide on even over bulky diapers.

Then she chuckled, “The worst part is nobody realized the fake zipper thingy was in the back and I walked around work all day like that.”

If You’ve Seen One

It was conversation I wasn’t supposed to hear, but since the window was open I couldn’t help it. I was sitting at my desk, writing.

This involved two pre-teen boys, one about ten the other perhaps 12. They were talking about a nine-year old girl they knew at school.

The pair was walking along the sidewalk curb, their arms out from their sides, balancing themselves. The younger of the two following the older.

“So you dared her to show you and she did?” the ten-year old asked with incredulity.

“Yup,” the 12-year old replied with confidence.

“Then what do you mean they’re boring?” the younger boy asked his buddy as they walked by my house.

The older of the two shrugged, then answered, “If you’ve seen one set of boobs – you’ve seen them all!”

“Oh,” was the understanding reply from the ten-year-old.

Thunder Cut

We were simply to go to the state building downtown, drop off some water samples and return to the office. But Dave Barber and I didn’t listen to what we were told.

Instead we decided to visit one of our favorite places – a local pawn shop. We had been there before and I had my eye on a set of practice samurai swords.

The swords were made of wood and perfect for practicing martial arts at the base gym across from our barracks. I was doing my best to save up 30-bucks to buy a set.

Once inside I asked to hold the large katana sword. It felt perfectly balanced in my hand and reminded me of the many days I had spent training with one at the air base as well as while attending night school.

“You don’t even know what to do with it,” Dave said, making fun of me as I must have looked like I was drooling over the piece of carved wood.

That’s when I decided to show him — as smoothly and as swiftly as I could I sliced through the air, displaying my skill. Then for the climax I decided to complete the show with what is commonly called a “Thunder cut.”

Crash! Smash! Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle…

Suddenly I found myself standing under a shower of glass and dust. I sliced right through four fluorescent tubes jus’ above my head.

I thought Dave was going to pee himself from laughing at me.

And while the shop’s owner let me off – saying he understood how accidents happen – the next time we came in, I saw a small sign by the display case that read: “No swinging swords while in store.”

Rosa May

She was a prostitute during the late 19th century and very early 20th century who lived in Virginia City and Bodie, California. Legend says she was selflessly nursing sick miners during an epidemic and succumbed to the illness herself.

Because of this, Rosa May has been referred to as the “hooker with a heart of gold.”

Her parents were Irish immigrants. In 1871 she ran away from her home in Pennsylvania  and between 1871 to 1873, began her career of prostitution.

It appears that she started in the trade while living in New York City, and then drifted through Colorado and Idaho. She first appears in Virginia City in 1873, where worked in brothels throughout the Carson City, Reno, and Virginia city areas.

From 1873 to 1888, the majority of her time was spent in Virginia City where she worked for madam, Cad Thompson, a.k.a. Sarah Higgins. Rosa was often was left in charge during Cad’s trips to San Francisco.

Between 1888 through the early 1890s, she traveled to and from Bodie and eventually settled there in 1893. Land records from 1902 show that Rosa purchased a house in Bodie’s “Red Light District,” for $175, back up against the “Celestial section,” of town as the Chinese were known.

Letters, diaries, and other writings suggest she was a charming person, took an interest in others, but was somewhat volatile emotionally. There appears to have been a serious or traumatic event in her early years but no record exists of what it could have been.

While she first appears in the 1900 census records — there are no records of Rosa May living in Bodie after the 1910 census. This lack of a paper trail has left many historians to speculate what became of her.

Bodie was declining rapidly during the period that Rosa May disappears, and it may be that she left the area in search of greener pastures. Her supposed resting place in Bodie is a popular tourist destination for those exploring Bodie State Park.

While there is a headstone with her name on it located outside of Bodies’s cemetery proper, it is believed not to be marking her actual resting place. The only evidence that she is buried in Bodie is a photo illustrating the Rosa May piece from Ella Cain’s 1950’s book, “The Story of Bodie.”

This photo shows a decrepit wooden fence surrounding an otherwise unmarked grave. Since Ella Cain’s biographical sketch of Rosa May is mostly fiction, it is likely the photo was chosen for its picturesque qualities.

In her book, Cain relates the story of the epidemic and Rosa succumbing to the same illness that had stricken the miners for whom she was caring. Other resident’s accounts and external records refute that there was any type of epidemic during the winter of 1911-1912.

Author George Williams III conducted an exhaustive search in the 1970’s for Rosa May’s death records, he found nothing.  His research is well documented in the book, “Rosa May: The Search for A Mining Camp Legend.”

