Truckee’s Bookshelf to host signing for former Sacramento TV producer’s book
TRUCKEE, Calif. — When a woeful Plumas County Gold Rush village called One Shoe wants to hype its Claimjumpers 2 Wild West Festival weekend, it must do what any enterprising Gold Country town might do — nail down a killer local celebrity for the poster.
Not having any resident movie stars, NASCAR drivers, golf pros, Republican presidential candidates or country singers, One Shoe and the adjacent town of Spanish Flat settle on an infamous robber, horse thief and highwayman known as Rattlesnake Dick Barter, a villain who had terrorized the Gold Country over a century ago.
One Shoe’s cheerleading mayor Eugene Keys champions Rattlesnake Dick, saying you can’t go wrong coat-tailing on his notoriety, even if he was infamous back in the 1850s. Keys believes Rattlesnake Dick just needs a social makeover to give him modern appeal. And so the fun begins.
That’s just one of the twists and turns you’ll find in author John Hewitt’s new Gold Country novel “One Shoe: When a Gold Rush is not Enough.”
Hewitt, a former Central Valley newspaper reporter and Sacramento television news producer, will be in Truckee discussing his book and Gold Rush lore at The Bookshelf at 11429 Donner Pass Road on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 3 p.m.
While Rattlesnake Dick was in truth a bad guy in Gold Rush history, Hewitt’s fictional town of One Shoe brings him to life with a modern makeover and a plot twist.
For the festival poster, they get rid of the three-day stubble, the piercing eyes and the customary outlaw duster overcoat. Instead, the thug who did accost lonely travellers and relieve them of their gold, now sports a pencil-thin mustache, has languid bedroom eyes and appears in a riverboat gambler’s outfit with patterned silk vest.
The festival’s material touts the once celebrated but malevolent gold miner as a romantic swashbuckler who was a hit with the ladies.
Others complain they conveniently skipped the nasty bits about Rattlesnake’s ambushes, stage robberies and generally brutal disposition. Or that he was shot dead at age 26 after a violent gunfight with a sheriff’s posse outside Auburn.
And they conveniently ignore that one hundred and fifty years ago, Rattlesnake and his gang rode into the very same Plumas County settlement One Shoe shares with Spanish Flat, some 10 miles down the road from Quincy, stirred up mayhem among the drunken miners at the first Claimjumpers Festival, shot up the place, and burned down the entire town.
“We hold no grudges. It’s time to move on,” says the fictional mayor with a straight face. “A clean slate. No big deal.”
Book reviews have called One Shoe “hilarious” and praised its breezy style, saying it is reminiscent of authors like Christopher Moore or Elmore Leonard.
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