Postponing

Odd how easily — and quickly a day can get away from me.

I started out writing an article on the history behind the western film, “The Ox-Bow Incident,” but got side-tracked when my neighbor came over from across the street for a visit. It was a nice visit and an enjoyable chat — but now I’d rather sit out on the porch sipping a beer than sitting in my room, writing.

Perhaps this evening after everyone goes to bed or even tomorrow. Besides, it’ll give me the opportunity to get out the DVD and watch it — after all it’s only an hour and ten minutes long.

The White Sombrero

Researching family names, I happened upon a newspaper article that casually mentions a distant cousin — Joe Hufford. I don’t know much about him, other than his name, appears in other family registries. I ended up piecing this story together from that article and though it doesn’t involve him directly — I thought it interesting.

Nine shots in all were fired by a robber Wednesday afternoon ,October 10th, 1906, who attempted to hold up the Redding and De La Mar stage a mile from Bear Valley Station. They were all fired at Express Messenger Dan Haskell.

Two of the bullets hit him — one entering his abdomen and passing out at the groin, the other striking him in the left foot. Two pierced his clothing — but inflicted no wound.

Three bullets made holes in the mail sacks. One struck Haskell’s pistol, which hung over his left hip and swung from a holster attached to his belt.

This bullet shattered the chamber of the revolver and rendered it entirely useless. Haskell got in only one shot at the bandit which was fired from his shotgun, which he carried on his lap.

Haskell was the only passenger in the three-seated stage-coach, Ed Durfor occupying the driver’s seat alone.

“Whoa!” was the only word of warning shouted by the lone highway man, who at a distance of more than eighty yards from the stage, peered out from behind a shield made of boards. Two shots in rapid succession from the bandit were then fire at the stage.

Haskell returned the fire.  One of the stage horses took fright and started to run and Durfor sawed at the lines trying to control the team.

“Let them run!” cried Haskell, “Let’s get out of this.”

The load in the stage was light and the horses galloped up the hill. Seven more shots were fired by the robber as the stage rolled away.

Arriving at Bear Valley Station, Haskell’s first thought was of the treasure he was guarding. He directed Durfor to employ two men from among the bystanders, provide them with arms and proceed to De La Mar with the express.

Durfor arrived at his destination only twenty minutes late. Haskell was removed from the stage and placed on a cot in the station. A courier was sent to Pit River Bridge, to notify the Sheriff at Redding and call a doctor.

Mrs. Haskell, accompanied by Dr. S. T. White and G.R. Dunn, a Wells-Fargo’s agent, arrived  ahead of the officers. On examination the wounds of the messenger were found not to be as serious as the first reports indicated.

The bullet that struck him in the abdomen made a glancing stroke, cutting through the peritoneum but not severing the intestines. This wound was considered less serious than that of his left foot, the bones of which were shattered.

Haskell was deemed well enough to be taken to Redding in a surrey. Witnesses say, he sat up all the way on the eighteen-mile drive over a rough road, “bearing his pain with great fortitude.”

Arriving home at 8 p.m., after four hours spent in travel, he went to bed and dropped off at once to sleep. No serious consequences were anticipated, though his complete recovery was forecast to be a long and difficult one.

By the following morning though, Haskell had taken a turn for the worse. Still his general condition didn’t alarm doctors.

Haskell hadn’t been in a single hold-up a Wells-Fargo employee, although he told friends he “always expected to be caught sooner or later.” He had also frequently said he felt a great relief when he came safely to the end of his run.

Most of his runs were made over the route to Weaverville, although he had been making the trip regularly once a month to De La Mar. Years ago, Haskell was Chief of Police in San Jose and for years was an Under Sheriff in Santa Clara County.

Captain John Thacker, of the Wells-Fargo service, took over the investigation the day following the shooting.

Durfor was able to describe the highwayman because he didn’t wear a mask. Durfor told Thacker, “He was heavy-set and of short stature. He had a moustache and was dressed in a brown suit. The hat was low-crowned, broad-brimmed and grey. He wore a shirt that was green, judging by the part visible in the vest opening.”

An investigation showed the bandit, stood in the center of a circular strip of road at a point which prevented him from seeing the stage until it was fairly close to him. Running across the circle was a strong piece of string, and at the end of it stood another person who warned of the coach’s approach and relayed the number of people on the it.

The distance at which the bandit stood from the stage was considered remarkable by Thacker and convinced him the hold-up had been well planned. And because of the wooden shield — neither the shooter nor his partner were inclined to expose their bodies to harm.

Haskell died at 7:45 o’clock two days after the attempted hold-up. His death was wholly unexpected by the family, the attending physicians and the community-at-large.

