Monthly Archives: November 2012

Armistice Day 1945 – A Childhood Memory

paris-liberated 1944

Liberation of Paris in 1944

I was seven and my grandfather held my hand as we walked the few blocks to Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, CA, the city were I grew up. I believe it was Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day) in 1945, but because that is the year that World War II ended, it may well have been one of many celebrations of victory that happened following the defeat first of Germany and then Japan.

Pasadena loved parades and every Armistice Day and Memorial Day there was one. I went to many of them, but this parade was like none other I can remember. It was made up of bands, color guards and hundreds and hundreds of soldiers and veterans.

My grandfather had told me, as we walked from our house, that like I had learned to do while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, it was proper to stand tall, take off my hat if I had one and place my right hand over my heart as the American Flag passed by. And there were many that passed by that day.

I can even recall at a later date my grandfather doing that in a movie theater when our National Anthem was played and an American Flag showed on the screen. As he pulled me up to stand beside him in that darkened theater, I remember that slowly others stood to join us. It was a different era.

The first soldiers to march by in the parade that day were young American men fully outfitted in the uniforms of World War II, all in neat rows and marching proudly in precise step.

They were the heroes of the hour, part of the 16.5 million Americans we now call the Greatest Generation. At great cost they, and millions of others like them, had brought freedom to the world.

Following a bit behind them were some men and women I now know were in their late forties and early fifties at the time. Some were dressed in a different uniform, a uniform that on many didn’t quite fit. They were American veterans of an earlier war, World War I, the “Great War,” the “War to End All Wars.” Some marched, some walked and some were helped along by others.They were less organized than the first group and appeared to be having a great time. One man, I recall, drove a motorcycle with a sidecar that was a relic from that war. To the delight of the crowds gathered along the street, especially this seven year old, he would tip the motorcycle so that the sidecar was in the air and drive circles in and around his group of scattering comrades.

Later in the parade were a group of men mostly in their sixties and seventies. They, like my grandfather, were American veterans of the Spanish-American war. There were not so many of them as were in the preceding groups and some rode in cars. But those that walked stood just as proud as the others and my grandfather, also standing a tall and proud as they walked by, saluted them over and over.

Toward the end of the parade was a single car in the back seat of which sat either one or two men, but the number is not important. I remember very distinctly an old man waving to me and my grandfather saluting him. I asked, “Grandpa, who is that man?” Somewhat emotionally he replied, “A Union veteran of the Civil War.” His father, who had died in 1908, had been one of them.

At seven I didn’t know much about the wars, other than World War II, which I had lived through, collecting aluminum, old tires and bacon fat and buying saving stamps and war bonds for the “war effort.” And on the day it ended, my brother and I, donning cooking pots as helmets, carried our American Flag as we marched up and down the street while church bells rang and car horns honked all over America.

As I grew up I learned  that in the 1940s veterans of both sides of the Civil War were still annually gathering together, the Union soldiers calling their gatherings  “The National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic” and the Confederate soldiers calling theirs  “The Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans.” Mostly they had separate gatherings, but 24 times they met jointly, once even at Gettysburg, on the 50th anniversary of that battle.

1949 was the year the Union soldiers held their last one and 1951 the year the Confederate soldiers held their last. There were just too few of them left.

Recently, as I thought about those men that I watched march by that day in 1945, I wondered what happened to them.

Albert Woolson, a drummer boy and the last surviving Union veteran, died in 1956. He is considered by many to be the last authenticated survivor of that war. John Sailing, who died in 1958, and Walter Williams, who died in 1959, are both claimed to be the last surviving Confederate soldier. Unfortunately, birth and military records being what they were in those times, scholars will probably continue forever to disagree on who was the last surviving veteran.

Nathan Edward Cook, a sailor who died in 1993, is considered by many to have been the last remaining American veteran of the Spanish-American War, although Jones Morgan, an African-American soldier during that period, who died in 1992, may also hold that title. Again, birth and military record issues.

Frank Woodruff Buckles was the last living American veteran of World War I. He entered the U.S. Army at 16, but claiming to be 18 as his state of birth, Missouri, did not issue birth certificates. He resided in Charles Town, West Virginia until passing away on February 20, 2011 at the age of 110.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimated that in November of 2011 there were 1.7  million surviving American veterans of World War II. With about 700 passing away each day, way too soon they too will be reduced to only a few and then there will be none.

I have ancestors who fought and died, sometimes on both sides, in wars as far back as the American Revolution, and maybe even further. I am sure all of us have similar connections with ancestors, relatives and friends who have fought for their country or are doing so in wars today.

We should take the opportunity of Veteran’s Day to personally thank the living and remember the brave millions of others who fought and died, for the freedom we hold so precious.

Marshall Discovers Gold at Coloma – But When?

Marshall CardBy an act of the California State Legislature, officially the discovery of gold by James Wilson Marshall in the millrace of Sutter’s Mill at Coloma took place on January 24, 1848.  That is the basis for the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the discovery this month (January 1998).  But that date still remains controversial and, up until the 50th anniversary of the discovery in 1898, was seriously doubted by many.  What are some of the facts that continue this controversy?

FACT 1.  The date of January 24, 1848 comes from an entry in the journal of one Henry William Bigler who was at the mill site, having been hired by Marshall to help build the saw mill.  His journal states, in an entry for Monday, January 24, 1848, “This day some kind of mettle was found in the tail race that that [sic] looks like goald.”
There is a lot of controversy about this entry in Bigler’s journal.  Some researchers report that they only saw handwritten copies of the original journal and those that saw what they thought was the original report pages having been torn out.

FACT 2.  In the journal of another worker at the mill site, Azariah Smith, it states under the heading of Sunday January 30, “This week Mon. the 24th Mr. Marshall found some pieces of (as we all suppose) Gold, and he has gone to the Fort, for the Purpose of finding out.”
Like many people, Smith kept a daily diary and then transcribed the notes in a bound journal, often on the following Sunday.  People who have read the journal note that the date (the 24th) was added later.

FACT 3.  James Marshall absolutely believed the discovery occurred on the 19th of January in 1848. This is born out by the fact that Marshall routinely sold autographed cards identifying himself as the discover of gold on January 19, 1848.  But, it is well known that Marshall, quite depressed by the fact that he did not gain at all from the discovery – and in fact died almost penniless – was quite consumed by liquor.

Wine For Thanksgiving and Other Holidays

holly-hill-grenancheWhen looking for a wine to be served with Thanksgiving dinner, first decide if you want to use one of the many lists prepared by various newspapers and magazines, seek help from people who you believe are knowledgeable in that area, use your own experience, ask some friends you trust or use a combination of all of the above.

Looking at wine paring scientifically, you have to explore the components of wine, including weight or body, acidity, residual sugar, tannin, and alcohol, and how those characteristics are used to complement or contrast the sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty components found in foods.

This is what winemakers and chefs do, it is part of their daily routine.

On the other hand, Karen MacNeil, creator and chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, said, “There are no set rules by which wine and food pairing happen. I say it’s wine, food and mood! It’s how you feel, the environment, all conspiring to create something that is delicious to all your senses.”

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

The choice

After many questions wine aficionados came up with pinot noir as the choice, a wine well-suited to pair with poultry, beef, fish, ham, lamb and pork.

Pinot noir will also work well with creamy sauces, spicy seasonings and may just be one of the world’s most versatile food wines.

Not stopping there, and with that in mind, a random group of local winemakers and several local chefs were asked first a tough question, their opinion on a single wine that would work with three entrées — turkey, prime rib (beef) and ham.

Secondly, they were asked for their wine choice for each of the three entrées.

In the case of the winemakers, the wine did not have to be something they made. That, of course, it was pointed out, was tantamount to asking someone if they liked the neighbor’s children better than their own.

Responses

No one was told the answers the others gave until after their opinions were received. The answers were very interesting and somewhat unexpected.

John MacCready, winemaker and co-owner of Sierra Vista Winery said, “I would take a medium bodied Rhone blend because it goes well with the meats you mentioned as well as all the trimmings such as baked onions, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, cauliflower with a cheese sauce and of course stuffing with turkey gravy. The 2007 Fleur de Montagne (a Rhône varietal blend of grenache, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault) will be the main attraction at our dinner.

“The ham is the hardest pairing so I would sneak a grenache rose in especially for the ham, but if I got caught the Fleur would be OK.

“If I can have only one wine it would be the Fleur because of the condiments. If only ham is served it might differ because the gravy would be different and there is no turkey gravy and no stuffing. Grenache rosé is great with ham and many other things as well.”

More answers

Josh Bendick, co-winemaker at Holly’s Hill Vineyards took a different, but somewhat similar look at the meal.

“The sides of a Thanksgiving dinner are more of a challenge for wine pairing than the main course. Over the past few years I’ve realized that white wines tend to do best amongst the wide range of flavors, so, I would bring our white blend Patriarche Blanc (a Rhône varietal blend of roussane, grenache blanc and viognier),” Bendick said.

