Pine Nuts: Thanks be to our history |

Pine Nuts: Thanks be to our history

The power went out the other night and I felt like Abe Lincoln reading for five hours in the flickering glow of candlelight. Then, I slept in my clothes.

Health, wealth, and electricity can never be fully appreciated until lost and recovered. And you can set this down as a maxim, when followed by a cold shower, a hot Tahoe shower feels especially good.

So, besides the luxuries that electricity brings, what else can we be thankful for at Thanksgiving? Personally, I’m thankful that our Native Americans survived in spite of it all, and provide us today with rich cultural heritage, not to forget the corn they gave to the Pilgrims.

Our history is so colorful and amusing. Did you ever wonder how Pocahontas came to marry John Rolfe, a tobacco farmer? Me neither, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

You see John was smitten when he first met Pocahontas, but because he couldn’t spell Pocahontas he called her Rebecca. John asked Rebecca if she would like a smoke and she said, “Why not.”

Well, when Pocahontas inhaled for the first time she erupted like Mount St. Helens and ran crying to her father, Chief Powhatan, who forbid Pocahontas from seeing John Rolfe ever again.

But that one horrendous blast of smoke left Pocahontas hard of hearing and she didn’t hear her father’s edict. So when Pocahontas met John Rolfe the next evening he came right out and asked her, “So are you ready for another smoke, or should we just get married, va-va-voom, and who knows what!”

“What?” Pocahontas shouted, and the rest, as they say, is history. OK then, did you ever wonder how the Battle of Little Bighorn got started? Me neither, but I’m here to tell you how it happened anyway.

You see, George Custer graduated last in his class at West Point because he was a prankster and just couldn’t help himself. So when he met Crazy Horse out there on the Great Plains, well, Custer thought he’d pull one off on Crazy Horse.

At the time, 1876, chloroform had recently been synthesized so Custer told Crazy Horse he could bring a dead soldier back to life. Crazy Horse scoffed. Custer ordered one of his men to chloroform one of Crazy Horse’s dogs, which he did. Custer then handed the limp dog to Crazy Horse and asked, “Is he dead?” Crazy Horse replied, “Him plenty dead!”

And he was! And that was Crazy Horse’s favorite dog. The rest, as they say, is history. Crazy Horse then presented Custer with a gift of an Arrow shirt, which was fashionable at the time, or so they tell me.

There is no truth to the rumor that I am sought after by Sierra Nevada College to head up their history department. But I would like to go on record this Thanksgiving for being ever so thankful for Sierra Nevada College, our Wreck Center, the folks who pick up the trash, and those kind folks who blow our pine needles into the next yard.

Have a gratifying and memorable Thanksgiving, but don’t feed the bears.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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