Everybody understood his wounds, though serious, were not likely to be fatal. His shattered foot caused him great pain through the day. The wound in his abdomen, which brought about his death, caused no great concern as physicians discussed the possibility of amputating his injured foot.

Haskell himself was said to be “in cheerful spirits, and that was a good sign of itself.” He chatted with the friends who were permitted to call upon him and discussed the various phases of the attempted hold-up and the pursuit of the robbers.

Though he had vomiting spells during the day, they were thought to be due solely to the sickness following administration of morphine to allay the pain in his foot. That unfortunately wasn’t the case.

“Haskell was seized by a sinking spell and within less than a minute from the first noticed of the sinking spell, he had breathed his last,” a witness stated. “Not a word of complaint had escaped his lips. Not a thought had he that his life was in great danger.”

Haskell, 59, had been in Wells-Fargo’s employ for a quarter of a century and was a native of Ohio . He was a veteran of the Civil War and a member of the Workmen. Six years prior, his only son, William, a locomotive engineer, was killed in an accident on the Iron Mountain railroad at Keswick.

“It is well for the stage robber,” writes a local newspaper, “that he has not been captured. Were he now behind the bars in the County Jail there would be no protection for him from a mob that would storm the prison and hand him.”

Redding people had done that once before.

A couple of days later what was supposed to be an important clue to the identity of the slayer of Haskell was shown to be without foundation. Durfor thought he recognized the robber as George Cody, a teamster, who left De La Mar that following Sunday,armed with rifle.

However, Cody returned to De La Mar, was arrested, but provided a solid alibi. He had been hunting up Squaw Creek in the opposite direction from the scene of the crime.

He was immediately released.

Then the town was thrown into a fever of excitement by the story the stage from Bieber had been held up about midnight and robbed of mail sacks by a lone and masked highwayman. W.F. Miles, the only passenger on the coach, told officers they’d been robbed and they immediately took for the Oak Run country.

However, the stage’s driver Fredrick Day denied Miles’ story. Day was a stranger, having come to Redding as a substitute for the regular driver.

As for Miles, he was a mail carrier and had a good reputation. For this reason his story was not doubted by officers.

He went into great detail, telling where the alleged hold-up took place; how the driver had saved the letter mail and thrown out to the bandit only the bags containing newspapers. He even repeated the conversation that took place and told how Day whipped up his horses when the highwayman ordered him to move on, escaping before the bandit could discover what had been handed over to him.

Miles’ description of the bandit resembled that of the man who held up the De La Mar stage and fatally wounded Haskell. Officials would eventually dismiss the story as a bad joke.

But Miles still stuck to his story, despite Day’s continual denial.

Sheriff Richards returned to Redding, leaving a number of deputies and Thacker at the Button Mine. The next morning he left for Ingot, fourteen miles from the scene of the hold-up, to look for the man who shot Haskell.

The white sombrero hat, with two buckshot holes in the crown, found two months after the attempted hold-up was said to be an important clue. It eventually led to the arrest of two men for the would-be stage robbery and the murderer of Haskell.

The hat was found half a mile from the scene of the tragedy at a lonely spot in the woods where the bandits had camped for a day and night, probably. The men arrested are Charles Whitescarbor and Con Hardwick.

Whitescarbor was arrested in Stockton, While Hardwick, who was supposed to be at Clipper Gap, was arrested in Redding at the Court House, after he went to the Sheriff’s office to find out what he was wanted for.

Hardwick is believed to be the bandit who, from behind a shield made of barrel staves, and set up a hundred yards from the road, ordered Durfor and Haskell to stop. It wasn’t until the officers examined the ground that evidence showed a second highwayman was in hiding.

For two months officers had little or nothing to work with.

It was in December, a cowboy riding the brushy range half a mile from the scene found some cast-off clothing and various articles, indicating that some one had camped there. Among these articles was a white sombrero.

The hat was traced finally to Hardwick, a wood chopper living near Bert Kramer’s, across the river from Redding and twenty miles from the scene of the tragedy. Five different parties identified it as belonging to Hardwick.

Hardwick and Whitescarbor were partners in the wood chopping business and were said to be associated together a great deal, and steady customers at George Whitakers’s saloon at the east end of the Redding bridge. They were in the saloon a day or two before the robbery, and were overheard talking about hold-ups.

Whitaker over heard them, and after the hold-up he related his suspicions to police. But Whitaker was drinking hard at the time, and little attention was paid to what he said.

Whitaker would later committed suicide by jumping from the bridge into the river.

Hardwick and Whitescarbor reappeared in the Kramer neighborhood after the robbery. They went to cutting wood again, and were again patrons of the Whitaker saloon. They even went into to Redding and had their picture taken together.

