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Pam and Truckee on my mind

Vicki Firpo Tepper

We seemed to all be there, the “old-timers” of Truckee. Gathered to say goodbye to Pam Krone, our dear friend. It was a time of catching up with each other, seeing the gray and lines of 30-odd years and complaining of the all too crowded and changed Truckee landscape.Sometime during the ceremony I looked across to the north shore of Donner Lake in reminiscence. In my mind’s eye I saw the lights of the old Donner Lake Lodge, circa 1952, the pier aglow with strung lights reflecting off the water. The adults of town dancing and the children roughhousing, it was the thing to do on Saturday nights.This was the Truckee I grew up in. It was the quintessential “Mayberry,” complete with a town sheriff, the Aunt Beas, Opies, and town drunks. It was a large extended family. You could get a root beer at Bud’s, fresh meat at Doyle’s, toys at Charley Heller’s Variety Store, dry goods at Cabona’s, a good meal at Smart’s Café, your car repaired at Coffey’s garage, and all the news that was worthy from the Sierra Sun.When I returned to the Truckee of my childhood, it was the late 60s. Most of the old-timers had moved, retired or sadly, died. New businesses with catchy names had slid into the old spaces. The gala ladies’ auxiliary talent show had been replaced by the bawdy Truckee Follies; getting gassed had been replaced with getting high. A new generation of Truckeeites; changing times.I was unsure of the “newcomers” to Truckee. Could they ever bring to this place the joy and peace that the old-timers did? Would they be the marvelous marriage of souls of the old Truckee; a mixture of the compassionate and passionate, the energetic and the unique?The newcomers were the Pam Krones. People who, like her, moved to this place full with the energy, creativity and joy that they would bring to the Sierra. They would make this place their own. It has been more than 30 years since those days and as I looked around at the ceremony, I saw those same faces reflecting compassion and passion, strength and uniqueness, another marriage of souls. I need not have worried.After the memorial, I maneuvered homeward, through the tricky new “turn about” through the crowded town, over the blasphemously high river bridge, by the Lahontans and Greenwoods to the labyrinth entering the freeway. I felt an overwhelming sadness. I missed Pam and her spirit terribly. But too, I missed the old spirit of Truckee – the seasons, the rhythms, the special friendships shared here. This time I wondered about the newest newcomers to Truckee. Would they some day simply morph into a community of disparate individuals who just share a space? Would this place shape them as it did us? Would there be enough of the courageous, the unique, the compassionate and the passionate?Vicki Firpo Tepper lives in Verdi, Nev.


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