Jerry Zottola, 1924-2013

One of my favorite high school history teachers, Jerry Zottola passed away November 24, 2013, at his home in Hiouchi. He was born in the Bronx, New York, July 12, 1924.

He graduated from Grants Pass High and served in the Navy as a radioman during World War II. After leaving the service, Jerry attended Humboldt State College, where he received his teaching credential.

Upon graduation his first teaching job was at Arcata High School in 1953. By 1955, Jerry had moved to Crescent City, where he married Gertrude Jepsen of Fort Dick that same year.

“Zott,” as the students came to call him, spent the next 30 years teaching history at Del Norte High School. He was also the Varsity baseball coach for several years before his retirement and the schools first tennis coach.

He is survived by his wife, Gertrude, son Tony Zottola of Lodi; daughter Tina O’Neill of Hiouchi; daughter Gretchen Zottola-Sancier of Campbell; daughter Tami Zottola of Gasquet; son Timothy Zottola of Stockton; daughter Trudi Gugliemini of Hiouchi; daughter Gina Zottola of Gasquet and sister, Gracie Cooper of Crescent City.

He Signed Las Vegas into Existence

tasker oddie

Born in Brooklyn, New York, October 24th, 1870, Tasker Oddie lived in East Orange, New Jersey, where he attended school. From the age of sixteen to nineteen, he lived on a ranch in Nebraska.

After returning from Nebraska he engaged in business in New York City. During this time he attended night law school, from which he was graduated, and in 1895 was admitted to the New York Bar and becoming a member of the Nevada Bar in 1898.

Three-years later he arrived in Austin, Nevada to investigate conditions in his employers mining, railroad and banking. He uncovered several cases of fraud and as a result recovered large sums of money which they had lost.

Around 1900, he became interested in the original discovery of the Tonopah mines with Jim Butler. He was manager of the properties for the first five years.

Goldfield and other important mines were discovered as the result of the opening up of the Tonopah District, and millions of dollars a year were produced in the various camps. The effect meant the building of hundreds of miles of new railroads and the building of towns.

Oddie was heavily invested in mining in Goldfield and a number of other mining camps as well as in banks, ranches, stock-raising and other industries. However, the panic of 1907 caught him unprepared to weather the financial storm and by the following year he was broke.

From 1901 to 1903 he was District Attorney for Nye County. From 1904 to 1908, he was a state Senator, then a U.S. Senator from 1921 to 1933 and Governor from 1911 to 1915.

Throughout his political career, Oddie was in debt. In March of 1921, George Wingfield sent the recently elected U.S. Senator money to pay his bills. In return, Wingfield instructed him to nominate Washoe County Republican Louis Spellier to be U.S. marshal.

During his tenure, women got the right to vote, a state motor vehicle law was sanctioned, mining safety legislation was endorsed, and there were improvements to workmen’s compensation benefits. On March 17, 1911 he signed the city charter for Las Vegas.

Oddie died February 17th, 1950 in San Francisco, California, at the age of 79. He is buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada.

My Challenge Towards Thankfullness

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Doesn’t it seem as if the people with the most problems are often those who are most thankful for what they have? Facing a crisis tends to make us appreciate the things we take for granted.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in ‘Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community,’ — “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi’s) and a founding member of the Confessing Church.

His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943. He was later executed by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end.

My challenge to myself and you too, is to appreciate what I have, even without a crisis prompting us. I will start and end today thinking about how fortunate I am, right here, right now.

Thanksgiving: America’s Real Religious Holiday


In the winter of 1620, Pilgrims, traveling by sea, settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts, for religious freedom — a desire to worship God and live according to Holy Scripture. But the country they found was bleak and uninviting, with several inches of snow already on the ground.

Of the 102 passengers aboard the ship, the Mayflower, nearly half died during the first winter of the “great sickness.” Yet, according to settler Edward Winslow, they were grateful to God for his provision in their lives.

A year later, the group celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving, an act of faith. For me much of that celebration hinges on one thing: Freedom of Religion – something that has been forgotten in what is now a mostly secular holiday, filled with eating, football games and shopping.

The scriptures are filled with passages calling us to maintain a thankful heart. From Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians urging them to “give thanks in all circumstances” (5:18). It was this latter verse that sustained the Pilgrims, venturing to the New World, who ushered in the Thanksgiving Day celebration.

One of America’s earliest, religious documents, the Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the Separatists, also known as the “Saints”, fleeing from religious persecution by King James of Great Britain. They traveled aboard the Mayflower in 1620 along with adventurers, tradesmen, and servants, most of whom were referred to as “Strangers.”

The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard ship on November 11, 1620 by most adult men, but not by most crew and adult male servants. The Pilgrims used the Julian Calendar, also known as Old Style dates, which, at that time, was ten days behind the Gregorian Calendar.

Signing the covenant were 41 of the ship’s 101 passengers, while the Mayflower was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor within the hook at the northern tip of Cape Cod. It is interesting to note that even as they were fleeing religious persecution, they still felt they were Englishmen and wrote their compact as Englishmen.

The document was drawn up in response to “mutinous speeches” that had come about because the Pilgrims had intended to settle in Northern Virginia, but the decision was made after arrival to instead settle in New England. Since there was no government in place, some felt they had no legal obligation to remain within the colony and supply their labor.

The term “Mayflower Compact” was not assigned to this document until 1793, when for the first time it is called the Compact in Alden Bradford’s A Topographical Description of Duxborough, in the County of Plymouth. Previously it had been called “an association and agreement” (William Bradford), “combination” (Plymouth Colony Records), “solemn contract” (Thomas Prince, 1738), and “the covenant” (Rev. Charles Turner, 1774).

The Mayflower Compact attempted to temporarily establish that government until a more official one could be drawn up in England that would give them the right to self-govern themselves in New England. In a way, this was the first American Constitution, though the Compact in practical terms had little influence on subsequent American documents.

John Quincy Adams, a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Alden, does call the Mayflower Compact the foundation of the U.S. Constitution in a speech given in 1802, but this was in principle more than in substance. In reality, the Mayflower Compact was superseded in authority by the 1621 Peirce Patent, which not only gave the Pilgrims the right to self-government at Plymouth, but had the significant advantage of being authorized by the King of England.

Here is the text of the compact as seen in William Bradford’s History Of Plymouth Plantation as written in William Bradford’s History Of Plymouth Plantation. The spelling and punctuation of the document has been modernized.

“In the name of God Amen• We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James by the grace of God, of great Britain, France, & Ireland king, defender of the faith, &c

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith & honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia• do by these presents solemnly & mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant, & combine our souls together into a civill body politic; for the our better ordering, & preservation & furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof, to enact, constitute, and frame such just & equal laws, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most mete & convenient for the general good of the colony into which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have here under subscribed our names at Cape Cod the •11• of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King James of England, France, & Ireland the eighteenth and of Scotland the fifty fourth. Ano: Dom 1620.

SIGNERS:
John Carver, Edward Tilley, Degory Priest, William Bradford, John Tilley, Thomas Williams, Edward Winslow, Francis Cooke, Gilbert Winslow, William Brewster, Thomas Rogers, Edmund Margesson, Isaac Allerton, Thomas Tinker, Peter Brown, Myles Standish, John Rigsdale, Richard Britteridge, John Alden, Edward Fuller, George Soule, Samuel Fuller, John Turner, Richard Clarke, Christopher Martin, Francis Eaton, Richard Gardinar, William Mullins, James Chilton, John Allerton, William White, John Crackstone, Thomas English, Richard Warren, John Billington, Edward Doty, John Howland, Moses Fletcher, Edward Leister, Stephen Hopkins, John Goodman.”

The Mayflower Compact was first published in 1622. William Bradford wrote a copy of the Mayflower Compact down in his History Of Plymouth Plantation which he wrote from 1630-1654, and that is the version given above.

Neither version gave the names of the signers. Nathaniel Morton in his New England’s Memorial, published in 1669, was the first to record and publish the names of the signers, and Thomas Prince in his Chronological History of New England in the form of Annals (1736) recorded the signers names as well, as did Thomas Hutchinson in 1767.