When Sheriff Richardson settled to his own satisfaction Hardwick and Whitescarbor were the men wanted, his next problem was to locate them.

Hardwick was in love with the daughter of Bert Kramer. The Sheriff learned this and figured Hardwick would write to her.

He finally learned Hardwick was in Clipper Gap in Placer County, where he has relatives living. At the same time he learned that Whitescarbor was in Petaluma.

A complaint was sworn to before Justice of the Peace Carr, and warrants issued for the arrest of the two men. Constable Crum went to Clipper Gap to arrest Hardwick, but on arriving there he found his man had just left, and had probably returned to Shasta County to see his sweetheart.

Crum informed authorities in Redding and they hurried the Kramer home. Miss Kramer told them her brother and Hardwick had just gone to Redding, but officers couldn’t find them.

In the meantime the younger Kramer and Hardwick had returned home unobserved. Miss Kramer told them the law was looking for them.

The brother was in favor of returning to Redding at once to see why he was wanted. Hardwick demurred but Miss Kramer insisted, and finally consented.

When he reached the Court House Hardwick soon found what was wanted for and the Deputy Sheriff locked him up. Whitescarbor left Petaluma to go to Stockton, and was arrested there and later placed into the custody of Sheriff Richardson.

Again from a newspaper report, “The arrest of the two causes great excitement in Redding. District Attorney Dozier, who has been a close adviser of Sheriff Richardson, says he is confident the right men are in custody.”

By the following day Whitescarbor had from Red Bluff and for three hours he was questioned in the Sheriff’s private office by Dozier, Thacker, Richardson and a Deputy Sheriff named Hubbard. After the interrogation Whitescarbor was returned to the Tehama County Jail.

“There is not the remotest fear of a lynching and guards at the jail have not been increased,” reports another paper, “all published reports to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Twelve days after their arrests Hardwick and Charles Whitescarbor were released from jail. The pair was able to prove by well-supported testimony and evidence that they were fully forty miles away from the scene of the hold-up and that while the white sombrero found was at one time the property of Whitescarbor he had disposed of it three months before the killing of Haskell.

Court paper’s show they were at Joe Hufford’s place, near Millville,  October 10th, the day after the robbery, and at the very hour that two men, supposed to be the bandits, were seen by M. Nedrow crossing his field in the vicinity of the Balls Ferry Bridge across the Sacramento.

The evidence that led up to the arrest of the two was the finding of some clothing, blankets, a hat and a few other articles in an abandoned camp half a mile from the scene of the hold-up. The hat was identified as once belonging to Hardwick and it bore the marks of buckshot, presumably fired from hasskell’s express shotgun.

When they were confronted with the clothing, they admitted owning them at one time, but they held that they had traded them off three months before the hold-up. This was confirmed by Mike Dailey, who was brought up from Red Bluff.

By early June, Eli Popejoy was taken into custody in Copper City by Constable Kinyon, of Fall River Mills.  Popejoy was jailed, but the he fact was kept secret by the officers, and eventually leaked to the press.

When confronted, Kinyon declines to make public the evidence upon which he based his suspicions.

Popejoy was the son of the late Theodore Popejoy, a pioneer of the Copper City region. The younger Popejoy was considered a half-breed — but also a man with a fair reputation.

Popejoy’s guilty was questioned as soon as news of his being locked up was learned.

“They have certainly no evidence against him, and therefore wait with interest for the officers to show their hand,” states a news article. “People are particularly slow to jump at conclusions in view of the fact that the officers made a mistake March 32d (sic) when they arrested Con Hardwick and Charles Whitescarbor for the crime.”

By the end of the week, William Randall was also in custody having been detained in Copper City by Constable H.F. Williams.  Both Constable claimed to have evidence connecting Randall with the stage robbery and fatally shooting, however he as well as Kinyon failed to swear out complaints.

The two Constables said they planned to jointly swear to complaints when the District Attorney has time to take up the matter. Meanwhile Richardson and his deputies refused to work the case along the lines followed by the two constables

“It is singular how suddenly Constable Kinyon became connected with the case,” a news reporter writes, “He lives at Fall River Mills, eighty miles from Redding. He came to the county seat last Saturday, bringing down an insane suspect.”

Williams, who lived near the scene of the attempted hold-up, had been working on the case, off and on, ever since the crime was committed.

By mid-month, Popejoy and Randall were still prisoners in the County Jail, although no complaint has been lodged against them. Both Kinyon and Williams returned home without charging the pair

After it was learned the Constables had left town, Popejoy and Randall were released from the County Jail.  District Attorney Dozier refused to allow warrants to be filed for their arrest.

