Truckee’s quirks make it unique: Life in our Mountain Town | SierraSun.com
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Truckee’s quirks make it unique: Life in our Mountain Town

Katie Shaffer

I was attracted to Truckee when I first arrived here for reasons that still stand true today; qualities that have to do with acceptance; qualities that are very different from the town in which I was raised.

Where I came from, I lived next door to fathers who looked like Peter Jennings. Or if they didn’t look like him, they might have known him, or at least worked in the same building. I grew up in a fairly homogenized town in the suburbs outside New York City. It was not culturally diverse. And the standards by which people lived were cut and dry.

I am providing this background so that you can understand why I appreciate the offbeat nature of some who also call Truckee home.

As I drive out of my neighborhood and pass a certain house each morning, I notice that instead of blinds, the people living there hang blankets in their windows. It wouldn’t have been acceptable to make such a choice in the town in which I grew up. But here it is.

It reminds me of the story that John Steinbeck told in his books “Cannery Row” and “Sweet Thursday,” in which Doc, the marine biologist, befriends several lovable but simple-minded men. The movie “Phenomenon” starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall carries a similar theme. Duvall plays a character also called Doc, the town doctor, who is not only a medical caregiver but also a friend to Travolta, a regular guy, who works as a car mechanic.

I have a friend who used to say that in Truckee, you could go out and socialize with your doctor and the local waitress at the same party. I don’t know if this is as true as it used to be, with the development of exclusive gated subdivisions designed to clearly separate the Haves and the Have-nots. But in the Truckee that I know and love, I still see glimpses of it now and then.

How about that plastic sheeting that some people use to cover their windows in order to keep the cold out during the winter? It’s not real pretty. I don’t actually advocate it. But hey, if you’re cold, it’s what some locals do who perhaps haven’t upgraded their home with dual pane, low-e glass windows.

The blankets instead of blinds or plastic sheeting covering windows may simply be an economic choice.

Another person that I used to know, who also falls into the diverse category, is an old favorite babysitter of ours. She has long since gone on to college and graduated. She was responsible and caring and normal in all respects, except that when we brought her home, we would drop her off at a tattoo parlor where she lived.

Then there is the warm-hearted family whose home I go to each week for piano lessons. The woman who teaches my daughter and I piano is married to a pastor of a local church. As a hobby, he very much enjoys riding a Harley Davidson.

This kind of thing was unheard of where I came from. So perhaps because of that, I embrace it all the more.

I’m sure there are homeowners associations in certain subdivisions that forbid plastic sheeting covering windows or blankets hanging in lieu of blinds or tattoo parlors or maybe even Harleys parked out front. But thankfully, my neighbor who seems to prefer blankets instead of blinds, doesn’t live under the jurisdiction of any association. They simply live in the wonderfully diverse town of Truckee, California.

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.


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