Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen: A summer with family taught important lessons

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 12:00 am

When I was a junior in high school, I visited my grandmother’s Coulterville summer home. It was in the early 1960s.

That Mother Lode trip turned out to be more than just a gathering with the grandparents. There were also two unexpected lessons about people.

One of them was focused on my elderly Uncle Fred. On a warm July day, he came over the hill from nearby Groveland for a visit. The journey on winding back roads was about 10 miles. I remember his dust-covered, 1938, midnight-blue Buick coupe — a car that was rather outdated for the times — especially when parked among two late-model Chevy Impalas and a Ford Fairlane.

The old bachelor certainly had his quirks. He was a non-stop talker and included a minimum of one swear word with every spoken sentence.

When evening came, Fred prepared for his departure. He revved up the old Buick in place. It spewed out blue exhaust and oily smells into the clear summer atmosphere. The old codger refused to move the car until the temperature gauge reached normal. Uncle Fred somehow got the notion that this habit would make his tired old jalopy last longer!

Here’s a better story from that same trip. It was about a friend of my grandmother’s who came from Los Angeles for a visit. Her name was Ruby, and she wanted to learn all about the Gold Rush days of Coulterville and the Mother Lode. However, the experience would turn out to be more than just a historical adventure.

As I recall, it was on a Friday when she and members of our family piled into my grandfather’s ‘59 Ford and headed up Dogtown Road. We passed the old Sun Sun Wo Co. — a once Chinese-owned adobe building where the original 19th century business sign could still be read. A few miles up the dirt road, we turned right onto an overgrown trail. At the end were the remains of a mine shaft, ore cars, small gauge rail tracks and some abandoned wooden buildings.

It was the Last Chance gold mine — or what was left of it. The mine had not been in operation by our family since the late 1920s. By then, most of the precious metal had been depleted. But the final blow to the operation came in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt — through executive order 6012 — outlawed gold bullion for private ownership. It was not made legal again until 1974 under the Nixon administration.

Most of the buildings had been vandalized and equipment stolen. But one small shack remained relatively unscathed. Ruby stepped inside. In a corner of the building, she discovered a 1903 Winchester saddle-ring rifle. Being a gun enthusiast, the curious lady was thrilled at the find.

The relic was located on our family property and rightfully belonged to my grandmother. But Ruby somehow felt it was a “finders keepers” situation.

Needless to say, the ride back to Coulterville was not a pleasant one. My grandmother was not one to be argued with, and a long-term friendship soon ended.

At the time, I wondered if the old Winchester was worth the loss of a close friend. Nana probably would have said “yes.” I think she drew the conclusion that if Ruby had been educated about simple property rights, the conflict would not have erupted in the first place.

But when I examined the story from a “people first” point-of-view, I realized that being “right” was not necessarily the best way to maintain a relationship.

The gun did not have a lot of meaning to Nana. Perhaps the gesture of a gift would have saved something more important — a good friendship. However, what most likely caught my grandmother’s ire was the belief Ruby had about rightful ownership. If the presumptuous friend had asked for the antique, things might have been different.

That summer was more than just a visit with my grandparents. From the Uncle Fred narrative, I learned just how much my kinfolk would go the extra mile to accommodate a weird relative in the name of family unity.

In the second story, there was a tale of fragile dynamics that can be found in any relationship. It taught me just how much a small misunderstanding can change the direction and the lives of two close friends forever.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 8 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Tom Kettleman, the turkey, found dead

Yes deep frying is excellent. Doesn't take forever. Bird comes out nicely done, juicy (not oily like you would think). Just remember whe…

More...

Posted 8 hours ago by Mike Adams.

Posted 10 hours ago by Doug Chaney.

article: JoAnne Mounce endorses Wendel Kiser, Al…

A majority of the rest of the candidates sadly appear to be a roster of the good ol' boys.

More...

Posted 11 hours ago by Eric Barrow.

article: Tom Kettleman, the turkey, found dead

Without getting to picky Tom was a wild turkey that's why he wasn't white. Domestic turkeys are bred to have white feathers. Otherwise yes …

More...

Posted 11 hours ago by John Slaughterback.

article: JoAnne Mounce endorses Wendel Kiser, Al…

Alan Nakanishi and Wendel Kiser are the two best choices, if we hope to receive any representation for the people of Lodi.

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

What would you like to see in Lodi's parks?

Lodi's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is hosting a public workshop at 7 p.m. at Hutchins Street Square to find out how it can better meet the needs of the community. What would you like to see in Lodi's parks?

Total Votes: 217

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists