I was thinking about this last Monday during Scarysville: I'd like to forget about Ralph Nader's assault on the hot dog ("among America's deadliest missiles," he said, because they could be filled with all manner of things and probably not good things …). Just thinking of his campaign against the all-American food makes me think things I don't want to think about … like, really, what does go into those things?

Point is, he surely had some good points back in the '60s — and now and again since then — when he started the ruckus about how unhealthy a food item like the hot dog could be (if, from his perspective, you could even call it "food").

We're just hoping that what goes into hot dogs is better these days, if not altogether (or anywhere close to) actually healthy for us. Because we never really thought they were really good for us. They tasted good and filled us up. In our old days, for our family, they were the food that showed up for lunch the last couple days before dad's paycheck — after the roast, then the chicken, then the hamburger and right before the pancakes for supper day.

Mom put them on the table, so we couldn't not eat them. And why wouldn't we? They were good, we thought. Boiled wieners, some canned peaches, some canned beans. Good stuff.

I was thinking about that at some point Monday night as we were helping out at the Marysville Kiwanis Club's hot dog stand for Scarysville in downtown Marysville. We boiled, assembled with buns, wrapped in foil and handed out a thousand hot dogs.

But here's what was interesting: There were all kinds of people who relished having a hot dog. First, there were people, some with kids in tow, who really needed something to eat. They stood back a little, eyeing the goings on, until they realized the food was free. Something warm to eat. Yeah, they were collecting candy, too, but you could see some people really needed something more to eat. And a warm hot dog in a fresh bun … just the thing. They were happy to get them.

Of course, there were some people who were taking a free hot dog because … they were free. But most other people were taking hot dogs because it made them happy — rich and poor, fancy and plain. There were people who seemed health conscious who were sort of sneaking hot dogs. There were hotdog aficionados eating them with no shame.

Whatever, Ralph.

OK. We don't want to know exactly what cuts of meat go into hot dogs, and we don't want to focus on the calories or the sodium … we just want a hot dog now and then, grilled or boiled. On a soft bun — nothing fancy. With some neon-yellow mustard — nothing fancy.

It was a happy Halloween in downtown Marysville. Lots of crazy costumes, lots of cute kids, lots of generous merchants and organizations handing out free treats, games, dancing zombies … and a thousand or so hot dogs. Sorry we ran out early, folks.


Thumbs Up: I've been meaning to write this for a few weeks now:

If you're relatively new to the area, you'd never guess that behind the trees along roads in the foothills are remnants of gold country history.

A few weeks ago, we went to a presentation sponsored by the newly created Yuba County Historic Resources Commission. "An Afternoon at the Donnebrough Mine." It's just outside Browns Valley on private land. The owners graciously allowed the visitors a closeup look and gave a presentation about the historic mining operation. Above ground is the heavy timbered platform for the ore hoppers, the remains of a conveyor system, and an extra-heavy-duty winch.

The mine was developed in the mid-1850s — a hard-rock quartz mine and one of seven that were located in Browns Valley.

"Multiple owners labored for one hundred years and removed around $10 million of gold from the mine," according to information we received. The mine is about 1,800 feet deep and has been full of water since it closed in the mid-1950s.

On display was a wide variety of paraphernalia used or associated with the mining business. Fun stuff.

Thanks to the owners, and thanks to the commission.

(That commission, by the way, is a welcome addition to the area. This area is rich in history — it should be tended to. Supervisors established it last year to advise the county on historic matters, make recommendations about historic sites and structures, coordinate with other historic groups and museums, etc. That will include, we hope, more such presentations.)

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