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2009 a great year for anniversaries

Remember the wacky ski jump? Or Goldie Hawn?
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Get out the party hats and blow the cobwebs off the history books. Auburn is set to celebrate several anniversaries in 2009 – from a wacky ski jump in Berkeley 75 years ago, to the 55th birthday of a national best-seller, to the filming of a Goldie Hawn movie in Old Town in 1984. The 1934 ski jump was a brash public relations coup by the Auburn Ski Club to get all those Bay Area skiers-to-be thinking of traveling up old Highway 40 to the Sierra. Auburn’s own ski-jumping Olympian (and future mayor Roy Mikkelsen) would wow the crowds on the hills of Berkeley in an event that would be foreshortened when an impromptu, mass snowball fight erupted. Five years later, Auburn boosters would reprise the idea at the San Francisco Exhibition on Treasure Island. Literate Auburnites were walking a bit taller in 1954 after local author Morton Thompson’s novel “Not As A Stranger” became a national best-seller, topping all of the major lists, and drawing attention to the many local settings. A movie – with Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum starring as medical history’s oldest interns ever – would follow the next year, directed by Stanley Kramer. 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the “Protocol” shoot in Old Town Auburn. Hawn, riding high in filmdom after her “Private Benjamin” Oscar nomination, was on the set in the city for a May 7 shoot that drew 200 locals as extras for a homecoming parade scene. If you’re marking your calendar, also celebrate 1984’s one-millionth new prescription at 113-year-old Auburn Drug Store (April 4). Sports fans can commemorate Placer High School baseball product Jeff Blauser being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals the same year. Perhaps one of the most auspicious Auburn-related anniversaries to be marked in 2009 will occur on a stretch of railroad hundreds of miles away. Railroad buffs are polishing up their “all aboards” to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the driving of the last spike at Promontory, Utah, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways on May 10, 1869. The Central Pacific reached Auburn on May 13, 1865. Media critics can mark Feb. 1 on their calendars. That’s the day in 1879 – 130 years ago – when the district attorney of the time walked into the offices of the Journal precursor, the Placer Argus, and shot the paper’s editor in the face. The trigger-happy lawyer would later plead guilty to assault, claiming that the gun accidentally discharged. On a lighter note, Sept. 7, 1889 was the opening day for the very first 20th District Agricultural Fair in Auburn. We know it now as the Gold Country Fair. Things were beginning to get more civilized in the former Gold Rush tent city. And on May 29, 1909, Auburn welcomed a solid symbol of civility. The new Carnegie library in Downtown Auburn was dedicated. No longer a library, the building still stands on a quiet side street. Owned by the city of Auburn, it provides studio space for artists. Students and teachers at E.V. Cain Middle School can break out the candles Dec. 1. On that day in 1949, the doors of the school were flung open for the first time. Speaking of schools, both Del Oro and Colfax high schools will be celebrating 50 years of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic Sept. 21. And fresh from its 100th anniversary, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce celebrates another milestone on Dec. 8. That day will be the 20th anniversary of the move to its present headquarters on Lincoln Way at the historic Auburn Railroad Depot. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.