From the SacramentoBee, dated June 16, 1907, “This incident would not (be) seen so farcical if it were not that it is the third of the kind in connection with the robbery.”

It appears the attempted stage robbery and murder of Haskell grew cold after the last pair were arrested and the case would go unsolved.

Silver Tailings: No Horsing Around

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons was thrown off and kicked by a horse in 2010. He was riding with his brother near Pyramid Lake when the accident occurred.

The governor, an experienced horseman, was riding an animal that had only been saddle-broke a month. Gibbons was transported to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where he underwent a two-hour surgery.

After the surgery and while recovering in the hospital, Gibbons was able to continue to perform his duties as governor. After being discharged, Gibbons continued to recuperate with the aid of a wheelchair and later a cane.

After losing the primary leading up to the 2010 elections, Gibbons quietly finished his term, retiring from politics. The following year, he accepted a position as Director and Senior Advisor for the Canadian mining operation, “International Enexco.”

Oddly enough, Gibbon’s isn’t the only Nevada Governor to have an accident involving a horse. Nevada’s 10th governor took a tumble, resulting in injuries 104-years earlier.

Governor John Sparks suffered a badly bruised arm, hip and head, while driving with J.H. Nevin, the state’s tax collector in 1906. The two were driving a young colt belonging to the Governor, when a vehicle came towards them.

Not wanting to take a chance of the animal bolting, Sparks shied the animal to one side. In doing so the front wheels of his vehicle went off the road throwing the two men down the embankment on their heads.

Sparks was elected Governor of Nevada in 1902, and re-elected in 1906. In 1904, the town of Herriman was renamed Sparks in his honor.

Sparks died during his second term, May 22, 1908. At the time of his death, he was reportedly broke, and ranch and livestock were quickly sold to settle his debts.

Like Gibbons, Sparks recovered – but some historians have speculated the auto accident may have hastened death.

Silver Tailings: Original Burning Man

Burning Man began as a bonfire on the summer solstice in 1986 in San Francisco when a few friends got together and burned a 9-foot wooden man, although some of the current organizers claim it started a of couple years previous. By 1990, the event moved to the bleached white playa of the Black Rock Desert near Pyramid Lake.

Little did these friends know the history they were stepping into. From 1842 to 1846, Lt. John C. Fremont and his guide Kit Carson led expedition parties to Nevada, where they met the Paiute that inhabited northern Nevada and southern Oregon.

Lake Pyramid Paiute, Thocmetone – better known as Sarah Winnemucca – describes one of these meetings in her 1883 memoir, “Life among the Piutes.”

“The following spring there came great news down the Humboldt River, saying that there were some more of the white brothers coming, and there was something among them that was burning all in a blaze”

Jump forward to 1999, listed in the AAA’s RV guide under “Great Destinations,” the encampment boasted 320 registered theme camps. The following year it had 460 camps and the first active law enforcement activity, with 60 arrests and citations.

Sarah Winnemucca continues: “My grandfather asked then what it was like. They told him it looked like a man; it had legs and hands and a head, but the head had quit burning, and it was left quite black. There was the greatest excitement among my people everywhere about the men in the blaze.”

Seventeen years after moving to Nevada, the 20-foot effigy was set ablaze during the early morning hours of August 28th, causing the need to rebuild “the Man,” before the next day’s official burning. Paul Addis pleaded guilty in May 2008 to arson and was sentenced to the Nevada state prison, and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution.

It wasn’t the first time there was commotion on the playa as Sarah Winnemucca explains: “They were excited because they did not know there were any people in the world but the two, — that is the Indians and the whites; they thought that was all of us in the beginning of the world, and, of course, we did not know where the others had come from, and we don’t’ know yet.”

As of 2011, participation had grown from a few to 50,000 people, complete with a city aptly named Black Rock City. It’s also been listed as the 10th largest city in Nevada, with it very own airport — so much for Burning Man being all about counter-culturalism.

But it’s Sarah Winnemucca who really gets the last laugh: “Ha! Ha! Oh, what a laughable thing that was! It was two Negroes wearing red shirts!”

Parallel’s in time can be interesting.

Being Alone

Being alone isn’t so bad as long as you like your own company,” claims Byron Pulsifer. Easy for him to say.

Sometimes I think I spend too much time alone. Yet there’s nothing I can do about it.

My work week begins Wednesday evening and ends Sunday morning. In that short time frame I am by myself roughly 100 hours out of a possible 168 .

While work hours account for some of that time, my wife’s work draws her away from home for hours and hours. Furthermore, she and I have schedules so opposite we’re like “ships in the night.”

