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In the News - Friday, April 17, 2009

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Then and now:

Music in the mountains

Jazzaffair: The more it changes,

the more it stays the same

  If you ask any one of the legion of badge-holders who return to Three Rivers year after year, you’re likely to hear that the reason they keep coming to Jazzaffair is for the music, the quaint small venues, the scenery, to enjoy the camaraderie of the musicians and their fans, to visit with old friends, and the hospitality of Three Rivers. Of course, it’s all of the above and more that makes Jazzaffair a premier annual event.
   The success of Jazzaffair is no accident and happens because of the hard work of a core of dedicated members of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club (STJC). Every now and then, the musical chairs on the board of directors change slightly as members come and go.
   Little tweaks and adjustments are made to Jazzaffair so that each year runs at least as smoothly as the last and that you can always count on where you will be next year — same place, same time. Probably the biggest reason that this Jazzaffair works is that there is continuity in the jazz community — the jazz club is the jazz band, and the extended High Sierra family is the nucleus of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club. That’s how this jazz thing started here in the 1970s and so it remains that way today.
   Rusty Crain, formerly an assistant Jazzaffair director, is now the current director of Jazzaffair. He succeeds Mary Scharn (STJC board member) who guided the event from 2006 to 2008; before Mary, it was Sue Mills, the former manager of High Sierra who served as Jazzaffair director for many years beginning in the 1980s until she retired in 2005.
   In 2007, Rusty took over as manager of High Sierra Jazz Band after Sue Mills retired from that time-honored position. Rusty is the son of Chet Crain, who was a founding member of the local jazz club in 1974 and former manager of High Sierra Jazz Band. So the beat goes on and the song, in some most important ways, remains the same.
   To learn more about the history of this Jazzaffair and its claim to being the oldest continuously running jazz festival in the West Coast tradition, be sure to take time this weekend to visit the Three Rivers Historical Museum, located where Paul Bunyan meets the highway.

  “Since we started featuring jazz memorabilia four years ago among our historical exhibits, the interest in the local jazz artifacts has really grown,” said Tom Marshall, president of the Three Rivers Historical Society. “This year we have the soprano sax of Doc Ropes on display.”
   The vintage instrument dates from 1906, Tom said, and was played by Doc Ropes when he was a member of Jazzberry Jam Band, the predecessor Dixieland band to High Sierra. Also on display are a number of Jazzomania newsletters, Jazzaffair buttons, vintage High Sierra Jazz Band clothing, and original vinyl records with distinctive cover art that no longer accompanies the compact disc releases.
   To encourage visitation at the museum, the Jazzaffair shuttle, a free service for badge-holders, is permitted to stop at the museum during the eastbound hourly runs from Lions Arena to the Memorial Building. Shuttle stops will also be permitted on westbound runs — from the Memorial Building to Lions Arena — at Reimer’s Candies and at the Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs shopping area. Check with the shuttle driver for loading and unloading instructions.
   What it all comes down to is one great weekend of music.

  “I can’t ever remember a better bunch of Jazzaffair bands from top to bottom than this year’s lineup,” said Stan Huddleston, High Sierra’s banjo player who also serves as the jazz club’s historian. “It’s going to be one outstanding weekend of jazz.”

Historic horn is Kaweah

Country musical tradition

by Brian Rothhammer

   Fred Zurcher’s alphorn has been silent in Mineral King for 20 years. In times past, resonant tones emitting from the 12-foot-long horn cascaded through mountains and meadows. The effect was mystical.

  “People would come out of the woods and be fascinated to hear and see such a large instrument in such a remote place,” reminisced Fred’s daughter, Esther Zurcher of Three Rivers.
   So charmed were all who heard it that even mules at the Mineral King Pack Station would rush to the edge of their corral to get closer to the sound when it was played near the Eagle Lake trailhead, said Esther.
   So how did such an instrument, handcrafted in Switzerland of spruce strips bound with birch bark, find its way to the “alps” of California?
Fred Zurcher left his native Switzerland in 1953 at age 21 and entered the dairy business in Southern California. With his brothers, he founded dairies in La Habra and Chino. In 1956, Fred married Heidi Pfarrer, also Swiss.
   A veteran trumpet player of the Swiss Army, Fred would often awaken his children on Sunday mornings with trumpet interludes. Then all would enjoy Swiss folk records.
   In 1967, with a career shift to banking, the Zurchers moved to Tulare. Soon after, Fred and family discovered the Mineral King area. They were smitten with Mineral King as it reminded Fred and Heidi so much of their beloved homeland. Frequent camping trips led to the purchase of a cabin in Silver City in 1978.
   Just one thing could make this California alpine setting more perfect. An alphorn, of course.
   Along with being an important symbol of all things Swiss, the alphorn is elegant in its simplicity. Though evidence exists of similar ancient Celtic horns in the northern Swiss Alps, the modern variety goes back a mere five centuries or so.
   It is a simple, tapered tube with a mouthpiece affixed. No keys or other devices to change tone or pitch, just the skill of the person coaxing a range of sounds with embouchure and something akin to tantric breathing.
   The horn acts as a resonator, facilitating a long and vibrating air column. Alphorns range in length from 10.6 feet to 13.5 feet.
   It takes great skill and dedication to play one. Two years is the typical apprenticeship period for alphorn players, during which time they must immerse themselves in the subtleties of articulation, phrasing, tempo, and its variations.
   It doesn’t stop there. The player is essentially a tone generator, the horn an amplifier, but the greater part of the experience is the symphonic interaction with the natural surroundings.
   With his father assisting in the arrangements, Fred Zurcher purchased a 12-foot alpenhorn in 1972 and set about mastering the instrument. His father also told him to never take money to perform.

