Part Two - Saturday
On today’s agenda, before our dinner tonight, is a trip to the Bieber Museum this morning, a drive through the valley this afternoon including lunch at the Frosty in Adin, before heading back to the motel and a nice, warm shower.
As I sit here on the motel bed eating a bit of breakfast, I am looking out the window at what the weather may bring. It is gray and blustery and looks like a huge storm is brewing. Boy am I glad I threw my jacket in the car before I crawled in.
The Museum was empty, save for the attendant, Ms. Gerig. So I wandered about the two rooms at my leisure, taking pictures of the displays. As I prepare to leave I ask Ms. Gerig if the library, also in the museum building, would be open … no joy. But I opt to leave a selection of my books and a note with Ms. Gerig to deliver on my behalf. I have many fond memories of time spent with my old friends - Asimov, Cartland, Lewis, etc. - there in the stacks. I wanted to share some of the words that God had given me with others who would visit here, too.
As I went to the car for my library gift, another lady entered the museum. When I returned, books in hand, I was pleased to run into one of my former teachers, Ms. Parks. I spent a few moments talking to these two ladies while I wrote the note to the library. I took two copies of one of my poetry books in, as I talked to these ladies, I felt led to give one to Ms. Parks. So I signed it and gave it to here with my contact info.
Upon leaving the Museum, I wandered through the streets of Bieber taking pictures and remembering the past … specifically, my time spent on these streets 40+ years ago, the good times and the bad. Those days were nothing like I had imagined they would, or rather should, be.
I had dreamed of life in a beautiful, though small, town, with lots of friends. A place where I could bloom and grow in joy and peace. But I found little that resembled my dreams. Though Big Valley fit my idyllic dreams, most of the people I met here didn’t. We were ‘flat-landers,’ people who came from the ‘big city’ to invade their rural community. We just didn’t fit in, so we were ignored and/or shunned by those whom I would have preferred to call friends.
As I finished my tour of Bieber, I headed out the highway towards Lookout. Upon entering the community, I notice that the roads have been rerouted and an historic bridge has been removed. We learned of in class - the site of the Lookout Lynchings in our California History class. It was a dark time in Modoc county that came to an in this rural neighborhood in May of 1901. It was a site that I had wanted to visit on my tour, but alas it was not to be. But I did get some nice pics of the Blacksmith, Fire Hall, and Jail. Now on to Adin, and lunch at the Frosty.
I visited the Adin Supply, boy has it changed since I moved out of the area. They have opened up it up by removing many of the areas that made life in the valley possible; the butcher shop area, the front counters where we used to pay for our groceries, the hardware department - where you could grab a handful of nails, screws, nuts and bolts, and pay for them by the pound, and the original Adin Post Office boxes. It still takes you back in time when you walk through the doors, for the hunting trophies are still there as are the creaky, wooden floors, rugged posts, and beams in the ceiling. But the familiar spirit it once had, is gone forever.
Time for my valley tour is running out, so after a sandwich and soda at the Frosty, I head back to the motel for a rest before I get ready for the Alumni Dinner.
As I shower and dress for dinner, I begin to have doubts about why I am here. I grew up feeling like an outsider all through my educational career in Big Valley. I know it will be no different when I arrive at the Adin Community Hall. But I also know that there will be at least one person from my class who will greet me with love and kindness, two if they are both able to come, but no more. But I dress up in a formal length black skirt and lacey, ombre blue blouse. I try to look my best, knowing that most people there will be wearing their dress shirts, dress jeans, dress boots and dress cowboy hats - it is cowboy/cowgirl country, after all.
There were 28 of us at some point during our Senior year, this is the largest that the Big Valley Class of 1977 grew. But by graduation, we were 24. Some had moved away, some - like my sister Jerri - took an early out by passing her California Proficiency test in our junior year and going on to Lassen College in the fall. But two of our number passed into their eternity before graduation Ms. Crabill - due to illness and Ms. Quin - due to a tragic accident. As I enter the Adin Community Hall, I reflect on these and the rest of our class. Our class, self-described by the majority as the GFO’s - doesn’t take much imagination to decipher that acronym. I wanted to believe we were invincible … but as noted above, we were NOT!
Moving through the maze of people I spot a few of those I graduated with in the middle of the room. I move toward them and smile, hugging a couple girls from another class on the way. I am greeted coolly by most of my classmates as I move closer to Mr. Harper, one of my few true friends in this room.
I had a few minutes with Mrs. K. Raul, giving her an autographed book of poetry, and spent the rest of the evening swapping tales with Mr. and Mrs. Harper as we enjoy the festivities honoring the BVHS class of 1967.
Overall, the experience was exactly as I expected, but not at all as I had hoped. I had hoped for acceptance, maybe even a little friendship; but by and large I received little of either this night. Though, as I mentioned, not all of those in the class of ‘77 were unaccepting and non-inclusive. I can actually say that two of those who shared our graduation day have earned my respect and the title of High School friends - as they truly had been all along; these are Mr. Harper and Ms. Kuykendahl, now Mrs. Raul.
Mr. Harper finally found his true voice. I fondly remember him as the shy and retiring “AV Geek” from school. He stayed mostly to himself, but had kindly teasing for a few of us girls that were also quiet types. I Also remember the times I spent visiting him and playing music in a cabin on their ranch. When I met him tonight, he oozed confidence and charisma. Though I find it heartwarming to know he is still the “AV Geek,” though I mean that with the utmost affection for my BVHS brother. And his lovely wife is a beautiful counterpoint to this once bashful boy.
And Mrs. Raul is still as sweet and bubbly as she was in 1977. We shared a few memories of our youth and her dreams of being a cosmetologist … though I think she may have given up that dream after one picture day haircut, LOL! Sorry, sis, I just had to share that. :-)
You know, going back over these events once again as I prepare to publish this post, I realize that I am Blessed by my Heavenly Father to know though I have/had very few friends from my childhood and young adult years, I have true and loving friends at home. I am not alone in the world anymore. Even more wonderful than these people I call friend, is the friendship I have with my Lord, Jesus. He is everything to me! He has taught me so much through our years together, I know He is pleased with my progress ... well, mostly.
So I’ll leave you here as I head back to the motel and bed for the evening. Good Night!