I go back to my home place in Gage County, Nebraska, every year to see my old dad, uncle, cousins and some friends I’ve been close to forever. I just returned from a visit.

This year, the friends lobbied me to come back the first week in August in order to go to a concert at a local amphitheater; they thought it would be a big kick for us to go to a Steve Miller Band concert ... my name being Steve Miller and all.  

They’re my best lifetime friends so of course I signed on. But I was skeptical. 

First of all, I’ve been taunted and teased about the name thing since about sixth grade when my friend Bobby Jenkins’ big sister Susan was driving by as I walked along, rolled down her window, and yelled “Hey, Steve Miller Band!” I had no idea what she was doing. I thought I might be in trouble, or that she was crazy. I was 10 or 11 years old, after all. I listened to the local AM radio station (KWBE). They played Beach Boys and Perry Como. No Steve Miller Band.

Secondly, when I was old enough to know about rock ‘n’ roll and the Steve Miller Band, my musical friends and I mostly pooh-poohed them for being way too Top 40 and not especially known for meaningful lyrics. (For example: “Abra abracadabra/I wanna reach out and grab ya/ Abracadabra/ Abracadabra ....” Yup, that’s a hit song there.)

Well, I was wrong. The Steve Miller Band’s Steve Miller is a fine singer. While some of his lyrics are ... dumb ... others are interesting and catchy. The band was amazingly tight and the musicians were fine. And there were lots of times when everyone ... smart-aleck 20-somethings and geezers even older than me ... was singing along. Five thousand people singing along with “Fly Like an Eagle.” A little weird, but very cool.

So ... when friends you’ve had since grade school and junior high want you to do something, you should just do it. (Er ... wait ... maybe not always.)

***

Thumbs Up: Sycamore Ranch has been picking up business this year; as well it should, from what we can see. We use the trail at Hammon Grove Park nearly every Sunday. During warm weather, the county has a floating walkway across the creek between the trailer camp and the park ... we’ve walked over there and it looks like a nice place to stay.

The increase in the trailer camp has meant an increase in usage of the park, too, as campers wander over to get in a hike. And since additional holes (baskets?) were added to the flying disc golf range, we’ve seen a very great uptick in users of that facility, and we’ve talked to a few people who are traveling over here to play. Also, we think there’s been a slight upturn in park upkeep, lately.

We think the complex is a real gem for Yuba County. 

We’d just lobby for a little more attention to the park. Trails along the Yuba River have eroded and after last year’s high water, there are some areas with some serious erosion – trails and banks falling and washing into the river. Perhaps a grant from Yuba Water Agency might be applied for; or other grants that could bankroll some trail and bank restoration. 

It’s too good a facility to let any part of it slip away.

*

Ugh: Straight from Capt. Jerry: Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent.

Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture. She read their letter while sitting by the window and she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post on the street below.

Quickly, she wrote, “Don’t despair. – Sister Barbara” on a piece of paper, wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man’s attention and tossed it out the window to him.

The stranger picked it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at the door, insisting on seeing her. She went down, and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“That’s the $8,000 you have coming, Sister,” he replied. “Don’t Despair paid 80-to-1!”

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