Silver Tailings: Reclaiming the Cannon

Annually, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, square off for the rights to maintain a replica of the Frémont cannon, which was left by the expedition in a canyon back in 1844. It is arguably the most expensive cross-state trophy in the nation.

During a television interview, UNR football coach Chris Ault claimed the replica “is the cannon left by General John C. Frémont.” He’s wrong on both counts because, like many others, he doesn’t know is that it may have been found years ago.

Frémont was a Second Lieutenant when he passed through Northern Nevada on this, his second trip. What makes the Frémont Cannon trophy so much more than a trophy is lore surrounding the original cannon — which is supposedly still lost somewhere in the hills near Bridgeport, California.

All rivalry aside — there is some doubt to the story that the cannon remains lost. The metallic remains from the carriage are on display at the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Ranger Station in Bridgeport, where it has been since 2006.

In 1997, an iron tire from a wheel of a cannon carriage was found near Deep Creek, off Burcham Flat Road. Surveyor and historian Bud Uzes used the maps and descriptions left by the 1844 expedition to re-trace their route through the Walker River area to make the discovery.

However, he didn’t find the barrel before his passing in 2006. Yet there may be a reasonable explanation for this: it may already be in the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. If not, then the story of two kids fishing in the area of Deep Creek having seen a brass tube shortly after a flood are correct.

While this goes back to the 1960s, it’s the same area where the artifacts displayed at the ranger station were found. Either way, the tube would be a venerated artifact for Nevadans who hold the Frémont Expedition as a watershed moment in the state’s history.

The Shape of Things

My wife and I had been dating a few months when we were invited to Mom’s for dinner. Since we lived in Arcata and Mom in Fortuna, we had to drive through the city to get there.

As I pulled to a stop at the traffic light near the Humboldt County jail, I saw a young woman step off the side-walk on my left side. One of the first things I noticed about her was how skinny her waist was, followed by how large her breasts were and finally how cute she appeared in the face.

I’m a dog — I admit as much.

My eyes followed her from the side-walk on my left side to the side-walk on my right side. That’s when I suddenly noticed I was looking my future wife dead in the eyes.

Her reaction surprised me. She slugged me dead-center in the chest so hard that it knocked the wind out of me and left a bruise to boot on my sternum.

I had it coming.

Sneek Peek

The ticket agent was busy with a couple at the window — so I took the chance and stepped inside the doorway. I figured if I got caught, I’d jus’ claim I was only going to use the restroom.

I managed to walk straight through the lobby and into the theater.

It took me a second to find a couple of adults that I could sit next to and look as if I was with them, that way no one would question why a kid was being allowed to see such a movie. I had jus’ sneaked into to see, “The Exorcist.”

Dumb move on my part — but I was being controlled by my hormones rather than my brain. I had heard so many things about the cute actress, Linda Blair and her topless scene that I didn’t give much thought to the fact it was a scary movie.

In fact I never saw much of the show as I spent much of my time hiding behind the seat back in front of me. And to this day I have never seen the supposed topless scene I had heard so much about as a young teen.

I’ve also never sneaked into a movie theater since.

Nevada Refugee

We followed the dark red Volvo, with the two large dogs in the back, up to the entrance of the California Agriculture Station at the Nevada state line on 395. We stopped as the officer and driver of the Volvo spoke.

He then waved them through and it was our turn.

From an early age I had always heard people refer to the Ag Station in a more colorful term: Bug Station. I have since deduced this change in nomenclature has to do with the fact the officers are on the look out for rotted fruits and vegetables that often harbor insects.

He asked, “Where are you headed?”

“To Bodie, for the day,” I answered.

“Have a good day,” he responded as he waved us through.

As I stepped on the gas pedal, I replied, “Will do and thanks.”

Jus’ as I passed through the other side of the building I saw something fall from the roof and land on the hood of my truck. As I slowed to get a better look at that something, I realized it was a large tan-color Praying Mantis.

Obviously the mantis was making good his escape.

Morning of the Knife Butt

It was a couple of hours into my overnight shift when I decided check on vehicles in the parking lot. As I stepped out the door, I saw two teenage boys trying to get into the RV which is our mobile broadcast station.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled.

One of the kids decided to run away. The other stood there, jus’ looking at me.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell if he was simply too surprised to move or if he was sizing me up. It soon became apparent he was preparing to challenge me.

He lifted the front of his shirt to show he had what looked to be a semi-automatic pistol tucked in his waistband. His friend grew brave again and returned to his pal’s side.

It was obvious he didn’t have the moxie to draw down on me – if he had, he would have done it already. I started seeing red!

Being about ten-feet away from the two – I decided to return the challenge. Besides, in my right hand I had my trusty K-Bar knife, still sheathed, but available if needed.