“Ships that pass in the night,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; so on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”

It leaves me with a lot of time to while-away. About ten years ago I couldn’t deal with it at all and I’d go do stupid stuff like drinking too much or slutting around.

Today though, I no longer misbehave like that. Instead I find myself either reading, researching, writing or watching television when left alone.

Finally, I’ve come to understand what the hell Paul Newman meant when he said, “You only grow when you’re alone.”

As the Sun Comes Up

I’ve been home from the radio station since 0500 hours. The house is still cool – which will change in few hours.

Yesterday, I woke up at 1100 hours and it was already 80 degrees inside. I opened up the sliding glass door and our bedroom window to cool things off before tumbling back into bed for another couple of hours sleep.

My mind is cluttered with a bunch of junk, otherwise I’d be in bed by now trying to get some sleep. Instead I find myself writing about some of the busy thoughts racing through my brain.

There are times I’d like to jus’ write about my feelings. However there are two draw backs to this – first, would anyone care and second – what if I share too much?

A friend of mine, who blogs as well, says he simply writes for himself and no one else. I thought that was a pretty good idea – but then I realized I like to write for others as well – so it wouldn’t really work for me.

I guess I like an audience.

Plus, admittedly – I’d like to be somewhat famous for what talents I use. Saying that aloud suddenly sounds very egotistical or conceded – you take your pick.

Sorry.

Many times when I can’t sleep – and that’s been more often than not – I’ll slip out of bed and come to the computer and bang out a few paragraphs of nonsensical thought. I say nonsensical because in the end what I write is never shared and often deleted when I’m done.

It does relax my mind enough; however to eventually let me drift off for a couple to three hours of sleep. I call my screwed-up sleep pattern – “sleeping in shifts.”

I’ve been “sleeping in shifts,” for years and am unable to break the habit.

In the end I have but one question – do I post this or not? This morning I think I will, jus’ to see what sort of reaction it provokes from those who read it.

Hopefully, a quiet mind and sleep are on the horizon — like the sun that’s jus’ now rising in the East.

Remembering Dick Clark

An iconic radio and television broadcaster, who hosted such TV shows as “American Bandstand,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes, ” Dick Clark has died at age 82. He became the host of “Bandstand” when it was a local show in Philadelphia back in 1956, and was a key figure in taking the show to a national audience — remaining the show’s host until it ended its run in 1989.

Clark also produced and acted in a handful of successful films during the time “American Bandstand” originated from Philadelphia — including “Because They’re Young” and “The Young Doctors.”

He even appeared in the last original “Perry Mason” episode in 1966. Called “The Case of the Final Fade-Out,” the episode featured “Perry Mason” creator Erle Stanley Gardner in a small role as a presiding judge.

Among Clark’s many accomplishments was his successful integration of pop music.  Through “American Bandstand” the he helped introduce black artists to a predominantly white audience and successfully integrated the “Bandstand” audience, which in a time of segregation, featured both black and white couples dancing together on stage.

For many years Clark hosted various national music countdown programs on radio.  He also produced several radio and television programs through Dick Clark Productions.

That company produced the American Music Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and the Academy of Country Music Awards. Clark also produced Bandstand and many of the shows he hosted.

Dick Clark Productions was sold in 2007 for 175 million dollars.

Clark also had a hand in the global fundraiser ‘Live Aid’ and in the grass-roots ‘Farm Aid.’ He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

It was August 13th of the same year, Clark along with Paul Revere of “Paul Revere and the Raiders,” opened “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand” club on the 2nd Floor of the Harolds Club in downtown Reno. The business eventually closed in 1999 when it was decided Harolds Club was to be razed, to make room for Harrahs Outdoor Plaza.

I met him during the Grand Opening and came away believing he was one of the nicest guys ever.

Clark’s last TV appearance was on his annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” special to usher in 2012.  Through labored speech caused by a stroke in 2004, Clark reported on the festivities in New York’s Times Square.

In addition to his New Year’s Eve special, Clark’s lengthy and groundbreaking career has included his hosting of various incarnations of the game show “Pyramid,” as well as the Miss Universe pageant.

Dick interviewed a nine-year-old Michael Jackson during the Jackson 5’s first “Bandstand” appearance in 1970, and introduced the first Native American rock group, “Redbone,” to audiences in 1974, while Madonna told him she wanted “to rule the world” on her “Bandstand” debut in 1984.

Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.  He had suffered a major stroke at the age of 75 in December of 2004 as well as battling Type-2 diabetes for a number of years.

Silver Tailings: The Secret Truth of Rumors

Authorities at Lake Tahoe solved the mystery of a scuba diver who disappeared July 10, 1994 in the mountain lake’s deep, frigid waters.  The well-preserved body of Donald Christopher Windecker was discovered July 23, 2011 on an underwater shelf, 265 feet below the surface.

