From the emails and voicemails on a taxing Tuesday:
POLE POSITION – For the past several years, Rivers of Recovery has been sending military veterans on fly fishing trips as a way of easing the strain of post-traumatic stress disorder and physical health issues.
The national nonprofit has grown locally under the direction of Modesto attorney Jim Mayol. It raises money for the trips by hosting the showing of a movie about fly fishing at the State Theatre each spring. This year’s showing, co-sponsored by the Stanislaus Fly Fishers, will be Thursday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the movie begins at 6. Tickets, $20 each, are available at Sierra Anglers and at the State Theatre box office. All proceeds benefit the organization.
This year, Rivers of Recovery plans to fund six trips – each with six veterans – to rivers throughout the West. And this year, each veteran will have his or her fly rod and reel courtesy of the organization. Also, every veteran who has been on a previous trip will receive a rod and reel during the distribution, set for noon to 2 p.m. Friday at the Modesto Vet Center, 1219 N. Carpenter Road.
For more information, visit www.riversofrecovery.org or look for the organization on Facebook.
BLAST FROM THE PRESENT – Spring cleaning included a back room with some old books, among them one titled “California Fruits,” which I presume spent zero weeks or even a minute on The New York Times best-seller list when it was published in 1919. Page 190, though, begins as if it were written 10 minutes ago.
“The use of pumps for irrigation is continually increasing,” author Edward J. Wickson begins under the subheading of “Pumping for Irrigation.” And picks up later in the section, “ ... lifting five thousand gallons per minute from a depth of twenty-five feet ... these plants are being placed upon wells in the orchard or in the vicinity, or upon adjacent streams or ponds.”
Except now, water is found at 35 feet or much, much deeper because of increased pumping.
90 YEARS, 90 MILES – Jason Poisson is the executive director of the nonprofit Jack and Buena Foundation, which took over operation of Camp Jack Hazard from the YMCA in 2011. Celebrating its 90th year, the camp gives many Valley children their first real experience in the mountains and includes backpacking trips in the wilderness. It is in the Stanislaus National Forest near Dardanelle and was named for a World War I veteran who was the first secretary of the Stanislaus County YMCA. Looking to generate publicity for the foundation, Poisson plans to hike 90 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in July. He’ll begin at Eagle Falls near Lake Tahoe and finish at the camp.
MIGRANT MOTHER IN SONG – After reading a book review about the works of Dust Bowl-era photographer Dorothea Lange, and seeing her iconic “Migrant Mother” portrait, songwriter Jason Winfree of a bluegrass band called Red Dog Ash did what songwriters do. He wrote a song.
“I realized I’d seen the ‘Migrant Mother’ photo so many times it was already familiar to me, but I hadn’t really been aware of it,” Winfree wrote in an email. “I was just struck by the photo, like so many others have been. And I started humming to myself or saying to myself ‘Hello, Florence Thompson.’ So I looked into her story, which is just as striking as the photograph. At the same time, I had just been reading ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ All the pieces fell together, and I wrote the song in a couple of hours.”
It opens with the lyrics “Hello Florence Thompson/Looking at me through the years/With your tired eyes and dustbowl girls/How many shared your fears?”
Thompson is the woman portrayed in the black-and-white photo, along with her daughters Katherine and Ruby. Lange took it at the Nipomo labor camp in San Luis Obispo County in 1936, during the Great Depression. Thompson later settled in Modesto and raised her family here. Thomspon died in 1983 and is buried at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson. Thompson’s grandson Roger Sprague and his wife, Kay, began working on a book about Thompson’s life. But Sprague died in 2004, the book unfinished. Kay later remarried and is now Oleta Kay Ham. She continued working on the book and published “Migrant Mother: The Untold Story – A Family Memoir” last year.
Ham was the honored guest as Red Dog Ash performed Friday night at Newman’s West Side Theatre. Valley resident Robbie Clifton arranged the meeting. The band will return to Newman on May 3.
NOVEL IDEA – The first chapter of a community novel titled “Ashes in a Teardrop” is available today at www.stanislauslibrary.org. Fifteen local authors are collaborating to write the story, a mystery that begins when a couple riding along the Tuolumne River come upon an abandoned teardrop trailer.
Each Tuesday, a new chapter will be published on the library’s website.