‘Nevada City is a quirky, mystical sort of place’
Utah Phillips had fond memories of Nevada City and the surrounding area, his home for the past two decades of his 73-year life.
Phillips’ home is just outside of downtown Nevada City, he performed at the Miners Foundry in Nevada City and Grass Valley Center for the Performing Arts, and he had a nationally syndicated folk-music radio show called “Loafer’s Glory: The Hobo Jungle of the Mind,” produced at KVMR until six years ago.
“I feel like ‘Loafer’s Glory’ is the best thing I ever did with my life,” he once said about the program.
Phillips, a big baseball fan, also was a fixture at Little League games at Pioneer Park.
Phillips and his wife, Joanna Robinson, came to Nevada City from Spokane in the late 1980s. Robinson had raised her children here and wanted to return.
“Nevada City is a quirky, mystical sort of place, populated by poets, writers artists, misfits and just regular folks,” Phillips wrote on his Web log.
His home on a country lane near Red Dog Road, about a mile from downtown, dates back to 1912.
“When we first moved in here, the house was tiny,” he wrote. Thanks to his wife’s “remarkable ingenuity” and a carpenter who was a friend, the home was expanded to include a study for Phillips, along with two additional rooms.
The home includes a vegetable garden, a small library of books on labor issues, and a henhouse with a large rooster named Ralph.
“The hens gave us eggs, which is what I think the idea was to begin with,” he wrote.
The cedars at his home are gigantic, he wrote – “a patch of forest that was never logged, probably because of the bad survey.”
A small barn contains 15 collapsing cardboard boxes that contain “what academics have characterized as my personal archives, but in fact are a jumble of papers and objects.”
He said UC Davis once wanted to compile and preserve his archives.
“I said, OK, if you hire somebody to come and plow through those boxes, because I’m not going to. They never called back.”
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