- Cold Front
- Water Forebearance
- Little Dog
- Awful Day
- Book Reactions
- Ed Notes
- Ocean Cloud
- Willis Tucker
- Spring Flowers
- Unhealthiest County
- Mendo Poetry
- Yesterday's Catch
- Plastic Pots
- Onomatopoeian Empire
- Eternal Rest
- Goofy Star
- Costco Drivers
- Foreign Agents
- County Vacancies
A COLD FRONT will approach today bringing increasing rain and gusty winds for tonight through Thursday morning. A series of disturbances in the colder air behind the front will generate bouts of rain with moderate to heavy snow above 2000 feet Thursday night through Saturday evening. (National Weather Service)
WATER & WEED
by Jim Shields
Well, here we are in the middle of March, the first day of Spring is just a few days away, and the month has seen a good six inches of rain and snow in most parts of the county.
Up here in the Laytonville area about 36 inches of rain has fallen, which is about two/thirds of the historical annual total of 67 inches. That is an insanely high level of rain compared to other areas of the county, not to mention desert-like Southern California which averages 10 inches or under for a typical year.
So it should come as no surprise that approximately 80 percent of the state is considered to be in drought conditions. Following record-setting precipitation last year, the first two months of the year were basically devoid of rain, and it appears there won’t be a “Miracle March” to get us out of another drought. Historically, California’s Mediterranean climate sees January, February, and March deliver statewide the highest amounts of rainfall. With two of the three historically wettest months gone bust, it’s not difficult to predict that resource agencies are working on water conservation plans and contingencies for drought rules.
This potential drought situation will play out in spades for our emerging cannabis industry under new legalization regulations.
I’m hearing from growers who have been visited by inspectors from the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are being told that if they have an existing water right that they may not be able to divert water for growing pot during the summer. It’s called a “forbearance order,” i.e., they have to forebear from using water.
Of course, the State Water Board would have to formally issue such an order, but it’s definitely within the Board’s authority to do so, and they’ve been warning the public for the past six months to more or less expect it.
Under a forbearance order, growers with a water right would be allowed to divert water for “human consumption” and other “beneficial purposes,” such as drinking, bathing, toilets etc. They also would (most likely) be allowed to divert water for vegetable gardens.
There are rather serious consequences to violating these water rules. A local grower provided me with a copy of a document given him by an inspector. For example:
- Substantial diversion or obstruction of natural flow, or alteration of a stream bed, bank or channel is a misdemeanor subject to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Violations in connection with the production or cultivation of a controlled substance are subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation.
- The diversion, or use of surface water, without a valid Water Right, is a trespass. You face fines of up to $500 a day. During a drought year, you face up to $1,000 a day, and $2,500 per acre-foot of water diverted.
- Water diverters must file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use with the State Water Board, or face a civil liability of $1,000 for failure to file a statement and $500 a day for each day the violation continues after receiving notice.
- During a drought, you face a civil liability of $500 a day for violating a term or condition of a permit, license, certificate or registration under a regulation adopted by the State Water Board.
Speaking of the local cannabis scene, a reader sent me some cannabis data to mull over:
“This is a list from the state CDFA of temporary state cultivation licenses by county. This was taken from the Cal Cannabis site, recently.
- Alameda 4
- Alpine 0
- Amador 0
- Butte 0
- Calavaras 115
- Colusa 2
- Contra Costa 2
- Del Norte 0
- El Dorado 1
- Fresno 1
- Glenn 0
- Humboldt 482
- Imperial 0
- Inyo 0
- Kern 3
- Kings 0
- Lake 4
- Lassen 0
- Los Angeles 113
- Madera 0
- Marin 0
- Mariposa 0
- Mendocino 334
- Merced 0
- Modoc 0
- Mono 0
- Monterey 256
- Napa 0
- Nevada 0
- Orange 0
- Placer 0
- Plumas 0
- Riverside 96
- Sacramento 59
- San Benito 3
- San Bernadino 33
- San Diego 4
- San Francisco 10
- San Juaquin 0
- San Luis Obispo 4
- San Mateo 0
- Santa Barbara 531
- Santa Cruz 27
- Santa Clara 25
- Shasta 5
- Sierra 0
- Siskiyou 1
- Solano 0
- Sonoma 57
- Stanilaus 20
- Sutter 0
- Tehama 0
- Trinity 100
- Tulare 1
- Toulomne 0
- Ventura 0
- Yolo 49
- Yuba 0
Mendocino County’s Kelly Overton (newly hired manager of the county’s pot program) says as of 3-13-18 there have been 847 applications for permits. Not all for cultivation. No decision has been made on 699. Permits issued 148. The state says in Mendocino County, 334 for cultivation so far. Many of these may not receive annual state licenses when temporary ones expire in May and June. If it is true the county has in excess of 10,000 cultivators, 334 licenses is a low number it seems.
In Mendocino County the entity with the most temporary state cultivation licenses is in Laytonville. Heritage Holdings of California Incorporated has 14 cultivation licenses, two retail, two distribution. They also operate Artifact Nursery branded under the name Henry's Original. The corporate mindset. Discussion at the March 13 Supervisors meeting suggested more of the bigger cultivators are making it through the system.
