Update on Community Hall Renovation

At the Downieville Improvement Group (DIG) meeting on Tuesday, July 13, Bryan Davey from Sierra County Planning/
Public Works spoke to the group about the progress made on applying for Prop 68 funding of improvements for the
Downieville Community Hall.

Davey explained to the group how the grant application requires solid documentation of the matching funds demanded (20 percent of the total cost) to qualify the project for a grant. DIG’s donation of $70,000 will meet this figure and the County has prepared a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) certifying the money will be available to cover 20 percent of the project’s costs.

This MOU was placed on the Consent Agenda for the July 20th meeting of the Board of Supervisors and during their August 3rd meeting the Board will recognize DIG for their generous contribution to the project. Six years ago, when DIG sponsored the first Brewfest, their goal was to raise money for work on the Community Hall. It’s nice the group will be able to take a bow on August 3rd. Accolades for their support of the Community Hall will be even greater when the project is completed, late in 2022, if all goes according to plan.

A Celebration of Don Marshall’s Life

Donnie never wanted a funeral—he wanted a party. So a
party he will have. A party in honor of Don ‘Donnie’
Marshall’s life is planned for Saturday, August 14, 2021,
between 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. at ‘Don and Laura’s house’ in
Sierra City. Refreshments and food will be served, no utensils
will be provided (because Donnie didn’t believe in them). All
are welcome to celebrate this fantastic man.

AT&T Finally Removes Cable Lines From the Ground at Fournier Ranch

By Stephen Kulieke

AT&T finally removed its telephone and internet cable lines from the ground last week in the Fournier Ranch area eight miles above Downieville, where the lines lay strewn since a storm brought them down in the winter of 2017-18.

AT&T customers in Sierra City where the lines feed have regularly complained of poor service and phone/internet interruptions. Their complaints reached a crescendo over the busy Memorial Day weekend when extended outages caused havoc for businesses and residents and made making a 911 call impossible.

In coverage on June 3 and July 1, The Mountain Messenger spotlighted the downed lines and ongoing service problems–and the resulting significant risk to public safety and the community’s economy. Sierra County representatives—led by Tim Beals, Director of Public Works, Roads, and Transportation—pressed the telecommunications giant to provide the reliable service and maintenance that Sierra County citizens deserve.

Early in July, Lee Kirby documented the downed AT&T lines on her Fournier Ranch property in photos that
appeared in The Mountain Messenger. Later in the month, she saw multiple AT&T trucks with giant spools of cable in the Fournier Ranch subdivision, and last week she confirmed that the lines on the ground were finally gone.

“I can’t help but believe The Messenger’s media push plus Tim Beals’ demands finally paid off,” said Kirby,
the retired CEO of the Sierra County Superior Court. Beals said that the county “continues to press for
accountability and better communications” from AT&T. Beals has requested that an AT&T representative
attend the upcoming Aug. 3 Sierra County Board of Supervisors meeting to present information and
answer questions. While his request was acknowledged by AT&T, the company has not yet agreed to attend.

Meanwhile, for the many rural Californians without readily available, affordable broadband, help may be on
the way.

As The Mountain Messenger went to press, a new law enacted on July 20—the Broadband Budget Bill, AB 156—promises to increase “equitable, affordable access to high-speed internet service across California.” According to
Governor Gavin Newsom’s office: “Through a $6 billion multi-year investment, more Californians will be able to
access broadband coverage with the construction of a state-owned open access middle mile network and
last mile projects that connect unserved household and businesses with local networks.”

After Completing over 1,000 Miles of the Pacific Coast Trail, Arroyo Campbell Returns to Downieville

Arroyo Campbell along the Pacific Crest Trail, south of Sierra City and heading north towards Canada, sporting what is likely to be the largest and heaviest backpack seen this year on the 2,600 mile trail.

