Martin Hollay- A true Tahoe Treasure...

In a town like South Lake Tahoe, you hear about famous people... those who came here and left an indelible mark.  Rarely does a person get to spend the afternoon with one of these historic figures, but today we gleefully did. 

Martin Hollay has been called Tahoe Royalty and he has lived a movie script worthy life for the past 91 years, all captured in the book I was so Lucky:  The Life of Martin Hollay.  However, today, we heard the condense version, from the legend himself, as a special presentation at the Lake Tahoe Museum.  We learned about his life in Hungary, his time in an American Prison camp that made him love the people of his adopted homeland, and his early years at Heavenly Valley, designing ski runs and being Ski Patrol.

In addition to everything Martin accomplished, one of the crafts that he is most famous for is his glove making
Anyone who was anyone had a pair of Martin Hollay gloves.  He cut them with a press he had shipped from Gloversville, NY (FYI: in 1834, Xavier Jouvin, a French glove maker, invented a press that could cut six gloves simultaneously, bringing down the cost and increasing their popularity and availability).

When Martin decided after 75 years of creating these one-of-a-kind items, he hung up his gloves, so to speak, and donated his beloved press to the museum.  Today was the inauguration of the exhibit to honor him and his place in Tahoe's history.

After meeting Martin, hearing his life story and seeing how many people adore this amazing man, I've discovered that we are the ones who are so lucky!

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We're Museum Volunteers...

When discovering a new community, I believe the best way to know about its people and its history is through its museum and what better way to know a museum than by working within it.

We spent most of the day learning the ins and outs of The Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum while meeting some interesting people.  We look forward to a summer of enrichment and diverse activities.  There is always something to do here.
"Service to others is the rent you pay
for your room here on Earth."
--Muhammad Ali

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Wildfire Awareness Week...

Wildfires frighten the heck out of me.  Tahoe experienced the horrific Angora Fire in 2007 as the result of an illegal campfire.  Knowledge and awareness are powerful foes of fear so I am excited about this week of Wildfire Awareness Films at Explore Tahoe:  An Urban Trailhead.

Today, we met Smokey Bear and watched part of the film "The Greatest Good", a US Forest Service Centennial Film that covered stories and the history of Smokey Bear.  It included decades worth of Public Service Announcements that brought back childhood memories and ended with a slideshow of Fire Prevention posters through the years.

These posters have been an important part of forest fire prevention advertising since the 1930s. There has been little change in the fire prevention message, but the posters themselves reflect the constantly changing styles, attitudes, and events in American culture.  In 1944, Smokey Bear came to us by necessity. At the beginning of World War II, Americans feared that an enemy attack or sabotage could destroy our forest resources at a time when wood products were greatly needed. Time was ripe for a Smokey Bear icon.  The 'date specific' Smokey Bear posters surprised me but a brief study of history, of the time, explains their purpose.  I learned a great deal today.

After seeing the devastation of human carelessness locally, Smokey's message is still very powerful "Only YOU can prevent forest fires".

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Remembering Memorial Day...

Feeling a need to remember what today is truly about, we attended a service to recognize veterans past and present. The Happy Homestead Cemetery is the final resting place for many military heroes, attested to by the hundreds of flags decorating the grave sites.  It was a powerful location for a powerful message.

I began crying on the way over and what I took from today's service was intense gratitude to our military but also a need to honor this day more.  Memorial Day used to be a solemn day of mourning, a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes often times ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were given and prayers offered up. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those the fell in service to their country.

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan - May 5, 1868 (from the first Memorial Day)

I learned so much about the sacrifices through song, testimonies and the faces of the veterans proudly present in the crowd and I was deeply affected by the POW/MIA Place Setting Remembrance Service (please watch this video to know more).

We need to remember, with sincere respect, those who paid the price for our freedoms; we need to keep, in sacred remembrance, those who died serving their country. We need to never let them be forgotten.

In South Lake Tahoe we remembered.  The true meaning of today was felt by everyone present.  It is with a grateful heart that I extend my sincere thank you to all who have given so much and are continuing to give.

"All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the Red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all"

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Our Memorial Day Weekend...

I recently read a book in which the author chose Memorial Day as the annual family reunion weekend.  It fits the bill "because it lacks ritual and presents no divided loyalties with the in-laws".  While I invited the in-laws to join us (they couldn't get away), I like the idea of this as a traditional weekend of togetherness.

Brenton and Christy took an extra day off from work and Kegan spent Thursday night with them.  At 4 AM Friday, they headed out together and arrived in Tahoe in time for breakfast, just before a day of snow flurries.  What a great introduction to our new hometown for all of them, especially Christy who was new to Tahoe.

For three days, we enjoyed the family time and delighted in sharing the area with them all.  There was a great deal of fireside time, relaxing with gaming, reading and just hanging out.  We did a variety of activities from celebrating Christy's #25 to going to a local casino's sports bar for the Ultimate Fighting Championship's big fight to hiking down to Emerald Bay and seeing Vikingsholm Castle.

What a wonderful weekend.  Tahoe now feels like home.

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Our NEW personal license plate...

After blogging about license plates and how the fees go to worthy causes, I decided to order this one.  Since Steve and I do LOVE South Lake Tahoe we thought it was perfect and we want to 'Protect Lake Tahoe'.  The fees collected from the Lake Tahoe plates are used by the California Tahoe Conservancy whose mission is to preserve, protect, restore, enhance and sustain the unique and significant natural resources and recreational opportunities of the Lake Tahoe Basin.  How cool is that?

