Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gasquet, California

(image of Smith River courtesy of

I never actually wanted to write about Gasquet, at least for the longest time I’ve avoided it. I still have some ties there, but not so much that I really care anymore about the truth getting out about the quaint/sketchy little village on the Smith River in Nor Cal. I have a mixture of pride and shame in regards to my longest-time hometown association with Gasquet and greater Del Norte County. Pride because the area is unique and beautiful, shame because of… well , I’m not really sure why. Del Norte County is like a little corner of Alaska that got dropped on the Northern California coast. It feels remote there, roughly equidistant between San Francisco and Portland, roughly equidistant between Eureka, California and Grant’s Pass, Oregon. The population is small and comes in one of several dominant categories – 1. poor, working class, mostly white. 2. Yurok and Talawa Indian tribes living on their respective reservations. 3. Cannibas cultivators. 4. Law enforcement professionals (and/or Forest Service professionals, Cal trans etc…) 5. Unemployed, formerly working poor, often Meth-addicted folks and of course, 6. Everyone Else. I spent most of my formative school years in Del Norte, off and on, from kindergarten through my Senior year in high school, and I was one of those who desperately wanted out, and when the time came I left at a high rate of speed. But, that isn’t to say that I don’t have fond memories of my rural upbringing. For starters, there is Gasquet itself. Initially a resort village located on a flat area of the Smith River Valley, the town was founded sometime around the turn of the 20th century by a man named Horace Gasquet. The heyday of the town was probably the 1950s, when several trailer parks and a motel catered to the middle-class vacationers of the day. The best feature in the old days was the Gasquet store and The Rusty Nail bar, which as far as I know was most happening from the 1950s through early 1980s. Here is a pic from a fellow named DBerry's flickr stream of the store in all it's 50's glory:

Village of Gasquet, CA, 1950's

Next time around, I will set forth with more sordid tales of Gasquet in the late 1970's, when teenaged partiers ran amok and brought with them pop culture artifacts from the bigger cities that their parents moved from. It was a happening time, with cut-off shorts, pancake breakfasts at the Veterans Hall, Peter Frampton hairdos and Cheap Trick, the Cars and ELO blasting out of Camaro 8 track players at every turn.


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