Posts Tagged With: hard work


DSC07645 (Copy)My friend, Paul Moeller is in a physical therapy unit in Sonora after a fall that broke his femur at the hip. He is 88 years old. I met him in 1980 when he was putting together a calendar of local activities and events to promote interest in the county. He did this as a volunteer and he came to visit my writer’s workshop. I had a batch of kittens at the time, and he took one of them home for his wife.

In 1982, he asked for volunteers to videotape events in the county and I answered the call. I later joked, that once he got his grip on you, there was no escape. Hardworking, indomitable, always a positive thinker, results oriented…it is to his vision and credit, a small rural county has a Public Access Studio while large cities like Stockton and Modesto do not.

DSC07650 (Copy)The Paul Moeller Studio was built by all we volunteers on an undeveloped lot owned by the Calaveras County Water District.  The CCWD Board granted permission for the studio out of respect for Moeller’s  dedication and hard work. He taped the North Fork dam, a federal project with CCWD as one of the integral water interests involved. The video taping continued for over a year during that project.

The County Board of Supervisors named the Studio after Moeller years later as a thankful honorarium. He has so many visitors, people at the rehabilitation center, ask,”Is he famous?”  We laugh and say, “yes.”

DSC07658 (Copy)Yesterday, I met with Ed Lark, the studio manager and Robert Creamer, an engineer from CCWD. Our volunteer group is negotiating to buy the land under the studio which involves separating the “back lot” from the rest of CCWD property. They want to sell their old office buildings. They’ve moved to new quarters but our interests are tied together.

DSC07655 (Copy)It involves, relocating water lines, surveying and conveying a new lot, access to the property that doesn’t go through the front part of their lot and so on.   Negotiations have been ongoing  since 2005. There are three volunteers left. None of us do programming anymore. Government works slowly. I rarely visit the studio for any length of time, but yesterday, I wanted to tromp the property and see for myself what the engineer had in mind.

DSC07661 (Copy)The engineer is very knowledgeable and accommodating and I got an education in planning. While interesting to me, probably boring to anyone else. But, the way the studio was built is an  unconventional story.

We had no funds so we charged $60 to put a program on channel. That money came from local businesses. There was no advertising, but the sponsors got credit for supporting each program. We operated that way for about ten years.

Moeller and a  supportive business man, Mearl Lucken, talked the bank into giving us a loan to build our studio.  The plan was for the Bret Harte High School woodshop class to build the studio labor free, for their education. When the foundation was done, school was over, the kids disappeared and Moeller decided we had to have a new plan.

The economy was in a slump. Enter local contractor Gary Hensley from Valley Springs. He had very little work. He quizzed Moeller about how much money he made from CCTV. When he learned that Moeller and all 230 volunteers, received nary a penny, he agreed to build the studio. His crew of five came early each morning, and worked for half a day. Volunteers handed up boards as the studio rose. They made the workers lunch. It was a jolly time. The inside, sheet rock, plumbing and air conditioning and so on, was done by contractors who worked for reduced prices to support our non-profit. The complicated electrical was done by Moeller himself.   The rest, as they say, is history. An amazing community effort.   What keeps me involved is respect for Moeller, and knowing that he accomplished all the above by dint of his personality and at the same time, he did other volunteer work in the county. Indefatigable.



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My background is pretty rustic. My brother is in front of the two room log house we lived in. Behind it, is a clapboard building my father dragged on to the property with horses and a dray to house hunters in the winter. It contained four home-made bunks, a table, and a wood stove. We lived entirely off the land and hunters brought in extra money. We had no indoor plumbing and, at first, no electricity, either.
When I first moved to California, someone invited me to go camping. I wasn’t interested. I LIVED that way. A wood fire holds no romance for one such as me because I disliked stacking wood, the dirt, the chips from my father’s axe that I had to pick up by the wagon load for kindling. Typical kid complaints while we took for granted the whole outdoors and bountiful nature at our feet.
With my recent visit from my old neighbors, I’m reminded of the wonderful things about living poor. I’m grounded, hard working, practical, a conservationist. (That is the word we used before environmentalist became common.) It surprised me that the years could wash away and we could reconnect and feel that we had a lot in common even though Bernice and Marie, each became the wife of farmers, had no higher education, and remained in the same, small community of Hardwood, Mi.
Pat, on the other hand, moved to Indiana and worked in the “big city.” None of us attended college and all of us consider ourselves “successful”, whatever that means. Let us say, we are no longer poor.
I believe we reconnected so easily because we share the same values. Hard work, the importance of family, self sufficiency, and consistency, come to mind. We share attitudes of stick-to-it, never give up, help yourself and above all, be a good neighbor. There was an-I can do anything anyone else can d0-attitude at our house. I feel so fortunate that my folks drilled those values home. As a consequence, we were rich in friends and self satisfaction. I believe I’ve retained those values today and they have held me in good stead.
The biggest difference, as it turns out, is I have good health insurance and have retired. Pat, the city worker, the same. Farmers typically do not have health insurance, and that difference is enormous for Bernice, whose husband died of a long catastrophic illness. She now works, at age 71, in an Indian Casino to pay for her deceased husband’s medical bills that were enormous. Marie, too, a widow, has a low social security income and no medical insurance. She is 78 and typical of the type of salt-of-the-earth, hard working person who needs affordable health insurance. Well, enough said.
I actually meant to blog today about the National Parks, another “camping” venue, but I got carried away with nostalgia. Maybe tomorrow.
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