Loving Mother Nature by keeping her clean: A neighbor’s drive to clean up Garcia Bend

Gus Sand is shown cleaning up a camp near Chicory Bend beach. Photo by Monica Stark

Gus Sand is shown cleaning up a camp near Chicory Bend beach. Photo by Monica Stark

The healing powers of the Sacramento River rejuvenate Gus Sand who enjoys swimming at Garcia Bend with his dog, Bandit.

The two of them have undergone surgeries over the last few years – Gus got a hip transplant after falling from the scaffolding of the fourth story of a Clarksburg building he was remodeling, and his dog Bandit has needed prosthetic knees.

“It’s a therapy you just can’t pay for,” Gus said. “I’m amazed there aren’t more people down there. I am a river person. I love the current and the water. It seems to heal me.”

Gus grew up in Tahoe Park and spent many summers swimming in the American and Sacramento rivers. He was a member of a water ski club in the “old days.” And as he takes in the beauty of nature today, his appreciation of the Sacramento River cannot be overstated.

In three days after the Fourth of July, Gus, his brother and sister-in-law picked up 100 pounds of trash off the beach of Garcia Bend. More recently, he saw a woman about his age and who, like him, was at the river picking up trash. When they met, they hit it off and began working together to clean the beach.

After the Fourth of July clean-up, Gus approached the beach at Garcia Bend only to find a beautiful surprise, “I love Sac” carved in the sand with a heart around it and the date, July, 20, 2014.

Upon seeing the goodness of the garbage picker-uppers, the director of Kovar’s approached Gus and explained the community service requirement for those striving to become martial art black belts. So, a group of Kovar’s kids came to the river to help Gus out. “There was a piece of a boat we found and so my Kovar’s people – there were eight of them – we really scoured the beach good and they had found (the boat) and I had seen it before way up in the bushes. They found it and drug it, so I went yesterday and I cut it in half and drug it up.”

And, in his humorously entertaining way, Gus gave himself a nickname for the kids to refer to him as, Basuro Burro (garbage donkey), which he expressed in a loud and quick tone, as if he was to follow that up with a karate move.

“The legendary Pocket samurai is all things,” Gus said matter-of-fact about his nickname, as he toured Chicory Bend, looking for trash there. “There’s not much garbage here. I’m a little disappointed,” he said on a pleasant July afternoon.

For Gus who enjoys swimming in the river, having a cleaner beach is not only more inviting for himself, it’s an opportunity to give back to Mother Nature and to others who come to enjoy the peaceful river.

“It’s very humbling,” Gus said. “When a nice family shows up, it’s clean. It’s totally a different beach when it’s clean and I swim in the river. I can’t swim in the garbage. The water itself flows clean. It is a great water source. It’s a beautiful place to be.”

Describing his routine in an interview with the Pocket News, Gus said he keeps the bags right at 50 pounds. “Not more than that. Then, I drag it up to the top of the levee. I leave it there. When I have three, four, five (bags), then I get my bicycle. I ride the bike down only 100 yards to the gate where you enter the park. One of these bags fills the garbage cans.”

To protect his hands from small shards of glass, Gus brought a rake to clean the glass out of bushes and shrubs, as his drive to clean the beach not only has been an aesthetic issue, but a safety one as well. “I focus on glass. I really worry about glass. Hopefully, when we find glass, it saves a trip to the emergency room for a kid.”

Besides paper and plastic trash, fish hooks and “lots of diapers” have had their unsightly share of would-be pristine real estate. But for Gus, the one with the happy-go-lucky attitude, making a game out of diaper and fish hook collections, has helped make the clean-ups enjoyable for not only himself but for those he’s had help him. “As gross as it is, it’s that rewarding. Whoever it is who picks up glass or fish hooks, gets a prize.”

A rolling stone at heart, Gus said he’s “been traveling all the time- – you know all my life. I’m here now,” but, he said he’s looking to buy property in the Feather Falls area near Marysville. That means he’s hoping you, dear reader, can help keep Garcia Bend clean. Ideally, Gus hopes just one person is out there who can stop by the beach daily for routine maintenance.

As he told the kids at Kovar’s and folks he meets when he’s out there cleaning up the beach: “The river is a really special place. It’s been here 1,000 years. It’s a very special part of our existence. It doesn’t come into focus until garbage is cleaned up. You can hear the birds, the wind ruffling through the trees. I say it’s in your pocket and it is a jewel and you might as well take care of it.”

Editor@valcomnews.com

Artistic flow at the river’s edge


On a warm and Delta breezy evening, psychedelic colors illuminated the Sacramento River with their warmth and coolness, spinning out of control from the careful hands of two friends – Ryan and Nate.

Finding comfort in nature, they practice swinging these tethered weights, also known as poi, until the flow of the rhythmical patterns solidify into Celtic-shaped knots.

“It kind of just flows. You make a big circle, then a small circle, and a small circle, small circle, big circle. It’s like a pattern. So if you go at the right pace, it never really stops at any point. It’s Zen-like and a little bit mindless,” Ryan said.