The main problem with legalized ganja is Prop 64 gave the wannabe one-percenters a huge leg-up that is leading to anti-competitive practices that will soon transcend into outright monopolization of the industry and ultimately the market. Regulators in any economic sector always prefer regulating a small number of big entities instead of big numbers of small entities. That’s why the future of Mom and Pop growers is looking bleaker and bleaker. Mendocino county officials haven’t figured that out yet — or maybe they have. Either way, the small growers are getting screwed.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag called me a racist for wearing a Mexican caramba hat. He said he was going to report me to KZYX and the Mendocino Environment Center. I told that raggedy, judgmental deadbeat that I already reported him to Zero Population Growth for not getting his vasectomy, and if a cat ever needed one it's him, a sexual predator if there ever was one!”
THAT AWFUL DAY FOUR YEARS AGO IN CLEONE
by Rex Gressett
Rico Chaney was born in 1981. He was 33 years old when he died. In 2014 he committed suicide by cop, taking one very beloved officer with him.
One bad day in the middle of March crashing badly from an ecstasy binge of entirely unsustainable duration, Chaney borrowed a truck from his only friend and went on a rampage of murderous violence.
He had a high-power assault weapon, a sawed-off shotgun and body armor. He could have killed a lot of people. He was presumptuously proactive, done with life and out for murder. He was a former wrestling jock and a confirmed asshole.
You can not well imagine a more volatile potential for mayhem.
He succeeded in killing two people, including a beloved public hero, but he did not kill as many people as he wanted to or could have.
He was crazed, he was crashing, he was frankly bent on murder and death, and he was very heavily armed, but he was prevented, not by the main force of California police who got fooled, but by two Mendocino County sheriffs deputies both out of Fort Bragg and two Fort Bragg cops. These four ignored the chatter and confusion down on the highway, left the protection and security of the main force and quickly nailed the shooter on the back roads local cops knew better than Rico did. One officer died doing it.
In the aftermath, Fort Bragg changed forever.
Chaney's only legal wife got married to trouble in 2004 and obtained no doubt welcome relief by divorce in 2006 after a way too long honeymoon of beatings and abuse that in the end put him in jail and made her no small bit smarter.
She pointed out with an insider’s knowledge of the situation that Rico only had one job in his life and he quit after two hours. His father was an anthropologist at the University of Oregon for whatever that is worth. The elder Chaney retired without ever achieving tenure and played his part in tragedy by dying young in 1998, leaving a blurry, neglected, bi-polar kid without guidance or direction.
Although not otherwise noticeably precocious, Rico discovered a taste for pornography about that time. Only once did it seem that little Rico, though self-centered and basically mean, tried to stand up for his own sanity, or more accurately perhaps push back on a progressing insanity. Unusually for a sexually abused child, Rico once made a big issue that he had been sexually abused by his father’s best friend fellow anthropologist George Bundy Wasson. No one did anything, but Rico never forgot.
According to the restrained description of his mom's boyfriend, Chaney grew up threatening and erratic. He was kicked off the wrestling team for drugs. On his own, he would get high and subject himself to punishing physical workouts until he crashed. He developed an obsession with Bruce Lee. He acquired a drug-dazed Neo-Nazi veneer.
His brief interlude of abusive marriage left him with a domestic violence record that kept him out of the Army. Maybe the Army was his last real chance. It is possible to imagine his murderous inclinations might have been tolerated or even welcomed and his indolence at least somewhat curbed. It never happened.
After dad died, mom got a lawyer boyfriend and sealed her son's fate by dying of cancer in 2013. She left a deeply uncertain, violent, and friendless child in a man's body, and a fortune.
Eschewing investment as petty, Chaney immediately burned up the money in a cross-country saga the details of which will never be known. He spent some time in the Midwest and he hit both coasts. When he got back he had guns, no money, some really nice body armor and the permanent weighty drug habit of a multidrug using junky. There was nothing else in his future but what went down. Everybody saw it coming and no one stopped it.
After he got back from his road trip, a newly broke Rico got down to the realities of life by forming a porn company, Black Zero productions. This enterprise was a registered limited liability company with Chaney proudly entitled ‘agent.’ Otherwise it did not really exist, but to the degree it did, it revolved around a particular girl that Rico thought had a talent for the genre.
When the girlfriend went south, Rico was out of ideas.
On March 5, 2014, the police almost stopped the tragedy before it began. Rico was picked up with stolen electronics. A loaded .22 caliber Ruger was in the glove compartment. Another .45 caliber HK handgun was found in a backpack in the bed. A loaded .223 Seekins AR 15 assault rifle with three magazines and body armor were in a duffle bag also in the truck bed along with fourteen tablets of MDMA.
They held him, but Lane County (Oregon) district attorney Alex R. Gardner released him, writing after the event that although the AR 15 had been modified, other cases had a higher priority. He characterized the legal system that released Rico Chaney as being in a “state of collapse.”
On the morning of March 19, 2014, Rico Chaney got ready for his immortality as a mass murderer and prepared himself to die. He swung by his late mother’s boyfriend the lawyer and made what arrangements he could to put his sister out of the remnant of his mother’s estate and for what was left of the money to go to his daughter and his porn star ex-girlfriend “in case anything should happen to him.”
The lawyer characterized his behavior as intense. Then he left, put on his body armor, loaded his guns, borrowed a truck and took off to kill some people. When he got down the road he took a moment to send a farewell email to the guy who loaned him the truck, his “only friend,” ending it with “I’m not saying anything else because I don’t want you to be involved.”