“It’s crisp acidity cuts through the rich turkey gravy and any ham or prime rib you might throw at it while also pairing nicely with oddities like cranberry relish with the acidity matching. However, I know that many people must have red with the holiday so I would also bring our red Patriarche blend (a Rhône varietal blend of mourvedre, syrah, grenache and counoise) for them. It brings the best of four varieties in balance and tends to pair well with many foods because it’s not too big or too light and doesn’t have a bunch of oak or too much alcohol to make the food taste odd or bitter,” Bendick said.

He continued, “But add cranberry relish and you are going to wish you had a white wine. So I would bring two not one … can I do that?”

To the second part of the question Bendick simply commented, “Ditto.”

Favorites

John Smith, founding winemaker and co-owner of Oakstone Winery and Obscurity Cellars replied, “I would bring a light-bodied red wine like a mourvedre, grenache or our new favorite, dolcetto (originally an Italian varietal from the Piedmont region, but now growing in El Dorado County vineyards). They would go well enough with any of those.”

For the separate meats he added, “Prime rib calls for petite sirah, turkey to me is zinfandel food, and ham is best with a rosé (ours is tempranillo this year) to my taste.”

Mari Wells Coyle, winemaker at David Girard Vineyards, was very straight forward in her answer.

“I would bring a Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. (Châteauneuf-du-Pape permits 13 different varieties of Rhône grapes; the blend is usually predominantly grenache). This is because it can stand up to a prime rib and show off the succulence of the ham. Turkey is a no brainer. It screams anything Rhône,” she said.

“If I did know what was being served: Ham: grenache; Turkey: grenache; Prime Rib: syrah (one of the heavier Rhône wines),” Wells Coyle said.

More thoughts

Justin Boeger, winemaker at Boeger Winery also got right to the point.

“Simply, and without hesitation: barbera (a red grape from northwestern Italy now growing widely in the Sierra foothills),” Boeger said.

“I’ve always said that barbera is perhaps the most versatile food wine available, and because of that is always the wine I bring with me when I don’t know what’s going to be served. If you were to imagine all the various foods/food groups as one of those diagrams where each one is represented by a circle, and a tiny portion of each circle overlaps, the barbera hits that one overlapping spot of all the circles. The same characteristics that make barbera uniquely “pairable” with so many foods, are the same ones that make the wine so pleasing and approachable to wine consumers of all levels, rookie to connoisseur,” Boeger said.

“Barbera has decent tannin structure, when made properly, combined with sturdy but not overbearing acidity. It is approachable enough for novices to enjoy but has all the elements necessary for the ‘experts,’” Boeger added.

To the second part of the question, he replied, “I would still bring barbera to pair with any of those dishes.”

Greg Boeger, owner of Boeger Winery, its former winemaker and Justin’s father, had a different opinion.

“It may just be a generational difference, but I would pick a nice pinot noir if I didn’t know what was being served. And, if I did, I would pick a cabernet sauvignon or a Bordeaux style blend for the beef dish. For the other two, the nice pinot would do well,” Greg said.

Multiple choices

Paul Bush, winemaker at Madroña Vineyards, putting a lot of thought and some of his usual humor into his answer, replied, “As to your question, here’s how I would put it.

“First of all, if you are serving all three of those dishes, you have enough food for a bunch of people. Thus one bottle of wine won’t cover it. But if you live in some alternate universe and you can only pick one wine, I would first of all serve riesling because that is truly the best with ham and turkey. And if you put an orange zest on the prime rib or seasoned it with cinnamon, it might actually go with riesling, too. But I would rather have two great pairings and one not so great pairing than three mediocre pairings,” Bush said.

“But if I had to choose one wine for all three, grenache might be a good companion for all three. Or you might get away with a dry rosé, too, He offered.

“If I had to choose one wine for each, then it would be as follows (of course assuming traditional recipes for the dishes): turkey: Gewürztraminer, ham: riesling and prime rib: merlot, and only merlot (it actually brings flavors out in the meat that the other varieties seem to mask),” Bush responded.

Winemaker and president of Lava Cap Winery, Tom Jones, replied: “Your question is a bit like asking which leg would you rather have us remove? I would probably go with grenache – fruit intensity, moderate tannin, flavor density would probably pair with the turkey and ham, and have enough stuffing to not be lost with the prime rib. That is a toughie though.

“If I knew prime rib was being served, it would be petit sirah or a cabernet. For turkey, petit sirah would work if there was gravy. Ham, that is a hard one, maybe a grenache,” Jones said.