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Tahoe Life through license plates...

I am a huge fan of personal license plates.  The added fee supports so many worthy causes:  Environmental, Memorial, Arts Council, Coastal Commission, Firefighters, Veterans, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.

Since moving here, I've seen so many unique licenses that seem to tell the story of our stay here in South Lake Tahoe.  To explain a couple- Bijou, CA is what the area where we live was called before incorporation in 1965.  I included ZMBZ SUK because, let's face it, ZOMBIES SUCK.

As I continue to see people expressing themselves in such unique ways, I will gather the plates and post more in my newly created license plate 'series'.

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Strawberry Tract, history and picnic...

Our newest, favorite picnic spot was found today along the South Fork of the American River at Dick and Joan's cabin.

Nestled amongst the pines, between the highway and the River, are 55 cabins comprising the Strawberry Tract.  Every trip on this road had me intrigued by the numerous homes we saw in various picturesque mountain settings. In Eldorado National Forest, "recreation residences" began before the turn of the 20th century to encourage public use of the forest. In 1968, the Forest Service decided against permitting any more new tracts. 

Joan's grandfather got the land lease for lot #4 in 1931. Each cabin was built by the original individual families who owned them yet the land is still owned by the Forest Service.  According to Joan,  "El Dorado Co. has the largest number of forest service owned land covered by summer cabin tracts.   We are not allowed to live in those cabins full time, and that is why they are designated Summer Home Cabin Tracts.   You can buy a cabin that is up for sale, if you are interested.  Certainly costs more than the original cabins cost to build.  Ours cost $200 for materials when my two uncles built our cabin in 1931, under the supervision of our ailing grandpa. That was a lot of money in those days and their 5 sisters (of which one was my Mom) came up with some of the cash to help with the materials."

Entering the cabin, and just being in the area, is like going back in time.  We were greeted by a wall of family images, sketched by a very talented cousin, decades ago.  I loved seeing 15 year old Joan.  I savored the photo albums and journals from 81 years of family lore.  Each year, growing up, Joan would summer here, sleeping outdoors with all the other siblings, cousins, aunts, etc.  When she married, only child Dick was thrown into the family encampments.  There was only one summer that Joan missed an idyllic vacation at Strawberry, and that was because Dick was stationed back east. 

After lunch and some minor home repair, we hiked to see the favorite "swimming holes" and learn about the families whose memories floated through the pines, greeting us.  It was an unforgettable glimpse into a long ago past of enviable memories.  We feel so honored to have been invited to witness such history and familial love.

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Pine Needle Basket making...

Lake Tahoe Historical Society offers a number of interesting lectures, demonstrations and classes.  Today, I attended a pine needle basket making class from Audrey Frank.

Audrey's family tree branches out to both the Summit Lake Paiute and Washoe Tribes of northern Nevada. Her grandmother taught her to bead daisy chains, but Audrey didn't become serious about basket weaving until many years later when she learned how to make pine needle baskets from her aunt and step-mother. They taught her how to start the basket, create its "Washoe running loop stitches" and make decorative lids.

A large group of women, with very different styles and skills, enjoyed learning from Audrey.  While my incomplete basket is not anywhere as beautiful as hers, I was pleased with what I accomplished in a very short amount of time.

Patience and 10" or longer pine needles are the main ingredients in crafting a basket. After soaking the needles overnight, they are coiled and stitched with sinew (thankfully artificial).  As you can see by my 'work in progress', I've got a long way to go, yet with practice and patience, mine should improve greatly.

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"What Remains"- A Photo exhibit...

My new favorite place to discover art, literature and really exceptional people is Bona Fide Books.  Tonight was a wonderful reception for local artist, Stacy Hicks.  Her black and white photographs, taken with authentic camera film, harken back to another era...remnants of a simpler time.  The exhibit, entitled What Remains, documents locations, artifacts and memories whose glory days, while far behind, are still visible in the shades of gray.

We loved the hospitality of Kim, the publisher and hostess at Bona Fide Books.  Her enthusiasm for artists, of every genre, is so genuine and her welcoming spirit made us want to stay all evening and be a part of the magic she creates.  Something incredible is always happening here in Lake Tahoe.

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We're record breaking bikers...

The following announcement had me intrigued and is part of the reason we purchased bikes:

We're Going for the World Record (and it won't cost you a dime)!
When: Thursday 05.17.12, 4p til you drop at Mo's Place Pub
South Lake Tahoe, CA
The Slow Rollers Bicycle Club proudly presents the second annual Spirit Parade. Everyone is invited to participate in this free cruising event from the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe, CA, to MontBleu Casino at Stateline, NV. Don't worry... two states, but only five (flat) miles.

When we say "everyone" we mean EVERYONE cuz we're going for the LARGEST BICYCLE PARADE WORLD RECORD currently held by the city of Davis, CA. Oh, it's on. You'll get a number. You'll be counted. And we all just want to count, right? Guinness, the World Record people not the beer, will certify our numbers and we'll make history... in a good way.  Post-check-out-wow-I-biked-(slow)-all-day-now-let's-party after party at Mo's. Other world records may be set at this time.  You'll be joined by firetrucks up front and the South Lake Tahoe Police chasing you from behind (c'mon, like you're not used to it).

To break Davis' record, there needed to be 917 riders, we had 1,250.  The camaraderie, cheering, costumes and organized chaos was extraordinary.  I hope the photos can do it justice!  What an incredible way to spend the afternoon.  Only in Tahoe!

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