Just after midnight, the Eugene fire department got a call for a fire at the home of George Bundy Wasson, the one-time friend of Rico’s dead father who an eleven year old had long ago accused of sexual abuse.
The firemen who responded described a feeling of intense evil as they entered the house. Every light was on in the smoke-filled home and loud “weird operatic” music moaned in the smoky dimness.
The last thing the 78-year-old George Bundy Wasson had seen was the kid he had molested in childhood all grown up into a monster. The cops found Wasson leaning back in an armchair surrounded by a pool of his own blood as his house burned around him. His right ring finger was laying three feet away near the rear door.
When the cops arrived gunshot wounds in George’s right temple and behind the right ear were observed. There were three more bullet holes in the bookcase. The fire destroyed the front of the residence and the upper floor.
By a quarter past one, the police were dispatched to a location about four miles away. Two University of Oregon students in a BMW had been approached in a parking lot by an assailant with a sawed-off shotgun. His arguments were sufficiently persuasive that they ended up locked in the trunk of their own car. As the stolen car swung out of the parking lots the students with heartfelt thankfulness to the product safety engineers at BMW activated the internal release that the careful Germans had put into that model just in case someone did get locked in their own trunk.
They dropped out like rabbit turds into the dust and commenced to rejoice. Responding cops found the borrowed pickup in the same lot.
Within 15 minutes the Central Lane County dispatch center had sent out a BOLO (be on the lookout) to every cop in the Willamette Valley.
By dawn, the alert had gone out by teletype to law enforcement throughout Oregon and California. No one knew where the shooter was or where he was heading — but in fact he was aimed right at Fort Bragg.
By 10 o’clock the next morning, the golden sun of California looked down on Rico Chaney immodestly taking a piss at Confusion Hill (Leggett).
The proprietor of one of the stores confronted him and then with life-saving prudence retreated to his store. Rico finished pissing and came after him with his sawed-off shotgun. As Chaney entered the store the proprietor hit him with an expandable baton and ducked away.
A couple of wild shots followed him into the building. Seconds later he heard the BMW burn rubber.
The cops from the highway patrol and the Eugene Sheriffs were on him from the north. Headed north from Fort Bragg Sheriff Ricky Del Fiorentino was coming straight at him, alone and ahead of everyone with his accelerator wide open. Sheriff Greg Stefani was some miles behind also moving fast.
Out of the Fort Bragg police department, the Chief of Police Scott Mayberry and his second in command Lt. John Naulty were right behind the Sheriffs.
While the highway patrol stayed on Highway 1 blocking traffic and checking the bushes. Del Fiorentino had a hunch and he knew the back streets.
Turning into Ward Ave. Del Fiorentino, Stefani, Mayberry, and Naulty cruised like hunters, sensing the killer’s presence. The last words anybody heard Ricky say were something like “turn right here.”
Stefani saw Ricky's car cut alone up Pine Avenue and almost at once heard the gunfire.
When it was over they found 13 bullet holes in the front of Ricky Del Fiorentino’s patrol car and nine more in the door.
John Naulty, Fort Bragg police lieutenant, swung in seconds later and saw a figure in full body armor peering in the window of Del Fiorentino’s patrol car.
The lieutenant took position and laid down fire from his city-issued automatic rifle. Stefani showed up moments later and, ignoring all prudence, checked Ricky. No pulse. He saw Del Fiorentino’s police revolver laying in the dirt by the patrol car. The fallen officer had gunshot wounds to the chest and head.
In a hail of automatic bullets, the Fort Bragg Lieutenant got behind his car and kept shooting. Rico Chaney also kept firing and did not retreat.
Moving laterally Chaney flanked the officer, coming at him, shooting hard. Naulty emptied the two magazines he had and pulled his revolver. Scott Mayberry, arriving at the moment Naulty’s ammo ran out, slammed his car and put himself between the shooter and his officer. As they watched for the gunner’s next move there was only the sound of birds.
When they found Rico Chaney dead in the bushes it was discovered that one of Naulty’s rifle shots had caught him in the inner thigh taking a chunk out of his femur, the largest bone in the body. The cause of death was “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”
PLUGGING MY BOOK
by Jim Gibbons
"I figure when some people hate you, you’re doing something right."
— Steph Curry, SF Warrior MVP
Self-publishing my book was much tougher than writing it, and getting it out there for people to see that it exists--plugging it--has been a real learning experience.
The first thing I learned is that not everybody I write about likes to be written about. They may see the past differently, or don’t want to be reminded of those times. My own wife tells me not to write about her...oops, sorry sweetheart.
My ex-wife said I made her seem like a slut. I should tell her to mellow out, those were the Sixties, the era of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. I mean, I was just trying to tell my story of why I left Milwaukee and headed to California. She has also said, more than once, “You’re welcome.”
Then there’s an old friend who became a raving drunk and told me the story of how AA saved his life. I wrote it, and when he read it he said, “What happens in AA stays in AA.” That’s the last email I got from him.
In fact, I read the piece at my local writers group and one member was on his side, saying that she was also an alcoholic, but thanks to AA she has been sober for twenty-three years. I felt like saying, “Bummer,” but I think my response was something like, “I don’t really care about AA’s philosophy.”
She got up and stormed out, causing her husband, who was sitting next to me to say, “Oh-oh, I think she’s pissed.” I apologized to her later, but I didn’t mean it.
