History 401

by Calendar Hacksaw

When I first came to the Basin, what impressed me most was the vast reservoir of historical knowledge possessed by the local population. Any question I had about an abandoned mine, a watercourse, agriculture, livestock or sex was quickly answered by anyone at the saloon or the store. It seemed as though a thorough grasp of Walker Basin history was what set apart newcomers from old-timers, and I often felt small and intimidated by how little I knew of the region. It took many years of casual conversation and reading the Fence Post to get me to where I am today, truly a recognized authority on all matter of local trivia.

How great it would be, I thought last night, while putting a 30-pack of Bud through its final paces, if I could spare some of the more recent arrivals the pain, suffering and embarrassment I endured during those early days. What greater present to bestow upon the uninitiated than to spoon-feed enough local history in just one column to bring everyone up to a level where they could hold their own during discourse over dinner or bingo; a body of knowledge to impress their friends and relatives from outside the region who occasionally come around to point, stare and spend money at the local merchants. What a class act that would be.

So herewith, my readers, is a collection of facts and trivia which olí Calendar politely terms "History 401 Ė An Upper Division Study of the Social, Natural and Artificial Fabric of the Greater Walker Basin Metropolitan Region." Sprinkle a few of these bon mots over dinner and watch your audience sit up and take notice.

  • The term "lug nuts" was coined near Shady Rest on April 1, 1862. Since that time, efforts to locate Shady Rest have been unsuccessful. But in all disputes at four-way stops, whoever has the most lug nuts has the right of way.
  • "Lou Varga Rock" at the 5.6 mile marker on the Creek road is not a natural phenominum. It was chiseled by students in Ms. Millerís 6th grade class during intersession several years ago. Piss poor job of it, too; looks more like Jimmy Carter.
  • Long ago, a brothel opened in Sand Canyon, but closed down later the same day. Turned out everyone was already satisfied.
  • The infamous Hessians outlaw biker gang took their name from Bill Hesse, and someday heíd like to have it back. But heís not pushing the issue; just asking politely.
  • The card game "21" was named after the number of switchbacks on Franceschi Grade. "Blackjack" was the name of the early miner who pioneered the road.
  • At the peak of productivity, an emu lays upwards of 35 eggs each day. Just like Jay Leno.
  • April 18, 1981: The pilot of STS-1 Ė the Space Shuttle "Columbia" --, on final approach to Edwards AFB, radioed NASA in Houston and said, "We are passing over Caliente Canyon. All the idiots are waving to us."
  • In 1953, the destructive Techachapi quake on the White Wolf Fault destroyed the natural dam near the present-day "Y," and completely drained what had been called "Caliente Lake."
  • The turkey buzzardís greatest natural predator is the hummingbird, which explains why you never see them together. You donít believe me? Go look.
  • Caliente School was originally founded as a 4-year college offering degrees in Animal Husbandry and Home Economics. Sadly, Animal Husbandry won.
  • Louis LíAmour never owned a firearm or a horse. Never had a need for either.
  • From 1862 until 1902, the Piute Mountains were owned by the government of Korea.
  • The first personalized license plate ever issued by the State of California was "Loraine."
  • Broccoli grows wild along the road through Havilah.
  • Most people canít tell the difference between the taste of ground squirrel meat and chicken. Thatís why I never eat at KFGS.
  • On the ground outside the Twin Oaks General Store thereís a bunch of washers which locals say has something to do with an old ghost story, but no one remembers the details.
  • "When I think of a true cowboy, I think of Lawrence Snow." - Abraham Lincoln, April 1, 1865.
  • Opium and tobacco were the primary cash crops in Walker Basin from 1915 until 1921. Man, when was the last time you had any decent Opium?
  • The healing powers of bathing in the waters of Weaver Creek are only good during February. But itís only good for healing that thing you picked up last July.
  • The government warning on the side of a can of Budweiser contains all the letters in "Twin Oaks" and "Walker Basin." Coincidence? I think not.
  • The common mousetrap has 203 moving parts. The common mouse has ten times that many.
  • Cowboys donít suffer from the effects of eating pickled eggs. On the contrary, they seem to enjoy it. Glad to help clear the air on that one.
  • The difference between a good wildcat and a bad wildcat is the marinade.
  • Foot-in-mouth disease is a lot more rampant than hoof-in-mouth disease.
  • April is "Walker Basin Free Milk Month," and visitors are invited to help themselves to a complimentary gallon or two from any range cattle along the road. Itís a good idea to alert one of the locals before you commence to milking, just to make sure youíre doing it right.

Perhaps itís high time for the appropriate department at CSU Bakersfield to offer a course in Walker Basin history. For only through the scrutiny of academia will we ever be able to separate fact from fiction in this region, and we surely wouldnít want our grand-children to be as ignorant as we. Besides that, for most of us it would be a damned easy 4 units, and thatís no April Foolís joke.

Calendar Hacksaw hangs out at http://www.calendarhacksaw.com, and he isnít convinced that Wayne Moody invented Team Penning. Well, okay, he did.

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