It is unknown whether the later two authors had access to the original document, or whether they were simply copying Nathaniel Morton’s list of signers.

The original Mayflower Compact has never been found, and is assumed destroyed. Thomas Prince may have had access to the original in 1736, and possibly Thomas Hutchinson did in 1767.

If it indeed survived, it was likely a victim of Revolutionary War looting, along with other such Pilgrim valuables as Bradford’s now lost Register of Births and Deaths, his partially recovered Letterbook, and his entirely recovered History of Plymouth Plantation.

Finally, may you and yours celebrate Thanksgiving in a way you feel both free to do and in a manner appropriate to your beliefs.

The Wreck of the ‘Queen Christina’

The ‘Queen Christina’ ran aground off the coast of Del Norte County on October 21st, 1907. The steamer had sailed from San Francisco, Saturday, the 19th, for Portland, Oregon, with a cargo of wheat.

Build at Newcastle, England, in 1901, she displaced 4,268 tons, had a beam of 48 feet and a length of 360 feet. At the helm was Captain George R. Harris.

Off Point St. George reef, she ran into a heavy fog. Harris, believing he was seven miles off-shore, continued ahead.
Suddenly, the vessel struck a series of rocks, forcing Harris to give the order to abandon ship. The crew made shore safely, in two lifeboats.

When word of the wreck reached Crescent City, the Hobbs, Wall steam-schooner ‘Navarro’ got under way, but was unable to pull her off the rocks. Arrangements were then made to salvage as much as possible from the wreck.

The ‘Queen Christina’ withstood all the Pacific had to offer during the winter of 1907-1908. It was not until January 1909 that she finally broke free and smashed against the reef.

The ‘Crescent City News’ reported the “stranded steamer ‘Queen Christina’ is a complete wreck…there is nothing visible of the ill-fated craft except a portion of the bridge…heavy seas roll over it…the masts have gone by the board.”

Harris blamed for the Point St. George Reef Light crew, claiming the foghorn had not sounded. His charges had to be dismissed when witness after witness testified hearing the horn at the time of the disaster.

The Wild Bunch’s Last Hold Up

cowboy joe marsters

Three men rode up to the First National Bank in Winnemucca on September 19th, 1900, and they left with nearly $33,000. The trio reportedly included Butch Cassidy along with Wild Bunch member Kid Curry and another man, whose never been never identified.

It would be the last holdup by the famous gang, which later had its photo, sending one to the First National where it hangs still to this day. It’s disputed whether Cassidy sent the photo or if a local resident sent it as a publicity stunt.

Some claim Cassidy’s involvement is simply a wild-west myth. Still others say it was the Sundance Kid and not Cassidy who helped pull off the robbery.

After the heist, they mounted their horses and made their getaway as the alarm sounded. Although towns folk fire fired several shots at the robbers, who returned the gunfire, no one got injured.

The gang had planned the robbery down to the last detail, including having fresh horses posted about 10 miles apart along their getaway route. This allowed them to quickly outdistanced the posse.

A man known as ‘Cowboy Joe’ Marsters recalled riding with the Wild Bunch as a 14-year-old horse wrangler. He said he liked Cassidy, but wasn’t crazy about the Sundance Kid.

“I saw him hang a man,’’ Marsters said during an 1974 interview.

Marsters also claimed to have seen Cassidy during a rodeo at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. By then both Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were reportedly dead some seven years, killed by the Bolivian Army.

Reports as recent as 2011, say Cassidy, whose given name was Robert LeRoy Parker, survived as a machinist named William T. Phillips, dying in Spokane, Washington in 1937. As for Marsters, he passed away in Doyle, California, north of Reno, in May 1978 at age 83.

Crescent City Nearly Disincorporated in 1957

One hundred years following incorporation, a 204 page document was presented to the board of supervisors in July 1957, recommending Crescent City’s charter be dissolved. It went on to ask city services be turned over to the County of Del Norte.

The board turned down a motion that would have called for the election of 15 freeholders to draw up a charter for the county. Supervisors Harold Del Ponte, Austin Hunter, and Fred Haight stated that “the county is not ready for such a move at this time.”

Some Del Norte citizens were not content to wait for the right time and notified the board that the citizens could call for an election by petition. When the freeholders were elected, they could draft a charter that would be voted on by county residents.

Charles A. Thunen, member of the advisory council reported that Jack Harper informed them of the immense savings that would result from the change. Thunen, at the time, was principal of Del Norte High, having the school gym named for his following his 1965 death.

Interestingly enough, Harper was also a school district employee. He taught art to students throughout the county, including Gasquet’s Mountain School and Margaret Keating School in Klamath.

Supervisor Del Ponte responded by stating that he didn’t see the point of letting two or three employees go and hiring a $1,000 a month man.  Unemployment was less than two percent at that time and many jobs were available in the logging and lumber industries.

As of 2012, only seventeen cities have disincorporated in California’s history, including Long Beach, Hornitos, Cabazon as well as Pismo Beach and Stanton, each of which later reincorporated.

‘Corky’ Simms, 1935-2013

corky simms

‘Corky’ Simms passed away November 17, 2013, at his home in Klamath after a three-year battle with cancer. He was born on January 10, 1935, at Kapel, on the Klamath River, to Doris Roberts and raised by Hector Simms.

After his service in the United States Marines, he returned home to work as pile driver, and then went on to work in masonry. He taught many young Yurok tribal members the ways of the Klamath River and how to carry on the traditions that he lived by.

An incident from the mid-70’s remains cemented in my mind. In a conversation with Marge Paul, who owned and operated “Paul’s Cannery,” jus’ north of the new Klamath town site, Corky had ‘strong native energy.’

He was being chased by the law from U.S. 101 up Requa Road, reaching speeds in excess of 90-miles an hour, when he decided to ditch his car in the river between the Patapoff’s home and the Requa Inn. Officers saw his car hit the water and sink with him in it.

Deputies, officers from the highway patrol and volunteer firefighters spent hours searching the river bank for him. It was believed that after escaping the car, Corky either doubled-back and got out of the water under the authorities nose’s or he swam across the river to the southern bank.

Mrs. Paul had a third explanation and swore it was the truth . She said Corky turned himself into a salmon and swam up river to Paul’s cannery, where deputies would later find him sitting at the bar sipping a beer, in dry clothes.

I lived around the Rez long-enough to learn there are things that ‘white-man medicine’ cannot explain.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda Simms; brother Don Natt; sister Amanda Donahue; mother of his children Vada Berry; daughters Winter Berry and Malea Simms; step-daughter Shannon and husband Jon Richards. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Skee Skelton and Butch Lewis.

A 700 Mile Bounce

Yeager and the NF-104A

While researching the Century Airline crash killing two people when it slammed into Castle Rock and burst into flames during March of 1980, I learned about a crash that began while 21-miles above the Mohave Desert. On that Tuesday, December 10th, 1963, the jet was being test-piloted by Colonel Chuck Yeager.

A newspaper report from the following day reads, “His rocket-boosted NF-104 Starfighter smashed to earth near the intersection’s of U.S. 6 and U.S. 466, one of the most heavily traveled points in a desert area otherwise free of traffic or habitation.”

The intersection has since been replaced by SR-14 and SR-58. But what makes this so unique is that pieces of that Starfighter were found only seven miles west of Crescent City, California, roughly 700-miles from where the crash originated.

Aerospace historian Peter W. Merlin writes, “We first visited this site in 1992. It has been picked over quite a bit since then by a number of people including some who were selling the pieces. In 2011, we took Yeager to the site, the first time he had been back since 1963.”

Yeager’s most famous flight came 16-years earlier in 1947, when he flew the X-1 rocket plane at 700 miles-per-hour to become the first man to break the sound barrier. Tom Wolfe adapted the 1963 crash in his 1979 book, “The Right Stuff,” and later depicted in the 1983 movie based on the book.