On April 18th, in Campo, CA, a little more than a mile from the border between the U.S. and Mexican, Arroyo Campbell began his trek north to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. A 2019 graduate of Downieville High School who traveled in Asia for several months in the latter part of 2019 and who spent much of the past year doing archeological digs in Nevada (a good way to get in shape for this journey), Campbell arrived in Sierra City this past week after completing roughly 1,200 miles out of the 2,600 route in the twelve weeks since his adventure began.

Welcomed by family and friends upon his short visit to Downieville, Campbell says the trip has been fantastic (“everyone should do it!”) and having navigated some of the highest sections of the trail he thinks, being in excellent physical shape, he should be able to reach the Canadian border by early September.

Indeed, the fact he made the 40 mile walk from Truckee to Sierra City last week in less than 24 hours tells us his estimate for completing his marathon hike is going to be accurate. Along his way, so far, Campbell has met many other adventurous friends and they have visited several small towns for rest and recreation. None of the other places where they stopped, according to what Arroyo’s newfound friends have told him, were as pleasant as the welcome.

Sierra County’s Unemployment Rate Lower Than 56 of California’s 58 Counties in June 2021

CountyRank by RateLabor ForceEmploymentUnemploymentUnemployment Rate
All Counties19,003,60017,481,0001,522,7008.0%
Source: Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division
* Sum of figures for Sierra, Lassen, Nevada, Modoc, Butte, Tehama, Plumas, and Yuba counties.

In what is certainly a unique event, according to the economic research analysts within the
Labor Market Information Division of Employment Development Department (EDD), Sierra
County moved from having the fourth lowest unemployment rate within the state’s counties in
May to the second lowest unemployment rate in June.

Yes, Sierra County’s unemployment rate increased slightly between May and June, moving
up from 4.8 percent to 4.9 percent as only 50 of the 60 people who entered the labor force were
gainfully employed.

However, statewide, the unemployment rate jumped from 7.5 percent to 8.0 percent, largely
as a consequence of job losses in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino being combined with
increased labor force participation in these areas.

As for our selected set of counties in north eastern California, all showed increases in their
unemployment rate between May and June. However, the rates for Sierra, Plumas, and Modoc
only went up by one tenth of a percentage point. For other local areas, the Lassen County
rate moved up from 5.3 percent to 5.7 percent, Nevada County rose from 5.4 percent to 5.9
percent, Tehama County went from 6.9 percent to 7.5 percent, Butte County rose from 6.6 to
7.3 percent, and Yuba County, with the only rate to exceed the state’s average went up from 8.3
percent to 8.8 percent.

On The Shelf [7/15]

By Paul Guffin

David Laurence Wilson, left, enjoying his recent hiking trip at Yosemite.

Local Editor

People hereabouts may or may not know that we have a book editor in our midst: David Laurence Wilson. David now divides his time between the family home here in Downieville, the new family home in Portland, Oregon, and
various and sundry literary gatherings. Recently he dropped by the Downieville Library and shared about what he has been doing recently. His most recent effort is the seventh volume in the “Detective Pulps” series published by Ramble House, with stories by the author, Day Keene. Cullen Gallagher’s website, “Pulp Serenade” (www.pulp-serenade. com) had this review of the work:

“I’m ecstatic over the seventh and most recent volume in Ramble House’s series of Day Keene’s short stories
is The Kid I Killed Last Night and Other Stories: Day Keene in the Detective Pulps, Vol. #7 (2021). Expertly
compiled, edited, and introduced by David Laurence Wilson, this collection is one of the most interesting and
illuminating volumes released yet. Devoted to Keene’s earliest stories published under his real name Gunard Hjertstedt and later tales published under pen names (John Corbett and Donald King), The Kid I Killed Last Night sheds light on the more obscure areas of Keene’s pulp career. Fans of the author will delight in being able to access such rarities, and newcomers will hopefully appreciate the author’s wit and crackerjack plots. Early or late, real name or pen name, Keene was a master of the short story, and Ramble House and David Laurence Wilson deserve applause (and lots of orders) for keeping the author’s legacy alive.”

