Visits around town bring back Eastern Plumas memories

Debra Moore
Portola Editor

Walking down the hall at Eastern Plumas Health Care, I slowed as the memories came flooding back. It was if someone had turned back the clock and I could envision the young mother and her newborn being cared for on the other side of the wall. Though I only moved away from Plumas County five years ago, it has been 15 years since I lived in Graeagle. We moved there in 1987, just two months before our youngest daughter, Carly, was born — hence the hospital flashback.

On this trip to the hospital I was simply taking a tour, becoming acquainted with one my reporting beats. It was amazing how little had changed since July 21, 1987.

Back then babies were still delivered in the Portola hospital and I spent two nights in the room in front of me. I was only one of two patients in the hospital during my stay, and received the almost undivided attention of the candy striper and the rest of the hospital staff. My husband and I enjoyed a candlelight steak dinner in that room — a tradition for parents of newborns.

Just a few months later, we were back at the hospital when our older daughter toddled into the fireplace hearth and required three stitches. I prefer the first memory.

When I began working at Feather Publishing in 1993, I commuted to Quincy, but my life — where the girls went to school, my home, friends, doctors, etc. — was in Eastern Plumas.

When I moved to Quincy in 1998, I didn’t spend as much time in Graeagle or Portola. There were high school sporting events and various meetings, but it wasn’t my life anymore. Life had become Quincy-centric — it’s where the girls went to high school, and my home, friends and work were.

Now that I am working in Portola, it’s as if I’ve turned the clock back 25 years. Has it really been that long?

Last week I met a new colleague at the Millworks in Graeagle. The glass jars of coffee beans and candy still lined the walls, and Kathy, the proprietress, was there, looking exactly the same. As my colleague and I discussed upcoming events, I momentarily slipped back in time and could see my daughters sipping their hot chocolate while chattering about their day at school.

The first time I went to C. Roy Carmichael Elementary to take pictures, I wandered past the classrooms and remembered a hasty trip from the Quincy office to Portola to be on time for a class tea party. That triggered the memory of the day that I baked brownies for another class party and left them in the oven too long. I can still recall my daughter’s look of horror as she told me that nobody could eat them, not even the teacher.

There are memories lurking around every corner, even though some corners have changed.

I used to make thrice-weekly visits to Plumas Bank at the corner of Commercial and Nevada streets where Pizza Factory now stands, with the cash register receipts from the Mohawk Delicatessen tucked in a brown zippered bank bag.

The delicatessen, which we opened April 1, 1988, has undergone many ownership changes since and is now the site of Cuccia’s. It is strange to step up the stairs that once led to everything familiar — but now lead to something wonderful, but very different.

Like my former restaurant, many places in Graeagle have changed. The little red building that used to house the preschool is now a wine-tasting room. I wonder what happened to the dress-up room, the little kitchen and the cubbies.

The video store is gone, as well as the jewelry store and the Witch’s Brew, but there are several new businesses, and, of course, constants, such as the Graeagle Store and the Graeagle Restaurant.

A foray through Portola led me to such fun establishments as the Shabby Red Door and Denim Blues, but missing from Commercial Street were High Sierra Books, where I could browse for hours, and Ayoob’s, where I bought my first snow boots.

I suppose eventually the flashbacks will diminish, though actually I hope that they don’t. I like what I see when I look back.


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