Buggy ride to big city

Comment: When I was a child, Bruce still operated his grocery-and-everything-else store in the big brick building, which is now the Scott Valley Drug. He sold everything from butter to fishing tackle and flies. I can still remember the old tall ladder that was used to check out the high shelves of Levi jeans. It was a cool store, even before the word “cool” was cool. — Liz Bowen

Buggy Ride to Big City

Published in Pioneer Press

Date is unknown

By Bruce Parker


One brisk Spring morning in April or May, 1906, about the time of the Great Earthquake at San Francisco, my father and my older brother, Bob, and I started out on the longest trip I had ever taken.  I was three months short of 4 years old and my brother was two years older than I.

We had our own Surrey but Dad hired a team from Walker & Barnum Livery Stable, located on what is now known as Collier Way, in the location of the present Grammar School parking lot. We started down the center of the Valley, driving through Griffin Lane on to the Hamlin Gulch Road, over the mountain to Moffett Creek. Being very excited about the trip and experiencing a cold morning, nature took its course and I had what my father described as an “accident”. My father, a pioneer and used to meeting emergencies, was not stymied for a minute. Stopping the team, he soon had my pants off and had my underwear tied to the fringe of the top of the Surrey, flaring in the breeze, and me warmly wrapped in the buggy robe.

From Moffett Creek we went over the next hill and ate our lunch on the top of the mountain pass, with Scarface Gulch on the other side. As we were eating our lunch, in the distance we could see the train going north from Gazelle and my father said, “Look, boys, at the big snake.” I thought “Doesn’t Dad know that is a train?” (I thought he was smarter than to believe it was a snake.)

We finally arrived at Gazelle, where my mother and younger sister, Deborah, had gone a few days previously for a visit with my Uncle Joe and Aunt Bess Denny. After a day or so we started home to Etna by way of Callahan. As we approached the top of Gazelle Mountain we could look down and see buggies on the road about two miles below and they looked like miniatures with midget people in them to me, not being used to seeing people at such a distance. I asked Dad if we could wait for them so that I could see “little people up close”. He naturally thought my remark was very amusing.

When we arrived at my Grandfather Parker’s home in Plowman’s Valley, we stopped and I remember my Grandfather coming out to the gate. He made a picture that I have never forgotten in his tam-o-shanter, carrying a large came. He was wearing a full beard.

This was the only time I ever saw him as he died the following January, one day before his 80th birthday.

As we neared Callahan, I remember seeing rocks coming up on an elevator and dropping in a pile, where men were gold mining.

We finally reached home. I didn’t travel again more than 8 miles from Etna until about 9 or 10 years later when I went to Montague with my mother, a younger brother and sister, to a circus.

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