David also edited the fourth volume in the series in 2013, as well as Rapture Alley by Harry Whittington (under the
pen name “Whit Harrison), The Taste of Our Desire by Curt Colman, and Strictly for the Boys, also by Harry Whittington (among several other editorships). About editing Strictly for the Boys, Cullen Gallagher said:

“Editor and scholar David Laurence Wilson deserves special commendation for his tireless efforts to restore
Whittington’s reputation (and, in the case of Winter Girl, to restore the text itself). Wilson and Stark House publisher Greg Shepard give their books scholarly attention on par with the Library of America. Meticulously researched and lovingly edited, Stark House presents these forgotten paperback novels not as pulp curios, but as real literature, and set the bar high for other reprint series.”

The Downieville Library, unfortunately, does not have
any of David’s edited books on its shelves.

What’s New on the Shelf

We do, however, have some new-to-the-library books that
have come into the library in the past week:

101 Dalmatians, by Disney (easy reader)
The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
The Phoenix and the Carpet, by E. Nesbit (juvenile)
Sing Down the Moon, by Scott O’Dell (juvenile)(1971
Newberry Honor book)
Monkeys, Go Home, by G.K. Wilkinson
The American Agent, by Jacqueline Winspear
The Consequences of Fear, by Jacqueline Winspear
Pickles Must Bounce and Other Wacky Laws (juvenile)
America’s Seashore Wonderlands, by National Geographic
Blue Horizons: Paradise Isles of the Pacific, by National
Geographic Society

Market News [7/15]

By Nick Spano

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It was a rough one out there today. Earnings season is here, but earnings were no match for the all-powerful consumer price index (CPI) The CPI issues by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday and showed a 5.4% year-over-year increase, the largest annual increase since August. Yes, inflation scared investors and the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 indexes erased gains midway through the day.

The past few weeks have been rough for Bitcoin and Ethereum. Both cryptos are down more than 50% from
prior peaks, leaving crypto maxis in confusion. Bears say Bitcoin’s June “death cross” will lead crypto lower.
A death cross happens when an asset’s short-term moving average falls under its long-term moving average.

Bitcoin’s chart is bad news for bulls. To make matters worse, death cross formations are emerging in other large-
cap crypto charts, too. $XRP, $ETH, $BNB, and $DOGE could be weeks away from their respective deaths. On the flip side, bulls think cryptos (like $BTC) might be waiting to break out. Bitcoin is flashing technical signals
that point to a strong jump in price from current levels as soon as next week if trading volume continues to pick up, digital asset broker GlobalBlock said in a note on Monday.

The price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization could break out from its current sideways trading range and jump to $42,000 in the next couple of weeks. A jump like this would be 26% higher
than bitcoin’s price of $33,171 seen around midday on Tuesday.

Underpinning this prediction is the Bollinger Bands indicator, which defines an upper and a lower range that forecasts volatility when constricted. The indicator has been at its tightest spread since September 2020. That month was when bitcoin began its run-up from $10,000 to its all-time high of nearly $65,000 in April of this year.

In other news, The Space Battle of the Billionaires has moved from the Twitter-sphere to the thermosphere. On Sunday, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson boarded Virgin’s VSS Unity, traveling faster than three
times the speed of sound to reach the edge of space. Branson just became the first billionaire founder of a space
company to go to space on his own spacecraft. Next up is Jeff Bezos, who announced his trip before Branson
decided to out-space him. The former Amazon CEO plans to take off on a Blue Origin spaceplane on July 20,
along with his brother and a mystery bidder who’s dropping $28M, or $2.5M per minute of ride
time, to join them.

Apart from fueling billionaires’ egos, these trips are major endorsements for NASA-sponsored space tourism (think: going to dinner on the ISS). NASA is leaning on private companies to help commercialize space. In May last year, Elon’s SpaceX became the first private company to send humans to space. In May, Virgin completed its first human spaceflight, a critical step before it flies space tourists; ETA: early 2022. While $250K tickets to space make headlines, tourism is still a tiny sliver of the space industry.

