By Julie Duewel
Sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting back with a group of peers and reminiscing about how it used to be, and a new oral history and storytelling hour at the Douglas County Historical Society offers the opportunity to do just that.
A new storytelling hour started earlier this month, and gatherings are scheduled for early May and June.
“We want people to just come,” said Historical Society member Nancy Raven, the brainchild behind the story hour. “We’re hoping it will be a campfire storytelling kind of thing.”
Raven is only a seven-year resident of Nevada, but she said she’s met many people with interesting stories since moving to the Carson Valley.
“I just felt it was important,” she said. “I just enjoy people’s stories and stuff so much.”
Ron Lange, 87, of Minden, spoke at the first oral history gathering, which was held the first weekend in April. His great-grandfather, Frederick Dressler, settled in the area in the mid-1800s, and his grandfather, Elwood Wyatt, served as Douglas County’s Sheriff the year Genoa burned down.
“I’m the fourth generation to call Carson Valley home,” he said in a phone interview following the gathering. “We go way back.”
“Growing up here, I started working in the hayfields when I was 9 years old,” he said. The summer of his freshman year of high school he started working at the Minden Creamery, and he worked there for seven straight summers. His work schedule was 13 days on, one day off, he said.
For fun, he liked fishing and hunting. Dances were the big thing in high school.
“Usually after a basketball game, the parents would have a party or a dance afterward. They’d have a record player,” he said. “The social life was really kind of narrow.”
When he was old enough to drive, he had access to a 1929 Buick.
“The girls loved it,” he said with a chuckle.
He recalled going up Kingsbury Grade one time in a spring wagon pulled by one horse.
“Every time we went around a curve I had this whistle I had to blow to make sure a car didn’t run into us,” he said. “That was an experience … It was a simple life really, is what it was.”
Around 10 people attended the first gathering, Raven said. Future story hours are set for 2 p.m. the first Sundays in May and June.
If enough people show interest in the gatherings, the series will continue, she said.
The sessions are open to anyone in the community who has stories to tell about life in the Carson Valley and Nevada. The oral history presentations are recorded.