Mindless, perhaps, but their minds are transfixed. The hardest part, Ryan said, is just letting go and allowing the tear-drop shaped, silicone vessels expose the programmable LED lights that changed from solid pinks and blues to rainbow and strobe.

While speaking about his progression into the art form known as flow, Ryan said: “I felt the more I let go and just let it happen, it feels more natural and it flows. I guess that’s why they call it flow because it flows out of you versus trying to manipulate it yourself.”

On another evening, Ryan was there spinning poi as his best friend hula hooped to the sound of waves crashing from the speed boats cruising up and down river.

With effortless control, the hula hoop traveled up and down her body, dancing around her arms, neck, chest and waist, as time seemed to stand still, and as the music of the night, reverberated through portable speakers connected an iPod.

Always interested in fire dancing, Ryan said he found poi through some sleuthing around on the internet. “I saw fire dancers doing it and I thought, ‘wow, that’s really cool. But how do you get to that point? You can’t just practice with fire.’ So I found a tutorial online that taught me how to make sock poi.”

Starting with old knee-high socks, Ryan filled them with rice to make a ball and twirled them around for about a week and a half, but that’s all it took. “I was just hooked; I couldn’t put it down. I thought this is something I could get into, so I just started to do some research.” About five or six months ago, Ryan found the website, www.flowtoys.com, where he said he bought his poi. “I had them for a good month and I was on the fence about it, but then I just fell in love with it, and I really haven’t stopped since.”

editor@valcomnews.com

Bike or Walk to Church Sunday

Pocket Area Churches Together held its Second Annual Bike or Walk to Church event Sunday, May 25. Everyone was encouraged to ride their bike or walk to church for exercise and to do their part as good stewards of the environment and also a time to meet and have fellowship between church members in the Pocket-Greenhaven area, according to P.A.C.T. chairperson Rich Fowler. Following Sunday worship services, a progressive lunch was served beginning at Riverside Wesleyan Church for appetizers. The more than 100 attendees then moved to Greenhaven Lutheran Church for a variety of salads; then they were off to Faith Presbyterian Church for the main course of barbecue cheeseburgers. The day culminated with a visit to St. Anthony Parish for dessert where they enjoyed ice cream on a mid-90-degree afternoon.
P.A.C.T. was created by pastors from the various Pocket-Greenhaven churches to bring people of faith together to do various community projects like picking up litter along the Sacramento River and Garcia Bend Park, collect used furniture and distribute to those in need through a non-profit- Love, Inc. (Love in the Name of Christ) and collectively gather food for the South Sacramento Interfaith Partnership (S.S.I.P.) food bank, among other projects.
Planning is already underway for Bike or Walk to Church Sunday 2015, again on Memorial Day weekend.

Faces and Places: Just a little fun in the sun

While the drought has certainly been detrimental to our environment, the warm weather has encouraged many leisurely activities, including the simple act of eating a Popsicle outside Grocery Outlet, which Liz Zink and Christina Trimingham seem to enjoy. The beautiful weather also has been bringing out large crowds to William Land Park and the Sacramento River the last few weekends.

editor@valcomnews.com

A little bit of country in the midst of a little bit of controversy

This bit of natural beauty surrounds the old railroad tracks, owned by Regional Transit, between Sutterville Road and Fruitridge Road/Seamas Avenue. Many people enjoy walking in the serenity of this greenbelt, which has been saved from the once-proposed notion that trains would run from Old Sacramento to Hood. State Parks had to ditch the section shown here because they don't own the land, RT does. RT has no current plans to sell it either. Photo by Monica Stark

This bit of natural beauty surrounds the old railroad tracks, owned by Regional Transit, between Sutterville Road and Fruitridge Road/Seamas Avenue. Many people enjoy walking in the serenity of this greenbelt, which has been saved from the once-proposed notion that trains would run from Old Sacramento to Hood. State Parks had to ditch the section shown here because they don't own the land, RT does. RT has no current plans to sell it either. Photo by Monica Stark

Habitat to local fauna Regional Transit’s tracks between Sutterville and Pocket roads are overgrown with lush greenery and natural beauty. It’s just a little bit of country in our backyard. The South Land Park refuge attracts neighbors who enjoy taking walks with friends and family, and, of course, the family dog. With signs like – “You forgot to pick up your dog’s poop? Oh, my gosh, really?” – or landscaping with plants like golden poppies, and cacti, the greenbelt is a beacon of neighborly do-goodery – one that has been saved, at least for the time being, from having trains run on the tracks again.

At an Old Sacramento State Historic Park General Plan meeting, which was held Tuesday, April 15, inside the Stanford Gallery, 111 I St., representatives from the department clarified an important piece of information. The part of the proposal to use the RT tracks has been cut from the plan, which will be voted on by the California State Park and Recreation Commission on Friday, May 2 at 10 a.m. at the State Natural Resources Building auditorium, 1416 9th St. What remains in the plan now is the potential use of the rail line right-of-way from Old Sacramento to the Sacramento Zoo and from Pocket/Meadowview roads to the town of Hood, with views along the way of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

In an interview with this publication hours before the April 15 community meeting, project manager Steve Musillami said the plan will include improvements to the railroad museum, depots, as well as the rail yards and “some property state parks owns around the Sacramento River. It’s a visionary plan for next 20-plus years, but all proposals are based on funding issues. As far as between The Zoo and Pocket Road – we don’t own (the railway). That’s up to Regional Transit. It could be reintroduced as another rail line again. It could be paved a trail line. It could be a rail trail.”