The space industry is taking off in a real way. Space startups raised $7B in 2020, double what they raised in 2018. Today “space customers” mainly consist of. governments and companies paying to launch satellites, cargo, and astronauts into space. In the not-so-distant future, they could be commercial space tourists. In the more distant future, they could be space colonizers on the Moon and even Mars.

Lastly, big business is feeling the pushback of the US. On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order to curb the dominance of companies in industries including shipping, agriculture, healthcare, and tech. The goal: promote competitive markets and limit corporate dominance in everything from railroads to prescription drugs. It is part of a broader effort to confront consolidation and perceived anti-competitive pricing in big industries while also putting big companies on edge.

A Very Berry Jam for Cran, 7/24

A Very Berry Jam For Cran, Saturday, 7/24/21 from 1 to 10 pm at Dunstone Memorial Hall in Oroville Ca. The Golden Quest Band will debut with Dave Herbert, Scott Guberman, Jeff Prescott, Burt Lewis, Cheryl Rucker and Shirley Starks. Also performing are Maggie Forti and Jeff Hobbs and Cosmic Strings. Advanced tickets can be purchased at wwwJam4Cran.eventbrite.com, don’t wait because with this line up and the beautiful setting tickets may be scarce. $75. general admission includes BBQ to be served in during the hour long dinner break at 4:20. A VIP ticket can be purchased for $250 each or two for $420. This VIP package includes VIP Pass for parking and entrance to the Argonaunt Parlor for a catered dinner with the band and the Cranfill family. This is a benefit for Berry Creek and all who lost their homes and have survived a winter and to Michael (Cranberry) Cranfill whose dream this is. He survived the Bear Fire but his house didn’t and he passed the end of February. For info please go to http://www.Jam4Cran.eventbrite.com

Encouraging Signs in Devastating Sugar Fire, California’s Largest of 2021 to Date

By Stephen Kulieke

After a week that saw the surging Sugar Fire emerge as the largest of California’s 2021 still-early wildfire
season, crews are making progress on the Plumas County conflagration with containment increasing from
46% on July 13 to 71 % on July 14.

“The weather outlook is favorable with a trend toward cooling and possibly higher humidity,” said Mike
Ferris, public information officer with the California Interagency Incident Management Team Number 4. “A break in the weather would really give us a chance to get final containment lines on the fire and get it secured.” He said that lines were in place from “Maddalena to Scott Road all the way around almost to Doyle.”

Ferris spoke to The Mountain Messenger on Wednesday by phone from an evacuation center in Lassen County. The town of Doyle in the county was hit particularly hard by the fire this past weekend when flames jumped Highway 395, destroying a number of homes there.

Thus far, officials have not released figures on the number of homes and other structures destroyed by the Sugar Fire. Ferris said the Sheriff Departments of Plumas and Lassen Counties are putting together damage assessment teams and will work in coordination with the California Office of Emergency Services to survey and report on property damage from the fire in their respective counties.

The U.S. Forest Service has yet to assess damage to its facilities at Frenchman Lake. “We still have a fire to fight. Public and firefighter safety remains our biggest priority,” Ferris said. He noted that most of the direct attacks
on the fire are being done at night when conditions are more favorable.

Igniting on July 2, the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, has scorched 94,764 acres or nearly 150
square miles as of July 14. The most recent update from the Plumas National Forest USFS on Wednesday
reported a total of 2,512 personnel fighting the fire—working on 56 day and night crews and operating 194
engines, 17 helicopters, 48 bulldozers, 58 water tenders, and 2 masticators.

Evacuation warnings continue to be in effect for communities around the fire’s enormous footprint. A mandatory evacuation is in place for Dixie Valley to the northwest, due to rugged terrain and the threat of flareup. And mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for Frenchman Lake, Doyle Grade, and Sugarloaf Road.

There also is a Plumas National Forest closure order in effect surrounding the fire’s perimeter, which includes
several roads. Highway 395 is now open.

