Sunday, December 20, 2015

In loving memory of my daughter, Shannon, (September 14, 1968-December 19, 2009)

In loving memory of my daughter, Shannon, (September 14, 1968-December 19, 2009)

You’ve been gone six years now and hardly a day passes that I don’t think of you. Hope you and Jesus have a fun and joyous Christmas up in heaven this year. Love Mom

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ice Inspection At Perk’s Slough

Ice Inspection At Perk’s Slough

The most exciting word in high school was “party”.  Yes, this word would send a buzz like a lose bee down the halls of our school. The excitement built as it traveled in a humming hush which the adults must not overhear.  “Where will it be, who will be there, how can I get there,  what will I wear?”  Now, two of the biggest
Sue & Danny Acting Out
party animals I knew were my younger brother, Danny, and my best friend, Sue “Hot Lips” Hatton.  So at noon time one February 1965 day, just as I was hanging up my waitress apron at John’s Cafe (where I worked during lunch hour) in preparation of returning to school, Danny came to me.  He was all excited and demanded, “Chere, take me out to Perk’s Slough.”  Why?”  I inquired. “I need to inspect the ice to see if it is hard enough to have an ice skating party tonight”  Oops, there was that word “party”!  Sue who had been waiting to walk with me back to school was all over it now.  “Yeah, Chere, take him.  I want to go with you guys.”

I did not have a car in high school, but I would often “steal” my mother’s Chrysler
Newport station wagon when she was out of town on business.  This happened to be one of those times and Danny knew it.  If I didn’t do as he asked, he could tell on me when she got back.  I questioned further.  “We’ll miss class.  What will we tell them?”  Danny rationalized, “We’ll just be a little late, Chere.  It’s only fifteen minutes out and fifteen minutes back.  We’ll only be late for one class.”  “Yeah, come on Chere, let’s go!” Sue pipes in.

So we pile into the wagon, Sue and I in the front seat and Danny in the back.
 There was no room in the front seat for Danny because the middle was taken up our purses and by my rolls of toilet paper.  I had a terrible cold.  I had never been to Perk’s Slough, but my brother obviously had.  He knew exactly where we were going. (the little party animal that he was).  Mom’s blue battleship floated down the highway, sailing along to discover new lands.  Sue was singing the latest hit to the radio, Dan was pointing out directions and I was blowing my nose almost non-stop.

Perk’s slough was out on the Mason Valley Wildlife Refuge.  In other words out in
the sticks.  As we approached the slough from the back seat, Danny yelled “Stop!”.  “”Why, I don’t see the slough.” I questioned as I pulled to a stop at the top of a little knoll.  Danny flings open the back door and commanded me.  “Stay here, I want to make sure the ground is hard enough for the car.” Sue and I watch him walk quite a ways towards the slough.  Then we looked at each other and I said, “I’m not walking that far to see the slough are you?”  “Hell no!” she exclaimed.

With that, I revved up the wagon and gunned it.  At the sound of the car reve, Danny turned around and like an airplane flagman began waving his arms frantically and yelling, “NO, NO, NOOOOO!” Too late, the car sunk into the mud spinning wheels and all.  Danny came running back to the car in a rage. He
rounded the car in an Indian war dance, yelling and cursing me out.  Finally, he decided to try and push us out.  No luck.  I decided I would try and help him push.  I could barely get the door open we had sunk so far in the mud.  When I stepped out, I sunk down to my knees.  The mud oozed into my pantyhose (we wore dresses to school back then).  Sue sat with pursed up lips and refused my pleas to help push.  She wasn’t going to get dirty and besides it was too cold.

When Dan and my energy was well spent to no avail, Danny decided he would be the hero of the situation and run back to town to get some help.  I was worried about him as the afternoon wind was getting colder and he only had a light jacket on.  His hands were freezing from trying to push the car.  I decided that I would wrap his hands in toilet paper to try and keep them warm.  And so off he ran in his TP mittens.  I figured it would take him a few hours to get to help if a bobcat or wolf pack didn’t eat him.

It was freezing, so I would turn the heater on for a few minutes at a time to conserve gas as it was getting low.  My muddy nylons dried and caked to my legs as my nose continued to run which I wiped on my coat sleeve.  I looked like hell, but my “best” friend did not have a hair out of place.  She sat like a princess on her thrown commanding when to turn the heat back on.  My resentments were growing with each sniffle.  After about 20 minutes, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a jeep coming.  I jumped out to try and flag it down.  To my surprise and relief Danny jumped out with discarded toilet paper mittens.  He had run into the game warden.  Fortunately, his jeep had a hoist and was able to pull us out of the mud.