According to RT spokesperson Elaine Masui, RT acquired said property in the 1980s from Southern Pacific and there have been no recent discussions about selling the land, though RT is open to the idea because of ongoing maintenance costs. “It was purchased at the time because RT didn’t know where the lines were going to go, but we expanded the lines (south to Meadowview) running on Union Pacific tracks.”

Councilmember Steve Hansen told Valley Community Newspapers removing the RT right-of-way from the Old Sacramento State Historic Park General Plan “seems to be an appropriate response to neighborhood concerns.” Hansen said the project still needs to be studied in detail, which would happen when, and if, the General Plan is adopted. “We are following the process closely and will continue to do so,” he said.

Hansen said that since this issue was initially brought to his attention, he has advocated for better outreach to the community and appropriate opportunity for public input.

But, during the interview before the meeting, Musillami expressed some frustration about the public’s confusion regarding the proposed plan.

“A lot of people are commenting on things without reading the plan, without gathering information from State Parks. We’ve had three public workshops, three commission meetings. We sent out mailings to about 2,000 people in the area. Unfortunately, people are still confused. We have tried to do the best we can. We have met with neighborhood organizations, including The Land Park Community Association in 2010. At the time, we did not meet with South Land Park organization. We thought they were all working together, but we found out they were not. (The April 15) meeting (was to give) the public another opportunity to voice concerns,” Musillami said.

However, prior to the meeting, neighbors were rightfully concerned about that land they feel so strongly about, especially since the State Parks website still as of Friday, April 18 hadn’t been updated to inform them that wasn’t part of the plan anymore.

So, while the meeting’s purpose was to inform the public about the scope of the entire general plan for the Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the South Land Park community has been focused on the section of the rail line owned by RT.

During the public comment period, which followed Musillami’s presentation, Julie Morengo, a resident of South Land Park Terrace, said she was appreciative of the promise by State Parks to remove the RT property from the language written in the General Plan proposal, however, she expressed her dissatisfaction of the process of how neighbors were notified, as well as the environmental impact it could have in the neighborhood, including the uses of pesticides, asphalt, and other potentially hazardous materials. “I was disturbed by the secretive and exclusive nature (of the process. Don’t confuse history with the current condition. You could achieve the same things with other options,” Morengo said.

Terry Oehler, a homeowner in Park Village, an upscale 2000s subdivision located south of 35 Avenue near the tracks, described the nature of his neighborhood in juxtaposition to the images shown during Musillami’s presentation. “This is a beautiful, pristine neighborhood. Your pictures don’t show houses. The track is 46 feet from my master bedroom. This proposal is not a situation of a compelling government need; it’s just for leisure. When we bought our homes, we did not think they’d pave over the tracks and have trains on them.”

Neighbor Adele Ose agreed, adding that the lien benefits tourists and not any of the neighbors. “Many ecosystems have developed into an urban woodland enjoyed by many. Additional rail crossings would further impact local intersections, and there’s no demonstrated financial benefit.”

Summing up how many South Land Park neighbors felt about the idea of trains running on those tracks again, Janet Gaithre said: “My father is a veteran and deserves peace and quiet. He is 89 years old and deserves to have peace in his old days. This is different from when trains ran on the levees and (conductors) threw candy; no more trains behind our homes, please.”

Upon discussing the speed of the excursion trains that are part of the proposal, Musillami told the Land Park News, “If you go up on the levee in Old Sacramento, the trains run so slow. These aren’t big freights. They’ve only got four or five cars and they’ll be historically designed. They’re only going to go 15 miles an hour. This would be better than having a light rail go through here because they have to run at the posted speed limit. Because it’s a historic train line, the intent is to link a real significant time in history. It was called a Walnut Grove Branch line and we’d like to link the line with Railroad Museum, which is the most popular (railroad museum) in the country. A lot of people come to Sacramento to come to the Railroad Museum. The Polar Express gets sold out in hours and the ones in the spring, summer, and fall are very popular also. They fill up very quickly.”