The Sugar Fire exploded in size last Friday when “heat, low humidity, and wind all lined up” to produce
a “dramatic, severe, and erratic” event, said Ferris. Friday saw particularly frightening conditions
when the intensity of flames formed a towering pyrocumulonimbus “fire cloud” that created its own
weather. The National Weather Service in Reno on Friday afternoon reported lightning strikes from the
cloud “along the east side of the Beckwourth Complex.”

The daily morning updates from Plumas National Forest officials underscore how rapidly the fire grew after

Thursday, July 8: 11,799 acres, 20% containment

Friday, July 9: 23,855 acres, 11% containment

Saturday, July 10: 54,421 acres, 8% containment

Sunday, July 11: 83,256 acres, 8% containment

The news is good for the other fire being administered by Beckwourth Complex officials. As of July 14, the Dotta Fire footprint remains constant at 594 acres with containment at 99%.

Beckwourth Complex Fire video updates are provided twice daily in the morning and evening at the Plumas National Forest Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USFSPlumas

At the July 13 evening video briefing, Beckwourth Complex Fire Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle emphasized that “your fire crews are out there working hard for you. I know there are a lot of rumors out there that we’re just managing it and letting the fire burn. That is not the case. We want to put this fire out and go home.” Officials also held their fourth virtual community meeting streaming at the Facebook page on the evening of July 14.

NOTE: As The Mountain
Messenger went to press
representatives of the
19-agency Beckwourth
Complex Fire team speaking
at last evening’s virtual
community meeting reported
that Wednesday afternoon,
July 14, saw increased fire
activity with 50 mph wind
gusts creating fire whirls
and grounding firefighting

On The Shelf [7/22]

By Paul Guffin

Historical Doings in the Month of July
We are more than halfway through the month of July, and have celebrated one big July event. But, there were more.(All of this information was found on the internet, which is possible to achieve at the Downieville Library, using either the library’s computer or your own device via the library’s WiFi connection.)

July 1: Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, commemorating the confederation of Upper and Lower Canada and some of the Maritime Provinces into the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867
July 2: 1788, Congress announced that the U.S. Constitution had been ratified by the required 9 states
July 3: 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec
July 4: 1884, the Statue of Liberty was presented to the United States in Paris
July 5: 1946, the bikini made its debut at a Paris fashion show

July 6: 1885, Louis Pasteur gave the first successful anti-rabies inoculation to a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog
July 7: 1906, baseball pitcher Leroy R. (Satchel) Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama
July 8: 951, the city of Paris was founded
July 9: 1868, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, defining U.S. citizenship, prohibiting individual states from abridging the rights of any U.S. citizen without due process and equal protection under the law, and barring individuals involved in rebellion against the U.S. from holding public office
July 10: 1973, the Bahamas gained their independence after 250 years as a British Crown Colony

July 11: 1804, former Vice President Aaron Burr killed Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel
July 12: 1817, philosopher Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts
July 13: 1985, Live Aid Concerts, raising funds from famine relief in Ethiopia, were held in cities around the world,
including London, Philadelphia, Sydney, and Moscow
July 14: 1789, the fall of the Bastille occurred at the beginning of the French Revolution
July 15: 1099, Jerusalem was captured and plundered by Christian forces during the First Crusade

July 16: 1969, Apollo 11 Lunar landing mission began with liftoff from Kennedy Space Center at 9:37 AM
July 17: 1859, Puerto Rican patriot Luis Munoz-Rivera was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico
July 18: 1947, President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order determining the line of succession, if the president
becomes incapacitated or dies in office; this eventually became the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1967
July 19: 1848 (and July 20) a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, marking the beginning
of an organized women’s rights movement in the U.S.
July 20: 1969, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first step onto the moon, proclaiming, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

July 21: 1898, Guam was ceded to the U.S. by Spain
July 22: 1933, Wiley Post became the first person to fly solo around the world
July 23: 1952, Egyptian army officers launched a revolution, changing Egypt from a monarchy to a republic
July 24: 1783, Simon Bolivar (“The Liberator”) was born in Caracas, Venezuela
July 25: 1956, the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria sank after colliding with the Swedish liner Stockholm

