The speaker was a tourist from Santa Monica. “We can’t let a year go by that we don’t spend some time here.” He reached his arm over his wife’s shoulder as they walked beside me along the main street.
|(c) Winnedumah Hotel|
PRIOR TO BEDDING DOWN the night before, I walked Independence’s tiny grid of streets. North of town runs Independence Creek. Five eight- or nine-year old engineers worked.
“Anyone need a big rock?” hollered one, bent over a water worn stone the size of a healthy cantaloupe.
Two turn to assist. They weren’t asked twice. They just helped. The goal was clearly understood, as was the means to achieve the goal.
It has been fifty years since I witnessed eight-year-olds attempting to stave the current of a rushing stream. Actually, I was a participant. Now, since parents are afraid of what might happen to those offspring who dare venture outdoors, kids play video games – independent of one another – or surf an Internet teaming with predators not found in our city parks or along stream courses.
I SECURED LODGING at the Mt Williamson Motel, a collection of ten by twenty foot “cabins,” each large enough for a shower-toilet-sink bathroom, a queen size bed and a television with a 12” screen. A small air conditioner grunted attempting to cool the 107-degree to something reasonable. By about 1:00 AM, it had.
Henrietta, the proprietress, insisted on fixing breakfast – scrambled eggs, sausage, fried potatoes and toast – and dining along with me and the other two patrons.
She hailed from Switzerland and told six-decade-old tales of the allies dropping munitions in a field near her home in Zurich. She talked about immigrating to Kansas City in the late 50s and of a German-born neighbor was unable to tell the native Missourians where he had been born. She worried about her husband who’d recently suffered a stroke and the influx of illegals who were only coming over to take and not give. She told me that Maria would be cleaning my room should I go out for the day.
THUS, I SPENT MY LAYOVER day exploring those suggested sites - sites usually rocketed past on 395 by those racing between the LA basin and Reno. Mid-afternoon found me back in town, hoofing on Main Street with the couple from Santa Monica.
“Any place to get a beer in town?” I asked.
“Nope. Not until 5:30 when the pizza place opens up, if you’re here on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Which you are.” He grinned. “That’s part of the place’s charm.”
I nodded, but I really did want a beer.
In the evening, as the sun sets over Mt. Williamson and shadows creep up from the toes of the Inyos, people walk the neighborhoods on both the east and west sides of 395. They greet me as I wander past. In the little city park just north of town, children build rock dams in the creek.
The Santa Monican’s words echo: “Time just seems to pass some places by.”
Church of the Open Road Press