My Confederate Past

I had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War.  The Confederate side was definitely the most interesting.  According to the 1840 South Carolina census, Clarendon County, my great-great-grandfather was a “farmer” who owned two slaves.  He was probably a sharecropper.  Thanks to some cousins who did the paperwork,  I am eligible to be a Child of the Confederacy AND a Daughter of the American Revolution.  My cousins joined the DAR but lost interest pretty fast.

My forbears had wandered from South Carolina down to Florida by the time my father and his brothers were growing up in Miami. My great-grandfather was a printer by trade and commuted to Cuba by boat for many years to print racing forms, returning on weekends. Somewhere along the line someone had joined the Klan.  One of my uncle Richard’s favorite stories was about playing up in the attic and finding all these neat costumes which turned out to be Klan robes. He always concluded, “When Grandma found out, she beat the shit out of us”, which I kind of doubt.

In recent years, my Dad lived in Jacksonville FL and my brother graduated from NB Forrest High School.  Forrest was perhaps the vilest of the Confederate generals. You can Google him. The high school was renamed Westside High several years ago. In a military town like Jax, that’s something.

I’m not real big on statues and the prospect of moving them to a location where they’re not bothering anyone is fine with me. I wonder if the Myrtle Grove cemetery, established in 1861, doesn’t have some Confederate statues? What are they going to do about Stone Mountain?

If my ancestors had left me a huge fortune, earned on the backs of slave labor,  I would have been condemned to a life of White Guilt, bigtime version. Since they didn’t, I only feel the generalized awareness that we all didn’t start out in the same place and that life has been pretty easy for me, and not so easy for others. I try never to forget that.  And I thank God I grew up in California.



Golfing on Graves? Why not?

There has been a lot of gossip lately about people playing golf at Ocean View Cemetery. Perhaps they were employees. It doesn’t sound like anyone knows for sure. There have been outraged posts in places like Facebook about what a terrible outrage this is.

I have family going  back four generations in Eureka and most of them are buried at OVC. If I were buried there, I would be dead (hopefully)  and I WOULDN’T CARE if someone wanted to hit a few balls while standing on my marker. How can it be disrespectful?  For some people golf is a religion, anyway.

I lost my sister in January 2015. She had expressed a desire to be buried at sea so I made the arrangements. I found that Ayers Family Cremation provides a burial at sea and they were very kind and easy to work with.  They take the ashes and when they have two or three to sea-bury they take them in a boat out past the bar and scatter them there. Then they go surfing, which is very life-affirming. When I die, I want Ayers to deal with me.

Golf has come under a lot of criticism lately because it consumes a lot of water and land. On the other hand, golf courses DO provide recreation, exercise (if you walk) and beautiful open spaces.  The Mad River Union has been reporting on the crisis at Baywood, which has half the membership they had ten years ago, and is in such dire financial  straits that they are trying to get a THP approved so they can log the course!!!   Yup,  logging trucks on Buttermilk Drive is what the Baywood folks are pushing.  Nice way to treat Arcata. Here’s a better idea:  sell a few gravesites up there.  I’d bet there are more than a few diehard duffers who would welcome a chance to be buried on their favorite course or even their favorite hole. Am I wrong??


Bamboo for the Pandas

A few weeks ago I got a call from the Sequoia Park Zoo, asking about bamboo.  I had apparently let them know that I had some and they were interested in getting some for the little red pandas. Who could say no?

When I bought my place back in ’93 I planted five black bamboos in the far corner.  I got them from a place called Bamboo and Maples that used to be  sort of inside the nursery that used to exist where the Safeway is now.  I used to love going there.  It was like an arboretum  and I miss it dearly.  Then they moved over to Hubbard Lane but didn’t last long.  The fellow who sold me the bamboos even planted them for me! They were only 4 or 5 feet then;  now they’re 12 feet or more. They are a lovely addition that turned a boring corner into a tropical  paradise if it were ever warm enough to sit on the bench and relax out there. It never is.

