We didn’t expect to stumble upon a mystery on this scenic drive through California, from Portola to Oroville. The road is forty miles of curves that follow the Feather River. We stopped at a very picturesque spot to enjoy the panoramic view. There were many huge rocks, but this rock held a life story needing to be told.
I was beginning to think I would never solve the mystery of this plaque for Thaine Harrington Allison, Sr. October,1915 – August, 1997, ”He was a decent man”. There was no doubt when I found the name Thaine Harrington Allison, Jr. on Linkedin, he had to be related. Thaine commented that in 16 years, I was the second person to ever ask about the plaque. He was kind enough to share his dad’s story and here is an excerpt of why the family chose this rock for his memorial site.
“My parents met at a gas station in Kansas on May 2nd, 1938. They married 17 days later and enjoyed their life together for just shy of 60 years.”
“They hitch-hiked their way to California and he found a job pouring buckets of concrete into the Los Angeles River, near Griffith Park. That fall the rains came, which became known as the Great Flood Year.”
“He lost his job and my mom, pregnant with me, had to take the bus back to Kansas. He then hitched a ride to be with his wife in Fort Scott. They lived in an apartment that was a converted box car and he milked cows for a dollar a day. Three years later they saved enough to move back, where he did construction work in the San Fernando Valley. He eventually moved his family to a small farm in Northern California, where he built sewage and water treatment plants.”
“He was one of the original environmentalists, cleaning up sewage with the facilities that he oversaw as a construction superintendent. Dad loved trains and knew the challenges of building railroad and highway bridges in this canyon. He worked on the dam powerhouse that’s just a short distance from the location of his memorial.”
“Mom was always specific about wanting her ashes spread on Mt Shasta, which she could see from her kitchen window. Although he never said, we suspected he wanted his ashes released there too, but was afraid mom would say “find your own darn mountain, I put up with you for 60 years”.
“When it came time to find a place for his ashes, at one point mom said “Well, Pa always liked to drive. We could go over to I-5 and drive north. With a hole poked in the bottom of the plastic bag, we could hang it out the window and turn around when it ran out.”
“My brothers and I agreed that we’d like a place where we could visit. His favorite spot on the Feather River to stop, seemed like the perfect place to reunite him with the earth.”
“We always leave an orange, a beer and a pack of cigarettes when we visit this rock. The orange was his favorite Christmas gift, when he was a kid growing up in Iowa and Kansas during the depression. The beer was a bit of rebellion against my mom, who was a strict Women’s Christian Temperance Union Methodist. He smoked 2 ½ packs of Chesterfields a day for 45 years. At age 60, he gave up smoking. Just in case he wanted to start again, he kept a half pack on top of the refrigerator. That half pack of Chesterfields stayed there for 22 years.”
“He may not have been the most successful man, but was honest and generous with those he knew and cared about. He wasn’t very good at expressing his love, yet we knew he deeply cared about us and is greatly missed by his three boys.”
What interesting mystery or story have you stumbled upon in your travels?
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