A.F. summer calendar filling up

The years with an early spring we would cut the blooming Iris from all of Mom’s flowerbeds, pack all Pa’s (Grandma Beitia) cooking supplies, and the six of us loaded into the old (even then) Ford station-wagon and headed from Ashton to Elko, Nevada, to visit family. It would have been today, the Saturday before Memorial Day, 1964-1978. It got more crowded after ‘69, when Andy was born. It is one of the family traditions I still enjoy thinking about. My spot was on the floor behind the front seat with my head and butt on the driver’s side and my legs draped over the hump in the middle. Beni or Angie would sit next to Pa on the right and the other would squeeze into the back amongst all the flowers and stuff. When Andy got here, of course being the Golden Child, he got to sit in front. The trip was long and often hot, no freeways, no A.C. Lucky for me, it turned into a one-way trip after ‘66 as I would stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a few weeks and then they would bring me home later in the summer.

What I remember most beside the ordeal that would get us to Elko was the joining of families, the Beitias, Griswolds, Winchells and sometimes the Shorts. Dad’s side of the family was pretty spare compared to Mom’s – his brother Fred and Mother the only closely related family in the States. Besides Fred’s progeny and my siblings and our kids, Dad’s and Pa’s family still lives in the Pyrenees and on the Bay of Biscay in Spain.

As we put the flowers out on the graves for Memorial Day, Dad’s side included his father who died when Dad was 16 and his brother, who did not survive childbirth. Mom’s side of the family went on forever; I swear it was half the cemetery. My favorite part was the history lesson we would get about each family member and what they did and contributed to the family and community. I especially remember spending time at the graves of those who didn’t make it home alive after the wars or “conflicts” they died in. One of the things I regret most today is that I never really took the time to do the same thing with my kids. I give thanks daily to those who have come before and especially those who gave their lives that we might be a free people. And I do my level best to give thanks to those who help us make each day here in American Falls better for all of us.

Tammy Ramsey has organized a summer entertainment series in the South City Park pavilion for the third Thursday of each month this summer. Performances by live bands are scheduled for June 19, July 17 and August 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the evening. Tammy’s idea is to bring the community together for fun and good old fashioned socializing. I say old fashioned because today’s social media Blitzkrieg, it does seem like a war at times, seems to be devoid of heart and soul. I say seems because I don’t use it, as a teacher there are just too many pitfalls. I would rather look you in the eyes, shake your hand and have a good conversation. You can probably do most of that online too, but no thanks. Thanks Tammy for doing what you can to make this summer in American Falls more memorable and personal for all of us.

Brent Cutler remembers spending time on the Willow Bay beach when there still was a beach that hadn’t been overgrown with willows. Last Fall he and a group of like-minded friends joined forces and resources to remove much of the encroaching willows. This Spring they have taken their efforts to the next level. Brent asked the City Council last Wednesday if he could start finding businesses and groups to sponsor the cleanup and maintenance of the Eastside Beach at Willow Bay. Of course the Council said yes. The Council also approved the placement of signs, similar to the Adopt-a-Highway signage, along the beachfront for those who adopt a particular section. If you are interested in helping Brent make Willow Bay memories for today’s families please leave your name and contact information with Debbie at City Hall and I will get it to him. Thanks Brent for making new memories possible for so many.

Don’t forget to put the first annual American Falls Birding Festival on your calendar for June 14 at the American Falls Public Library beginning at 7 a.m. The Birding Committee has done a tremendous job pulling everything together to make it a success. The booklet describing and picturing 24 of the most frequently seen birds is also quite impressive. Bring family and friends, start a new tradition and make those memories that will last a lifetime.

Following this Memorial Day weekend, graduation will be upon us at American Falls High School. I would like to thank those members of the senior class who chose to make a positive difference in our community, school, FFA Chapter and my life. They are too numerous to list. But, I would like to extend a very special thank you to three of my students and FFA members. Students who have chosen to put service above self. Young adults who have chosen freely to put community above self. And very possibly, with the current state of unrest globally, put their very lives on the line for you and me. Ryan and Bo Hohenfield and Carson Johnston are not the first of my students to join the Armed Services but they are the first to do so since I have written this column. Ryan, Bo and Carson (lady and gentlemen) I know you will do your country proud. Godspeed to each of you; and be well. You inspire me in ways words will not explain.

There is no trip to Elko today. There hasn’t been for me since Grandma’s funeral years ago. Not much to go back to I guess. My memories are better left unchanged by the times. Elko is not much like it used to be. Beni and her family are still there, but even they don’t recognize it as it was. Ya can’t go back, it’s true. I suppose it’s one reason why I am so possessed by the possibilities of the future.

Today it will be just Lilly and I enjoying the cool waters of Spring Creek. I hope the wind lays down enough for some type of hatch, but it is not looking hopeful. It may just turn into a chance to visit some fond old memories, giving thanks where it is due and share a toast with those no longer with me. Their spirits will be there within the currents of life that swirl around me. I won’t be lonely…

Until next week…

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