July 26: 1953, the beginning of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary “26th of July Movement”
July 27: 1953, the Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice at Panmunjom, Korea
July 28: 1932, the Bonus March eviction in Washington, D.C. occurred as U.S. Army troops under the command of
General Douglas MacArthur, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Major George S. Patton, under orders from President
Herbert Hoover, attacked and burned the encampments of unemployed WWI veterans
July 29: 1928, Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” premiered
July 30: 1965, the Social Security Act Amendments, establishing Medicare and Medicaid, was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson
July 31: 1790, the U.S. Patent Office first opened its doors (the first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of
Vermont for a new method of making pearlash and potash).

Letters to The Editor [7/22]

Got Beef?
Each week I look forward to reading The Mountain Messenger, but the “Cattlewomen Ride Tall in the Saddle” (6/10 edition) story stunned me. These ladies are allowed to go into the schools and encourage children to eat beef. Extensive, objective research has shown regularly eating red meat and processed meat can sharply raise the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.
And coronary heart disease is the largest cause of death in the U.S.

The schools should not be an extended marketing arm of the beef industry. Instead, the schools would be far better served by having dieticians teach the children eating habits and the knowledge to make wiser choices in their food and drink selections.

With love to all,
Dick Kazan
Palo Verdes Estates, CA

Calling All Local Artists

The Sierra City Improvement Group is soliciting local artists to draw and design artwork that will be placed on street banners up and down Main Street welcoming folks to our historic community. We would like the artwork to include local historic buildings, area attractions and/or items that identify importance to the Sierra City area.

Please submit your artwork for consideration to jim@buttesresort.com or Eb5wing70@gmail.com so we can gather
the ideas and put them to a vote. The winner gets a free T-shirt from this year’s car show but ultimately, the greatest reward is the satisfaction knowing that you have contributed something wonderful to your community!

The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2021 – we hope you will consider helping promote and improve your
community. These banners will help brighten up the town and provide a more welcoming atmosphere to all!
Thank you and we look forward to seeing some great ideas and artwork!

Jim Westfall
Sierra City Improvement Group.
Sierra City, CA

Sincere Appreciation

On behalf of the entire Marshall Family I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the first responders, community members and the Doctor that just happened to be in the Sierra Country Store (and I never got your name!) for all that you did for Donnie. The kind words, hugs, cards, food, crazy stories I had not heard before…it all meant so much to me—to us. You will never be forgotten, ever. I am so proud to call Sierra County home and it is

because of all of you.
Laura Marshall and Family
Sierra City, CA

The Secret Life of a Country Wife

Part 8 of Where Two Rivers Meet: A Matter of the Mother Lode By H.A. Silliman

Promptly at eight o’clock a.m., Sally drove up in her white Subaru Outback for our trip to Red Eagle. It was Thursday. Richie and the kids were off to school after delivering the Ledger. Before we left, Sally checked on Mack Boyd, and then she and I piled into the car. She brought along a Thermos of hot coffee for the hour-long, twisty drive down Highway 49. As the roadway is narrow and attracts Sunday drivers even on weekdays, one needs to be alert. We drank coffee while chewing over facts.

“If Barbara was supposed to be golfing most days, I can’t see how she could stand this road,” I said.

“I suppose if you have an unpleasant husband then a getaway would be a huge relief and rejuvenate—more time away from a bad situation,” Sally suggested, and then described how she had been kept awake at night trying to figure out what had been going on between the Wyders. We considered the many angles we already knew—Don’s drinking, money issues, her possible affair, his obsession with finding gold: they all counted for something.

About an hour later, we came down the hill into Red Eagle. A touristy-trap town, the little stores are in buildings that had been an old lumber camp. Shingle-sided shacks now painted in festive colors—bright green, red, blue—lined the highway. The stores cater to valley folks. While the men play golf, their “little ladies” go shopping.