Oh sure, I also got compliments, but as much as I love praise and appreciate those who did read it and tell me they liked it, the negatives seem to bother me more than they should. Maybe that’s one reason I’m writing this?
Another friend from the good old days was disappointed because I didn’t seek redemption like my old raving drunk friend did through AA. She was referring to how I treated the mother of my children by shooting and eating one of her puppies. Did I really do that? I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.
The one that hurt the most was when my oldest sister said she was “extremely upset” that I wrote about her family. I felt like saying, “Well, I’m extremely upset that you’re extremely upset!” But I apologized, and haven’t heard from her or any of her family members since.
I should point out that I’ve always been the Black Sheep of the family, and to admit in my memoir to drug use and what a bad boy I was back in the day was bound to have repercussions. Maybe I should have written about myself in the third person and called it a novel?
I also learned not to ask anyone if they’ve read the book. If they haven’t they feel backed into a corner, giving me some lame excuse, but if they’ve read it and liked it they will usually tell me without my asking. I learned that no response is better than a negative one.
Another surprise was when two old friends I offered my book to didn’t want it. They both had a similar response, looking at it and saying, “I don’t really read,” and handing it back to me. It seemed like an honest response, but it really surprised me, and I felt like saying, “Dude, you can’t be serious!”
Probably one of the toughest to take was when a member of my Hawaii Writers Guild wrote on a piece I shared with the group in one of our weekly reads, “This may sound harsh, but what makes you think that everything you write is interesting.”
Ouch! This actually made me face up to the fact that maybe I’m a boring guy after all? My wife would probably agree with that, but she’s biased because she knows me so well...there I go again. Before I start weeping, let me give a few examples of the kind of feedback I really like.
I returned to Willits in the fall of 2017 just days before my book came out. This of course helped sell books in the hometown I had spent half my life. Many of my old friends were either mentioned in the book or knew others in the book.
Thanks to Louis Rohlicek, who wrote a review in the Willits Weekly, my reading at the Willits Library attracted other local authors and old friends, some I hadn’t seen in years. That was definitely a high point for me and a big plug for my book. It even spiked sales at the local bookstore.
Bruce Anderson wrote this about the first story in the book: “Great piece, Jim. Really good. Your account of arriving in San Francisco in the teeth of the flowerchild-ism is the best I’ve ever read.”
Shirley Ching wrote: “Wow, I really enjoyed your stories! You clearly make your point, with lots of witty humor in between. Thanks for sharing some of your life’s angst.”
Kathleen Roberts wrote: “I liked your book :) It caused discussion and that’s what a good book does.”
And recently I noticed that Nick Hoppe writes a weekly column for the SF Chronicle, so I couldn’t help but wonder if he was the son of Art Hoppe, the longtime SF columnist from the Sixties, Seventies and beyond, so I asked him in an email. Then before sending it, I attached my story about meeting Art Hoppe at a party in SF back in 1970. Here’s his response.
“Thanks for sending the story, Jim. I enjoyed it immensely. Art Hoppe is indeed my dad—you captured him well, especially his wonderful laugh. He was the best, and definitely not a snob. Thanks for the memories, much appreciated. Nick.”
And this does not include the four 5 star reviews on Amazon.com. Go to Flashbacks: A Memoir and check it out.
JESSE SLOTTE appeared in Judge Ann Moorman's courtroom this morning (Tuesday, 20 March) for the final disposition of a violent episode last year in Potter Valley in which Slotte was accused of assaulting his now estranged wife, Veronica, and imperiling the couple's two children. Judge Moorman ordered that Slotte, severely wounded in Iraq, successfully complete a program for traumatized veterans that he's presently enrolled in. Additionally, Slotte is ordered to stay away from his ex-wife but can enjoy regular visits with his children. He will serve 36 months of strict probation whose conditions stipulate that he remain alcohol-free. Slotte was represented by Ukiah criminal defense attorney, Justin Peterson, and prosecuted by Beth Norman of the DA's office.
* * *
LONESOME MONSTERS. An interesting (and telling) story in the current New Yorker is called "AntiSocial Media — Reddit, free speech, and the struggle to detoxify the Internet." I knew in the abstract that there are millions of isolated, unhappy people here in the land of the free, but I wasn't ready to know that millions of them are also pathological, at least that's been Reddit's experience. By vowing to open up their site to all opinion, Reddit was unprepared for the deluge of foul racism and objectively insane sexual expression that they've had to "censor," and as they pruned their website of objectively bad people and rancidly crude fascist opinion, Reddit has been hammered by the rest of the International Brotherhood of Klansmen and Pervs for not living up to their promise of unfettered speech.
I DON'T like to read on-line. I'd heard of Reddit but had no idea what it was. I looked it up yesterday for my first exposure, but seeing nothing of interest, I went away, probably never to return. Here at the mighty ava, we've also been accused of "censorship," as if we're supposed to allow a lot of juvenile back and forth on our comment line and print any old idiocy that any old outback shut-in sends us. Like a midget version of Reddit's experience we've been compelled by the lunatic brigades to regularly cull our comment line of the more egregiously offensive comment, and I think our comment line is better for it.
