Mr. Mitchell

“You’re going be playing bass this year” said Mr. Mitchell. During the school year 1970 – 1971, my eighth grade year, I was looking forward to band class. Mitchell was my band teacher during my 6th and 7th grade years and I enjoyed how he could work with a group of kids, teach the parts to each kid so he or she could understand what they were doing. Then he would have them play the parts over and over, and when they got it right, he would praise them. His praises were the kind that would make a kid do anything to get. He always had complete control over his class, and he always made the music fun.

I had fun learning snare drum in 5th grade with Mr. Sanders. My parents bought me a snare drum, which they regretted doing later. I practiced all the time and drove my family and neighbors crazy. I got to be friends with Steve Sanders who was a drummer too, and to this day still walks circles around me when he drums! Playing snare with him during my 7th grade year was a lot of fun. He was always showing me and teaching me, cool things to play, and little tricks here and there. I was thinking this year that Steve and I would be on the snare drums again, and I had my drumsticks ready.

I walked into the classroom, which was up on the stage, with my 2B drumsticks, and let Mitchell know I was ready to play snare! “Put your sticks away, you’re going be playing bass drum this year.” said Mitchell “No way!” I said, “Steve and I were on snare this year!” “Mr. Cummins, you are my bass drummer this year” Mitchell responded smiling. “Not going to happen!” I said, “Get one of those other guys to play bass.” ”Look at the other drummers” Mitchell said pointing at the other guys, “now look at the bass drum.” The bass drum was taller than all the other drummers except Bob Leary. I could see where Mitchell was coming from, we were a marching band and a concert band. When we marched we needed a big guy to carry the bass drum.

“Have Leary play bass” I said. “No, I’ve got something else in mind for Mr. Leary” Mitchell countered. “Mr. Cummins, you’re playing bass because you’re big, and you got the beat.” I was really upset, but when he said I had the beat, I calmed down, and agreed that I would play bass. Mitchell always knew how to pull my strings! I played bass all year, and I had a blast doing it! Mitchell was a great teacher, and I’m so glad I got to play for three years under him!


Story # 21 Mt Timpanogos Caves

In the summer of 2008, Kim and I flew to Utah to visit our two daughters and families! While visiting Inez, my oldest; her family talked me into going through the Mt Timpanogos Caves. I have been through the Carlsbad Caverns; and the Oregon Caves. This should be a lot of fun! I thought. So we made our drive up the canyon. At the Forest Service station, the parking lot was full, so we parked in the lot farther up the road. When I got to the ticket counter, I asked for 6 tickets. “Your hike will be 10 o’clock” the Ranger told me “and you will enter the caves at 11:30”. “We don’t want to go on the hike, we just want to go through the caves” I said. She looked at me and said “You aren’t from around here, are you.” She then pointed to the top of the Mountain and said “you have to hike to the top of that mountain to enter the caves!”

Standing there I took a split second to mentally contemplate what I was expected to do. It was over 100 degrees outside and at the time I weighed 345 pounds! The hike was a mile and a half rising up 1100 feet in elevation. “NO WAY!!!” I said as I looked at my family. After about three minutes of desperate and pitiable begging, I gave in. “how come you didn’t tell me about the hike beforehand!” I asked “because you would have said no.”, they responded, and I knew they were right. I bought a large bottle of water and up the mountain we went! I did pretty well the first quarter-mile then I started getting tired. So every one hundred feet or so, I would stop and rest, then stop and rest and stop and rest. We did this all the way up the Mountain! At about the half-way point, we ran into a Ranger who was coming down the mountain. We talked to him for a minute, then we continued with our hike. I noticed the Ranger was following us, I guess he thought I was going to have a heat stroke or a Heart attack. I have a very strong heart, and I wasn’t worried about heat stroke, it was my legs that really bothered me. During our hike up I was a nervous wreck! I had two very young grandkids with us and they were always getting close to the edge. This trail had no fencing or guard rails, it is hundreds of feet straight down if you fall. We finally made it to the top, and I got to sit down in the shade while we waited for our turn to enter the cave.

It felt so good to enter the cave where the temperature was 45 degrees! The tour was a very thrilling experience, we got to see lots of neat formations and the Ranger seemed very educated and answered all our questions! Each room we went in seemed so different from the one before, it’s incredible to see what thousands of years of running water will do!