Red Eagle sports three antique shops, several heavily incensed stores selling candles and crystals, and with airy
music tinkling in the background; there are two dress shops, a place that offers very expensive backpack and outdoor gear, a land office and the post office, a bakery, two cozy cafes, plus a bookstore. All-in-all, the typical fare in the typical Gold Rush town—only useful if you need to buy a birthday gift—still, cheery like Disneyland Main Street.

Beyond town, lay the Red Eagle Golf Course. The course sits on a forested ridge above the Empire River. The links
wend their way among tall Sugar Pines and outcroppings of granite—a spectacular, one-of-a-kind scenery. Early on, the property served as the playground for wealthy lowlanders who came to soak in the warm springs onsite and relax at the massive-timbered Red Eagle Lodge. Over the decades, the lodge passed down through a succession of owners. It has been a chautauqua venue, a prep school and an alumni retreat of a private university. Then, some valley developers snapped up the acreage and created a members-only golf course and club. Locals are welcome if they can plunk down the very hefty membership fees.

We turned onto the property and passed newly-built condominiums—cottage style, with Victorian architecture— red metal roofs. Very cute, very expensive. Red Eagle has gentrified and citified, more Knott’s Berry Farm now than Old McDonald’s Farm. A beautiful spring morning in the Mother Lode, a host of golfers could already be seen swatting on the links. We went inside. The café bustled, the air heavy with freshly brewed coffee. Men sat in little clutches around tables. They eyed us with a bit of interest—or suspicion. Sally waved back, as if she knew them.

“They’re not going to intimidate me,” she whispered. A group of lady golfers—just one table—chatted on merrily. If anyone would know about Barbara’s doings here, they would. Then Betty Norbert, who knew we were there to visit, came dashing in and hastily escorted us to the back offices.

“Your café looks lively,” Sally commented as we settled into our chairs. “How’s business?”

“Doing well,” Betty said. “Most members are retirees. They eat here a lot. The rest are folks who come up for the weekend or vacations. The owners only solicit memberships to people making over a hundred grand a year or whose net wealth is above $2 million. You have to prove it with bank records. Very exclusive. Too posh for me, but it’s a job!”

Sally got right to the point. “So that means that Barbara Wyder must have been really well off. The membership
couldn’t have been her husband’s.”

Picking up a sheaf of papers, Betty studied them. “Since I just started working here, I’m still learning the system. Barbara joined two years ago. Paid cash for the membership. She pays $200 a month for a golf cart. The entire account is active and up-to-date since it’s on autopay. All of last year, she paid for golfing lessons at $60 a pop. She had three a week.” Betty broke off, flipped some more pages, “Wow. Here’s the charge sheet for the food. Her café bill ran about $300 a week.”

She stopped again. “A lot of drinks—and each time, she’s paying for meals for two!”

“Is she paying in gold nuggets?” Sally joked. “When was the last time she ate here?”

Betty studied the papers again. “April 3 is the last charge. No recent fees for lessons, either.”

Sally and I glanced at each other in disbelief. Richie had said the last time he’d seen his mom was just after Thanksgiving—and then his father said she’d gone to visit her parents back east. The mine accident that killed Don had happened in mid-April.

After Sally related this timeline Betty mused, “So, she was golfing here after Don said she’d left town. She stopped
coming to the club not long before her husband died.”

“What is the billing address for her credit card?” I asked. Shuffling through the account papers, Betty said, “Here in Red Eagle—1873 Marshall Way. That’s those condos down at the entrance.” She stopped. “And I’ve seen that address elsewhere.” Betty pulled up a screen on her computer. “Here it is!” she exclaimed. “That’s the same one that Gavin Stallard uses—he’s one of our golf pros!”

Writer H. A. Silliman grew up in the Gold Rush country and
now lives in California’s Outback country on a small ranch with

a dog named Bodie. You can read the first two installments of the
anthology, As Happy As Sutter and The Mystery of The Saints, at
hasilliman.weebly.com/fiction. Copyright © 2021.