18,250 Days Later

In the later part of my junior year in high school the re-examination of the President John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassination was nearing its crescendo. While everyone in class was being forced to read such books as “Lord of the Rings,” or “Ragdoll,” I was working my way through three books on the conspiracies surrounding JFK’s death: “The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World,” “The Death of a President: November 20–November 25, 1963,” and “Beyond the Gemstone File.”

The teacher’s name was Miss Fitzgerald, an irony lost on me at the time, and after making my case to her, she relented and allowed me to finish the books and write a report on each one. In the end she was unhappy with my final thoughts on the subject and awarded be a B-minus for my work.

What she took aim at was the fact that I felt that while Lee Harvey Oswald, may have acted alone, firing at the Presidents motorcade, striking first a traffic light, which fragments and bit ricocheted, hitting both the President causing him to exclaim, “God, I’ve been hit,” and injuring a bystander named James Teague. Her other point was that I felt Oswald did hit the President as well as Governor John Connally, but he didn’t fire the fatal shot.

Much has been made of the so-call ‘pristine’ bullet found at Parkland Hospital over the five decades since it happened. However, every picture I’ve seen of this bullet, and many were published in these three books, the bullet is damaged. Furthermore, from what I gathered from those books, Connally was sitting lower and further to the left of the President when the pair were struck, making the ‘pristine’ and the ‘magic bullet the same.

It is called the ‘magic’ bullet because the Warren Commission had it changing direction at least twice in mid-flight, something physics says it impossible. Furthermore, I pointed out in my school report that this was the bullet fired by Oswald, thus showing he did shoot the President.

However, I carried my belief out to the point Miss Fitzgerald, could not abide with my conclusion. I read and reported that the bullet that passed through Kennedy and hitting Connally was 6 mm, while the hole in the base of Kennedy’s head was 8 mm, showing two different weapons were fired.

My conclusion, based on the behavior of the Secret Service and the fact that the detail behind the President’s car had a AR-15 in it, that the shot came from the Secret Service detail. Initially, the Secret Service failed to tell the FBI of the weapon when asked, then admitted during official testimony.

This is also supported by the fact that the Secret Service interfered with the handling of the President’s body at Parkland Hospital by denying Texas authorities to complete an autopsy there. It was made worse by their apparent interference of the autopsy proceedings at Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland.

There is also the witness testimonies taken by police on the day that say they saw a Secret Service agent with the AR-15. Many of those same witnesses stated that this same agent fell backwards in the seat as the third shot was heard.

Follow this up with the reports of the rifle shots coming first two coming with a slight gap between them and the second and three shot being rapid in succession. Lastly, several people told investigators they distinctly smell gun smoke after the report of the third shot.

As for me on that fatal day, I was barely three-years-old; however I have a clear recollection of my mother and our next-door neighbor sitting on the couch, crying as they watched television. Our neighbor was a Korean woman and she had her elastic pants on backwards.

Also I remember my father coming home, getting some gear, and kissing Mom before leaving. And, though I cannot swear to this, I seem to recall watching Walter Cronkite that day, delivering the news that the President was dead as well as the live shooting a couple of days later of Oswald by Jack Ruby.

I qualify this because I’ve seen those two pieces of historical footage time again since, and it could have caused a ‘false memory,’ for me.

Year’s later both of my parents, who were great Kennedy supporters, would talk of the assassination. From them I learned, Dad was gone for nearly two-weeks and that the greatest fear At Mather Air Force Base, in Sacramento at the time was the possible involvement of the Soviets.

We also had the book, “Four Days: The Historical Record of the Death of President Kennedy,” in our home. I must have thumbed through it a couple of dozen times as a kid.

For all of this I got a lesser grade than I thought I deserved, but at least I passed her class and didn’t have to bother with diagramming sentences or reading books which held no interest for me. Finally, everything I wrote then as now, is mere speculation and will be, as so much time has passed since the assassination that, barring new evidence, no one living then or today will ever know what really happened.

Remembering Captain Courageous

They purchased the Angus-cross bull from Harold Del Ponte when the animal was jus’ a couple of days old. Larry Bush and his wife, Audrey took the animal, they named ‘Bahamas’ to their Klamath Glen home, raising him on the bottle.

‘Bahamas’ was two-and-a-half years old, when on December 22nd, 1964, a flood washed him down the river, into the Pacific Ocean and finally into the Crescent City Harbor. He was rescued by some men, including Dave Steward, and was extremely ill from his 16-mile ordeal.

When Audrey went to the harbor to see if it was their steer, the animal stood up for the first time and came right to her. The Bush’s were planning to give him to Crescent City so he would have a place to live out the rest of his life.

But, before that could be done, some of the rescuers hired an attorney and sued to keep him, with the idea of butchering the Angus-mix. It was local brand inspector, Lyle Corliss, who decided the steer belonged to the Bush’s, ending the litigation.

Fees for the steers rescue, the vet, upkeep and attorneys were piling up. Several people including George and Millie Merriman, Colin Henninger and Wally Griffin helped pay them.

Later, the rescue fee was returned after one people who led the rescue was slated to receive an award from the National Humane Society. Unfortunately, that award-winners’ name appears obscured from public records.

‘Bahamas’ was taken to Dr. Vipond’s ranch, near Lake Earl, where he lived through 1967. He was then moved to Bush’s cousin, Alvin Larson’s place in Requa.

Eventually, Bush and his brother, Norman asked Klamath resident, Andy MacBeth to take over the care of the steer. It’s believed MacBeth was the one who made arrangements with the animal’s original owner, Del Ponte to put ‘Bahamas,’ now renamed ‘Captain Courageous,’ out to pasture and on display.

‘Captain Courageous’ lived a long and peaceful life, dying in the spring of 1983. Fourteen years later, a monument to ‘Captain Courageous’ was erected at the south end of the new Klamath town site, next to the two original Golden Bears salvaged from the bridge destroyed by the flood.

The Great Lava Bed Wars: Captain Jack

While the old Modoc chief remained in the reservation, Kintupash returned to Lost River and lead an abusive harassment against the white settlers who had occupied the area. The small Modoc group of about 43 Indians demanded rent for the occupation of “their land”, which most settlers paid.

After a few attempts to negotiate in behalf of the complaining settlers, including failed attempts by Agent Lindsay Applegate in 1864–6 and Superintendent Huntington in 1867, the Modoc finally relocated in 1869 following a council between Kintpuash; Alfred B. Meacham, the US Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon that replaced Huntington; O.C. Knapp, the US Indian agent on the reservation; Ivan D. Applegate, sub-agent at Yainax on the reservation; and W.C. McKay.

Meacham was from Oregon, and knew Captain Jack and the Modoc.

When soldiers suddenly appeared at the meeting, the Modoc warriors fled, leaving behind their women and children. Meacham placed the women and children in wagons and started for the reservation.

He allowed “Queen Mary”, Captain Jack’s sister, to go meet with Captain Jack to persuade him to move to the reservation. She succeeded.

Once on the reservation, Captain Jack and his band prepared to make their permanent home at Modoc Point.

Harry Reid’s Secretive Grant Announcement

Washoe County’s Regional Transportation Commission has been awarded a $4.6 million grant to purchase three electric buses. The 35-foot buses will replace three diesel buses and will operate from the Riverwalk District downtown to the University of Nevada, Reno.

So far, where the money for these buses came from no one is saying. Hopefully the citizens of Nevada nor the U.S. are footing this bill.

Officials say the vehicles have fast-charging lithium-ion batteries and fuel cell auxiliary power needed for air conditioning in high desert climate. The grants were announced by Nevada’s U.S. Senator Harry Reid — which explains a lot about the late Friday afternoon presser.

Not even Reid’s senate website explains where the $4.6 million grant originated. This is disturbing as it appears there is a reason to hide the information.

Finally — while the emissions the buses produce will be diminished and this is no doubt good for the environment, this isn’t good for the economy. Somewhere in the county, some business that depends on selling fuel to the RTC is suddenly left without the income brought in by filling those three buses with diesel.

It’s a shame the greening of society doesn’t include people’s bank accounts.

The Search

christmas dress

Sometimes I get so wound up in my own self interests, that I forget about the people in my life. This includes family and friends.

