Low Water Greets Inner Tubers On Rogue River

Last year was an unusually dry one for Southern Oregon, so it is no surprise that the Rogue River is quite low.  This means rocks are poking their heads up at inappropriate places and tree branches are plainly visible.  But the current is not as strong, so if you end up on a rocky bar, you can simply walk to deeper water.  However, a lack of rain, combined with a very warm May, has allowed more moss to grow, so be careful of your footing!  I would recommend sports shoes or boots, not sandals, and, of course, a sturdy flotation device.  The waves are smaller in many rapids, and dodging is more of a requirement, especially in rapids like Rattlesnake or the series of rapids below Casey State Park.  But, on the whole, the river is more forgiving than previous years, and resembles more the pre-Lost Creek Dam years when there was no river control.

For kids, there are more sand bars, beaches, and places where there is no current.  You can simply lie on your back and float.  This is a great time to introduce kids to the fun of being in the river with a minimum of danger.

Whatever age you are, please visit the Rogue River this year and have a great time!

And I Wish…

And I wish when I die,

I could strip to my soul,

and dive once more

into the ol’ swimmin’ hole.

(Reworking of lines by James Whitcomb Riley.)sc00019e90

Some Family History And A Little Wisdom.

I have a family tradition that each year I go through our scrapbooks to renew memories and make sure pictures haven’t fallen out.  I love to look at the photos, because they take me to places that were special.  I enjoy seeing photos of the Rogue River as it changed over the years and study faces that no longer exist.  Such an experience makes me aware of the transience and unfathomable mystery of life.  Playing in the snow in the Angeles Crest, following the stories of record readers, remembering when a simple table could provide hours of entertainment, trying to create a miniature golf course by digging up the lawn in our backyard, Grandpa David pulling out yet another Hershey bar from his “secret” closet,  all these memories flow into an ever changing and ever beckoning past….

Murray Weiss:  Around 1940, we purchased a 12 acre ranch above San Fernando.  It came with two horses that I used to ride.  There were also groves of lemon and orange trees, and a barn for the horses.  The water came down from a spring in pipes.  I would drive up there at least two or three times a week and give the horses bales of hay and feed them.  But, after awhile, the horses figured out how to get out of the gate and would wander around San Fernando.  I would often get a call from the Dog Pound in the middle of my medical practice:  “We have one of your horses.  Please come and pick it up.”   And, it was really kind of a mess.  I would attach the horse to the back of my car, and drive slowly up the streets and put it back.( In 1966 the ranch burned to the ground in the Pacoima Canyon Fire.)

Geraldine(Jerry) Hilton:  My mother(Grandma Lena) dominated.  Any time we asked Dad if we could go some place, he would say no.  My mother would say: “Let the kinder go.”  When it came to gifts, my mother was very generous.  She’d say:  “Give it to them.”  My mother loved to buy stuff wholesale and she would always have a stock of silver-plated platters and trays in case she needed to give a gift for somebody.  She had a whole warehouse in the closet.  As long as it was wholesale, she would buy it.

Twyla Weiss:  When the earthquake of the early 30s happened, I was playing hide and seek, and I was “it”, and I had my face against a house that completely collapsed.  I became absolutely panic-stricken, and I would not go back into our brick apartment house.  I stayed in our big seven-passenger Buick all night long, and I remember my sister, Cecile, stayed with me.

My mother was a warm person, but had a volatile temper.  She would slap you, get angry, and the next minute not remember it at all.  My mother was not a homemaker, even though she loved to cook and bake, but was a very bright, astute woman, who had little formal education.  She was always trying to learn to drive a car and get a license.  She often smashed the car, and one of our admonitions was:  “Oh, be careful!  Watch out at the corner!  Mom may be coming down the street!

Boris(Buddy) Yorkshire:  Grandpa Yorkshire did the driving in the house.  He had a glass eye in one eye and was almost blind with a cataract in the other.  How he drove, I don’t really know, but he did.  The day he had his cataract removed, he said up till then he never realized what things look like.  He really wasn’t even sure what his children looked like!