Years ago I cut the belt holder and snap from the top of the sheath as I tend never to wear it on my belt anymore – carry it in my left hand. It also makes it easier to draw the knife from the sheath when needed.

As we stood there, facing-off, the kid with the pistol turned and spoke to his friend and the two laughed. That’s when I let gun-boy have it with my knife.

Now I’ve never been very good at sticking my knife in an object by throwing it. So it’s very rare that I’ll try heaving it at anything – until that moment.

Like normal, the butt-end of the knife hit first, bouncing off gun-boy’s left temple and he fell to the pavement. I heard the pistol tumble from his pants as he sprawled on the ground.

His buddy bolted again – racing away into the dark. I was also running – following my knife to its target.

Before the teen could figure out what happened, I had both his pistol and my K-Bar in hand. I can’t recall seeing anyone disappear that quickly as I saw him get up and vamoose across the parking lot.

As returned to the station doorway, I realized the weapon was nothing more than a metal toy. Furthermore, it dawned on me I had forgotten to remove the sheath from my knife before I chucked it at the kid’s head.


Can You Hear Me Now?

As a radio-news broadcaster, having a good set of headphones is important to the job. That’s why I decided to buy myself a new pair as my older ones were nearly finished.

However, for the second time in less than a year, I have lost a set of pricey headphones to the dogs. I say dogs, because I cannot be certain it was Roxy alone this time as I came home to see three of the four playing tug-of-war with their remainder of the set.

Without thinking about it, I left them setting on the arm of my chair and in reach of a snooping, wet nose. I’m considering this as much my fault as theirs in this case.

The bad thing is — I never even got to use them.

Shelly Sheppard

It’s like a kick in the gut when I hear news someone I loved as a human and as a friend has passed away. This morning I learned my ageless friend, Shelly Sheppard has died.

Shelly and I go back to 1990, when we first met over a hot mic at KROW Country 780. We were co-hosts of a Sunday night radio program specializing in real old-fashioned cowboy music and poetry.

She was into performing — acting with the Reno Little Theater, the American Shakespeare Theatre in Connecticut, and doing musicals in Las Vegas.  Shelly also performed folk music and was an announcer at Harrah’s.

Shelly was 13-years my senior — but we made a real connection with one another.

One of the things Shelly and I would do on this six-hour program was tell homey-stories about our childhoods. We had the crazy idea that this made some pretty good radio and the number of calls told us we may have been right at the time.

The day I was let go from KROW, she was very upset and we ended up sitting in the station’s parking lot at Grove and Wrondel, talking about it. She wanted to quit and I refused to let her — after all this is sometimes what happens in radio.

Eventually, Shelly left KROW and landed a job at KRNO a few blocks over in Reno-town and on the FM dial, rather than the AM dial. At KRNO she hosted a weekend call-in show involving love songs, which was a popular venue.

Those we’re some great times in my life — but this morning however, with the news of Shelly’s death — I feel as if I’m simply marking time and awaiting my turn.

Elvish Riddle

Frankly, I never got into J.R.R. Tolkien’s work – to meaty for my primitive mind — I prefer Louis L’amour and such. But my best friend in the Air Force found his work fascinating.

In fact Dave Barber was so enthralled with “Lord of the Rings,” that he set himself down and eventually learned to write in the Elvish language Tolkien had developed but never set to form. I was and remain extremely impressed with Dave’s tenacity.

All this came to mind when he posted a cartoon that read, “It turns out Rosetta Stone doesn’t have Klingon.” I couldn’t help responding with, “They don’t have Elvish either.”

As it happened, I had jus’ pulled out an old letter Dave had written me after I was booted from the service. On the back of the envelope was an inscription that I recognized as letter-forms he had been working on before I left the base.

What they mean or if they were even meant for me or perhaps a girlfriend has always been a question in my mind. And after so long, Dave has no answers to this either.

I think it would be nice if Rosetta Stone did have Elvish language lessons — but then were not in Middle Earth, are we?

South Lake Soldier Dies in Combat

Spanish Springs 2011 — A soldier with ties to Northern Nevada has been killed in action.  U.S. Army Spc. Garrett Fant died September 26 in Afghanistan.

He attended high school in South Lake Tahoe where his mother still lives.  Fant intended to return to the area to teach at the high school.

He died due to injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.  Fant was on his first deployment with the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

He was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas. Fant enlisted in March 2009 where he earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, NATO Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one Campaign Star, and the Army Service Ribbon during his time in service.

He’s survived by his parents; a brother, who is serving in the Marines and is currently stationed in San Diego; and a sister and will be buried at Happy Homestead Cemetery in South Lake Tahoe. A memorial for is being planned but the details are still in the works.