We hurried back to Yerington, washed the car down and rushed back to school just in time for last period. I forget what excuse we gave for our tardiness because
I had another crisis.  I needed to raise some money for gas as the car was almost empty and when Mom go home she would surely notice.  I decided to panhandle my classmates for “a worthy cause.”  I did not dare tell them why as in a small town word spreads like wildfire and my mom could know before she even got back home.  When I finally reached $2.50, I put ten gallons of gas in Mom’s car and parked it in her driveway.  My mother was none the wiser and I felt I had gotten away with murder.

Thirty years later while Dan & I were reminiscing with my mother about Yerington days.  I decided to come clean on this story and tell her.  “Oh, you stinkers,” she exclaimed.  “I chewed the mechanic out for always blaming you kids for all my car problems.  I had to have the power steering repaired and he said, ‘But Mrs. Barnett the whole under carriage is encrusted in mud.’  I just figured he didn’t want to do the repair.”

(Note:  I never did party at Perk’s Slough or see Perk’s Sough.  Now I hear that Perk’s Slough is no longer there.  I do have it on the greatest authority of YHS partiers that Perk’s Slough did exist and was a great party spot.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Why My Mom Sent Me To The Vet In Yerington

Why My Mom Sent Me To The Vet In Yerington

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, 1956 and 1957 were not my best childhood years. In 1956, at age 8, I came down with rheumatic fever and was on total bed rest for a whole year.  When I returned to school the next year, I was required to lay down in the nurse’s office at all recesses for the first six months of the fourth grade. I could see all the children playing on the playground and longed to join them.  When I was finally released to go to recesses, I went absolutely crazy.  I  rejoiced on every piece of playground equipment, until one faithful day when the EVENT happened.  I had waited in line impatiently to have my turn on the slide.  When I reached the top, I determined that I was not going to go down the same old boring way.  No, I was going to hang both my legs over the sides of the slide.  That was fun and different and I was well pleased, until about halfway down one my chubby little legs hit a big round bolt.  It snagged my leg and ripped a ten inch gash in my calf.  When I reached the bottom, I looked down and saw this open wound did not have too much blood but lots of tissue and fat bulging out of it.  I wanted to cry, but I didn’t want the kids to call me baby, so instead I hobbled off the the nurse’s office just as the bell was ringing.

When I arrived at the nurse’s office, before I could even say a thing, the nurse snapped at me, “Why aren’t you in class?”  I couldn’t say anything, so I just pointed to my leg.  “Oh, my God, how did you do that?”  After hearing my explanation and examining my leg, she called my mother to come pick me up.  

My mother immediately came and got me and drove me straight to the hospital where she worked (not my favorite place after a year of illness).  She took me straight to the operating room and set me on the surgery table.  She then left for a season, and when she returned she was wearing a surgical apron and gloves and was accompanied by two other nurses. At this point, she announced to me that there were no doctors available right then, as they were both out of town, so she was going to sew me up.  Total fear seized me.  It was not fear of her sewing me up, as she was a surgical nurse, but the very thought of needles was the most frightening thing in the world.  I had prefered she throw me in a pit of rattlesnakes as to approach me with the dreaded NEEDLE.

To make things worse, she informed me that she was afraid to give me anything for pain, because I had been ill and she was not sure how I might react to it.  Thus the reason for the two nurses--to hold me down.  This was a very, very bad day.  Fourteen stitches latter, I was wore out with pain and frustration, and exhausted from fighting the nurses. I was so angry with my mother, the nurses, and that stupid slide.  My mother gave me a pair of crutches and then announced, she would drive me back to school.  Did I mention that this was a very, very bad day?  “What!  What!  Did I hear her right?”  This was more than I could bear.  I threw a hissy fit.  She finally,relented and agreed to have me lay down in the nurse’s lounge until she got off work.

And so the saga continues…….

I do not know how long I had the stitches in my leg.  To me it seemed like a lifetime.  But the fateful day arrived to have them removed.  Problem was that the doctors were once again out of town and unavailable, but worse so was my mother.  She was at a hospital association convention.  So she calls me and announces, “Chere, it is time to have your stitches removed.  I have made arrangements with Dr.------ (I can’t remember his name) at the veterinary hospital on Main Street.  He will be expecting you tomorrow after school.  So go right there and don’t lollygaggle.”  I tried to protest but to no avail.

