the News - Friday, April 17, 2009
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
Then and now:
in the mountains
Jazzaffair: The more it changes,
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
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
“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,
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
second helpings by assembling your plate of food and
wrapping up and storing any leftovers before you begin
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
—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.
support. Finding some social support adds a sense
of accountability and helps keep off the pounds.
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
— 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
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
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
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.
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.