An essay by Tacy Hahn
Summers were spent at Lake Tahoe. From the time when baths were given in the kitchen sink. Then, when school was out. My Mother, brother, the dogs and I loaded up. There was no air conditioning early on. We tried different routes, the Jack- Tone cutoff through lone, where we stopped at a fruit stand for Delaware Punch. Highway 50. It was a very hot trip.
One time we had to leave the dog in Placerville with a vet -because, we were told, - his blood was coagulating. We always stopped in Placerville. Hangtown. We knew why it was called Hangtown. There was a body hanging from a noose on the main street... We ate at The Bluebell cafe. They had a Treasure Box where we could pick out little gifts. My favorite was the small cylinder of braided straw into which one puts a finger at each end and pulls. The Chinese used these for Finger Torture. From Hangtown we continued up into the Sierra.
The air became cooler and we started to smell the pines. Heads out of open windows, all inhaling. Camino. The Hickman's apple orchard was in Camino. We could see their house from the road. They were good friends of my grandparents. We continued climbing. And then we were following the American River. Foaming, plunging, bringing the runoff out of the mountains. So many bridges crossing to little cabins. All so inviting. Just before Lover's Leap, the large half dome from which an Indian maiden had jumped, we passed Slippery Ford. This was the grade where, my mother told us, they had to stop and fill the radiators in the' old days'.
When it was wet they would have to gun the engine and make a run for it, often several times, in order to get up and over. Lover's Leap. Horsetail Falls. Camp Sacramento. My Mother's Aunt had a 99 year lease cabin at Camp Sacramento. They didn't have electricity and their cold provisions were kept in a little stream which ran behind the cabin. The wildflowers were abundant. Echo Summit. We would all strain as we came around the corner, pushing each other to get furthest to the right hand side of the car...
FIRST ONE TO SEE THE LAKE. We were there. Well, almost. The ride on down the grade could take a long time. Cattle were being herded into the various dairies and would block the highway in both directions until they came to a clearing and could be pushed off the road for cars to pass. We turned right at the "y".More meadows. Willow choked streams. Just past Globins Market we turned left onto Lakeview Drive. Al Tahoe. Globins Pier. Meyers Store where we went for ice cream after dinner.
The little cabin was waiting. We called it Pine Needles. Doors open, down to the lake. A line of yellow pollen following the shoreline. Lapping waves. Touch and go. Prime the pump. Storm shutters off. Look out for bats. My grandfather had built the cabin in 1926. Much of the wood, the windows, doors, sink and marble counter had all come from houses being tom down at 16th and Harrison in San Francisco. My Mother and Uncle had collected the rocks for the fireplace and chimney with their grandfather. It always smelled so good. We slept upstairs in the attic. Its plaster board walls had been covered with magazine photos by my grandmother. Summers were spent at Lake Tahoe.