Food thoughts

Chef John Evans co-owner and executive chef at Zachary Jacques Country French Cuisine and the new Zac Jack Bistro in Cameron Park replied, “A Beaujolais (usually made from gamay grapes grown just north of the Rhône Valley and south of the Burgundy region) from a 2009 vintage (reported as the best vintage since 2005) will go with all three; the fruit is ripe with berry flavors with light tannins and will not overpower the ham, turkey or prime rib. These items are salty and Beaujolais work well with salt. The year 2009 has been highly rated for Beaujolais and I have tasted many of them. I have two on the wine list now. Second choice would be a local grenache, which again works well with salt and has light tannins.”

Executive chef and general manager at Sequoia at the Bee-Bennett House, David Bagley, replied with just one word for both answers, “Brunello di Montalcino.”

Brunellos, which are by law made from a clone of the sangiovese grape, are often compared with the pinot noir wines of Burgundy with their smooth tannins and ripe, fruit driven character. The high acidity of the wine allows it to pair well with food, especially grilled meat and game.

Michelle Schanel, owner and executive chef at the Snooty Frog in Cameron Park, brought an interesting light to the question.

“When my family has turkey or ham we always drink sparkling apple cider. I actually have never had wine with either. My pick for prime rib is Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet,” Schanel said.

Enjoy

So, there you go. Opinions from the people in the trenches, the people who work with wine and/or food day in and day out. Be sure to remember, the best wine is the one you like.

Most of the wines mentioned can be found at one of the producing wineries, and a few in the wine section of your local supermarket, including Beaujolais. Local riesling and barbera are also found in limited amounts at the supermarket, but wines such as the Rhône blends and grenache might be difficult to find except at the producing winery.

A selection of these two are also available at the WineSmith in Placerville and other wine speciality stores. You might also ask them about the Brunello.

If you have time, you should take a drive to one or more of El Dorado County’s premium wineries and taste for yourself. And, while there thank them for taking the time during this late picking and crush to share their expertise with us.

Some local wineries to contact regarding grenache: Boeger, Busby, Crystal Basin Cellars, Fitzpatrick, David Girard Vineyards, Holly’s Hill, Lava Cap, Madroña, Narrow Gate and Sierra Vista.

Red or white Rhônes and/or blends: Boeger, Charles Mitchell, Colibri Ridge, Fitzpatrick, David Girard Vineyards, Gold Hill, Granite Springs, Holly’s Hill, Lava Cap, Madroña, Narrow Gate, Oakstone, Perry Creek, Sierra Vista and Windwalker.

Bon appetit and Happy Thanksgiving.

Community Profiles – Georgetown, Part 2

Sacramento Daily Union - May 31, 1869

Sacramento Daily Union – May 31, 1869

The first school in Georgetown was taught in J. W. Slette’s store, one of the few buildings saved from the fire of 1852. Mrs. Dr. Ray was the first teacher. On May 22, 1854 the first Public School in town was established with Miss Minerva A. Horsford as teacher and S. Knox, William T. Gibbs and B. C. Currier as Trustees.

By 1859, the town had grown large enough that several fraternal and other organizations had been established there. These included a Temple of Honor, No. 11; the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 37; Georgetown Lodge No. 25, F. and A. M.; a Lodge of the Ancient Society of E. Clampus Vitus and a military company that went by the name of the Georgetown Blues.

Like many of the rapidly growing towns in the Mother Lode, Georgetown was always faced with a continuing danger from the scourge of wooden towns – uncontrolled fire. As a result of the 1852 fire, a hook and ladder company had been organized and boasted a very large volunteer membership.

On July 7, 1856, within a month of the very suspicious and quite large fires at Placerville and Diamond Springs, flames mysteriously appeared at the rear of a saloon on the east side of Main Street. Despite the efforts of the brave fireman, all that was saved was the Knox and Sharp dwellings and the buildings on the west side of Church Street. Two years later another fire again destroyed most of the buildings on the east side of Main Street. For obvious reasons, only some of the buildings were rebuilt this time.

May 28, 1869 brought with it a fire in the Miner’s Hotel, which some believed was set to possibly cover up a murder. Although the proprietor, Mr. Stahlman, escaped with his eldest child, it took as victims his wife, three of their other children and a Miss Stanton.

On July 13, 1869, Mr. Stahlman was tried on suspicion of arson before Judge Charles F. Irwin. The trial lasted two days and the jury could not reach a verdict. A second trial was held on February 1, 1870, and the jury handed down a verdict of not guilty.