The next day, I dreaded the vet visit all day.  And I talked to myself a lot, “Who ever heard of sending a person to a vet?  Does she think I’m a dog?  Does he even know who to treat humans?  I’ll probably leave with fleas!”  I was so ashamed, I did not want my classmates to know where I was going.  In rebellion, I did lollygaggle.  I was hoping he’d be closed when I got there. No such luck.  He was eagerly awaiting me.  He was pleasant enough, but the whole time had a little smirk on face, like he was quite amused at this event.  He sat me on one of the examining tables. He gloved up and pulled out a pair of scissors and a pair of tweezers.  Rythmatical he pull the stitch up, snippid the stitch, and pulled it out.  “How many stitches do you have?” he inquired.  “Fourteen, four inside and ten outside.” I answered.  “The four inside will dissolve on their own,” he informed me.  “Help me count.  We’ll take out the ten outside ones.”  The tug of each stitch coming out didn’t seem so bad.  I think he had me count to distract me a little.  I rather like this vet.  But I still wasn’t going to let my siblings or classmates know I was treated by the vet.  Not until today, that is.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Cracker Lady’s House Roots

The Cracker Lady’s House Roots

The question was asked recently by a Facebook friend, “ What is this cracker lady house stuff all about? I have no idea what the cracker lady house is.”  Well, the origin of the Cracker Lady goes clear back to 1977 and I was in my last year of Bible College in Tennessee.  Most of the time that I lived in Cleveland, Tennessee, I attended a very large white church.  But in my last year of college, I felt the Lord’s leading to go minister in the black church across town. Don’t ask me why He would wanted this country white girl in a black church, I do not know. He had given me a heart for the black people when I first came to Him.  And I had made a promise to him then, “Lord, I will go where you want me to go and I will do what you want me to do.”  and I meant it from the bottom of my heart.  I was a ministry student, but in such a large congregation, I didn’t have much opportunity to operate in my calling, so the Lord did not get much argument from me.

Shannon & me at Bible College 1976
(we both needed a haircut)

So off I went to the black church.  Shannon, my daughter, and I were the only white people in the church at the time.  I taught Sunday School to teens and conducted a Vacation Bible school.  I learned a lot and enjoyed the black gospel worship.

Shannon (first row, first on left) with a VBS class 1977

In preparation for ministering to Southern blacks, this lily white ignorant Western girl read everything she could on Black history and culture, hoping I could glean enough insight to be a blessing.

Shannon, who was eight at the time and a very good reader, came to me one day and said, “Mom, I’m worried.”  Concerned I asked, “What about, Shannon?”  “Well,” she replied, First you read Black Child Care and then you read Black Like Me.  I am worried you are going to turn yourself black and me too.”  I slowly said, “Well, Shannon, if I was black, wouldn’t you want to be black too?”  She pondered for a moment and then replied, “Yes, I guess so.”  With that I assured her we were both going to remain white because that is how God made us, but that we should try to understand as best a possible what other races and cultures were like.

As I had to work after school and needed child care, I had made a deal with another ministry student to live with us in exchange for a 25 volume set of commentaries and child care for three months rent.  She was a black girl from Florida and had a brilliant boyfriend from Gayana. Shannon and I lived in a married student housing apartment with two bedrooms so this arrangement worked well for all of us.

So with this back drop, 1977 was also the release of the TV serial, Roots.  Many friends and students did not have a television and since my house has always been an open house many people crowded into my living room every night to watch this acclaimed show for the week of it’s airing.

Everything went along just fine until the third or fourth night (I can’t recall).  This night there were black students from the Bahamas as well as my roommate and and her boyfriend viewing the show with me and Shannon.  This was the episode that the slave got his foot cut off for running away.

We were intensely into the show when off to the side I could hear my roommates breathing become rapid and labored (she was a asthmatic).  At the point in the movie when the ax was coming down, she jumped to her feet in the middle of my living room, arms flying wildly in the air and yelled out, “I’m beginning to hate these Cracker’s more and more everyday!!”

Everyone was shocked into silence as their eyes turned towards me, the  only Cracker in the room.  All I could say was, “I’m not feeling very good about them either right now.”  Suddenly we all erupted into roaring laughter.  This was not the only time I have been called a Cracker in my life, but it is by far the most memorable.

