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Blink, and you’ll miss Halloween

Down here in Washington, Halloween trick-or-treating lasts about half an hour. The littlest kids come out around 5 or 6, escorted by parents or big brothers or sisters. Once they’ve had a head start, the older monsters and ghosts start making the rounds, and by 7 p.m. at the latest, it’s all over but the shoutin’.

There’s none of this flitting excitedly from door-to-door, as in Bigtown – our front doors are just too few and far apart. Sometimes rural parents, in desperation, will drive their children into Bigtown for an hour of running the streets in search of candy. I’m leading up to a huge thank you to the hundreds of kind kind people in the county who know this and buy that extra bag or two of candy for just that very reason.

Littletown is going to celebrate two Halloweens, the one on Thursday and the party the following night at the Washington Hotel. Don’t toss your scary duds in the trash because there’s going to be a costume and pumpkin-carving contest, which is always a big hit.



The other big hit is Johnny and the Moondogs, a band that will be making its debut at the hotel, playing rock ‘n’ roll and blues. The cafe will be open, of course, until around 9-ish when the chairs are removed, the tables are pushed up and fastened to the walls, the band sets up, and the dancing commences.

“This band has a terrific sound and a bright future, and we’re excited we could get them!” enthused Su DeCorte, co-owner (along with Henry) of the hotel. “Linda Chambers and Amy Lee spent hours decorating the cafe for the occasion, and Mickey Stephan did the honors in the bar, and it all looks great!”




While sitting on the back deck of the hotel, I finally met Meg, who married Space at the hotel several months ago. They live and work in Bigtown (Meg is in the deli at SPD), and they were paying a little evening visit to Washington.

Meg got very shy when I asked her how married life is treating her. “He’s a wonderful guy. Life is just great.”

Seeing Space with Meg was a revelation. I’ve known him for nearly 20 years and this was about the first time I’ve ever seen him with clear eyes and rosy cheeks. It looks like being with Meg is doing him a world of good, too.

“I like bein’ married to Meg. She understands me and loves me, and that’s what makes it work. And don’t think I don’t try to understand and love her, too, ’cause I do. And you need that to be married.”

Remember a couple of months ago when we had all those windy days? Dave Bagley happened to be standing outside the hotel when a scrap of paper literally floated out of the sky and fell at his feet. It turned out to be a scrap of a grocery list for the grocery store that used to be open right next to the hotel. It’s dated 1914.

Su also showed me a small stack of papers she and Henry found, all dating from the very early 1900s, when Washington was still a wide-awake, hustling little town. Fascinating stuff!

Robert Slyter, a local resident and long deceased, spent countless hours researching all the old newspapers and publications concerning Washington, and in 1975, he wrote a very interesting book based on those findings. I am happy to report that the book is back in print, thanks to Su, and for only $16.99, you can get a great idea of what it was like to live here during the town’s heyday.

Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.


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