During the interview and at the meeting itself, Musillami explained the importance this plan has for the furthering of the State Parks’ mission to reenact the history of the Gold Rush era. “The Gold Rush era and interpretation is very important to this plan as well, but, all elements and proposals are based on funding. The grassy area in Old Town – we have a proposal to reconstruct 1849 buildings in that area. New structures will be historic replications of what was there at the time. It was a city block and there were different buildings (over the course of the) different eras. In 1849, the city was 8 feet lower than it was today. There were buildings at one level and higher levels in 1860s and 1870s, which varies with the era. But there were stables, and a hotel. As funding comes available, we’ll do more detailed studies.”

editor@valcomnews.com

Portuguese family reunion draws 100-plus people

Mary Nevis (1878-1959), lower center, with a present in her hand, is shown in this 1957 photograph at the age of 80 with more than 80 members of her family. Mary was the wife of Manuel Nevis, Sr. Photo courtesy of PHCS

Mary Nevis (1878-1959), lower center, with a present in her hand, is shown in this 1957 photograph at the age of 80 with more than 80 members of her family. Mary was the wife of Manuel Nevis, Sr. Photo courtesy of PHCS

Members of the Correa family of Clarksburg recently hosted a large reunion that drew more than 100 farming ancestors of the Pocket.
Among the attendees of the event were Nevis, Dutra and Silva family members, who traveled from various parts of the country, including the East Coast and Hawaii.
The gathering was held on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the home of Bill and Louisa (Dutra) Correa.
Louisa grew up in the Pocket area’s well-known Dutra House and was the daughter of Lorrene Helen (Nevis) Dutra, who was one of the 15 children of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
Beverly Espinosa, who is Louisa’s cousin, explained how the reunion was arranged.
“We talked about it about a year ago at (The Old) Spaghetti Factory (at 1910 J St.) when we had a small (family) reunion (with about 40 people),” Beverly said. “Louisa decided that we would have (a large family reunion) at her house, and so we all got together about three months ago and tried to find relatives. We sent fliers, we sent out e-mails to let them know we decided on this reunion. A lot of it was (announced by) word (of) mouth.”
Eventually through much planning and preparation, the large reunion in Clarksburg finally occurred.
Certainly, part of the motivation to arrange a larger reunion was based on the advanced ages of some of the family’s senior members.
Planning for the reunion also provided motivation toward gathering additional family history and old photographs.
In the process of planning for the reunion, a group photograph from the family’s last large reunion in 1957 was reviewed.
About 25 of the more than 80 people who are pictured in that old photograph attended the recent reunion.
Using many historic family photographs, Beverly’s daughter, Mary Anne, created various posters to represent the reunion’s families. The posters were hung up to be viewed during the event.
Mary Anne, who helped organize the large reunion with Louisa and her cousins, said that the reunion presented opportunities to meet some of her cousins for the first time.
And Mary Anne added that she was pleased by the number of people who were in attendance at the event.
“The turnout was more than we expected,” Mary Anne said. “We had thought that we might reach 100. So, we were well over 100. I think I counted about 110 people. This is fantastic. It turned out much better than we anticipated, and we’re hoping to get more (family) stories. There was an interview questionnaire that went out to everyone as they signed in, so I’m hoping that they’ll turn that back in and we’ll get other stories.”
During the gathering, three of the most senior attendees of the event shared their memories with The Pocket News.
Two of these people were Irene Williams and Dolores Tippett, whose parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Mary was one of the aforementioned 15 children of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
Irene Williams, right, and Dolores Tippett were among the more senior attendees of the reunion. Their parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Irene Williams, right, and Dolores Tippett were among the more senior attendees of the reunion. Their parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The Nevis family’s history in the Pocket dates back to 1868, when Manuel’s parents, Joseph and Mary Silva (later Nevis), moved to the area.
During their interviews with this paper, Irene and Doris spoke about various events in their lives.
Irene, who was the most senior family member at the event, was born on Jan. 29, 1922 and married George Williams on Dec. 28, 1940.
In recalling her youth, Irene said that she was once crowned the Riverside Portuguese Holy Ghost Festa queen.
“We had a big chamarrita – a big dance,” Irene said. “So, we danced all night and talked all day. And then we danced on Saturday. On Sunday, we went to church and showed my outfit. I had a long, white dress, so they wanted to see the queen’s dress.”
After being asked how she felt to have been honored as the queen, “Irene said, ‘Oh, I thought I was smart.”
Irene added, “My uncle (Frank Rose) was one of the big shots of the town and he chose me to be the queen. So, that’s how I got to be elected to be queen.”
And when asked if she was the prettiest gal in town, Irene responded, “Sure, why not?”
Dolores, 82, recalled that both her father and mother worked until her father became ill.
“They both worked and then my dad got sick and didn’t work anymore, so my mother was the bread winner,” Dolores said. “When I turned 17, after I graduated from Sacramento High School, I went to work with my mother. We worked at Sutter Laundry (at 1714 28th St.). We worked at another laundry. And then I got a job at Capital National Bank at 7th and J (streets), and then it was Crocker-Anglo (National Bank) and then Wells Fargo bought it. After that, I quit working (for) eight years and I had two children, one deceased.”
Dolores added that her work experience began much earlier than she had previously mentioned.
“As soon as I walked, I think I was out in the field picking almonds,” she said.
In further speaking about her father, Dolores said, “Every day of the week, he went to the Colonial (Theater at 3522 Stockton Blvd.). He would go every day and see the same movies, two and three or four times, and he would sit there all the time. I lived on 10th Avenue, 14th Avenue, 16th Avenue and Stockton Boulevard. We moved. We never stayed in one spot.”
And after being asked to speak about her own entertainment activities around that time, Dolores said, “I used to go catch the bus with the Red Cross and go to the different Air Force bases and dance. I did that for about eight years and then I got married (to Kenwood Tippett, who was the nephew of Carmichael Fire Chief Dan Donovan) and I lived in Carmichael. I’ve been there (for) 55 years.”
In describing a more local story about herself and Irene, Dolores said, “We didn’t know how to swim, so (her uncle Clarence Nevis) threw us in the Sacramento River (near today’s Garcia Bend Park), and to this day, she doesn’t swim and I don’t swim. It scared us. I was crying and crying and my uncle said, ‘What are you crying for?’ And I said, ‘You threw me in the river.’ He said, ‘I wanted you to swim.’ And I said, ‘That’s no way to teach anybody to swim.’ I was about 6.”
Edward Mauricio, who turned 91 on Oct. 2, was also among the more senior family members at the reunion.
A sign directs guests to the Nevis family reunion. Photo by Lance Armstrong