* * *
ON THE SUBJECT of media, and speaking here as a failed (presumably) candidate for the KZYX board of directors, I got a close-up look a few weeks ago of how the station is managed. It's not pretty, or in the least encouraging. Not to be a sore loser I'll continue to pony up my fifty bucks a year, making me an enabler of a uniquely Mendo brand of audio fascism, a weird circle of lifetime programmers, a gratuitously rude and hostile staff, an invisible general manager, a former EST cult character apparently in overall charge of the operation and, presiding in theory, a management-selected board of cringing directors who rubber stamp whatever the Est cult guy puts in front of them. All you taxpayers out there should know you help fund this thing because it's tax-exempt and partially tax-funded.
IF ELECTED to the KZYX board — I promise to demand a recount — I've tried to point out to this unhearing apparat that in the new media world with its zillion competing voices there's no specific reason for most Mendolanders to tune in KZYX because KZYX doesn't do local. Yes, they do some smarmy pr stuff from local government of the Tell Us What A Wonderful Job You're Doing and, if we have time, Fill Us In On What A Swell Person You Are. But for specifically local news you've got KOZT outta Fort Bragg, you've got micro-radio stations popping up everywhere from Covelo to Gualala, the genuinely community-oriented radio station at KMUD covering the North County, innumerable websites, Facebook pages — MSP is a one-man, county-wide news site, old line newspapers, and a deluge of info communicated via handheld gizmos. In this kind of competitive media environment is anyone surprised that no one under the age of fifty tunes in EST, er, KZYX? Local news and real discussion of local issues would draw listeners but, as is, KZYX's membership is stagnant and the six people employed there are paying themselves much more than the station can afford — roughly $250,000 out of an annual budget of about $550,000. The enterprise is a publicly-funded, self-selecting private audio club. Creepy as hell, too.
A CLEAR DAY ON THE COAST
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
On March 11, 2018, our father went home to be with Jesus.
Willis Edward Tucker was born February 3, 1926 to Jess and Eula Tucker in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was their first of nine children. The family moved to Sweetwater, Texas, for a short time.
Most of his early life was spent on the Meyers Creek family farm in Arkansas. In 1943, at the age of 17, Willis joined the Navy, serving in the New Hebrides Islands, the Mariana Islands, Saipan and Iwo Jima. He was wounded in early 1945, and was awarded a Purple Heart by the Department of Defense, before returning home at the end of the war.
Returning to Arkansas, he met Bobbie Lee Pennington, and they were married on October 14, 1946. They moved to California a year later with their baby daughter Barbara, and with Carnish and Pauline Vaughn Pennington, Bobbie's brother. They found work logging in Boonville, as did many southern families who moved to the valley in the late 40s, and early 50s. Willis worked for numerous logging companies throughout the valley, then later bought his first D6 Caterpillar, and went into business for himself, spending over 50 years working in the industry.
Willis and Bobbie made their home in Boonville, raising four daughters: Barbara Blattner, Patty Crabb (Rick), Sandi Knight (David), and Marti Titus (Craig). Nine grandchildren followed: Eddie Slotte (Candy), Kim Morgan (Ed), Eric Crabb (Jenn), Debbie Richey (Dallas), Mark Knight, Cliff Knight, Heather Knight, Deanna Parrish (Ryan), and Jared Titus. Many great grandchildren and great great grandchildren survive him, as well as his siblings Jacquemae Perrotta, Wanda Short, Bob Tucker, Charles Tucker and Michael Tucker. Willis was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Bobbie, daughter Judy Ann, and son-in-law, Jerry Blattner.
A viewing will be held on Friday, March 23, 2018 form 12-8 pm at the Eversole Mortuary. Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 24th, at 11:00 AM, at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville, followed by a potluck gathering for family and friends.
* * *
WILLIS TUCKER LOOKS BACK
Interviewed by Briana Burns (2002)
Mr. Tucker or "Willy," as he's widely known in Anderson Valley, is an affable man who laughs often as he talks about his eventful life. Having endured combat tours in the South Pacific and the medical afflictions that come with the years, A survivor in the literal sense, Willy begins our meeting with a bemused account of his last interview, that one with a high school student.
"She wanted to know when I met my wife, and if I'd known my wife from childhood. I said, No, I only knew her two months before we got married. We had about fifteen or twenty dates and I knew she was the girl I wanted to marry so I married her. How long ago was that? the student asked me. I said, Fifty-six years ago. And she said, Why, nobody stays together that long! And that little girl went home and told her mother and the mother met me in the store and said to me, You’re that man that’s been married so long!
When Bobbi and I first came here to Boonville, we lived in a house that didn't have a square room in it. We helped build it. No two-by-fours, just a few rafters. We covered up all the shame (?) and everything, put wallpaper on the walls and linoleum to cover up the rough wood. Solid slab door with a string through it for safety. That was it, our first home.
I worked fifty-some years in the woods here. Our job used to be so dangerous that we got people killed every week. I quit the best job in the world because of that. Bobbi and I went to Ukiah in a new pickup one day, and when we came back Barbara, our daughter, run out and said, 'Daddy, there’s someone calling for you; you got a man down in the woods.' So I took off; I could see the Highway Patrol going the same way. When I got to the Nash Mill Road they let me by. An old family named Honeywell lived there. Anything happened out there, they were the first to know. Mrs. Honeywell was trying to stop me but I just drove right on by. I knew then it was a fatality because of what I saw going by. I could tell it was bad. And it was bad! It was old Sonny. Took us all evening to get his body out. He was Marchie Summit’s brother. They wouldn’t let me put him in the ambulance because the coroner had pronounced him dead. I was cursing ‘cause I was mad, I said, what’s stopping me from putting him in my pickup? They said, sure, you can do that. I put him in a bodybag of sorts. They didn’t have bodybags in those days; they had old army mattress covers. You slide him in that and wrap him with an army blanket. I couldn’t get his boots off; I had to cut his boots off.