As we left the cave, I was thinking this is going to be a piece of cake; it’s downhill all the way! I was feeling pretty good until we got to the half-way point. My legs felt like they were turning into rubber. I had to slow my walk down; this helped, but as we got closer to the ranger station my legs got to where I could hardly stand on them. I finally made it to the end of the trail, however there were still 25 to 30 steps I had to go down. My son-in-law Jerel, had to help me down the steps. At the bottom of the steps was a bench and Jerel sat me down as he left to get the car.

Mark TimpFeeling a bit overwhelmed and even a little proud that I hadn’t died, I hadn’t notice, my family gathering around me. “Grandpa for a job well done we present you with this ribbon!” They said, and then they handed me a red ribbon with the words ‘I survived the climb’

I am now down to 280 pounds, but I have no intentions of ever doing that climb again! Been there, Done that!

Story #20 “My First Camping Trip”

The summer of 1962 I was five years old when I went on my first camping trip! My grandparents John and Madge Cummins loaded me up in their old worn out Chevy car and off we went. Our first stop was in the little town of North San Juan to stretch our legs and grandma bought me a treat. Then grandpa drove us down that long winding road along the beautiful Yuba River and we stopped at the Ranger Station in Downieville. Grandpa visited with the Ranger there for a few minutes, and the Ranger gave grandpa a key. Then it was back in the car and off to where we would be camping for the next five days. We finally arrived, it was a Forest Service Cabin near beautiful Gold Lake! The first thing I noticed was, on the back part of the cabin, there was this large round tube sticking above the cabin. Grandpa told me there was a door at the top of the tube and that’s how the Rangers would enter the cabin in the winter when the snow was up over the roof of the cabin. The thought of fifteen to twenty feet of snow was so over whelming to this little guy!

That next morning grandma cooked us a big breakfast, and then I was ready to go exploring! Grandpa showed me where the spring was. This was so cool, lots of water running out of the ground, and it had a cedar rail fence built around the spring. Grandpa gave me a tin cup. “Take a drink of the water” he said. The water was so cold, but it was so good! So much better than the Grass Valley water I was used to. I think I sat there for an hour watching this water come up out of the ground, dipping my cup in, and enjoying the wonderful fresh water! Then Grandpa and I walked around and looked at all the huge trees! It was so beautiful and peaceful; I enjoyed walking around with grandpa telling me about the trees and the animals we were seeing! “It’s time to collect some fire wood”, he said. So we walked around, picked up wood and hauled it back to the cabin. The cabin had a nice wood stove that kept us warm at night, and that’s where grandma did all her cooking.

Grandpa asked me if I wanted to go fishing, and of course I said “YES” He found a long straight stick on the ground, he tied about three of four feet of fishing ling on the stick and put a hook on the other end of the line. We walked down to a small stream, he gave me a bottle of worms, and a bottle of salmon eggs. He showed me how to put them on my hook. “Here is a bucket”, he said, “if you catch any fish put them in the bucket, then bring the bucket back to the cabin, and I will clean the fish for you”. As grandpa left, I put a worm on my hook. As the hook touched the water, I had a thirteen inch Brook Trout on the line. In the bucket it went and each time the worm or salmon eggs would touch the water, I had a fish on my line. I filled the bucket to the top with brook trout; however I could not lift the bucket so I dragged it back to the cabin. I said “grandpa look at all the fish I caught!” You should have seen his face! I thought grandpa was going to have a heart attack!

My grandma laughed at grandpa and said you didn’t tell him there was a limit on the number of fish you can catch in a day! So grandpa cleaned all the fish and grandma cooked them up. We had trout for dinner that night and the next night too.  The next day I asked grandpa if I could go fishing again, he said NO! Then he explained to me that I had caught two weeks’ worth of fish in one hour, and that we should leave the fish in the stream for other people to catch. Grandma and grandpa took me camping several more times, but that first camping trip to Gold Lake is still my favorite one!   When I grew up I asked my dad if it would be possible for us to go camping at the cabin up at Gold Lake. He told me that the Forest Service had torn it down. It kind of broke my heart, because I really wanted to take my wife and my two daughters there to experience what I had experienced when I was a young boy.