A sign directs guests to the Nevis family reunion. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Edward’s father was Manuel Mauricio and his mother was Carrie (Nevis) Mauricio, who was a daughter of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
During his interview for this article, Edward said, “I (grew up about a half-mile from the Pocket) in the (Riverside) area right next to the river, until I was 5 years old,” Edward said. “My father passed and then my mother got rid of the ranch and we lived in the house across the street. The ranch was 33 acres, and was (on Riverside Road), about a mile south of William Land Park. (The ranch) had wheat, some grapes, alfalfa, some orchards, peaches. That’s all I can remember.”
Edward said that following his father’s death, his uncle, Manuel Cabral, operated the ranch for about one or two years.
A Japanese man named Shig Masuhara, and his family, operated the ranch up until World War II and then returned to run the ranch again, since the Machado family had ranched the property for them during their internment.
Edward said that during the summers of his high school years, he worked on a hay press to earn money, and that his first car was a 1926 Model T.
“I had promised the gentleman that I bought (the car) from that I would take good care of it,” recalled Edward, who had a sister named Isabel Matranga. “I said, Yes, I will.’ And the first thing I did was take the fenders off, cut the top off and then we would go out there on 24th Street and Fruitridge (Road) and race around the open field there.”
Although no plans for another reunion have been set, there are nonetheless family members who would like to see more reunions for their family in the future.
One such family member is 19-year-old Eric Espinosa, who said, “As someone else was saying, when older generations of the cousins were growing up, they all knew each other, because they were neighbors who lived next to each other. So, like my generation, and my siblings and such, we don’t like really know all of our cousins, and even like our extended cousins. So, it’s really nice to get to come together and meet all of these people that we’re actually related to. And so then, the reason I want to see this continue is because it’s only going to get bigger.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Three nights of trick-or-treating and family fun at Fairytale Town’s annual Safe & Super Halloween

Congrats to Fairytale Town Troupers and Mr. Lee for winning an award for original work for “Sindbad & Aladdin: The Arabian Knights!” at Sunday, Sept. 22’s Elly Awards!

Congrats to Fairytale Town Troupers and Mr. Lee for winning an award for original work for “Sindbad & Aladdin: The Arabian Knights!” at Sunday, Sept. 22’s Elly Awards!

Fairytale Town will be transformed into Middle Earth for this year’s Safe and Super Halloween event at the storybook park. The magical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” will come to life for three nights of family fun on October 25, 26 and 27 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Families will enjoy exploring Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit hole, peeking into the elven kingdom of Rivendell and journeying to the Lonely Mountain. Seventeen candy stations will be scattered throughout the park for trick-or-treaters to visit. The evening also features hands-on activities and a costume parade.

Puppet Art Theater Company will perform “Winnie the Witch” in the Children’s Theater at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. In this blacklight puppet show, Winnie the witch loves Halloween, especially the candy. On her way to pick up sweets on Candy Island she discovers Willard the wizard trying to ruin Halloween by making the world’s candy supply taste like brussels sprouts. With the help of the audience and her trusty broomstick, Winnie must dodge dancing ghosts, batty bats and silly skeletons to save Halloween. Tickets for the puppet show are $1 for Fairytale Town members and $2 for nonmembers.

This year marks the 27th anniversary of Fairytale Town’s Safe and Super Halloween, which provides children and families with a safe place to trick or treat, have quality family time, and enjoy a great evening of Halloween-themed, family-friendly fun.

Advance tickets are $7 members and $10 nonmembers. Beginning October 25, tickets are $9 members and $12 nonmembers. Children ages 1 and under are free. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.fairytaletown.org, by phone at (916) 808-7462 or in person at the Fairytale Town box office.

Safe and Super Halloween: A Hobbit Adventure is sponsored by Smile Business Products, ScholarShare College Savings Plan, PeopleFinders.com, Make A Smile Dentistry, SAFE Credit Union and Arista Preschool.

For more information, visit www.fairytaletown.org or call (916) 808-7462.

