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Eyes gleam with dreams, dedication

Vivian Herron, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

My daughter Crystal went off to college last month. She attended Sierra College for the first two years and is now in Chico studying mathematics. (This is a child whose mother occasionally resorts to secretly counting on her fingers. Go figure.)

In the winter of those two years, Washington Road was sometimes pretty scary: covered with snow and more on the way, a late plow, snow still falling. Dale would warn her: “This is a bad day to be on the roads. It’s dangerous out there. Skip your classes for once and stay home.”

But she always insisted on going. Dale would reluctantly put on her tire chains and follow her all the way into Bigtown and beyond. Sometimes the roads were worse than he thought, which is really going some.



“If she wasn’t so damned determined to get to school, I wouldn’t have gone in myself,” he confessed to me more than once.

Crystal has a permanent glint in her eye, because she’s kept that eye on her personal prize for so long, and that prize is a college education. I am surely not bragging on this kid, but I am definitely in total awe of that glint.




It’s not the manic glitter of a fanatic or the fire of stubbornness. It’s a calm, driving light that says, “With all respect, you can either walk with me or get out of my way. Something needs to be done and I’m going to do it.” If that sounds too sugary for you, go read the police blotter or something.

Two of Crystal’s childhood friends came from families so far down on the moral and economic food chain, the kids had to look up to see bottom. Against nearly impossible odds, they fought their way out of poverty (you know, of course, there’s more than one kind of poverty) and made decent lives for themselves. They had that glint in their eyes, too.

The same light was in Sandy Schmidt’s eyes the minute I met her. She opened a shop right next door to Speedy’s, where she sells used items donated by you, dear readers. She then turns the money into hope and safety for women who are victims of domestic violence.

She knows from personal experience what it’s like to live in a violent home. She stopped it in her life and is determined to help other women in the same situation. She works 80 to 90 hours a week, and if she ever sits down, I want to know when so I can take a picture of her.

Bigtowners occasionally tell me they like to go to SPD Markets because they inevitably meet everybody they know there. They say it takes 15 minutes to do their grocery list and another 45 minutes just hangin’ out in the aisles talking to friends.

It’s the same way in the shop next door. Sandy has an inspiring little essay at the front counter called “What is the Worth of a Woman?” and she’ll give you a copy for a very small donation. She’ll give you one without a donation, too.

She said the store exploded almost overnight with donations, and now she needs shoppers. I’m not supposed to recommend one store over another, and I agree with that rule completely. All the thrift stores in Nevada County are doing tremendous good for us, no matter what their cause.

What I am recommending is that you go in there to enjoy that so-rare gleam of dedication, all wrapped up in compassion and energy. It’ll make your day.

And I haven’t even told you about Mike Tassone yet.

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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