Pretty Much True

About all I have in common with the World War II ace Bud Anderson is that we live in the same vicinity.

The foothills around Sacramento are rife with recent history.

Take a 45 minute drive out to my favorite shooting range and you will see hills left by hydraulic mining, used during the gold rush.

There are dozens of former gold rush towns along California’s Highway 49.

Some of them are near dormant while others are bedroom communities to Sacramento.

A bedroom community of Placerville, just 30 miles or so up the hill from Sacramento, used to be known as Hangtown.

Anyway, Bud Anderson grew up in Newcastle California.

It’s in the foothills, and I believe its origins were a train stop for the Central Pacific Railroad traveling east on the first transcontinental railroad.

Climbing up that hill took a lot of water and steam.

So anyway I’m reading his book and enjoying it immensely.

He is describing this foothill area where he grew up and I thought this particular passage was both humorous and true:

Foothill summers are dry, hot and brown, the winters wet, chilly and green, with most free of snow. It was Gold Rush country midway through the last century-hard, cruel country with quick, angry justice, a place for some dreams came true and more didn’t; where stagecoaches hauled the gold and people named Rattlesnake Dick and Black Bart made a good living robbing them; where men were men and women were something you ordered by mail.

If California has a version of Virginia’s colonial Williamsburg that has to be Columbia.

In fact I think they filmed part of Columbia in making Gary Cooper’s High Noon.

And a few years ago I took our car club on a rally to Columbia where we sat in their historic theater and watched the play Paint Your Wagon.

I thought the play, and the movie with Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin, depicted the California gold rush pretty accurately.

Although I’m not sure how much singing was involved.

Anyway I thought that passage from Bud Anderson’s book, To Fly and To Fight, was right on about the early California gold rush in the foothills where he grew up.

And pretty funny.

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