Anyway, the young people from the Zoo do a great job of harvesting the bamboo and it always looks better after they’ve been there.  The last time they came, they said the incessant rains had created a bamboo emergency. If you want to do your part to make sure those cute little devils have enough food and if you have bamboo in your yard, give the Zoo a call at 441 4263. They can use the help.


Passages- Rest In Peace Leo Sears and the nice lady from Mike’s

Maybe it’s the short days but I always seem to feel it harder when people die around Christmastime or I don’t hear about it till then.  Leo Sears was a familiar face at the Harbor group  and elsewhere in the community.  I never agreed with him once but he was always genial, always a good sport. I will definitely miss him.

I have a hard time deleting people from my phone/email  list when they die. I leave them there forever so I remember them. I still have Chris Crawford on my list.  Charles Ollivier.  Dave and Penny Elsebusch. I never put Leo on my list but his card is on my desk.  Think I’ll leave it there for a while.

Last week I dropped in at Mike’s Drive Up for the first time in a couple of months and found a memorial had been placed there for the nice lady who waited on me 100 times and who apparently died October 15. Her name, it said, was Sharon Carpenter. I never knew her name, I never even had a real conversation with her. I was afraid to start one because of the right-wing  propaganda posted around the place, I figured we wouldn’t find common ground.  Yet she and her husband are the kind of people who keep the nation running. They get up in the morning and sling burgers or pump gas and never get recognition. They are the salt of the earth and deserve honor. They are the people who make Eureka a nice place.  One of their children was manning the counter, but it won’t be the same. 

So while you’re Christmas shopping  stop in and have a burger (with everything including chili) at Mike’s.  It’s a Christmassy thing to do. And say hi to the family.


Have Your Next Party At The Zoo!

Mike McGuire’s party last week at the Zoo was a fantastic event. Lots of old friends and Danniel, the giant Holstein,  was on hand along with a skunk, a charming  black goat and a donkey with incredible lungs.  It was a beautiful evening in a beautiful setting and I don’t understand why more groups and /or companies  don’t use this wonderful facility.

Contact them at the Sequoia Park Zoo office. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than the Wharfinger.


Eureka and Dick Taylor Featured In Sunset

Sunset has again published a paean to the glories of the Redwood Coast.  I the September issue, they follow a couple of guys on a road trip with a Westfalia. What’s that saying about a prophet being without honor in his own country?  The outlanders certainly seem to appreciate Eureka more than we do. To quote Sunset,  “Once we arrive  this Gold-Rush era town, we tour the main drag. Centuries-old buildings exude stunning craftsmanship. ”  Yup, that’s where we live. They include nods to Dick Taylor, the Co-op  and Cypress Grove Cheese and you can read the whole thing in the September issue, to which I cannot provide you a link. 


Will Someone Please Buy The Eureka Inn?

You don’t hear much about the Eureka Inn these days. When the current owner took over, the whole town turned out to welcome him but since then things have been pretty quiet.  There hasn’t been much promotion, the service clubs that used to meet there have gone elsewhere and only the occasional music performances seem to be bringing people in.

I had a friend stay there over the Fourth .  Her room was fine, the cold breakfast was acceptable but check this out:  there is NO TELEPHONE ACCESS to the Inn from 8am until around 930!!!!  I was calling to reach my friend and kept getting transferred to another number that no one ever answered.  I finally reached her on her cell but by that time I wondered what would people do in an emergency.  I called back about 930 and the woman who answered told me nonchalantly that, yes, there was no telephone response during  breakfast hours because they don’t have enough staff to answer the phone and serve coffee, rolls and hard boiled eggs at the same time.

So this is where they’re at after several years.  The owner’s lack of ambition and , apparently, money, have left us with exactly  the kind of operation we dreaded upon hearing that his background consisted of owning a Day’s Inn, I think it was in Monterey.

