Gold Country Denizens

Daffodils, veterans, music, books, movies, cookies

By: Susan Rushton
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Two springs ago, March 2017, I gave credit to the wrong people when I wrote about the daffodils that annually bloom so enthusiastically on the northeastern end of Auburn Ravine Road. But when I took my pickup to Strictly Toyondas for routine maintenance, Janette Tam shared two pieces of news: Her grandmother, Barbara Martin, had recently died at 92; and when the family cleaned out her house they found a letter she’d written to me taking me to task about my mistake. “It’s not very nice,” Janette warned me. “She was a feisty old girl.”

I expressed sympathy to the family. Although they loved her and knew they’d miss her, they acknowledged she’d had a good life with a lot of laughter — and most important, she hadn’t suffered. Always a good thing.

“Do you want to see the letter?” Janette asked. Of course, I said, and asked permission to discuss it here. The family said yes.

There’s nothing feisty in the letter — even though everyone in the shop said she was “ornery and mouthy.”

So: “The daffodils were purchased by Bob Sutherland (when his construction company was situated there). He sent to Holland and purchased the bulbs … They were planted in the late 1960s. After they started blooming, people were coming buy with their shovels digging up the bulbs. People were told they were for the public to enjoy, not to be stolen.”

She signed her non-ornery letter as Barbara Martin, “Resident of Auburn for 73 years, born and raised in Roseville.”

… Don and I attended Under the Tuscan Moon, a fundraiser for the Veterans Day Parade Committee and the Forgotten Soldier Program. So many people I recognized! I’ll have more space in two weeks to talk about that event, and Placer Community Theater’s astonishing production of “The Producers,” which ended last night. But PCT’s production of “Deathtrap” is coming in October to General Gomez, 808 Lincoln Way. Phil Jacques (Harry the Horse in PCT’s recent production of “Guys and Dolls”) told me on Thursday that he has landed the role of Sidney Bruhl (the role Michael Caine had in the 1982 movie).

As we passed the State Theatre, we saw Janis Wikoff watching us all move toward the Armed Forces Pavilion. “We’ll see you tomorrow night,” I said, and she told me she’d heard the same thing from others. So many things going on that night. “The street is alive with the sound of …” she said, and I finished: “community!” “Yes, community!” she agreed. “Isn’t it great!”

… Afterward, we meandered up Lincoln Way in the gloaming, and I was delighted at the music sponsored by the Auburn Arts Commission — at Central Square and the Clock Tower. But before we reached the Clock Tower, I saw that the lights were on in Winston Smith. Auburn’s bookstore open at an odd hour? Yes, yes, of course that works for me. Owner Glen Sewell says he’ll keep the shop open late on Fridays through the summer.

We had joined several booklovers, and as I turned from the fantasy shelves I saw a girl across the shop by herself, perusing contentedly. Because I have this column, and because I recognized a kindred soul, I approached her. Her name is Paulina Rosales Apreza, she’s 16, and she was visiting from Mexico. Her host was her cousin, Loomis denizen Inez Azcona. Paulina let me distract her from drinking in books, which was generous of her.

… The next day, as I promoted Silver Screen at the farmers’ market, a young man approached me and asked about the movies, why I showed them, etc. I told him how much I loved this stuff, and that I was showing a movie the next weekend. But he said he was visiting and would be gone by then. Where? I asked. “Mexico,” he said. Hmm, I thought … didn’t I just meet someone …? Then Paulina and Inez approached us, and I learned that this was Diego Rosales, 18, Paulina’s brother.

I explained to Diego that I had met his sister the night before, in a place the two of us loved, because we’d been surrounded by books. She grinned at me, and we understood each other.

I was tickled to share two of my passions with these visitors. They seemed tickled, too.

... Last Wednesday, as I finished paying for some copies at Superfast, owner Christina Hitchcock said “Uh-oh — here comes the cookie girl.” And I knew who she meant: Miranda Clark, 14, who paid for her school trip to Washington, D.C., last June by selling homemade cookies. I wrote about her ambition on June 10. So she’s home, and loved D.C., and “If I could go back, I would,” she said. Although it was hard to identify what she liked best, the Lincoln Memorial sticks hard in her memory as a favorite.

She’s still selling cookies — to pay for her quinceañera next year. Good job!

… The final summer concert at the Gold Country Fairgrounds is coming up next Saturday, Aug. 11. This time, the bands are Riff Raff and the Michael Furlong Tribute to Tom Petty. Gates open at 5 p.m., and the music goes from 6 to 9:15 p.m. Sponsored by IFC (,, the event is free.

Whew! That’s my town. Got any items for me? Email me at