READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?
21 October 2002
Things have to get pretty boring for me to sit around reading the phone book. But that's what I did yesterday morning. I'd left my book in the car, which was in the garage in the other building of the hotel, and just too far to go to get something to read for about 20 minutes, while Walt showered and got ready to go to breakfast.
I can't remember WHY I started reading the phone book. I think I was looking to see if I could find the address of a friend who lives here (I couldn't). I then checked out her office (found that), and in the process discovered a little box on the page with "Ashland trivia" in it. This isn't the standard AT&T phone book, but the "Ashland Directory," which I am assuming is similar to what we have in the "Valley Yellow Pages," the alternative to Big Brother's monopoly on telephone listings.
Here in the Ashland Directory, I learned that the first class to graduate from Ashland Senior High graduated in 1891. There were 3 in the graduating class and Miss Lora Colton was the valedictorian. Now….tell me where you'd find that sort of information courtesy of AT&T.
I got curious to find out if there were other bits of Ashland trivia hidden in this little book. And there were. In 1965, for example, while I-5 was being constructed a fossil was found that dated back one hundred million years. Geologists claim that Ashland stands on land that once was the eastern shoreline of an island formed by the Siskiyou Mountain chain. This was also the site of one of the more famous train robberies in the US. And in 1915 three women teachers were required to appear in front of the Ashland School Board to answer questions regarding charges that they violated board rules that prohibited teachers from attending public dances. (Anybody see any parallels with the pianist recently fired from her church job because it became known that she supplemented her income by playing piano in a gay nightclub?)
But the book doesn't stop with trivia. There are wise sayings, like "People with high self esteem have it because they have overcome their failures. They have been put to the test of life, overcome the problems and grown." (David Jansen)
There are photos of Old Ashland, like crowds gathered to meet a "secret" troop train at the Ashland depot during WWI (c. 1918) (The caption on the photo reads "Our boys are on the way to get the Kaiser.")
While looking for local gems, I also started looking at the categories of services being offered in the yellow pages. Did you know that there's a whole section on musicians for hire? Around here you can hire Harpist Keverly [sic] Gerbert, or Glenn Freese blujegrass/celtic…or even the Jefferson Bagpipe Ensemble (I wonder if they get many bookings).
There's a section for llama breeders. There's a listing for movers (but none for shakers). There is a category for Telegram-Novelty, under which is listed "Eufloria Singing Flowergrams." I didn't know they still did that sort of thing!
Lingerie is nothing new, of course, but I loved the name "Thread Hysteria Lingerie." Evokes images of wild haired women running around in teddies laughing hysterically. (Why does that make me think if Marn?)
There are several listings under "funeral services" for this town. I was intrigued with "Flowertyme on the plaza." Do you think that's a euphemism for "pushing up daisies"?
As you can see, I really got into my little project here. (Next time I simply must bring along a good novel to read!) It does make me wonder what hidden gems await me in the Davis phone book. Maybe I can find a nice llama breeder in my back yard.