After my daughter developed her brain tumor two years latter, I gave up my pastorate and was not able to do much ministry, except for those that the Lord brought to me at my house or work.  From my house I have counseled, taught Bible study and prayed for those in need.  In the inter- cities of Seaside, Oakland and Richmond the Lord has brought many people to the my home - “Cracker Lady’s House”

Cracker Lady’s Houses in Seaside and Richmond, CA

My Cracker Lady’s House blog was originally to recount some of the extraordinary events during my 30 years of ministry from my house in these inter cities.  Now, however, I use it as a personal blog to write about whatever fits my fancy. Lately, it has been quite autobiographical, but you never know when the winds may change and my writing may take on a different direction.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Last Road in Yerington

The Last Road in Yerington

There is a road I’ve yet to travel.  It is not the longest or the most adventurous road I’ve traveled. It is not the first time I have driven this road, but It is the last road I will ever go down.  It will start at the corner of Main & Bridge Street.  


The Wells Fargo Bank will be on the left and the Copeland Lumber Company will be on the right. It might be called something else now, but when I was a kid it stood there like a big orange square Jack-o-Lantern with its black cat logo.  Every time I went by it I would count how many months to Halloween.


A block behind the Wells Fargo Bank there use to be a blacksmith shop where I would stand and watch the blacksmith work as a kid.  They have now moved it to the Lyon County Museum.  In the next block was the little house where an older cousin, Donna, lived after her marriage and who  babysat me when I had rheumatic fever in 1956. Journeying down this road, the houses become thinner and scarcer with each passing block.  Six or seven block later was a small farm where one of our babysitters lived when we were kids.  It only had an outhouse, and I remember helping the sitter do the laundry on a wringer washing machine.


After leaving her homestead, it turns into alfalfa fields until you come to the Model Dairy.  Looking up ahead one can see the Yerington “Y” on a hill.  At the dairy the road veers right and in a few short minutes, my last road ends at the front arch of The Valley View Cemetery.




As a teenager, the cemetery was one of the favorite “makeout” places.  I would hear strange stories about my classmates seeing “green eyes” or was it “red eyes”.  I never did see them, but now that I am going to be living here for a very long time, maybe I can figure this mystery out.


Yes, this will be my last road.  A pleasant road filled with the smell of alfalfa and the sounds of the mooing of cows from the dairy.  Above the Yerington “Y” seems to proclaim “Yes, It was a good life and yes welcome home!”

Roads, Roads, Road
Of these, I can speak
So many roads, so many adventures.

I have traveled to explore
I have traveled to escape,
I have traveled so many roads.

Roads that lead to nowhere
Roads of anguish,
Roads to get back
Roads to go forward,

Curvy roads, rocky roads
straight boring roads.
hilly roads, mountain roads,
meadow roads, valley roads
desert roads, coastline roads

hot dry roads, rainy roads
foggy roads, snow covered roads
icy roads and some clear sailing roads.

Yes, over hill and over dale
I traveled like a ship in full sail.
And now I take a trip down the last road
I will no long walk or ride the roads
I will travel but not on the roads

No, this time I will fly into the arms of the One
I have been seeking on the many roads.
He will be my permanent traveling partner
And where He carries me I will follow
For He is my Road.
by Chere L Brown 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

You May Be From Yerington In the 50’s-70’s If…. (Part Three)

You May Be From Yerington In the 50’s-70’s If…. (Part Three)


...You thought it was fun to watch grocery trucks unload or hair cuts.  Mac the barber cut “Baby Face Nelson’s hair” right in that very chair. (CB) & (MB)


---You hung out at John’s Cafe hoping a friend with a car would let you drag Main with them. (CB)


---if you didn’t drag in a car, you walked up and down Main until your feet got tired, then return to John’s Cafe or the F&B for a coke and some 25 cent order of french fries. (CB)

… You remember hearing the “dart” trucks from the “mine” at night. (CB)


… You could feel trembles, but weren't sure if they were dynamite blasts from the “mine” or atomic testing in the Las Vegas desert. (CB)

--- You could make it to Reno in an hour, when there was no Nevada speed limit, if you drove between 90-100 miles per hour, even with slowing down in Wabuska, Silver Springs, and Fernley. (CB)

--- If you hadn’t egged the Weed Height’s guard house, you were fixin to.....and the very same guard house where you ran the stop sign at least once.... (MB)

… Our parents knew where we were by looking at which front yard our dog was lying in. (Kathee Hall Speight)

...Yerington where the only thing that really terrified little kids was Gina and her flashlight and maybe Fred Stallard, just a little bit (Peggy Freitas Purintun)

...You didn't wear a watch but waited for the noon whistle to give you an idea of the time. (Peggy Freitas Purintun)

---You would go hunting for asparagus in irrigation ditches. (Sylvia Banta)

...You went swimming and took swim lessons at the Wellington Indoor Pool (MB)
...You remember driving by elephant mountain or lion mountain (MB)


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