Story #19 “Batdog”

A year after Kim and I got married Kim brought a dog home, and we named him Murry! Murry was half Dachshund and half Beagle, with the appearance of a large deli roll of meat. When he got excited one ear would stick straight up, the other ear, the bottom half stuck up, but the top half drooped over. I thought he looked like a “Bat” so I called him my “Batdog” That dog went everywhere with us, and believe me he was one spoiled little wiener! Any time I would sit down Murry would be in my lap before my bottom ever touched the cushion! One day he was with Kim and I out at her parents’ house. Kim’s dad Joe had dug a ditch up the hill for an underground power line for the Granny House he was building. The ditch went through a very large patch of Poison Oak. I wasn’t able to help Joe in that section, because all I had to do was look at Poison Oak and my whole body would swell up. So while Joe worked this section of the ditch Murry kept him company, observing from the top of the dirt pile next to the ditch. He stumbled on some loose dirt and rolled right off the edge into the ditch!

Before Joe was able to lift him out, Murry had walked around in the ditch through all the Poison Oak roots where the sap was dripping. During our ride home Kim noticed Murry was breaking out with a rash all over his body. After we got home, that poor dog was looking like a Geographical Relief Map! Kim rushed him to the Veterinary Hospital, where the Vet gave him a shot. The Vet said Murry’s case was pretty severe, that most dogs don’t get poison oak as bad as Murry had. The following days proved to be the most miserable for Murry, but with all things, it finally passed. Whenever we would go over to Kim’s parents’ house; we always made sure Murry didn’t go anywhere near the Poison Oak! He was such a great family dog, and because he was so loved by our family, I believe that is why he lived 17 and a half years! Whenever Joe comes to visit or we go visit them in California, he always brings up the story of a giant Bologna that rolled into the ditch he was working in! I sure miss that old “Batdog”

Story #18 “Our First Concert”

It was the end of the summer in 1973, Scott DeAngelo and I were really excited because we were going to our first Rock Concert! We caught a ride with Dan Gillming and Sue White. The four of us got into Dan’s Rambler and took off for the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium! As we walked into the Auditorium, we looked around and we seemed to be the only Caucasian people in the building! We found our seats which were, Section 203 Row F, which was in the balcony in the very back, and Row F was the last row in the balcony. Tower of Power was the warm up band. I remember the warm up band being really hot, (but after all these years I am embarrassed to say, I could not remember who the warm up act was till I talked to Sue last week). The Auditorium was about two-thirds of the way full, and everybody was smoking marijuana. 15 minutes after Tower of Power finished playing, the place was packed, and we were still the only Caucasian people in the building. As we were waiting for the next band we had some educational moments.

We were overwhelmed by the culture of this hip crowd, especially their fashion. I don’t remember the women so much, but the men were dressed in very bright colors, fur coats and cloth hats. We saw a bright pink overcoat, leopard spotted overcoats and lots of jewelry. It was a little intimidating even going to the bathroom. Everyone was in a really good mood though, and I do not remember feeling hassled at all. Maybe that was because of all the marijuana being passed around. People kept passing us joints and we would just pass them down the line. I remember looking out from our seats which were pretty “High” up and just seeing a haze of smoke in the auditorium. The time had passed when the second band was supposed to start, and the crowd started to get a little impatient. After 45 more minutes the crowd started to get a little loud and more impatient. We didn’t know what to think; was the band going to show up? I had the feeling that if someone came out to the stage and announced that the band wasn’t going to show up, that we would have a riot on your hands!

At the 60 minute mark, the lights went out and everyone got up and started clapping as Sly and the Family Stone came out onto the stage! They started with “Thank You” which really got the crowd going, and you could tell everyone had forgotten about the late start! I remember them playing “M Lady”, “Sing a Simple Song” “You Can Make It If You Try” but I was so impressed when they played “Everyday People” and “Stand”. They played those songs with so much power, the energy level was way off the charts! Both songs sounded so much better than the record! I looked around and everyone was movin’ and really groovin’ to the music! Dan had his elbows on his knees, his head was being held up by his hands, and his whole body was bouncing up and down! Then they played the three songs I came to hear! They did a funky version of “Dance to the Music” then they played a long version of “Music Lover” and then right into our Woodstock favorite “I Want to Take You Higher”. Even with no encore, and starting 60 minutes late, I will never forget how much fun my first concert was!