Event Details
What:  27th Annual Safe & Super Halloween: A Hobbit Adventure
When:  Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 25, 26 & 27
Time:  5 – 9 p.m.
Cost:  Advance tickets are $7 members and $10 nonmembers.
Beginning October 25, tickets are $9 members and $12 nonmembers.
Children ages 1 and under are free.
Where:  Fairytale Town, 3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento CA 95822
Phone:  (916) 808-7462
Email:  mail@fairytaletown.org
Website:  www.fairytaletown.org

Dead men tell no tales, but these pirates are much alive in Sacramento

Ay matey. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “dead men tell no tales,” but here’s one from the locals you may not know.

After a long seafaring voyage up the Sacramento River, The Pirates of Sacramento were intent on pillaging and burning the city to the ground until all of a sudden the Navy came along and kidnapped most of the crew.

So what was the rest of the pirates to do? Recruit some new blood, of course, and one of their stops – Fairytale Town on Sept. 19. Were they successful? Well that all depends on how you define success. They got children of all ages talkin’ like pirates, throwing (toy) skulls and shooting a (toy) monkey named Seymour out of a cannon.

“There, you go! The second or third time – you know how it works!” Captain Zachary Morgan (whose “mundane name” is Pete Zaniewski) told a wee lad after a successful monkey launch. Kids started lining up.

After an announcement was made that Pirate “Skool” was starting at the main outdoor stage, children and their willing parents learned the basics of pirate speak to the former’s benefit most definitely. Moms let out a loud sigh when the pirates told the young ones that when they are hungry they tout: “Where’s me grub, you wench?” One of the pirates honestly told the kids, they won’t be popular at dinner with that talk and they won’t get dessert.

As part of learning to talk like a pirate, volunteers were called up to choose from a board of “arrjetives” and another of nouns to create swear phrases.

But it was a tough crowd at about 11:30 a.m. as many of the children hadn’t learned how to read yet.

One girl named Kate volunteered first. When asked if she knew how to read, she said: “Sort of” but that was good enough for Captain Morgan, as she looked like a “trustworthy” gal.

After she chose her words, she came up with “Why you, smelly, filthy, dog!” A few other volunteers were chosen and then it was time for a good ol’ Q and A session.

Q: Why do pirates have green teeth?
A: Easy answer was that they don’t brush their teeth. But the more complicated came to light – to get green teeth brush them with a mixture of egg whites, wood ash, honey and to use beer or wine as mouthwash.

Q: “Are pirates real?” one child asked.
A: “Pirates are real” one of them said, adding: “I work for the California state government — they are real.”

The Pirates of Sacramento are a fun group of 12 actors (and 127 on the list) that brings their talents and knowledge to many festivals and events in Northern California, notably the Cameron Park and Fair Oaks Renaissance fairs. Doc Potions (whose “mundane name” is Stephen Bergdahl) said they got to perform at Fairytale Town because “Charlene called and said they needed more crazy people at Fairytale Town and I said I could help.”

“And that’s when he called me,” said Jax (whose “mundane name” is Jacqueline Langworthy Smith).

Asked why she’s a pirate, Jax said: “because it’s fun, and it’s been repeated in history … There’s a little bit of pirate in everybody.”

editor@valcomnews.com

Photos by Monica Stark
Members of the Pirates of Sacramento were at Fairytale Town on Thursday, Sept. 19 recruiting its newest crew members.

Sacramento River has long history of flood control efforts

This map shows the coordinated regional flood control system with weirs and bypasses.

This map shows the coordinated regional flood control system with weirs and bypasses.

Editor’s Note: This is part 18 in a series about the history of the Sacramento River.