This comes to mind after going to the mall with a friend and helping her look for a new dress to wear to her company’s Christmas party.

Believe it or not — I had fun. It has been ages since I’ve done something, anything out of the ‘norm,’ that I had forgotten what it was like.

While we were unable to find a suitable dress, I did realize the simple act of helping her, made me feel happy, energetic and creative. Who knew that a so-called ‘he-man,’ and ‘hard-ass’ male could enjoy himself in the women’s department.

Some may call it ironic — but I’ll simply say — it’s been a great day.

Nevada’s Great Silver King

john mackay

Born in Dublin, Ireland, November 28th, 1831 and while still a child John MacKay was brought to New York City by his parents. He lived with them in Park Row, working in the ship-building trade as an apprentice, until early in 1852, when he went to New Orleans and from there sailed for Chagris, crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and from Panama he went by steamer to San Francisco.

In the summer of that year he went up the Sacramento River, landed at Marysville and started to walk to Nevada City. While on the road, “Curley Bill,” the stage driver, gave him a free ride for a part of the way, something Mackay never forgot.

In fact, the Mackay family took care of “Curley Bill,” whose name was actually William Garhart, until his death at 76 on August 2nd, 1904.

From 1852 up to the fall of 1859 Mr. Mackay mined at Downieville, Forest City, Sierra City and on the American River, making a specialty of placer and drift mining with varied fortune. In December, 1859, he and “Jack” O’Brien went over the Sierra Nevada Mountains from Downieville to Virginia City, Carson County, Utah.

Carson County was made a Territory in 1863, called Nevada Territory, becoming the State of Nevada in 1864. On his arrival in Virginia City he went to work in Cook Tunnel, at first as a miner at $4 a day, but he soon became most expert in timbering a mine to sustain the roof, and because “of his efficiency received $6 per day.

He gradually accumulated money, and in 1861, with John Henning, he went to Aurora and bought the Esmeralda Claim. This venture proving a failure, he returned to Virginia City and joined with J. M. Walker in building the Petaluma Mill at Gold Hill, which turned out to be a profitable enterprise.

Walker introduced Mackay to James C. Flood and William S. O’Brien, of San Francisco. The four carried on operations for several years, and then James G. Fair became a member of the group, each having a one-fifth interest.

Walker finally said that he was rich enough, so he sold his one-fifth interest to Mackay and, went back to the State of Virginia, where his brother was Governor. This gave Mackay a two-fifths interest in the business.

Mackay, Fair, Flood and O’Brien obtained control of the Gould and Curry, Best and Belcher, Consolidated Virginia and California mines. Mackay and Fair studied the characteristic features of the great lode to ascertain if the indications might lead to valuable ore bodies.

Neither Mackay nor Fair had any previous experience with ledges or schooling as geologists. What they acquired in the way of mining lore was in the hard school of experience.

It was the theory of Mackay and Fair that the old workings in the Consolidated Virginia and California, if explored, would reveal a good deal of low grade ore which had been passed, but which might be profitably worked with reduced cost in transportation and reduction. After six months’ exploration very little had been realized, and it was determined that they should go to the bottom of the Curry shaft, 1,200 feet deep, and drift north, on the theory that it would be through virgin ground.

Then, if the Ophir and Mexican surface-ores had any counterpart in the depths, by the strike of the vein, it would probably be on the line of such drift. This was done and the drift passed from the Curry shaft 150 feet north through the Curry ground, the 700 feet of the Best and Belcher, and 150 feet into the Consolidated Virginia (all the way through blasting rock), where the “big Bonanza” was struck about 30 feet below its apex.

Had the drift been 40 feet higher, the Bonanza might have remained undisturbed to this day. From that single ore body $119,000,000 in gold and silver was taken, and $67,000,000 paid in dividends.

Mackay married Marie Louise Bryant (daughter of Colonel Daniel E. Hungerford, a Mexican war veteran), in 1867 at Virginia City. They continued to live there until 1874, when they went to San Francisco, but Mackay himself passed most of his time in Virginia City.

In 1876 they went abroad and lived in London and Paris. Mackay frequently returned to Virginia City and later to New York City to take charge of his cable and telegraph interests, but he was often in London where Mrs. Mackay resided and still resides at No. 6 Carlton House Terrace.
She was a widow when Mackay married her, and by her former husband had one daughter, the Princess di Stiglianno Colonna. The Mackay’s had two sons.

The oldest, John William, was thrown from a horse and killed on October 18th, 1895. The younger son, Clarence, survived; devoting himself to carrying on the enterprises he inherited from his father.

During the six months after the great fire in Virginia City, by the express desire of Mackay, Bishop Monogue drew upon him for the poor of the city checks to the amount of $150,000, and every one was honored. For years he met the expenses of the Sisters’ Orphan Hospital at Virginia City at about $5,000 a month.

In politics Mackay was a Republican. he was twice offered the United States Senator seat from Nevada once in 1874 and again in 1880 but he declined.

At one time he seriously contemplated the building of a line of great transatlantic steamers. However, he turned to submarine cables and land telegraph lines.

He found in 1884 a strongly entrenched monopoly the Western Union Telegraph Company with no opposition on the Atlantic Ocean and only a few scattering, badly organized and insolvent competitors on land. That year he laid two submarine cables from America to Europe, through The Commercial Cable Company which he had organized in 1883.

Two years later, in 1886, Mackay organized the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company, and commenced the construction of land telegraph lines throughout the United States. It had been the boast of the Western Union that no telegraph company in competition with them had ever paid a dividend.

And that was true up to that date. The trouble was that no competitive company had ever been able to cover the whole United States, and the public would not patronize a telegraph line that did not reach all important points.

The third step in building up the Postal Telegraph-Commercial Cable System was in laying a cable from San Francisco across the Pacific Ocean to Honolulu, Manila, China and Japan 10,000 miles. Mackay was engaged in this at the time of his death and the work was completed by his son Clarence.

In 1902 Mr. Mackay was spending the summer in London with his wife and looking after the European side of his telegraph and cable interests. While there he died suddenly, July 20th, 1902, at the age of 72.

The George E. Tryon Bridge

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Hundreds of people turned out for the George E. Tryon Bridge dedication on Big Flat Road in July of 1957. Mrs. Tryon received the dedication to her late husband and flowers from Bailey Steward, former Board Chairman.

The existing historic 206-foot long, two-lane, steel, spandrel deck arch bridge, built-in 1948, crosses the South Fork of the Smith River. The main arch span is 140-foot long.

Members of state, county, and local government, and members of Del Norte County’s pioneer families were present for the occasion. They honored Tyron for his efforts at constructing roads and bridges in the county.

Senator Randolph Collier spoke of the improvements and modernization of the road system and dedicated a plaque placed on the bridge bearing Tyron’s name. Assemblyman Frank Bellotti also spoke as did Supervisor Austin Hunter, City Councilman Bernard McClendon, and Harold Del Ponte, Vic Meedom, Fred Haight, and future U. S. Congressman Don Clausen.

In September 2013, a $34,700 contract to replace the old structure went to Flatiron West Inc. Estimated construction costs range from $7 to $11 million, with work slated to begin in 2015.

Klamath’s Army Air Force Farm

Radar Station B-71

Known as “Trinidad” or the “Klamath River” station, Radar Station B-71 was built between 1942 and 1943 in response to Japanese attacks on U.S. soil during World War II.

In total, the Army built 65 stations spanning from the Canadian border and into Mexico. But this particular one, located in the coastal bluffs south of Klamath, is different from all the others – it looked like a barn.

However, there were no tractors or cows on this farm, jus’ 50-caliber machine guns, armed soldiers and military police with guard dogs to protect the property. It took 35 Army Air Corps men working in shifts to cover 24 hours.

Many people believe the U.S. was attacked by the Japanese in World War only once, on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. The fact is the West Coast was attacked a number of times and even invaded once in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands.

The Japanese struck oil refineries and tankers – including the S.S. Emidio off the coast of Del Norte County. Many of the attacks came from torpedoes shot by Japanese submarines, but other attacks came from above, including an incendiary bomb dropped from a plane between Smith River, California and Brookings, Oregon.