I’m sure they are nice people but PLEASE GOD LET SOMEONE BUY THE EUREKA INN who knows how to run a fine establishment. It can limp along forever but what a damn shame.  This is the place where Shirley Temple and Cornelius Vanderbilt stayed (not together).  If only someone with smarts and money would take over this wonderful place, which used to be the heart and soul of the community.  Light a candle.


A Glorious Fourth In Eureka

Or the past few years I has been my pleasure to volunteer to staff the Humboldt Democrats’ booth at the  Fourth of July street fair in Old Town. With the exception of the Rhody Parade, I can’t think of a more “Eureka Moment” in the local calendar.

Our booth was across from the Chapala so we were at the opposite end from the GOP booth.  We had a lot more traffic than they did because we had life-size cardboard cutouts of Hilary, Bernie and Obama and everyone wanted to take selfies with them.  I had thought about getting a Trump piñata (you can order them online HERE ) but didn’t.

Everyone in town was there and everyone came by.  John Fullerton, Linda Atkins,  Matt Owen sporting an “I LIke Eureka ” ballcap, Kim Bergel helping exhibitors find their spaces.  We registered several newbies to Humboldt including a nice couple from Mariposa. The kids in the booth next to us were from Teen Challenge and if they do everything as competently as they do their tri tip sandwiches I can see why people hire them.  I’m not a big meat eater but their sandwich was delicious.

Bob and Pam Service, Sylvia Scott, Peggy Dickinson  and Jon Yalcinkaya  registered voters.  I had one man ask where he could see the candidates’ debates in view of the fact that he didn’t own a TV, or have  access to the internet.  I asked him to call the Democratic HQ (445-3366) since we will surely have a showing.  It was a good day.


Another Harbor Study-NOW

At the sparsely attended Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group luncheon at the Samoa Cookhouse on Wednesday Jan 27, the small group of devotees heard from Interim Planning Director Rob Wall that a reworking of the Local Coastal Plan needs to be completed by April. Workshops will be announced shortly and will likely be held at the Harbor District’s facility on Woodley Island. 

The small turnout was blamed on the TImes-Standard, which had not carried the meeting announcement.  


Shopping in Eureka, 1959

The news lately has been so horrible l want to regress to an earlier time. This post from three years ago reflects the same feeling.

     The news lately has been so disturbing and distressing it’s only natural to retreat into reveries of a more innocent time. At least that’s what I’m doing.

     Eureka in the ‘Fifties was very different in feeling than it is now. Going down town to do Christmas shopping was exciting because you could discover what new stores had opened, not just what was the latest to close down.  There was a feeling of prosperity in the air and the trains still rumbled along the waterfront, not that we went down there.  The Bank of America was the edge of the known world to a kid in those days because we weren’t allowed to go any further toward the Bay, not without an adult. Anyone remember the Sportsmen’s Cafe? The burgers were flavored with the excitement of being close to the Unknown, just catty-corner from Daly’s.

      Daly’s could always be counted on for lots of holiday decor, as could the other stores: Bistrin’s, McGaraghan’s,  Lerner’s, the Mode O’Day.  I loved Sears’ Cafeteria on Fifth Street where Millie Sears dished up chicken pot pie, the all-time comfort food.  I remember being with my grandmother and my Aunt Evelyn Olander in a diner called Tiny’s that was on or near the corner of 5th and F.  The place was packed with shoppers and the windows steamed against the darkness. We ate spaghetti, which we never got at home,  and all was well with the world.

     On Fridays there would always be a reason to go to Lazio’s.  Friday lunchtime it seemed  the whole town was there, including the priests from St. Bernard’s. We watched the ladies slinging crabs and picked up chowder to take home.  Eureka was a great place to grow up in.  Let’s hope the New Year brings back some of the comfort and joy we knew in days past.  Happy Holidays to all!