A remote-controlled mini-submarine with a robotic claw raised the man’s remains July 27th, near Rubicon Point. Just beyond the ledge where his body was found, the lake plunges to a depth of 1,645 feet.

Windecker’s discovery has added grist to the rumor-mill Lake Tahoe doesn’t give up her dead. The most famous of these stories involves Jacques Cousteau’s visit to the massive Alpine lake in the 1970s.

The famous Frenchman supposedly brought with him, a special high altitude submarine to the lake to investigate Tahoe’s depths. He’s reported to have emerged from the water — shaken — but not from the cold, saying, “The world is not ready for what I’ve seen.”

Furthermore, Cousteau’s first venture to Lake Tahoe was also his last one — as he refused to return.

This event’s coupled to the long-held belief the lakes been the dumping ground for the Mafia in the 1950’s and 60s as well as the final resting place for Chinese railroad laborers from the century before.  It conjures up images of hundreds of people standing on the bottom of the lake’s bed, arms outstretched, eyes-wide open.

Creepy!

Actually, Cousteau’s visit never happened and it’s doubtful that the mob used the Lake like it’s rumored because they were always under surveillance. Moreover, records show large numbers of Chinese railroad laborer remained on the California Pacific Railroad’s payroll even after the transcontinental railroad was finished in 1869.

Finally, University of Nevada, Reno biology professor Jennifer Hollander explains to the Reno Gazette-Journal why bodies lost in Lake Tahoe don’t often float.

“All of our bodies have bacteria that live in them,” she said. “They are anaerobic, meaning they thrive without oxygen.”

“When we die, our bodies stop breathing and the bacteria kick into gear breaking down our bodies. It’s called putrefaction. The bacteria produce gases as waste: carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen sulfide.”

“In warm water, the bacteria will still work just fine, so gases will build up and bodies will float. In cold water, the lower temperatures make them relatively inactive. It doesn’t kill them, but they can’t grow. They become inactive.”

As for Windecker — his body was protected from marine life by his dive suit. Instead his remains were subject only to the slower working cold bacteria.

So there’s no truth to the rumors — but plenty of fact behind the truth.

Women and Children First

At six-years-old, I had no idea one day the world would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. In fact, at the time, it was hard for me to even grasp the magnitude of the disaster.

One evening, Mom and I were in the kitchen. She was cooking dinner and I was more than likely getting in her way.

We were talking about the Titanic and why it sank, when I asked, “What does ‘women and children first,’ mean?”

She explained the men on the Titanic gave up their seats in the lifeboats to the women and children in order to save their lives. And because of this, the men died when the ship sank.

I was impressed with their bravery.

Her simple explanation awakened an ideal in me that remains to this day, as I told her, “I’d give up my seat for you and Adam.”

Mom looked at me sort of strange for a second or two and then her eyes teared up. I was sure that I’d done something wrong as she left the kitchen to go to the bathroom.

Later that night, when I was supposed to be asleep, I over heard Mom telling Dad what I’d said and how proud of me she felt.  Then she added, “I know he’s jus’ a little boy, but I think he actually meant it.”

That long overheard-conversation has stuck with me ever since.

RMS Titanic: 100 Years Later

April 14th, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the day the British passenger liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg about 375 miles south of Newfoundland and sank jus’ two and a half hours later.  The Titanic was on her maiden voyage, having disembarked from Southhampton, England April 10th.

The ship was bound for New York and had made stops in France and Ireland before heading west towards the United States East Coast.  The Titanic carried two-thousand-224 people and the sinking caused the deaths of one-thousand-514.

At the time of the voyage, she was the largest ship afloat.

The Titanic was jus’ four days into its crossing when it hit the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. local time.  Just before 2:20 a.m., the ship broke up and sank.

People thrown into the icy waters of the North Atlantic died within minutes from hypothermia.  The 710 people who survived in lifeboats were taken aboard the RMS Carpathia some hours later.

The catastrophe was met with shock and anger around the world because of the massive loss of life and the operational failures which led to what took place.  The wreck of the Titanic still sits on the seabed, more than 12-thousand feet below the surface.

Since it was re-discovered back in 1984, thousands of items have been recovered and put in museums around the globe.  Countless books, memorials and exhibits help keep her memory alive along with the movies which have been made.

Now thousands of records on the passengers and crew are available to the public.  With the simple click of a mouse, historians and genealogists can search for the names of those who were on board the ship or who helped rescue survivors.

All the data is available in a single location and is temporarily free of charge to access at www.ancestry.com/titanic.