The Sacramento River and its tributaries have played such a significant role in Sacramento’s history that it is often referred to as the “river city.”
This 18th and final article of this series reviews the historic relationship between the city and its river, and will pose the question, What might we expect next?
The same waterways that have delivered life and a strong economy to the region have also brought destruction and even death.
Sacramento’s past and present are united by the vagrancies of the river like the ebb and flow of tide at the I Street Bridge.
While the river has delivered wealth and abundance, it has also carried away human accomplishments as if they were no more than the sediments in its current.
Since the city was founded, the economy and human endeavors have been based upon attempts to mollify the seasonal anger of the river’s waters.
The location of Sacramento was based upon its proximity to the river and the ease with which large sailing and steam vessels could be beached upon its soft sands without the need for docks or piers.
A much more sensible town site, known as Sutterville, on the high ground of today’s William Land Park area was abandoned in favor of the current waterfront in present day Old Sacramento.
Sutterville would have required the digging of a canal to anchor, load and unload ships, and there was no time to excavate such an overwhelming project.
Sacramento was spawned of the Gold Rush, and “rush” was preeminent in how the city grew.
Whether it was by the need to rapidly beach ships or by the simple naming of the city’s streets using the alphabet and numbers, Sacramento’s beginnings were urged on by the need to rush.
After inundations in its first few years, the city rushed to put up levees that proved inadequate.
Following the failure of the early levees, the leaders of what was becoming known as the “indomitable city” decided to take a more comprehensive and all encompassing approach to controlling the waters of the Sacramento that annually threatened the prosperity of the city’s residents and businesses. This approach led to a new paradigm in flood control.
The city combined the enhancement of levees with the previously unheard of idea of raising the entire city above the potential floodwaters.
The great flood of 1861-62, which inundated nearly the entire city and was described by some observers as being a lake that was 300 miles long and 40 miles wide, was the impetus to adopt a never before attempted engineering endeavor.
A decision was made to raise the parts of the city nearest to the waterfront and most subject to periodic flooding.
The raising, or lowering, of the city was accomplished in one of two ways.
Some businesses abandoned their first floors to the sediments of the river, while those who could afford it, took the unprecedented action of using jacks to raise their buildings as much as 12 feet above their original foundation.
This massive undertaking included more than just abandoning first floors or raising buildings. City services, which involved water delivery and the sewer system, had to be modified to accommodate the new elevation.
It was a time of unequaled cooperation between government and citizens.
The project was undertaken without any clearly defined conditions for what would be the responsibility of the city and what would be the responsibility of the property owners.
But despite many setbacks and conflicts, by 1873, the grading, raising and reconstruction of Sacramento was completed.
The lives of the citizenry and businesses had been disrupted for a decade, but the city has not since experienced an inundation like the great flood of 1861-62.
The question still remains, however, have we done enough?
Just as the city was born of the Gold Rush, it was almost destroyed by the Gold Rush.
The search for that elusive metal and its promised wealth became more and more invasive and degrading to the land.
After the easily found gold was picked up and removed, large water canons known as “monitors” were brought in to the gold country to obliterate entire hillsides.
Chemicals such as arsenic and mercury were used to separate the gold from the tailings, and then this debris, loaded with sediment and a high percentage of toxic minerals, was washed into the river.
This action had the dual effect of poisoning the waterways, including the Sacramento, and filling the river channel with sediment, creating sandbars where none had previously existed.
This debris filling the river channel not only hampered navigation, but it enhanced the chance of flooding by reducing the available space for water in the river channel.
Even though the devastation was obvious to everyone, farmers and city folk alike were not able to end it; the mining industry and the mining lobby were just too powerful, and for several years, the monitors continued to wreak havoc on the hills.
Finally, it was the river itself that saved Sacramento.
The federal government was not able to stop the use of the water cannons, but it was able to stop the dumping of sediment in the navigable Sacramento River and all of its tributaries.
And while the destruction of the river by mining was obverted, it became obvious to the newly created flood control agencies that a comprehensive plan of weirs, bypasses, levees and a coordinated system of dams was necessary to provide long-term flood protection.
But in the late 19th century, these alterations were still a dream on paper.
Halting the dumping of mining debris freed the river of the unknown, uncharted and unwanted sandbars.
The Sacramento River once again became a passage for commerce and recreation.
And while it would no longer host the hordes of romantic sailing ships and steamers that once raced between the capital city and San Francisco, Sacramento was again an important port for large ships.
The most notable of the famous steamboats that once plied the river were the Delta King and the Delta Queen. These paddle wheelers presented more than simple transportation, as they were a palatial setting with exquisite staterooms and gourmet dining.
From 1927 until 1940, these vessels were the unabashed royalty of the river.
But like many relics, their time passed and they were replaced by a culture dominated by bridges and automobiles.
Even though the Sacramento area has been periodically threatened, and at times flooded, such as the 1904 flood in the Riverside-Pocket area, this area has been mostly protected.
The paper dream of the coordinated flood control system has become a reality. The Flood Control Act of 1917 created a regional agency to encourage the coordination of the efforts of federal, state and local governments.
Weirs are opened to allow the Sutter and Yolo bypasses to harmlessly flood farmlands whenever a threat to the city seems eminent.
Large dams on the Sacramento and its tributaries control the release of water into the channel to keep it below the level of the levees.
Skilled crews of engineers, landscapers and maintenance personnel keep a vigilant watch on the condition of the levees and meticulously maintain the coordinated flood control system that protects the city and region.
Politicians and prognosticators frequently debate whether we have 100, 200 or 500-year flood control.
But those figures are almost nebulous, because the tides could get higher and the waters in the river system could rise in any particular year.
For instance, 500-year flood control does not mean there would be a devastating flood every 500 years; there could be devastating floods in back-to-back years, but then not another flood for 1,000 years. In this case, this simply means, the city averages a devastating flood every 500 years.
Figures for flood control protection are based on a statistical average rather than actual events.
There is competition on how the river and levees are used.
Some people see them as recreational opportunities for boating, hiking and biking, while others see them as corridors of commerce and walls of protection from inundations.
That is the contentious debate that will guide flood control policies through the 21st century and will determine if sufficient flood protection has been provided for the city.
Sacramento’s best protection from a devastating flood is diligence, maintenance and cooperation.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Major flood washed through Riverside-Pocket area 109 years ago

On Feb. 27, 1904, the river quickly reminded Riverside-Pocket area residents of its great power, as a levee break resulted in a major flood in the area. Shown in this photograph is the flooded home of Pocket resident Manuel Seamas. Photo courtesy of PHCS

On Feb. 27, 1904, the river quickly reminded Riverside-Pocket area residents of its great power, as a levee break resulted in a major flood in the area. Shown in this photograph is the flooded home of Pocket resident Manuel Seamas. Photo courtesy of PHCS

Editor’s Note: This is part 16 in a series about the history of the Sacramento River.

