On Dec. 8, 1980, I became a resident of Bass Lake. After finishing my teacher credentialing program at California State University, Northridge, I started looking for a position during a tough time in education when jobs were few and far between. The superintendent from the Raymond-Knowles School District called and stated they had an opening in the middle of the year as the current teacher, Harold Tackett, had accepted a position in Mariposa County Unified. I drove up from Los Angeles and interviewed and after returning to my home in LA received a phone call telling me I was the sort of teacher they were looking to hire.
One week after the call I finished my final day as a school maintenance man and janitor at a private school in the San Fernando Valley, said my goodbyes to friends and family, and started the drive to my new home at the lake.
As I was driving up Highway 99 I heard the report during a Monday Night Football game that Howard Cosell read John Lennon had been killed outside of his New York apartment. The next day I started my life in this area by opening a bank account at Bank of America, which was then housed in what is currently the office of the Sierra Star newspaper on Crane Valley Road (426).
My next step was across the street to the Sierra Telephone Company and I became a customer of that great organization that beautiful Tuesday morning. Off to Midway Market for my groceries and then back to the lake.
The next morning, Dec. 10, was the first day of my teaching career, and what a day it was. I was scared to death - the children hated losing the beloved Mr. Tackett to this shaggy haired guy in a suit who wasn’t much older than the students, and I was questioning my ability to impart knowledge to the class. My aide, Peggy, was a big help and Wilma Moe who served as the school secretary kept encouraging me. Over the weeks I found the kids had accepted the newbie and had realized that Mr. Tackett wasn’t coming back to Raymond.
I bought myself a cowboy hat as that was fashionable back then for all the men, although I looked stupid in that hat and soon stopped wearing it.
I started to get involved in this community. I joined the members of the Episcopal Church in the trailer that they used for worship next door to Sierra Sky Ranch. Four years later we built our current building and moved into it in March of 1984. We have subsequently left the National Episcopal Church and have aligned ourselves with the Anglican Church of North America. The courts have directed that we surrender our church to the National Episcopal Church and we are again moving on to another facility closer to town thanks to the Masons of Oakhurst who are opening their building to us.
I share this with you because as my 36 years here have had the usual ups and downs that we all experience, there most assuredly have been many more ups than downs.
During my time here I met a wonderful young lady named Carol and we married in 1993. I have been able to work a few side jobs when the teacher income did not quite cover the spending. My parents moved here after I came and I was able to care for them during the final years of their lives. I treasure those days.
I have been involved in flea markets, Mountaineer Days, The Pitman Awards, Relay for Life, Rotary, scouting, youth football, soccer and baseball and volunteering with many organizations from time to time.
When I look back on what brought me here I have to be honest that a 20-something kid doesn’t always see things as they are. I came for the lake and trees and clean air. I wanted to leave traffic behind in LA and I sought out the notion of not having to lock my doors whenever I left the house (those days are gone) and I wanted to be a part of a place where people talked to one another.
I accepted the television had only six stations, the town was dark after 7 p.m., and learned to chain up when it snowed. That’s why I came but not why I stayed. It’s the people that kept me wanting to stay here.
From realtor Helen Smades inviting me to a party my second week here so I could meet my neighbors, to the Mason’s making my church feel welcomed as we lost our building, I just see daily proof that the true treasure of this area are the people who live here.
Thanks for a great 36 years. I look forward to many more.