The wreckage of the Titanic will go under United Nations protection April 15th, 2012. The UN Protection will prevent unethical or non-scientific exploration of the wreck.

The RMS Titanic company claimed the wreckage nearly 20 years ago. Since then, more than five-thousand items have been pulled from the ship’s remains.

Many of those are in exhibits around the United States.  The company hopes to possibly auction all of the items off in one lot.

Eric Epperson

Services for life-long Del Norte resident Eric Epperson will be Saturday, April 14th, at 1 p.m. at the Cornerstone Assembly of God, in Crescent City, California. Eric died suddenly April 5th in Medford, Oregon after an illness.

He’d been the PE teacher at Crescent Elk Middle School for 15 years, coaching boys basketball .  He also spent six years working in the Warrior football program — two years with the junior varsity and four years working as an assistant coach for with varsity team.

Retired Del Norte High School coach, Dick Trone writes of Eric in his January 15, 2010 edition of ‘Warrior Memories,’ from the Daily Triplicate: “Through the years Del Norte has had a number of outstanding linebackers, and Eric rates with the very best. He was part of a group that featured Dennis Hintz, Lee Musholt, Marc Slayton and Shawn Lesina that was very stingy giving up yards or points.”

Eric graduated from Del Norte High in 1986, where he was not only an outstanding linebacker and fullback, but a skilled varsity basketball player and golfer.  He later played football at College of the Redwoods before graduating from Humboldt State University.

As my friend, Collen Rankin-Wheeler reminds me, “If you want a beer — have two — one for Eric.”

He was 44 years-old, having been born November 5th, 1967. Eric leaves behind a wife and daughter.

Don Balliette

The first time I met Don Balliette, I knew I was in the presence of someone special. By this time he was already in a wheelchair, having been left a quadriplegic after the pick up truck he was driving rolled several times.

At the time I was a driver for CitiLift in Reno and Don was a passenger. He told me he’d been a cowboy before getting injured.

Don often told me about working as a horse shoeing assistant, a packer and guide and as a farm and ranch hand.  From that time on, I called him “Cowboy.”

He spent his “wheelchair years” volunteering for victim impact panels, the Reno Rodeo, at the Marvin Picollo School, Mothers against Drunk Driving and Sparks Christian Fellowship Church and painting western scenes.  Unfortunately, Don passed away after a long illness, March 11th 2012.

During his memorial service the 29th, a number of folks could be heard saying, “Now Don’s in Heaven with a perfect body — running and jumping.”  But as Pastor Scott Parker noted,  “No way — Don’s riding a horse — at a full gallop.”

I’m going to miss his smiling face and sunny disposition.

Sandwich Sensitivity

In my wife’s business of Port of Subs, making sandwiches, they offer 18 different cold subs. My favorite is the Number 1; ham, salami, capicolla, pepperoni and provolone on sourdough.

After 20-years of doing the same thing, she’s got the process down to a science. She also has certain phrases she uses when directing her employees or assisting customers.

One noontime lunch rush, a Reno police officer handed her a note. She quickly read it, laughed, then shoved the note into her work pants’ pocket.

That evening she came home and placed the note on the refrigerator. She told me I ought to read it as she headed for the bedroom to change clothes.

“Men are so sensitive,” she said as she disappeared down the hallway.

Without waiting I walked over and started reading it. I couldn’t help laughing aloud.

In the note, the officer suggests she find something different to say besides, “He has a small one.”

Silver Tailings: Bonpland Lake

Often referred to as “The Crown Jewel of the Sierra,” at a depth of 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe’s clarity is unmatched by other Alpine freshwater lake. It’s also the second deepest lake in the U.S., behind Oregon’s Crater Lake and 7th over-all in the world.

When Lt. John Fremont first laid eyes on it in February 1844, he marveled at its size and breadth.  He decided it required a distinguishing name, something fitting and well-known.

Fremont named the huge body of water: Lake Bonpland.

At the time Aime’ Bonpland was a famous French botanist and explorer. He was also the author of several works on plant life throughout America.

However, Bonpland’s name failed to stick to the lake. Instead settlers along its shores preferred the Native American’s name for the massive waters: Tahoe.

“What’s now called Tahoe Lake, I named Lake Bonpland upon my first crossing of the Sierra and put it on the map of that expedition,” he wrote in later years. “I suppose Tahoe to be an Indian name, though I’ve not visited the head of the American River since I first crossed it in ’44.”

As for Bonpland, a number of years before having the lake named for him, he left the U.S. for Paraguay. There he found himself in trouble with the county’s dictator, Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia.