  “Only do it for good causes,” he said.
   Though Fred played at many fundraisers, Oktoberfests, and concerts, he heeded his father’s advice, often giving spontaneous concerts in Mineral King and Silver City.

  “Fred’s favorite place to play the horn was at Eagle Lake,” said Esther. Eagle Lake is only accessible by trail, 3.5 miles and 2,500 vertical feet above Mineral King.

  “The sound would echo off the granite walls and harmonize with the next note the horn played,” she continued. “During these songs, the heavens opened up. The sound was incredible.”
   Indeed, though originally used for signaling at great distances and for calling cows, alphorn music has been written by Brahms and Mozart, among others. Fred’s humor and charm added to each concert.
   In the summer of 1989, upon returning from Silver City, the fine instrument, which had been disassembled and carefully packed for transport, disappeared from the bed of Fred’s pickup. Less than six months later, on Dec. 30, 1989, Fred tragically died in a farming accident.
   For 20 years now, the alphorn has been silent in Kaweah Country. The granite walls remain.
   To those who remember those resonant tones wafting through the valleys and canyons, close your eyes. Do you hear them now?

Jazzaffair weather forecast: Gorgeous!

   Local forecasters are predicting that some areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley may record the first 90 degree readings for 2009. It’s unlikely that Three Rivers will reach any more than the mid-80s.
   So much of the lore and the memories of past Jazzaffairs include stories of violent weather. One of the stormiest on record occurred 10 years ago during the ’99 jazz festival.
   The tent was nearly toppled and Lions Arena was cut off for a time by the lake that formed in the parking area. Everyone pitched in to do their part and remarkably nobody was injured or the worse for wear after the downpours that featured an awe-inspiring lightning show.
   It seems all who have attended more than one Jazzaffair have a storm story to tell. Jazzaffair, renowned for its outdoors setting has experienced weekends that can best be described as having weather from all four seasons in a single weekend.
   But that was then, and now will be simply scenic. The blustery, breezy cold front that passed through the area earlier in the week brought only a trace of rain to the foothills but dumped eight inches of new snow above 7,000 feet in the nearby mountains.
   A gradual warming trend will settle in during the weekend that will push temperatures upward to the mid-80s, slightly above normal for this part of April. Total rainfall for the current season in Three Rivers is 14.96 inches.

RV loses brakes on Generals Highway

   A family’s vacation hit a bump in the road — actually, the side of a cliff — when the 32-foot RV in which they were traveling lost its brakes on the steepest portion of the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park. The mishap, which could have turned deadly serious, occurred Wednesday, April 8, at about 1:30 p.m., just above Amphitheater Point, 11 miles inside the park entrance.
   A family consisting of parents, their four children, and a dog, was descending the steep, narrow road when the driver realized that the vehicle had no brakes.

  “The driver made the quick (and very smart) decision to turn into a cliff wall on the uphill side while he was going only 10 mph before the RV picked up speed and became unstoppable,” reported Alex Picavet, parks information officer.
   Sequoia District Ranger Dan Pontbriand was the first on the scene. There were no injuries, yet enough damage to the RV that it had to be towed.


Making order out of chaos: Call the expert

by Lisa Lieberman

   I’m a messy person. I spend hours each week searching for misplaced paperwork, keys, missing loads of laundry, purses, wallet, and glasses, so I can find aforementioned missing items.
   Millions of Americans are just like me. They spend almost an hour a day looking for things. That’s 365 hours a year — the equivalent of more than eight working weeks in the year.
   My biggest challenge is that I work from home. This means bills pile up on my bedroom floor. Notes for news stories land underneath the kitchen table. Plans for redecorating the house get scattered on my office desk where I’m supposed to be working.
   Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to live too many lives at once. Luckily for me, my friend, Stephanie Strickland of Three Rivers, the most organized person I know, has been helping me get my life together.