A fir went into a redwood and pulled it way over and then turned it loose. That's what got Sonny. About five feet of the top came back and went through a madrone and a lot of other trees otherwise it would’ve just broke his arm because the main body of the tree missed him. He threw his arm up and it broke his arm but a sticker got him in the head, right behind his ear. He’d run toward a four-wire barbwire fence, and he’d pulled those wires apart and stuck his head through, and then that thing came sailing and hit him right in the head. It was horrible! But it killed him instantly.
It ruined two fallers. I don’t think either one of them ever fell another tree. They were very proud of Sonny and it just took everything out of them. They were probably two of the best, a father and a son. It crippled my whole outfit.
Me, I didn’t get emotional about it. I was a hard man to work for anyway so I tried to keep the outfit. I could see what it was doing to the outfit, but I worked the next spring and then I told the Nash family — they were trying to give me a raise — I said money wasn’t the problem. I just couldn’t handle any more accidents. When you have two accidents in a year, it’s time to move on.
We were logging up there and there was a big Indian man named Rose. He was out of some tribe up north. A redwood, you cut a lip and we called it a jack, it lifted the tree and threw it free of the stump, the weight would make it do all these things to itself. This thing rode up on another tree, trying to ride it down, it kicked back and set right in his lap! He was standing behind the stump. Any time anybody gets killed, he’s right near that stump unless there’s some flying debris and he gets hit by that. He lived for some time. We dug him out. It was loose rocky soil. I just got down there and kept digging; I freed one leg and then I freed the other leg. Then we put a block in there to hold the tree and then everybody got ahold of it and the other guys worked him gradually out. But then, when we got him out, the old blood went everywhere and he died in just a little bit, a few minutes. When the logs were so thick in those days — we didn’t cut anything under twenty-five inches — you couldn’t get a cat in there so we had to hand him up over the logs; it takes a long time. He never lived for us to get him out of there. I’m not sure when he died, but he closed his eyes a long time before we got to the landing.
I’ve seen at least ten men get killed in the woods. Fallers used to be the main ones that got it. Them and choker setters. Once in a while a catskinner.
Right straight across from your place up on Peachland I rolled a cat when I was about 24 years old. And then I rolled one of Pronsolino’s on the Greenwood Road. I rolled over three cats. Lost the skin off my arms and my belly but I got out. I bought my first cat in 1959. Worked up until I had ten cats. God been good to us.
World War II
I was going to get water, carrying a bunch of canteens for all my friends. I was something like 18; the other guys were twice my age, but they thought I was lucky. We were building revetments. (?) We’d been working on that but then they gave us night duty to guard on the hill. We were about to cross this big airfield., When we started over there, I could hear that mortar shell coming. They make a screaming noise. We was like a bunch of chickens running around. I remember running but I didn’t know where to run to. It landed right in the middle of us. I remember rolling over on my back; I could see red and I was bleeding from my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my ears, and my ears were ringing. I looked up at the sky and the sky was blood red. I thought, “God, I don’t want to die in this place!” So I just went back to sleep. And I didn’t know nothing for forty-seven days. The Lord looks after you.
The mortar shell landed right in the middle of us, killed all of them but me.
When I got to where I knew something 47 days later, I was carrying a mop and a bucket of diesel. The environmentalists would have a fit about what we did back then. They would take 2x6s and make a walkway to get us up out of the mud and the way they kept it disinfected was to mop them with diesel oil. Didn’t stink long! When I come to myself, that’s the first thing I can remember. I didn’t know how many days it had been. I asked somebody and they said a month.
One of the guys with us there was named Sullivan. He was about 6’2”, good looking like a movie star. One night — we were on one of those little islands don’t even have no name — they come running and someone said “Better get ready; we’re expecting an air raid. So I started digging. It started out as a joke. I dug my hole like a grave — 3 feet wide, six feet long, and 3 feet deep. Then it began to rain just before dark so it had about a foot of water in it. I got my poncho and pulled it tight and had my helmet on my head and went and got into that hole and I just squatted down. I could hear everyone else hollering when the air raid started and I knew that pretty soon I was gonna have the hole full of company. They jumped in that hole and they nearly drownded me! They was pushing me head first into the water; I couldn’t breathe.
We numbered ourselves to make sure everybody was out of the tent. We could hear the planes by that time. They made the first run and that mat we was putting down that day for an air strip had big holes and little holes in it. When they let their bombs out pieces would fly off the bombs. They sounded like these things we used to make to play with when we was kids. We was poor down in Arkansas and Texas so we would punch a bucket lid full of holes and sail it; it would whistle as it went through the air. That’s what those bombs would sound like when they fell only a bigger whistle sound.
We heard someone coming; didn’t know who it was. My rifle had gone into the mud and if I’d a fired it it would have killed me, too. I said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, that’s Sullivan.” He come running across this revetment (?) in the open and they made a bomb run about the same time and it cut all of one ham off his fanny, a piece of that shrapnel did. I ran to him and when I rolled him over on his belly I could see thousands of little things pumping up blood; he was torn plumb from this side of his body to the other.