The Aircraft Warning Service oversaw the network of radar stations, including B-71. According to the 1942 Signal Corp Field Manual, Aircraft Warning Service, its mission was to “observe the movement of aircraft and to collect and exhibit the information obtained” in order to protect the nation’s coasts and adjacent territories and bases against enemy attack by land or by sea.

Its functions included: organizing and training military observation posts and non military observers; installing, operating and maintaining observation posts; providing “suitable signal communications equipment for the transmission of information and orders”; providing information centers; and coordinating the activities of the Aircraft Warning Service with other military agencies.

In addition to its general defensive mission, the defense command had to coordinate with the adjacent country’s military, such as in the West where the defense command had liaisons with the Canadian military and naval authorities as well as Mexican commanders of military areas and garrisons. In December 1941, the Western Defense Command was established with headquarters in San Francisco.

It oversaw nine western states as well as Alaska and the Aleutians. There were also three associated Air Forces: Fourth Air Force, Second Air Force, and the Alaskan Air Force.

The best descriptive information about the station comes from the recollections of First Lieutenant Dale Birdsall, who was Station Commander for a time during World War II. He commanded the radar station until September 1943 when he left for the 653rd Signal, AW Company, Hamilton Field, California and spoke to National Park representatives in 1988 about his time at the station.

Birdsall recounted, “I took command of the unit which was transferred from Santa Rosa Island very shortly after they arrived at Klamath. The exact dates I do not make available but I assumed command early in June 1943.”

At the time of Birdsall’s command, the radar crew consisted of forty-one enlisted men from the Army Air Corps and two officers, with a National Guard unit attached to the station for security. Although the local residents knew the purpose of the station, “a real effort was made to keep station activities and mission as secret as possible.

Personnel “originally lived in the old Klamath Grange hall in the center of the town of Klamath,” located to the east of the station, but by personnel lived in newly constructed barracks located to the south of town. During their off duty hours, the men frequented Klamath’s bars, gambled, fished, and attended movies at the local movie theater.

Several structures and features that were once vital parts of Radar Station B-71’s operation have since disappeared. There was a guard post at the entrance located near what is now the Coastal Drive and the trail that leads down to the terrace on which the station is located, whose task “was mainly to verify a person’s authority to enter.”

A National Guard unit, consisting of eight to twenty personnel and one officer, not only manned the post, but also filled the roving guard position. For protection, there were also three machine gun emplacements described as measuring 12′ in diameter and holding 50 caliber machine guns on anti-aircraft mounts which contradicts Birdsall’s recollection.

Birdsall said there were two 50-caliber water-cooled anti-aircraft machine guns and 45 caliber Thompson sub-machine guns. The enlisted men also provided security since they were armed with one M-l or Enfield 30-06, while each officer had one 45-caliber automatic pistol.

While B-71 did not see action, one event does stand out. During mid-July 1943, around 2 a.m., the station received a call from the San Francisco Information Center from a Radar Officer saying they had just been notified by the Coast Guard their patrol in Crescent City had reported that the ‘enemy’ was landing in large numbers on Crescent Beach and they should take any steps necessary to protect their situation.

Jus’ the day before, the station had received it’s 50 caliber machine guns, shipped in boxes and covered with Cosmoline, a very heavy protective grease that could only be removed in boiling water.” The station was in an uproar as personnel tried to arm themselves and work out a ‘defense’ plan because they only had plans for cases of sabotage.

Two hours later, the San Francisco Information Center called again stating “the Coast Guard patrol had sent the wrong coded message.” Instead of an imminent enemy landing, the Coast Guard had meant to report “lights had been sighted at sea.”

In July of 1944, Radar Station B-71 no longer searched for enemy crafts and was instead used as an emergency rescue station through the end of the war. At first, the detachment to the radar station was assigned to Company 653rd Signal Aircraft Warning to 4th Air Force and later to Squadron 411th AAF Base Unit of the 4th Air Force.

Following the war’s end, the station was abandoned and ownership reverted back to E.H. & A. Chapman, from whom the War Department had leased the land. On April 14, 1978, Station B-71 was registered on the National Register of Historic Places.

Questions Linger in 1966 Crescent City Murder Case

“We figure that anybody who would do a thing like this must be insane,” Crescent City Police Sgt. Douglas Premo told the Associated Press, following the brutal slaying of a girl found Saturday, February 12th, 1966, between Pacific Avenue and A Street.

Myra Sue Gerling, described as a pretty long-haired brunette, was naked, throat slashed and body pierced 40 times with a knife. The 11-year-old had been sent to the nearby Kacy’s Pacific Market to get some ice cream for a party.

Failing to return home by 2:30 that afternoon, her mother telephoned the police. A search was initiated beginning in the parking lot of the store.

Three hours later her body was discovered by three boys. All about 12-years-old, they were returning from a horseback riding trip when they cut through the lot and found her.

Detectives combed the lot the next day, looking for the murder weapon and her missing clothes. Meanwhile, other officers, looking for leads, questioned nearly 100 people.

They soon zeroed in on a suspect: a shoeless, blond, shaggy-haired man, seen around the area shortly before Myra’s murder. Later that same day, detectives picked up a man fitting that description.

However, Chief Danny Nations refused to identify him or say where and how he was arrested. He read from a prepared statement, “At the present time a suspect is in custody and his activities are the subject of our intense investigation. Meanwhile, all city and county law enforcement agencies are following through on the many leads we have.”

The suspect turned out to be 16-year-old Fred Yeomans. Since the majority of the records remain sealed by the court, it is unknown how long Yeomans was imprisoned or if he was certified as ‘mentally ill.’

Other questions remain unanswered and were the subject of an editorial in the March 2nd issue of the Humboldt Standard, entitled “Murder in Crescent City”. The first thing Margaret Delaney asked is why wasn’t the Del Norte County Coroner, who also happens to be the Sheriff, notified until several hours after the body was found?

She also pointed out that the California Highway Patrol in Eureka had been asked to run a check on two automobile license numbers in connection with the case after the prime suspect was supposedly in custody. Delaney added, that no roadblocks, all-points bulletins, or assistance were requested by Crescent City authorities either.

Also, when the Highway Patrol asked Del Norte authorities about the slaying, they were refused any information. Along with that, a Humboldt County sheriff’s detective, himself a former member of the Crescent City police, was refused any background about the crime.

The Eureka police were asked by Crescent City police to check out a parolee in connection with the murder, leading Delaney to wonder if there was one suspect or more. She also asks why the hearing the youth was moved ahead one week secretly?

And finally, without naming names, she claims a “deliberate falsehood by one Del Norte official was involved,” adding, “if there was one falsehood, were there more?” Delaney’s wasn’t the only criticism of the handling of the case.

In a March 5th, editorial titled ‘Murder Case Secrecy is Unjust and Absurd,’ the Fresno Bee complained about authorities “raising a cloak of anonymity around the boy,” claiming “a terrible sense of incompletion, if not of justice gone deaf, mute and arrogant, surrounds the brutal stabbing murder…last month.” It goes on to name Yeomans.

An unidentified obituary states Myra lived at 217 W. Indra, was born September 2nd, 1954 in Fort Bragg, California, and attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School. Her family included her parents, Zita and Herman, and sisters Karen and Sherill, and brothers, Carl and Mark.

She is resting in the ‘Whispering Pine Green’ section of St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Crescent City. She was joined by her father in 1997 and her mother in 2010.

Following Myra’s death, the city leveled the two-block-long, overgrown lot. Several homes have been built on the land since her young body was discovered.

The Destruction of the Crescent Bay Hotel

The blaze started around three, the morning of February 16th, 1958, gutting the 67-year-old Crescent Bay Hotel at Second and H Streets. Nine other businesses on the ground floor and next to the hotel were also damaged, causing an estimated loss of $300,000.

Four fire companies responded to the alarm, two from Crescent City and two from Klamath, including the Yurok Volunteer Fire Department, captained by Fire Chief Maynard Sanders. Strong winds carried burning debris to nearby buildings, making suppression more difficult for the fire teams.