  “It takes less time to be organized than it does to look for things,” Stephanie said. “The problem with becoming organized — if you’re not already an organized person — is that it can feel overwhelming.”
   Home office strategies— Stephanie knew I had a problem when she came over one day and saw me working at my kitchen table. When she asked, “Why aren’t you working in your office?” — the very office I had built to avoid working at the kitchen table — I said, “I can’t work in my office. It’s a mess.”
   The problem with the office was that I had never thought about how I was going to use it before I started trying to work in it.

  “One of the first questions I ask people when I help them get organized is, ‘How are you going to use this space?’” explained    Stephanie, who has helped many of her friends get organized. “A lot of times, people don’t give it that much thought. An office is an office, yes. But you have to know how you’re going to use it. Are you going to use your desk sitting down or standing up? What kind of tools do you have and where are they kept? Are you a writer or a teacher? Are you using your desk for crafting or paying bills?”
   For me, I wanted to use my office to write, pay bills, and organize personal papers. The challenge I faced — as many people in older homes do — is lack of space. The office I’d had built was only 64 square feet, the size of a large walk-in closet. I was also using a kidney-shaped computer desk that took up 30 percent of the floor space.

  “In a small space you have to use every square centimeter. What you need is a square or rectangular desk,” Stephanie said.
   I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new desk, so Stephanie suggested an inexpensive solution. She told me to buy a $20 door at Home Depot and three sets of used two-drawer file cabinets. We spray-painted the file cabinets black and laid the door across them, and presto! I had a wide open working space with plenty of storage underneath.
   The filing cabinets worked well, but as a freelance writer, I am often working on five or six projects at a time. I needed a place where I could stash the notes for different projects without getting them mixed up with each other.
   So Stephanie and I bought two inexpensive wooden storage cubbies — each of which had nine open slots. We placed each cubby on either side of my desk.
   In one cubby, we stashed phone books, typing paper, notebooks, envelopes, stamps, and a variety of bill-paying supplies in each of the slots.
   In the other cubby, we labeled each of the nine slots with the names of different stories I was working on at the time.
   Kitchen tips— Once the office was organized, we moved onto the kitchen, bathroom and closet.

  “The kitchen is a challenge because you have these deep cabinets where you were storing food in the back that you couldn’t really see,” said Stephanie. “You couldn’t see what you had, so you kept buying more of the same stuff.”
   That might have been why I had 15 jars of spaghetti sauce, 12 packages of pasta, and a bunch of outdated cans of food. Stephanie and I bought a rollout can rack and a lazy Susan so it would be easier for me to see what I had.

  “The key is knowing what you have and using it,” Stephanie said. “We’ve lived in a consumerist society for so long, but all of that’s coming to an end and we’re all going to have to learn to make better use of what we have.”
   As for me, now that I’ve become so organized, my main problem is that I have nothing left to do except work, which is in itself a challenge.
If you want Stephanie to help you organize your house — and life — call her at 561-2207.
   Lisa Lieberman writes from her newly organized Three Rivers home.

Weekly tip

PART THREE (of three)

  —Avoid overeating and binge eating. Trying to follow a restrictive diet that is too low in calories or bans a specific food group or favorite food will cause extreme feelings of hunger and cravings. You may be able to follow the diet for a short period of time, but soon you will be unable to control the hunger or cravings and you will eat too much to compensate.
   The best way to avoid overeating is to not deny yourself any food. Be educated, however, on what is good for you, but allow yourself little indulgences. Everything in moderation and you won’t ever feel deprived. Instead, follow these tips before meals to avoid stuffing yourself:

  —Avoid unnecessary second helpings by assembling your plate of food and wrapping up and storing any leftovers before you begin eating.

  Drink water before and throughout the meal. If you’re having trouble slowing down when you eat, put your fork down halfway through your meal and take a minute to sip some water.

  —Begin your meal with a salad or a clear broth as soup. This will fill your stomach with healthy food before starting in on the main meal, which is usually where people tend to take seconds.

  —Chop some of your favorite fresh vegetables and place them on the table with the rest of your dinner. Snack on them frequently and have another handful when you finish the rest of what’s on your plate. If you don’t like raw veggies, then cook them and give yourself a generous amount (although learning to like raw vegetables is important in maintaining health).

  —Eat slowly and savor your food. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are full.

  —Have a post-loss plan. For many dieters, their sole motivation is to lose weight as fast as possible… after all, summer is coming, right?    But this strategy will lead you down a dangerous path. So, when you hit your goal weight, don’t consider yourself “done.” Keeping the weight off is a daily fight “for the rest of your life,” and it demands vigilance and effort. Here’s how to keep yourself lean, happy, and healthy:

  —Keep at it. Most members of the National Weight Control Registry, a group of about 5,000 people who have maintained significant weight losses, continue high exercise levels and some form of a reduced-calorie, healthy meal plan — two principles that got you to your new weight. You can slowly increase your total calories if you remain very consistent with exercise, but do it gradually.