When it comes to the history of the Sacramento River, in relation to the Riverside-Pocket area, the river received its most concentrated attention from residents of that area on Feb. 27, 1904.
This fact is undeniable, as it was on that day that a break in the levee at the sharp turn in the river, near Sutterville Road, about three miles south of the old Y Street (today’s Broadway) levee, caused floodwaters to inundate an estimated 10,000 acres in the Riverside-Pocket area.
The levee break became known as the Edwards Break due to its location at the ranch of local farmer Eustace Richard Edwards (1849-1931).
Eustace, who was the oldest of the children of Welsh native Thomas C. Edwards (1816-1877) and Massachusetts native Sarah W. (Lincoln) Edwards (1822-1897), was born in Massachusetts.
According to the 1870 U.S. Census, Eustace was then residing with his family in the Sutter Township, which included the area that would become known as Riverside.
Eustace resided in this general area for the remainder of his life, with his final address being 3225 Freeport Blvd.
The Edwards Break occurred shortly after noon, and less than three hours later, the break had grown to about 100 feet wide, and was continuing to expand.
While a reporter for The Sacramento Bee was interviewing county surveyor Joseph C. Boyd, about 10 feet of the levee was washed away, along with a massive oak tree that had been derooted by the floodwaters.
Although Boyd said that it would take two weeks to repair the break in the levee, The Bee then-reported that because of the protection of the Y Street levee, there was “absolutely no danger in the water entering the city (which then had its southern boundary at Y Street).”
A Feb. 29, 1904 report in The Bee, in part, read: “The Sacramento River is steadily falling (from 27.9 feet on the day of the break), registering 25.9 feet at noon to-day (sic). So far, as Sacramento is concerned, this fact is of merely passing interest, for there never has been a time during the present high water that the least fear from flood has been felt. The levees about the city offer absolute protection.”
However, on another page of the same edition of The Bee, it was reported that some city residents feared that the floodwaters from the south might spill over the Y Street levee.
While the city avoided floodwaters from the river, the previously mentioned chaotic flood scene transpired to the south of that area.
With news of the break, rescue crews were quickly organized and efforts were made to bring various south area residents to safety.
Many curious residents of the city set out on excursions to view the changes in landscapes that occurred as a result of the levee break.
Thousands of people visited the city cemetery at the present day address of 1000 Broadway to observe the submerged area south of the city.
Graves on the low ground and the southern and southeastern portions of that cemetery were submerged in water due to the break.
In its Feb. 29, 1904 edition, The Union described the Odd Fellows plat along Riverside Boulevard as a “lake of water,” which, in part of that area, was being used as a thoroughfare for rowboats during the previous afternoon.
Sightseers on foot and in buggies and other types of vehicles made their way along the road atop the Y Street levee from Front Street to 25th Street to view flooded scenes, which included St. Joseph’s Cemetery, which was halfway submerged with floodwaters.
The Union described the scene at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, as follows: “The highest points of the cemetery were not submerged, but in the northern section, not even the gravestones showed above the flood.”
In describing the southward view from the Y Street levee, The Union noted: “Standing on the levee and looking south, the inland sea stretched as far as the eye would carry. Here and there a clump or grove of trees waved in the south breeze; here the tops of a row of fence posts marked a division line: there a house, submerged to the windows, looked the acme of desolation. A big cattle barn, submerged halfway to the eaves, stood sturdily in one direction, in the other, a hop house looked out over the watery waste.”
A line of people could constantly be seen on the bridge connecting Sacramento with Washington in today’s West Sacramento during the daylight hours.
Several hundred of the city’s more courageous residents walked southward down the Front Street levee to obtain a close view of the break in the levee.
In its February 28, 1904 edition, The Union encouraged the public to view the flood from the Capitol, as follows: “As the submerged district is of unusual extent, the sight from the Capitol dome is one well worth seeing. The view from the first and second balconies surrounding the dome is preferable from that obtained from the cupola, as there is plenty of room in which to move about and take in the panorama in all directions. The Capitol cupola will be open for visitors to-day (sic), says Secretary of State (Charles F.) Curry.”
The Bee reported that floodwaters were still rushing through the “great crevasse” with “undiminished force” two days after the levee broke.
The same report noted that “the roar of the rushing torrent could be heard a great distance away.”
Although the loss of human life seems to have been limited to a man who was killed at the site of the levee break, many animals, including livestock, perished in the floodwaters and large amounts of crops were destroyed.
Several weeks passed before the floodwaters finally receded and people were able to return to their homes.
And despite the fact that the levee was eventually repaired and many flood-free years followed, the images of the great flood of 1904 would never leave the memories of Riverside-Pocket area residents of that era.