The Surf Hotel Coffee Shop at Front and H streets, a block away, prepared that morning for a major March of Dimes breakfast event and the fire caused serious damage to the place. To protect it from flying embers, the Bank of America building, opposite the hotel, had to be hosed it down.

A man was seriously cut while inching himself down the outside from the second floor without dropping to the ground. Another escaped from a third floor window by dangling from his window, dropping down and grabbing the sill on the second floor window, pulling himself inside, and then racing down the stairs and out the door.

“I still don’t know how I did it,” he told rescuers.

Crews pulled three bodies from the rubble, while another remained missing. After examining the hotel’s register and the names of rescued guests checked off, the identified fire investigators identified the victims.

One man’s identity came to light after his parked car was found in the street. He was the boyfriend of one of the other victims.

Four others had to be taken Seaside Hospital for burns and injuries suffered from jumping from windows. A total of 14 people were in the hotel at the time including the manager, his wife, and his 15-year-old daughter.

Hundreds of spectators crowded the area while windows blew out from the intense heat. None of the rain that had poured on the county for days showed up to help with the emergency.

It was dawn before crews had the fire under control. The Red Cross came to the aid of the hospitalized, who lost all their belongings, and the business owners who suffered losses from flames, smoke and water damage.

A lack of water pressure received the blame for the first fire crews on scene to stop the spread of the blaze. Although fire investigators discovered the blaze started in Room 22, and a person smoking in bed suspected, a cause was never fully determined.

Hank’s Bear Scare

The telephone rang and I answered. It was my friend from Oregon, Hank, inviting me on a fly-fishing trip to northwestern Montana. I declines as I had promised my wife I would to go look for work this week.

Good thing, too.

Hank had purchased a new RV and was setting out for ‘Big Sky’ country. He had found a little lake he had visited a few years earlier and had always told himself, once retired, he’d go fishing in it.

The closest parking spot to the lake was about two-and-a-half miles away, so Hank, being no stranger to hiking decided he’d do jus’ that. The following morning found him with his hip waders over one shoulder and a fishing pole in his hand.

Within the hour Hank was ankle-deep in the cold lake water, flicking the end of his pole back and forth waiting for that first strike. As he stood looking out over the expanse of water, he heard a crashing sound behind him.

As he turned to his left, he saw the largest bear he’d ever seen exploded from the bank at him. And before he could react, the beast knocked him several feet backwards into the lake.

Hank struggled to get his feet underneath himself as the bear continued to charge. By this time his waders were water-filled and there was no place for him to go but deeper into the lake.

Soon gravity took hold and Hank sunk into the vegetation line below the lakes surface. Above him he could see the bear, paddling about, looking down on him.

As fast as he could he stripped the waders off and using the vegetation as cover, edged father away from the animal. By this time his lungs were burning and he rapidly surfaced, gulping as much air as possible.

The bear saw him pop up and immediately turned towards Hank. The speed and agility of the bear surprised Hank, who thought he might be able to out pace the bear across the surface of the lake.

Thinking better of it though, Hank dropped below the surface again and headed for the vegetation. By this time he was thanking his lucky-star this particular bear had not learned to dive for a meal from it’s’ mother.

Had that been the case, Hank knew he would’ve been done and there would be no one around to find him for several days or weeks, if at all.

Knowing he’d have to surface soon, Hank clawed his way parallel to the bank and slowly surfaced. He stayed in the water, watching as the bear as it circled around and around looking for his would-be prey.

It was about this time, Hank decided to slip onto the bank. He belly crawled from the gravel lake bed to the sandy shoreline, then quietly and slowly made his way into a thicket of brush on the bank.

Hank sat there, shivering from both the fear of the attack and the chill of the water. He watched as the bear also made its way to shore and up the bank.

The bruin stood up on his massive hind-legs to see if he could find the man. Satisfied the man was gone, the bear huffed, dropped to all fours, turned and wandered across the meadow.

Hank, still using the brush as cover, watched as the bear disappeared into the tree line. Then and only then, did he leave his ‘hiding spot.’

He retrieved his fishing pole and half-ran, half-sprinted up the trail in the opposite direction of the bear and towards his RV. Once inside the vehicle, Hank looked himself over in the mirror.

The bear’s massive claw had swiped him, tearing through his shirt, from his upper left shoulder to below the right side of his stomach and leaving a two-inch scratch mark jus’ below his left collar-bone. Other than that and being shook up, Hank decided he was fine.

Last night, Hank called me from his Oregon home to say he was having trouble sleeping because of nightmares. All I could do was listen and selfishly think, “I’m glad I said ‘no’ to his offer to go fishing.”

The Specter of Virginia Street Bridge

The first couple of months after moving to the Reno area, I was lonely.  All I did is work, writing Keno tickets at the Cal-Neva, then go home.

One afternoon, I wrote a ticket for a woman from Canada, named Carol. She was visiting, having traveled with a gambling junket, as they were commonly known.

It was clear she wasn’t having a very good time. So engaged her in conversation as I wrote her what I ‘promised’ was a winning ticket.

She laughed as she paid her fee and wandered away. After the game posted to the number board, she returned having actually won some money.

We were talking about the downtown area as she waited for her pay-out. I told her I was new to town and had not really explored the area, save for the Woolworth and post office down the street.

Carol asked if when I got off work, if I’d walk to the Woolworth with her. I told her that I would be happy too.

Once I clocked out, I raced upstairs and met her near the Keno bar. We wandered outside into the chilly night-time air and towards the Woolworth located jus’ down the street at the end of the block.

Unfortunately, it had jus’ closed for the night. So I apologized and suggested walking over to the post office, which was another block down from the store.

As we walked, we talked about our significant others. Married, Carol had separated from her husband the week before, while I had a girlfriend, who was still living in Arcata, California some 400 miles away at the time.

After checking my mail box, and pointing out some of the interesting designs inside the old post office, we headed back towards the Cal Neva. As we crossed the Virginia Street Bridge, we stopped to chat some more.

Looking down onto the Truckee River, we could see our shadows dancing in the ripple of the fast-moving stream. It was a pair of mercury vapor lamps that helped cast our shadows over the water.

While we talked, people passed by us, en route to who knows where. One sight I had grown accustom to, was seeing the random cowboy, half-loaded on booze, moseying along the sidewalk.

Looking up I saw such a man, attired in older looking cowboy garb, walking our way. His hat, mangled and pants, torn, I recall thinking, “He’s has a good time painting the old town red.”

He stopped about 10 feet from us and peered over the side of the bridge into the water. Carol and I continued to talk, until she stopped and appeared to be focused on something in or perhaps on the water.

“What?” I asked.

Carol looked at me, her eyes wide and frightened, “Do you see his shadow?”

Quickly, I looked, and answered, “No.”

As I studied the water, I slowly turned my head to look at the man standing near us. He stood directly under one the lamps lining the bridge.

My gaze returned to the river, and then to the man – who in the blink of an eye — had vanished. I jumped slightly when I’d seen he had disappeared, and Carol noticed this.

She turned, looked in the direction where the man had been, then took off running in towards the Cal-Neva. Feeling her panic, I joined her.

Safely inside, she explained only ‘vampires’ are unable to cast a shadow. While I didn’t laugh at her outright, I did think she was being a bit foolish.

By this time, her bus was preparing to load and head for another casino. We hugged as thanked her for the visit and apologized for the scare on the bridge.

As I watched the bus pull away, I turned and started walking up town the several blocks to the Circus-Circus parking structure to get my car. All along the way, I kept my coat pulled high around my neck, wondering if Carol could be right.

She Wore Combat Boots

The old joke goes: “Your Mama wears combat boots.” For my wife, Mary — it was true.

Her mother, and my mother-in-law, Helen Conklin did wear combat boots during World War II. She was a nurse and 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 01 May 1945 to 06 December 1946.

Boot camp for Helen was at Fort Lewis, Washington, where she was assigned to the 51st Evacuation Hospital, which was by them seeing action in the European Theatre. Upon graduation, 02 June 1945, she was reassigned to Birmingham General Hospital in Van Nuys, California.

