Are there only three real locals around?
For no good reason I checked my e-mail and found some strange addresses muddling up my megabytes along with the phony million dollar winner teasers and usual barrage of jokes from friends with real jobs that afford them time for that. After cursing the new unsolicited messages it hit me. I asked for it. It was better than a million dollars. Lo and behold, they were from the true locals I knew existed somewhere out there Christopher Hilsenbeck, Carolyn Rose and Frank Aldridge. I almost deleted them. They knew the name of the book and the chapter in which Mark Twain wrote that Tahoe is the Indian word for grasshopper soup. Congratulations for being the highly sophisticated, well-read bookworms you are. Are you the only three in Truckee who ever read Innocents Abroad, or did you just Google Mark Twain and grasshopper soup to find the answer? I swear, if there was any cheating involved I am going to have to seriously question what you guys do to keep busy. Dont tell me you have real jobs.Christopher Hilsenbeck sent several paragraphs from Chapter 20 as evidence. He gets first place in the Where Does Grasshopper Soup Come From Contest because his e-mail was dated the earliest, though he should have been deleted for not just answering the question like Carolyn Rose did. I should have specified quality, not quantity.I sent Chris an e-mail asking if there was anything he wanted me to mention about him in Grasshopper Soup, but I havent heard from him. Chris is either a very wise and humble man or he finally achieved expert local status by taking up permanent occupancy in a plot at the local cemetery. Lets hope it is the former.Carolyns e-mail came in second place, but she should bump Chris from first place because her e-mail was so concise and personal. It read, Innocents Abroad, Chapter 20. See, someone is reading your column Carolyn. I think shes flirting with me. Yeah, that must be it.If you have not read Innocents Abroad, at least read chapter 20. It is the most beautiful, sincere, funny and reluctantly tender account of Lake Tahoes beauty that I have ever read. (Chris, thanks. It was a pleasure to read some of it again.)For all his talent and fame, Mark Twain had issues. He did not like the word Tahoe, apparently because it was a digger Indian word and Mark, like many in his day, seemed to have a bigoted attitude toward the natives. In spite of himself, Mr. Twain captures the essence of Tahoe in this particularly clever and honest work written from Lake Como, Italy. Do yourself a favor, if you love Tahoe or Twain, make sure you read it. Then theres Frank Aldridge, perhaps the biggest bookworm of them all. Frank knows everything. He knows stuff even the CIA and NASA doesnt know. Hes even smarter than Al Chicken Little Gore.Albert Einstein knew everything too, but he couldnt drive a car. Frank can. He drives one to teach skiing at Squaw and high school math and science in Reno, which is somewhere in Nevada. Like everywhere else (including here), people in Nevada have a lot to learn. Most of us dont even understand the things we know. Good luck Frank.This summer Frank embarks on a great journey he calls a long walk home from high in the Sierra above Bishop, Calif. along the Pacific Crest Trail to his house in Tahoe Donner. May your feet be swift Frank, and your heart, and pack, be light.When Frank returns, besides being lighter, he will be King Frank, King of the Locals, and professional tramp, second only to John Muir, who claimed Tramp as his real job.With this kind of competition all us local wannabes can do is keep trying, or take a hike.Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived on the North Shore of Tahoe for 25 years.
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