So I said, “He won’t last long doing that. All we had on was our old dirty greens. But a black guy run by; he was an orderly for some high-ranking officer, and he had a white cook vest on and a white undershirt. I grabbed ahold of him and said “I’m gonna have to relieve you of that.” We just took a knife and cut right up the back, just peeled it off of him. We folded it and put it down on the wound; put pressure on it, and then we had to carry Sullivan about half a mile to a field hospital. When we got there, and there’s a real good lesson in this, I said, “I’ll go in and get some help. You guys, keep the pressure on.” He looked like he was done dead to me. I went in there and I’d never seen such a bloody place in my life! They washed the operating tables off with buckets of water. They sloshed that stuff on there! The doctor was right there and I said, “Who’s in charge?” and they said “This guy right here” and he had a major’s star. I said, “Sir, I got a man out here, a good buddy, he’s dying if you can’t do something for him we’re gonna lose him.” He just looked at me and said, “Hell, boy, everything’s dying!”
I looked at him again and said, “I gotta ask you again, ain’t you got something you can put on that to stop that bleeding?” So he went out there and looked at it and said, “Well, you guys have been doing a pretty good job.”
The doctor spoke to his orderly; told him to get him some kind of medical thing. I couldn’t think of anything he could put in there that would stop that blood. But the doctor reached right in there in Sullivan's stomach with this stuff that looked like what mama used to call 'miracle flour' because it was so thin it just run through his fingers. It looked like cake flour, but it wasn’t that. He got a great big handful of blood and threw it in that bag he had, and it just went to forming a crust. He did about 3 or 4 handfuls and he said, ‘That’s all I can do for him now.'
When I got out of the service, Sullivan’d been gone about 6 months. I got hurt on Saipan, another island. I asked lots of doctors what that white stuff could have been, but I never found out. But they used it all the time on flesh wounds; you’d see guys who lost all the skin off their back and they'd use it on them.
But Sullivan made it! He weighed about 220 pounds when I had known him, but he didn’t look like he weighed 60 pounds now. Just a head and skin and bones and blood — big bones and little bones and some skin glued on — that’s what he looked like. If I hadn’t of known who he was, I wouldn’t have been able to recog
nize him. I said hello to him. He turned around and looked at me but he didn’t know who I was.
The lady said they were teaching him to sit up and he’d just fall over if she turned him loose, like about a year old baby. I didn’t ever go back there no more ‘cause I didn’t want to see him. I mentioned it to some of the other guys that came through there and they said they had to teach him everything and he would never be the same.
Logging, My Silly Lick
At one point the price of timber was up to $1500 per 1000 board feet for redwood, but now it’s down to $600. And fir, you almost have to give it away! I know everything has to come back to square one because that’s the way they redistribute the wealth,
I heard some guy say real old beautiful old growth could bring $2000, but I never sold nothin’ like that! I used to log for $36 a thousand! I sold many a tract at that price. That was cheap! When I came to Boonville, you could buy all the timber you wanted for five, seven dollars. I bought a lot of it for ten dollars. But I didn’t have the money to hold onto it. I had to put it on the market right away. Mike Prather, I used to work under him, and used his money, and we ate and lived and bought what we wanted.
Archie McDougal, he used to own the Tumbling McD, he was like my godfather. He backed me on timber deals. But all good things come to an end. We didn’t get anything for our product. Everything on Prather Ranch, the one behind the mills there, was 505 acres over there. Mike told me one day, 'I’ll sell you that land, timber and all; when the people move out of that little house I’ll sell you all that for one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars! Course that was a lot of money at that time! I said 'I don’t have that kind of money,' and he says, 'Well, pay it like you want. We were trying to get a harvest plan on it, it was just after the forester come in, so one day I told Mike Prather, “I’ll just log it for you,” and so I logged it. I ended up paying him $250,000 for the timber. That was such a silly lick, but that’s what I did! I paid him twice what he was asking me for the whole thing, land, timber, and all, and the old mill! It’s got a pretty little pond over there! Won’t never get another deal like that!
Down to Earth
Dr. Tom Russell, he’s been a good friend of ours for a long time. We got aquatinted before he was married, and they’ve been married for about thirty years. Archie McDougal was his godfather. And he told Tom, 'Willie’s my boy, too, so you guys are gonna have to get along!' It wasn’t hard to like him! It nearly killed both of us when the old man had a heart attack and kicked the bucket! Now they’ve sold out, his ranch and everything. I used it as much as they did!
Bobbie’s got more kinfolks than anybody. Used to be in the summer sometime we’d take the kids to camp and we’d fly in everybody — our kids, their friends; we’d have a couple of days up there, Anderson Creek and the river, the ranch, the kids could just go crazy!
But that’s all gone now. It’s a place for very rich people!
Tom Russell stopped in to visit us recently on a Sunday just after church. He said, 'Oh, I was just down there at Bohemian Grove with all them bigshots but I had to come up here and get a Willie-fix!'
Bobbie laughs and says, quoting the doctor, 'Willis helps bring me back down to earth!'
I've been lucky; I've got a good family, and I've had a good life."
SPRING IN ANDERSON VALLEY
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
LAKE BOTTOMS OUT
New Report Ranks Lake As Least Healthy County In California
The latest version of an annual report that ranks counties on health has rated Lake the last among California’s counties.
MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY
Sunday, April 29, 2018 * 43nd Anniversary
Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration at the Hill House in Mendocino town on the coast. This event draws some 40 poets from northern California and beyond. Two open readings: afternoon and evening.
Noon: sign-up and mixer; afternoon reading at 1:00.
Break: enjoy the town, the sea and the headlands.
5:00 PM: sign-up and mixer; evening reading at 6:00.
Choice comestibles. Open book displays. Contributions welcome. All poems considered for broadcast by Dan Roberts on KZYX&Z.
Info: Gordon Black, (707) 937-4107, firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
ADDENDUM: Hey, anybody can do this:
catch quickly this day don't fritter away
before a say yes in more than a mumble
bang a big pan with a big spoon
celebrating robins on lawns or
clumpy canyon slopes under brush
a sky bright grey with a darker heaviness
wind troubling treetops big atmospheric shifts
forward forward mark this day forward
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 20, 2018
DUNCAN CHARLES, Ukiah. Probation revocation, resisting.
JOY DAVIDSON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
FREDRICK FITCH, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
EDMOND HAMILTON, San Diego/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSEPH LOREN, Lakeport/Ukiah. Honey oil extraction, pot possession for sale.
BRYAN MARTIN, Willits. Controlled substance, controlled substance for sale, sale of controlled substance, paraphernalia, conspiracy, probation revocation.
JEREMIAH MEDLIN, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
POTTING, POTTED, POTS!
Wanted - Plastic Pots
In order to reuse the material already in our community, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is looking for donations of plastics pots, particularly 4-pound and 1 gallon sizes. Used pots are great, no broken pots please. If you would like to donate your plastic pots, please contact Nursery Manager, Sophia Pisciotta at 964-4352 x 12 or email@example.com
Thank you for helping us reduce and reuse!
Roxanne Perkins, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
ONLINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When the chaos exists at the kindergarten level, the teachers and staff can break up the ruckus and restore order. When the citizens are creating havoc in the streets, the cops can be sent in to bust it up. When the greed at the top has turned the system into the corrupt, chaotic clusterfuck that is our government, there is no higher authority to send in to straighten out the mess. The only possibilities for change would come from actions taken by the military or by foreign militaries and I don’t know if that would fix anything anyway. I certainly will continue to denounce violence, even though only violence will bring change, things are that far gone. So for me at least, I must turn away and live my commitment to my Lord and Master. Faith is the only sanctuary that I have and since Jim Morrison was right about at least one thing, no one here gets out alive. I will continue to struggle against the forces of evil as I do and be comforted by the fact that whether you Believe or no, Eternal Rest grows in value as life degrades in decency.
LIVING ON THE CHEAP: YOU CAN'T GET SNOTTY IN COSTCO
by Jeff Costello
To begin with, I've been in a Walmart a total of three times, emergency only. The Waltons don't need what little money I have. Here in the flyover zone we are awash in big box stores. They're all here, in profusion. My big box of choice is Costco, it's nearby and has agreeably low prices on things I use a lot - coffee, olive oil, toilet paper (although there can be storage issues with over-large packages). I understand there is some resistance to Costco in Ukiah, but it already has a Walmart, so if one must, one can choose.
And at Costco, one doesn't see the sub-human comic strip characters so many people apparently photograph at Walmart. That said, Costco is still a discount or "wholesale" business. Not meant for the rich. However, most of the customers there, with the huge carts, are not looking where they're going. It seems to be a thing here, in any crowded store, for people to rudely cut in front of others and then say "Sorry." Well, they're not. One woman in Costco comes charging into a main aisle, almost crashes into someone and says, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking." That is exceptional politeness.
It's like driving a car. Take nothing other drivers do for granted. So I take the same approach in Costco. My daughter remarked that upper classes shop for food at Whole Foods, the middle class at Trader Joe's. Costco is lower middle, if I were guessing. It is after all a big box store and as such affords no prestige to customers. But I did see a woman with an expression that belonged at Neiman Marcus, and I had to laugh. When I was a kid, Art Linkletter said "People are funny." It's not usually intentional, though.
There is no vanity at the dollar store. No one's kidding anyone. I go for basic cleaning supplies - disposable brooms, sponges, generic Q-tips.
It's commonly said that the social class you were born into is where you stay. Rags to riches is a song and even there it's a metaphor. The reality is rare. I have a rich friend in a far away place. He was of course born into it. As the emperor in the "Amadeus" movie said, "There it is."
Boards and Commissions Vacancies
The list of vacancies, due to term expirations and/or resignations, for County Boards and Commissions has been updated. A list of all new and existing vacancies is available on the County Website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/board-of-supervisors/boards-and-commissions.
Airport Land Use Commission (1) Planning Commission Representative
Health and Human Services Advisory Board (1) Community Health Representative
Potter Valley Cemetery District (1) Trustee
Archeological Commission of Mendocino County (1) Archeologist
Please note: Anticipated vacancies include expiring terms: the incumbent of the expiring term may apply for reappointment and/or may continue to serve in their capacity until replaced. California Government Code requires public noticing for all expiring terms regardless of the incumbent’s intention to apply for reappointment. If you are interested in serving on this Board, contact your Supervisor, or the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 (707) 463-4441.
Last Date For Filing: March 26, 2018, or until filled.
Carmel J. Angelo
Clerk of the Board of Supervisors