The hospital specialized in general medicine, central nervous system syphilis, rheumatic fever and psychiatry. It also had a small prisoner of war compound.

Due to its nearness to Hollywood, many radio and movie stars visited patients at the hospital. Jack Benny even broadcast his annual Christmas Party from the hospital in 1944.

On 31 March 1946 the hospital was transferred to the Veterans Administration, which closed it in 1950. Official Army records points to a study of an antibiotic ointment used on patients with chronically infected compound fractures, which was one of the first topical uses of penicillin.

Helen Conklin, born Helen Elizabeth Gleeson, 05 January 1923, in Bisbee, Arizona, passed away peacefully at her home in Ramona, California, 29 October 2002. She was laid to rest with full military honors.

Carson City, Nevada’s Chinatown


A 1875 lithograph of Carson City and a 1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance map places Chinatown between East Second and East Fourth streets, and from Fall Street to Valley Street. The main street was East Third, with Chinatown spread out on both sides of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad tracks.

Population estimates for Chinatown have ranged from as low as 800 to as many as 2,000. In 1870, 697 Chinese lived in the state capital and by 1880, that number had grown by 105.

Ten years later most of Nevada was in decline and Carson City was no exception. The city’s Chinese population fell to 670. By the turn of the century that population had shrunk to 152.

Despite a mining boom in 1910, the Chinese population of Carson City saw an even further decline to 118 souls. By 1920, the number was down to 73, and by 1930 it had dropped even further to 31.

By the time 1940 rolled in, Carson City was seeing a small growth in its over-all population; however this did nothing for the Chinese residents whose numbers hovered at 20. By this time, only a handful of buildings, including the Chinese Masonic Hall on East Third Street, were all that was left of Chinatown.

By 1950, only six Chinese people resided in the county. And by 1960, there were 10 Chinese living in the county and none of them lived in what was left of Chinatown.

The state of Nevada bought what was left of Chinatown in the 50s for future capitol complex expansion. The state razed the last of Chinatown in the 1960s, making way for the Supreme Court, the Legislative Parking Garage, the State Printing Office, the Employment, Training and Rehabilitation and a parking lot.

The Del Norte County Courthouse Fire

Del Norte County’s governmental business came to an abrupt halt during the early morning hours of January 18th, 1948, when fire broke out in Del Norte Court House. The fire began at about 5:45 a.m. “in or near” the Office of the Superintendent of Schools.

One of the first spectators on scene was a woman identified as “Mrs. Marian Cutler,” who ran to the rear of the building. She saw no flames outside, but “a furious fire … in the back of the building and roaring up into the second floor.”

Walter Rinemer, also noticed that “the hottest and worst” of the fire was burning jus’ inside a back hall. Fire Chief Bill Marshall thought the blaze “probably” started in or near the office of the school superintendent.

The city and county had already set an election for April and June, respectively. Scrambling quickly, then-County Clerk Emma Cooper alerted voters that they would all have to re-register or they could not take part.

Crescent City voters had until March 4 to register for the city’s April 13 elections. Residents of the county had longer, until April 22 for the June primary election.

In addition, city candidates had to file their nomination papers.

The old wooden building, constructed in 1879, spread quickly. Not much was left for future generations.

City councilors also had a sewer survey proposed when plans went up in smoke. One of the most highly valued losses was a law library worth up to $40,000.

“It was one of the finest small law libraries in any county anywhere,” said Judge Sam Finley.

The building, which cost $18,000 to build, carried $32,000 insurance — $20,000 on the structure. The law library was insured for $6,000 and the building’s contents were insured for $6,000.

Other losses included a surveyor’s report and maps for a new county road system, records of cases under probate, and grand jury testimony. Teachers’ paychecks were lost, as were records of cases pending before San Francisco Superior Court and the District Court of Appeals.

None of the records were insured.

The Leadership Rules

Shortly after getting fired last week from the radio station, a Marine Corps friend sent me an email. In it was a list of 15 rules for leadership. I had seen them before a several years ago, though I’m hard pressed to say where because I don’t recall.

He explains that while the material is clearly written by someone familiar with the U.S. Army, the rules apply to any military unit or Fortune 500 company. And at first, I wasn’t going to share them — but then I figured — what the hell, it’s good information, so go for it.

Finally, if you know where this originated or who wrote these rules, let me know. I want to credit them with handing out some very sound advice.

1) Don’t be a douche.

I am dead serious.  Nothing pissed me off more than watching some wannabe tough guy treat his people like shit and then hear someone say “that’s his leadership style”.  NO-GO.  I fully admit there are a lot of ways of running a unit, but the foundation of leadership is integrity and love for your people.  You can be hard and have high standards, but you cannot treat people like their existence is to serve you, amuse you, and accelerate your career.  That is not a leadership style, it’s an ego trip.  Get over yourself or you will find yourself getting a wood line attitude adjustment.

My first boss was a hard ass.  We had the best trained unit in the Brigade because he was always pushing for additional training.  On the surface of it, one would argue he was doing everything right.  When one of my NCOs found out his mother was dying, the commander actually tried to convince him that he shouldn’t go see her, because his guys needed him more.  This was pre-9/11.   He was willing to trade one of his men’s last moments with his mother in order to minimize the risk that his unit might get a slightly lower grade on the training exercise. Instantly, everyone realized that all his training wasn’t to take care of us at all – this guy was really just a spotlight Ranger. His actions led to my first counseling by the Battalion Commander, but that is a different story.  In short, don’t be a douche.

2) Your guys are more important than your career. 

This ties in nicely with my last point, but it is worthy of its own bullet.  You’re all going to be civilians someday, no matter how much you love the military or how long you serve.  Years from now, the fact that you made Colonel or Sergeant Major won’t erase the fact that you threw some unsuspecting subordinate under the bus to avoid punishment, and it certainly won’t remove a stupid decision you made based on pressure from above that got someone killed or injured.  Every leader I’ve ever respected has been willing to stand in the Gates of Fire when it mattered.  If you’re not willing to do this for your people, be honest with yourself and quit.  Join corporate America – you’ll just annoy people, not get them killed, and you’ll make more money.  Everyone wins.

3) Be good at your job. 

Every day you should be working your ass off to be technically and tactically skilled (note I didn’t say proficient – you need to be better than that).  You should be asking questions, reading, practicing, and training.  You can be a super-nice dude or dudette who loves your troops, but if you don’t know how to train them, lead them, and they aren’t ready for combat, you are a colossal failure.  If you look deep inside, you’ll know the truth of where you are in this regard.  Either fix it or quit.

4) It’s not your platoon. 

Imagine you’d been doing a job for 12-15 years and grew so good at it that you were chosen ahead of others to lead 40 men into combat…with one caveat.  You’re not actually in charge – some kid young enough to be your son is in charge…and you have to train him… but he rates you.  You couldn’t make this shit up, right?  When you’re walking into that platoon, appreciate the fact that you’re not the badass here.  You, like your men and your platoon sergeant, have a job to do, and it is your job to do that as best you can.  Acknowledge their experience and allow them to help you grow.

Towards the end of my time with my first platoon, my platoon sergeant and I were a team to be envied.  We had figured out who was going to do what and we had each other’s backs.  He had been very “anti-PL” over the last few years (I was his fourth platoon leader), but decided to give me a chance when I shook his hand for the first time and said, “SFC Stewart – it looks like I’ll be spending a year or so in your platoon.  Thanks for having me.”  I’ll give full credit to my dad, a former NCO, for that one but it was my firm intent to let him know I needed to learn and that I respected his position and sacrifice, and our men benefited as a result.

5) It is your platoon. 