  —Step on the scale. A recent study concluded that people who weigh themselves daily or weekly lose more weight, and keep it off, than those who want to lose weight but rarely step on a scale.

  Get support. Finding some social support adds a sense of accountability and helps keep off the pounds.

 Mind emotional eating. Eating food for comfort or out of boredom is the number-one reason people regain weight. Emotional eating is also a trigger for binge-eating. Before reaching into the cupboard or refrigerator, ask yourself, “Does steamed chicken and broccoli sound good?” If the answer is no, then you are not hungry for food as fuel.

  —Keep your motivation high. Be real about why you wanted to lose weight. If you need to make a list, keep adding to it, and keep it on the refrigerator. It will help you remember the lasting pleasures and benefits of slimming down — to be good role model for your children, to feel younger, to be healthy and avoid disease, to stay off medications, to prolong life and quality of life — which are much more pleasing than how you feel after you overeat or make unhealthy food choices. Even if every day is a bit of a struggle, it’s a struggle worth fighting because of the payoff.
   The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice or treatment of a medical professional.

10 years ago in

The Kaweah Commonwealth

— APRIL 16, 1999 —

  Workshops to develop GMP alternatives— Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced a series of seven public workshops to develop potential alternatives for its General Management Plan. “The goal of these workshops is to gather from the public a wide range of desired futures for the management of the parks and its five developed areas, then develop draft alternatives,” said Mike Tollefson, park superintendent.
   Fun in the forecast for Lions Team Roping— A preview of the annual event that (like 2009) occurred the weekend immediately following Jazzaffair. Years such as this, when Easter falls about mid April and backs up the town’s two most popular events, really keeps the Three Rivers Lions hopping.
   Gas prices on the rise— In the last six weeks, gas prices on the West Coast rose 35 percent. The price for a gallon of gas in Three Rivers was $1.63.
   Woodlake Rodeo crowns queen— Andrea Whiteside, 17 and a junior at Woodlake High School, was selected to fulfill the duties of the 1999 Woodlake Rodeo queen.
   Woodlake High is digitized— A $224,000 state grant enabled Woodlake High School to purchase 100 new computers, one for each classroom and 40 for a computer lab.
   Park budgets available for review— The National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 required every park in the National Park System to provide information to the public on how the appropriated budget and funds obtained through the fee demonstration program are spent. As a result, the 1999 annual budgets for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks became available for public inspection. “We are pleased to share our funding information with the public as it is their tax dollars, entrance and other park fees that provide much of the monies we use to meet our parks’ mission,” said Superintendent Mike Tollefson. The total 1999 budget was $10,882,000 for both parks.


Ted Bartlett
1914 ~ 2009

   Ted Bartlett, former longtime resident of Three Rivers, passed away Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008, in the Long Beach area. He was 94.
   Ted was born Jan. 31, 1914, in Albion, Iowa, to George and Louise Bartlett. During the 1930s through the 1960s, Ted and his wife Mauricia “Deedee” owned a ranch on North Fork Drive, just up-canyon from the Kaweah Post Office. They operated a dairy and delivered milk throughout Three Rivers, Kaweah, and Ash Mountain.
   Ted was the last surviving Three Rivers “cowboy,” who built the original corrals at the community’s roping arena, several years prior to the existence of the Three Rivers Lions Club.
   During the devastating flood of Dec. 23, 1955, when roads and bridges were washed out and Three Rivers was cut off from the outside world, the Bartletts went to great effort to continue delivering milk and eggs to stranded residents. Ted Bartlett delivered to his customers on the North Fork as well as Ash Mountain via what would become Kaweah River Drive. The family also transported themselves and their deliveries across the Middle Fork to the highway side of town in a temporarily installed cable car that hovered above the raging river.
Ted was preceded in death by his wife Deedee.
   He is survived by his daughter Verna Balch and husband Bert and his son Barry and wife Carolyn; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Archie Stockebrand
1921 ~ 2009

   USN Retired Commander Archie Paul Stockebrand, 87, of Badger died suddenly on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at his Badger home. He was bringing in the flag at sunset and died with it folded in his lap.
   Archie was born Nov. 27, 1921, in Yates Center, Kan. He was a graduate of John Brown University and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate and Test Pilot schools.
   He served in World War II as radar officer on the USS Hornet and Yorktown aircraft carriers. After the war, he served as a test pilot for the U.S. Navy until his retirement.
   On Jan. 7, 1945, Archie married the former Grace Bernice “Bunny” Boyce. In 1969, he and Bunny bought the M-J Guest Ranch in Badger, which they operated for 25 years.
   Archie is survived by his wife of 64 years, Grace Bernice “Bunny” Stockebrand of Badger; one son; three daughters; and two sisters.
   Private services will be held.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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