Pine Nuts: Red, white & Tahoe Blue |

Pine Nuts: Red, white & Tahoe Blue


While lifeguarding at South Shore way back in the summer of ’61, I got to experience my first Red, White & Tahoe Blue Fourth of July, which, fireworks aside, was no different than any other idyllic Tahoe summer day. How could I guess that half a century later I would be reading the Declaration of Independence on the Village Green at North Shore with a Marine Corps flyover following the words, “…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Va-vaVOOM! It gives me chicken-skin to think of it.

But of all the Tahoe summers I’ve had the honor of experiencing, my favorite Fourth has to be the year Michael Milken shot off a special fireworks display on his 50th birthday around 1996 or so. Michael was living on Lakeshore Drive at the time, right next door to Steve Wynn, and he threw a party at his place that was the party of the summer by my estimation, and I tried not to miss any. Governor Miller was in attendance, and I have a picture of Michael, Steve, Governor Miller and Mark Twain together that I labeled, “The Four Biggest Rascals at Tahoe.”

At one point during the evening Steve Wynn hooked his little finger into my buttonhole and told me, “Sam, I have a first edition of everything you ever wrote.” Knowing the value of those first editions I wanted to hug him and cry some tears down his back, but I controlled myself and merely raised my eyebrows and nodded a nod of approval.

I do recall smoking a Peace Pipe with Governor Miller that night out on the deck, and suggesting to him that we turn Rifle Peak into a Tahoe Mt. Rushmore, and sculpt an image of Mark Twain upon it for all to see and envy. The governor suggested Chief Truckee, and we let it drop at that…

This Fourth of July here at the Lake of the Sky I fear will resemble something like Normandy Beach in the summer of ‘44. You will not be able to slide an ace of spades between any two bodies lying on Burnt Cedar Beach without getting suntan lotion on both sides of that ace of spades.

The last time I read the Declaration on the Fourth I needed a private golf cart to get from Layne Haven to the podium at the Village Green, as there was nowhere to park. This year, judging from the traffic we are already seeing, I’m afraid not even a golf cart will find a place to park.

So I plan to read the Declaration of Independence aloud to my pet jay, Huckleberry, and if I’m lucky, maybe a few neighbors who might want to escape the maddening crowd.

As my constant companion Mark Twain cautioned us, “We call April first, ‘All Fools Day,’ but that is a misnomer, for we lose more damn fools on the Fourth of July than all of the other days of the year put together.”

Let’s make this Red White & Tahoe Blue Fourth of July a memorable one, and most of all, a safe one …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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