We were at CMTC getting ready for our field problem.  I was at an OPORD and my platoon sergeant had everyone in the bay cleaning equipment.  Two of my new soldiers got into a fistfight over something stupid (one of them fancied himself a rapper and the other one felt his rap sucked – damn eighteen year olds).  My platoon sergeant punished them by having the entire platoon outside in the mud wearing all of their recently cleaned equipment.  He was smoking the ever-loving shit out of them when I rolled up on the scene.  Spotting me, he made the motion to stay back (this was NCO business).  So I hung low and watched from a distance so my guys couldn’t see me.  Just then Sergeant Major Chickenhawk rolled up – the same Sergeant Major that I hated and had recently outlawed this kind of “hazing” because it was politically expedient to do so.  He grabbed my platoon sergeant by the shoulder and started digging into to him in front of my guys.  I ran over and told the CSM that this was my platoon and that he could have the conversation with me.  He told me that this was NCO business and I responded that my platoon sergeant was acting under my command with my permission to discipline the men.  He walked me over to the battalion commander.  They had me don my gear and do mud PT to “show me” how it felt.  Well – you can’t smoke a rock.

Yes, your platoon sergeant has more experience.  Yes, he can run circles around you in a lot of areas.  Yes, he should probably be in charge over you – but he isn’t.  You are, and anything that happens or fails to happen in your platoon is your responsibility.  Furthermore, in this scenario, I had a great platoon sergeant and I agreed with him.  But not all platoon sergeants are good and not all good platoon sergeants are always right – you need to trust your own judgment and execute accordingly, even if it means pissing your PSG off.

6) Don’t lie, ever, for any reason. 

This isn’t grade school.  Your actions matter.  If you fuck up, admit it as soon as possible, even if you think it’ll hurt your career.  The team cannot work on a solution until they know the truth, and this is one of the few jobs in the world where lies can get people killed.  Furthermore, the military, for all its faults, is one of the few places on earth where honest mistakes are actually forgiven.  Conversely, it is one of the few places where lies are extravagantly and brutally punished, and rightly so.

7) You make mistakes – admit them. 

Don’t be that guy.  Your men don’t expect perfection.  They expect you to strive every day for perfection.  You’ll be wrong a lot.  Fess up, get over it, get their feedback and drive on.  They will respect you infinitely more and they will trust you for it, as opposed to committing themselves over and over again to proving, quite creatively and to everyone’s amusement, that you are often wrong.

8 ) Leader is not equal to BFF. 

I loved my guys.  I still love my guys, even though I’m very far removed from being in command.  Many good-intentioned leaders make the mistake of believing that being a great leader means never having your guys be upset with you and hanging out with them all the time.  There’s nothing wrong with taking your platoon out for a night on the town.  There’s nothing wrong with socializing with guys when you bump into them at a bar.  There is something wrong with passing out on your PV2s couch at 3AM.  Once you become “one of the guys”, you’re no longer their leader, and they need you to be in charge a lot more than they need another buddy.

9) You’re not the smartest guy in the platoon. 

A lot of guys make the mistake of thinking that because they have achieved a certain rank, or have a certain degree; they are in some way superior to the others in their unit.  In my first platoon alone, I had 7/20 privates or specialists with college degrees – one with a master’s degree.  One of them was literally a genius, having maxed out the MENSA (weak-ass organization, by the way) test.  You’re not in charge because you’re the smartest or most talented or anything else – you’re in charge because you signed up to be the LT.  Don’t act superior, because you aren’t – just do your job.

10) You can never quit.

You don’t have to be the fastest runner, or do the most pushups, or be the best at combatives, or be the best shot, but you can never quit.  The second your guys see you give up, you’ve lost them.  Period.

11) You are not the focal point of your subordinate’s lives.

They don’t spend their nights thinking about you, your speeches, or your goals.  They have wives, kids, girlfriends, bills, friends, and problems.  Acknowledge that – your men are not here to serve you.  They’re here to serve your country.  You’re here to serve them.

12) But your subordinates watch everything you do. 

Just because they don’t live their lives around you, doesn’t mean you’re not important to them.  If you lie, they assume it is okay.  If you quit, they assume it is okay.  Your actions, not your mission statements, speeches, codes, creeds, etc. will set their standard of behavior

13) Get your boss’s back.

Everyone wants to be in charge…until they are there.  We all think we could do a better job than our boss – sometimes it’s very true and sometimes it isn’t – but as long as he or she is working hard to take care of your men and complete the mission, you owe it to them to ensure they succeed.  You’ll be there someday, and you’ll find that despite your best efforts, you are very fallible.

14) Have a sense of humor. 

You will be tested.  When I came on board my first platoon, my guys tried to get me with every snipe hunt in the book – PRC-E8, keys to the indoor mortar range, box of grid squares – you name it.  Skillfully, I held out for three weeks, until that day in the motor pool.  In formation, the motor chief announced that today was the day that everyone had to turn in vehicle exhaust samples.  Promptly, the motor sergeants disseminated to each platoon a vehicle exhaust sample kit, which included labels, sharpies, and garbage bags.  My guys grabbed the bags, turned on their vehicles and began throwing the garbage bags around the exhaust pipe, filling it, then promptly tying the bag off and labeling it.  This just didn’t seem right – all the more so when they asked if I wanted to help get samples.  I balked.  They guilt tripped me.  Finally, even though I was at least 25% sure I was being had, I filled a bag with exhaust and started walking to drop it off at the motor chief’s office.  Sure enough, they snapped about 2000 pictures of this jackass 2LT running around with a bag of exhaust.

They got their laughs and busted my balls about it.  We were about to head to an 18-hour computer simulation exercise.  Immediately afterwards they had a room inspection with all their gear laid out.  They, of course, had done this the night before, knowing they’d be going right from the exercise to the inspection.

As all the guys moved to the simulator, all the officers got called back to the bays for the OPORD.  When I came back, I asked them, “Don’t you guys have an inspection tomorrow?”

“Roger, sir” they responded.

“Man, it’d suck if someone dumped everyone’s gear into one huge pile and then covered it in baby powder, wouldn’t it?” I asked.

Their faces dropped.  They fucking hated me.  I had gone way too far and clearly was getting back at them for the exhaust sample thing.  For the rest of the exercise it was hard to get anyone to talk to me – even my platoon sergeant was edgy.

The exercise ended and we all came back to the bays – they knew they only had an hour to salvage the inspection.  When they busted into their bay, they found that none of their stuff had been touched and was in perfect inspection mode.

“Sir, you are a fucking dick!” my platoon sergeant shouted.

“Why’s that sergeant?” I asked.

“You said you dumped all our shit out on the floor and covered it in baby powder!”

“No, sergeant – I said it would suck if someone were to do that.” I smiled.

I could take it, but I could give it back too.  There would be no more fucking with this LT.

15) Do the right thing. 

This is the last and perhaps most important aspect of leadership.  I am a big believer that in almost every single case, people know the right course of action.  The bigger question is whether they have the courage to make the right decision, even when making that decision could be personally harmful.  Decide now to always be a force of good.  Don’t justify away indiscretions.  Don’t sell out.  Your life will be easier, your men will respect you more, and you’ll sleep at night.  More importantly, you won’t start down that slippery slope towards being one of those leaders that will do anything to get ahead. We all want to think we’re the next coming of Patton or Eisenhower.  No one thinks they are a bad leader, but it doesn’t take much to get there and it happens incrementally – one little lie or moral concession at a time.

Anti-Chinese Handbill

There had been a well-established Chinatown in Crescent City until the mid-1880’s. It was located along 2nd Street between G and H streets, along H to 2nd and 3rd Streets. They were expelled following the fatal shooting of a city councilman in Eureka, February 1st, 1885, during what the was called a ‘Tong War,’ by newspapers. The ‘Celestials’ were rounded up, herded onto ships and sent to San Francisco.

Tending Friendship

Is there and old friend you haven’t talked to in a while?
Let not another day go by without tending that friendship.

You and I have old friends that we value greatly;
Some we’ve known since childhood, grade school, high school.
Others are from our first job, perhaps a special get-together.
Still others are our friends because our folks were friends.

We tend to keep these friendships,
If not outwardly,in our hearts.
Many are so strong — years have passed,
Fresh as the day that they were new.
We also make new friendships as we grow.

If we haven’t heard from one another in a while,
We reach out:  a phone call, an email.
Failing to keep track of who calls more often.
Instead, we focus on what is important –-
The friendship.