Bonpland was tossed in jail for 11-years after being accused of spying, eventually dying in 1858 in Santa Ana, Paraguay.  But don’t worry – though Lake Tahoe no longer bears his name several other places do — including the lunar crater, Bonpland.

I wonder what Fremont would have to say about that.

Hell Hole

Cain knew he was a two-bit crook. That was jus’ the way it was and he accepted it.

“Besides,” he thought, “The bosses keep asking me to finish one job or another, so they gotta like how I get things done.”

Cain had been questioning his life-style the last couple of weeks. It all started when he met Rosie.

She was a show-girl and Cain was smitten. He also felt certain Rosie liked him back.

Unfortunately, she was tied up with Mick, who was also a penny-ante criminal, though Mick had no idea how small-time he was. To Cain’s way of thinking — that made Mick a purely dangerous man.

It was mid-afternoon when Cain’s phone rang.

“Yeah,” he answered.

It was Mick, “Meet me on the Mape’s side of the Lincoln Tunnel.”

“Okay, give me twenty minutes,” he responded as he hung up the receiver.

“Dumb fuck,” Cain mumbled as he picked up his car keys, “its Lincoln Alley — not tunnel.”

It wasn’t the first time Mick had called the alley-way downtown the tunnel. He was from back east originally and often screwed shit like that up.

Cain wheeled the old Buick into the alley and immediately saw Mick standing at the end, across the street from Reno’s newest hotel-casino. Next to him was a large rolled up piece of carpet.

“Son of a bitch,” Cain muttered as he pulled up to Mick.

He’d seen this before and while he didn’t know for a certain fact what was inside the rolled of carpet, he felt he knew it had been alive at one time. Cain knew it wasn’t a good thing to be too curious.

“Same place?” he asked as he got out of the car.

“Yup,” answered Mick as the two stuffed the roll into the sedan’s trunk.

They headed eastbound out of Reno and through the nicer part of Sparks. Highway 40 ran though both and out into the middle of Nevada’s wide open desert.

They were headed to a small place they nicknamed, “Hell Hole.” It was jus’ this side of the Nev-Mass Tungsten mine, on a dirt road, little used anymore and obscure to most anyone, unless they knew where to look.

Cain had been there before.

As usual Mick was shooting his mouth off – talking about one job after another. This was one of the reasons Cain thought of him as dangerous – should the syndicate discover how god-damned mouthy Mick was, he and who ever he was around, would end up dead.

Then Mick said something that caught Cain’s attention.

“Cock sucking whore was trouble,” Mick commented, hiking his left thumb over his shoulder, indicating the roll in the trunk, “So I did the Boss a favor. Besides I was tired of her shit anyways.”

Cain felt his grip on the steering-wheel tighten as he thought about Rosie.

It was the longest 45 minutes Cain could ever recall as he turned onto the dirt road that led to “Hell Hole.” And by the time he stopped the car, he wanted to cut the fucking Irishman’s tongue out and slice his throat.

As he turned the key in the trunks lock, he wanted to ask, “Is this Rosie?”

He fought off the urge, and lifted his end of the roll from the car. Cain tried not to think – only act – like he’d learned to do killing Nips in the Pacific a few years ago.

The pair moved over to the opening of the abandoned mine shaft, the one they labeled, “Hell Hole,” and in a back-and-forth rocking motion launched the roll of carpet and its content into the opening.

The roll slipped into the darkness of the maw with no difficulty. Both men stood there for a second as if listening for it to make a sound – which it didn’t.

Mick leaned over and laughingly called down into the hole, “Kiss my lily-white ass, Rosie darling.”

Cain, who’d already started back to the Buick, spun around. Again he didn’t think — he  jus’ acted.

He smashed his right foot into Mick’s leaning body. The blow sent the Irishman off-balance and into the hole.

However, Mick managed to jump forward a bit and was now clinging to the opposite-side of the smooth-edged mine shaft, struggling and clawing to gain a hand-hold. But he couldn’t, and instead slid into the black chasm and unlike the carpet roll, Cain heard his screaming as it faded away into nothingness.

It was the first time he’d killed a man since the war. He wandered back to the car and leaned against it, fishing out the half-full pack of Lucky Strikes from his jacket pocket.

He watched his hand tremble as he held the match to the tip of his smoke, marveling at the sensation. Cain couldn’t tell if he was more frightened at what he’d jus’ done or if it was the excitement of killing.

Cain rested against the car and smoked his cigarette until it was nearly burned down to his fingers. He flicked it away, reached back and slammed the truck of the Buick shut.

He then climbed behind the wheel.  It was a less-than-ten-minute drive back to the highway.

“Fucking asshole,” Cain stated as he turned onto 40 heading to Reno.