I can’t understand why we fight wars.  I haven’t quite figured that out, except that there are good salesmen there at the top that want to own a little bit more of the world.  I think being tolerant is probably the most important thing you can be.  Be tolerant of the other guy, and try to understand his feeling, too.

Grandma Lillian as a teenager.

Grandma Lillian as a teenager.

Grandma Lena and Grandpa David.

Grandma Lena and Grandpa David.

Grandpa Johnny and I at my Bar Mitzvah.

Grandpa Johnny and I at my Bar Mitzvah.

My Dad enjoying himself at Casey's Auto Camp in the 1930s.

My Dad enjoying himself at Casey’s Auto Camp in the 1930s.

My Dad today at 90, engrossed in American History.

My Dad today at 90, engrossed in American History.

Mom at 88, reading a biography of Elsa Maxwell.

Mom at 88, reading a biography of Elsa Maxwell.

Introducing TouVelle State Park

TouVelle State Park on the upper Rogue River is one of the most scenic parks in Southern Oregon.  It presents a riparian environment rife with wildflowers, blackberry bushes, trees, and many kinds of birds.  As to the latter, the park is a favorite of birdwatchers, who are seen often wearing their binoculars.  Tou Velle Park has expanded to include a nature trail which hooks up with the Denman Wildlife Refuge.  Before the flood of 1955, a military bridge connected the two parts of the Tou Velle Road, which remain as isolated segments in different parts of the valley.  One of my photos shows what’s left of the bridge, a mere pylon.  At the lower end of the park,  Bybee Bridge, a double cantilever bridge, once ruled supreme, but was removed for a cement bridge that created numerous obstacles for boaters, and detracted greatly from the beauty along the shore.  The lowest ramp is recommended as easier and safer, and many boats take advantage of it.  Fishing is plentiful, but no famous holes for summer steelhead.  The park’s inhabitants also include frolicsome children, for whom a special rock dam was built so they could play in the river without danger, and dogs chasing sticks.  Below I have posted photos from Summers 2011-2012, which give a feel of the park’s activities and pleasures.

A Pool Of Memories

My Grandma Lillian’s swimming pool provided a treasure of childhood memories.  Since my family lived next door to her, summer visits to the pool were frequent.  I recall the flashes of brown and green as fins dropped to the bottom.  Later, these fins served as bats when we played pool baseball.  If you hit the rubber ball over the diving board, you were given a home run.  Any ball hit on the side was ruled a foul ball.  To throw a swimmer out, you needed to hit the designated base before the swimmer.  In those halcyon days, energy didn’t seem to be a factor.  And when we did get tired, we were usually rewarded with hot dogs, and paper cups of cold, sparkling lemonade.

The right side of the pool displayed a jacuzzi-like effect, because that’s where the recycled water shot into the pool.  I remember water spurting all over my skin.  The left side of the pool provided another attraction:  the filter.  I remember Dad dropping in a colorful display of liquids, and the flushing sound as the filter went about it’s business.  I also recall Dad holding a large jug of chlorine, which later burned our eyes and got into our lungs.

When our basset hound, Peter, was around, we’d take him into the pool area, because his brother, Adam, lived on the other side of the wire fence.  It was amusing to see the dogs approach each other and look into each other’s deep, doleful eyes.  The bassets continued to meet until Adam was poisoned.  Peter looked for him, but never found him.

A jump in the pool was just the thing to dispel thoughts of ringed atolls, complex numbers, and future exams.  These thoughts washed way in frolicsome play.  Water became the main focus and doing laps via crawl or frog kicks was just the thing.  And lying flat on your back or grabbing some object to float on was the order of the day.  Time was never thought of, but  was present nonetheless.  High school, which seemed like a distant vision, had become only too real as well as college, which was approaching.  Soon, unbeknownst to me, the gates to Grandma Lillian’s pool would never admit me again.  And when the gates would open, they would belong to another family, building their own pool of memories.