C’mon down for barbecue, auction today! | TheUnion.com

C’mon down for barbecue, auction today!

Vivian Herron, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Janet Romero has hauled out her Sno-Cone machine and is ready to keep an army cool. The town council bake sale is also open – you could disappoint a lot of latecomers by buying up all the pies, cookies, cakes, etc., ahead of time.

Mervalous Merv Lee, our esteemed fire chief, is ready to welcome you with open arms when he’s not flipping chickens on the grill by the firehouse. Dinner starts at 4 p.m., and you’re encouraged to buy your ticket as early as you can. Last year the chicken dinners ran out way before the closing time of 8 p.m., and the cooks had a hard time keeping up with the demand.

Sodas and other recreational beverages are available, and don’t forget to bring your towels and floaties for serious time in the river. The auction items are quite extensive, thanks to Nanz, Lori, KatyPotter and Ali, who literally went door to door in Bigtown asking for donations. I can’t list all the gift certificates and merchandise, but Grass Valley/Nevada City was very generous to our tiny fire department.

At the Herron Hovel, when someone knocks on my door, I’m never quite sure who is going to be there. This time it was Chick Cicogni and his caregiver, Judy, down for another visit. I don’t know why she’s called a caregiver, because she can’t begin to keep up with him.

“I’ve booked the Cleveland Room at the Washington Hotel,” Chick beamed. “I’ve stayed at the hotel before, y’know – 84 years ago!”

Here’s his story.

“I was born at Gaston in 1915, but I don’t remember much about it because I was only 5 years old when we left there in 1920. There was one time in 1918 when I was 2 years old when my dad had to take me down to Washington because I was sick with pneumonia.

“My father had a mule and a donkey to draw the wagon down the hill into Washington. We stayed at the Washington Hotel that night and the next day we went into town. That was right after that Spanish flu that was going around.”

Mr. C showed up with a suitcase full of photographs and poetry he had written. When Dale came home, he said the bar was completely empty, that everyone was on the back deck standing in a circle around Chick, listening to his stories, with more people coming in to meet him.

In the cafe, the ceiling is covered with things like an old typewriter, ancient kitchen ware, and many mining artifacts. Chick knew what they were all used for. He regaled hotel owners Henry and Sue DeCorte with stories of his colorful life until 10:30 that night.

Hank was so entranced, he wouldn’t charge Chick and Judy for their room. Chick spent the next day being driven here and there in the mountains, and later said he had so much fun here he’s comin’ back. “Next time, I’m bringin’ my brother with me!” Oh Lord. I’ll let you know when that happens; that’ll be a night to remember.

The most recent knock on my door was from May Eby, a flatlander friend from San Diego. We met at Bridge Beach years ago, and she always visits me when she and her husband David vacation here.

There’s a lot to be said for sitting at the kitchen table, munching watermelon, catching up on each other’s lives, and indulging in lots of friendly conversation. I highly recommend spending an afternoon doing the above; it can only do you good.

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

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