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Valley People

CARROLL PRATT has died. Two weeks ago, the popular Philo man fell at home, badly injuring himself. He passed away in his sleep last Thursday afternoon at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. A memorial service will be held this Saturday, 5pm, at the Apple Hall, Boonville. A full obituary is being prepared and will appear in next week's paper.

WHAT A SPORTS WEEK it was for the Anderson Valley, an unprecedented sports week as local sports historians will tell you. First, the girl's volleyball team, top seed among small schools, advanced towards the championship round with two big wins. The girls play tonight in the hometown gym (Wednesday) for the small school title. On Friday night, the football Panthers knocked off Laytonville in their final game of the season played at Laytonville. And, for the first time ever in the long history of Anderson Valley High School going back to its founding in the early 1920's, one of our teams walked off the field of play with a full-on NorCal championship. (Before 1920 the few kids who went to high school from the Anderson Valley attended either Ukiah High or Cloverdale High School, boarding during the school term with host families.) With the amazing Sergio Gutierrez leading the way, our futballers beat back Sonoma Academy last Saturday afternoon to become the small school champ of champs.

I WATCHED the first half of the semi-final soccer game at the Fairgrounds last Wednesday night, which Anderson Valley went on to win, 3-2. Belying the myth that soccer is a non-contact sport, Sergio G was in a terrific collision with the Drew goalie, a kid who looked to be about twice the size of the valiant Sergio. Both players fell, Sergio the hardest. The other kid slowly regained his footing, shook his head, staggered by to his goal. A few of Sergio's classmates yelled, "Sergio! Get up! Get up, Sergio!" But Sergio lay still for ominous seconds before suddenly bounding to his feet — the kid seems to have a refined dramatic sense — and immediately knocked a penalty kick past his co-collisionist. The victory over Drew on Wednesday night led to the NorCal showdown that ended with a victory for Anderson Valley over Sonoma Academy at Tom Smith Field at the high school, where a large crowd had gathered to watch our boys emerge the number one small school team in Northern California, a small school champ that would probably also be large school champ if the large schools dared take us on.

MADELINE GASSAWAY, the charming young woman at the counter of Mosswood Market, ran the U.S. half-marathon in San Francisco two Sundays ago, a total of 13 grueling miles over the world's most beautiful bridge to Sausalito and back to the world's most beautiful city. Unfortunately that day, the glorious bridge and glorious city were fogged in, negating the splendor of the route. But we're sure, from the pace we've seen her set on her training runs along 128 and Anderson Valley Way, that Madeline more than held her own, rain, fog or sunshine.

UNTIL 1956, Anderson Valley High School was located where the elementary school is now. And that high school, razed in the early 1970s by the a-historical huns then in charge, was erected in the early 1920's when the local population outgrew the one-room school house which now functions as the Anderson Valley Historical Society. The Little Red School House as it's known in The Valley is a rightly esteemed little jewel no would dare suggest be torn down. It rests on land cleared by a black man named Jeans who spent his youth enslaved. Jeans homesteaded west of the elementary school in an area called Ham Canyon, perhaps so designated by locals familiar with the Old Testament wherein black people are called the children of Ham. As we see in old photos of the old high school, its architecture reflected a community pride wholly absent these days, an absence nicely demonstrated by the squat, utilitarian contemporary school architecture prevalent everywhere in the land. The old high school was a graceful building complete with an entrance arch at the west end of the oval still in place. A long, circular driveway took you to its welcoming arch and spacious front doors, from where you walked on into a long hallway of high-ceilinged, high-windowed classrooms, all of it comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. To the west of this impressive edifice was the combined football and baseball field. Its setting was magnificent. Bordered by old growth oak and laurel, the playing fields must have felt like competitions between Housman's Shropshire Lads. Today's medium security prison architecture represents a huge attitudinal step backwards. In 1920, school architecture reflected the society's regard for learning and its youth. Today's school architecture reflects fear of youth, and learning is no longer the point of the exercise. By the way, Boonville also once featured a horse track, completely surrounded by a wooden fence, at the south end of town where the Bennett family of Navarro Vineyards has recently planted a vineyard and begun a commercial goat operation. Old timers say the horse races drew fans from all over Mendocino County.

ONWARD! Bruce Patterson will appear at Laughing Dog Books this very Saturday the 20th, 2-4pm, to talk about his excellent new memoir, "Turned 'Round in My Boots." A very amusing guy whose work is well known inside and outside Mendocino County, meet the author, buy his book, get him to sign it, and generally live a little.

JEFFREY SKOLL, the E-bay magnate, has his Philo retreat on the west bank of the Navarro up for sale. It's your for $7 mil.

HOLY COW! I almost had a cow trying to find the place. Signal Ridge is west of Philo where the hills go deep and long. As you know if you live here. I hadn't been up there for years, but I was vaguely aware that one of its offshoots was called Panorama. Or Sun Dance. Panorama is where I'd been invited to see the world's smallest cow, specifically "the end of Panorama at the Hindu monastery," dual improbabilities right out of the box, but improbability defines life in Mendocino County, doesn't it? My memories of Signal Ridge consisted of the Pronsolino place near the Greenwood Road, the Rossi Ranch much farther along, the now abandoned CDF lookout tower, and pockets of eccentrics in between. Signal Ridge fairly teems with homes and people these days. Anticipating getting lost on unmarked old logging roads, The Major and I set out an hour before we were due at the Hindu's press conference about the odd cow that had been born to them. I tried to recall what I knew about Hindus, which was that they were vegetarians, that they worshipped cows, that they believed in reincarnation, that there were lots of them in India. That was it. About cows, large or small, I knew nothing. We plunged right past Panorama whose roadside sign, as we would discover, was hidden behind a trashcan. We drove down a road running east. It was faintly marked Panorama. We'd plunged on for several miles until I flagged down a logger going the other way. "You know where the Hindus are?" I asked. The logger stared at me. "Hindus?" I asked him if he'd heard of a dwarf cow in the neighborhood. "Dwarf cow?" We turned around and drove back to Signal Ridge Road where we finally saw, behind the obscuring trashcan, the Panorama we were probably looking for. It was a short drive to the end of it where we encountered a big kid dressed in a white sari-like outfit. He welcomed us to Audarya, which he said means Magnanimity, and darned if they weren't, too. We followed the big Hindu up the road and on into a central compound at the south end of which was an attractive structure we learned was built by the monks and monk-ettes who live full time at the monastery which, locals will know, looks west to Cliff Ridge. The monks and monk-ettes were quite helpful in beating back the lightning fires of June, 2008 when the fires came so close to their compound they'd had to hurry-up move their herd to the Boonville Fairgrounds. We'd walked past a tidy series of cow sheds and tiny pastures on the way in. These enclosures contained the monastery’s small herd of plump, happy Zebus. The head guy introduced himself. "You wrote about me once," he said, always a bad sign because usually what follows can range from lengthy exchanges of insults to fist fights. "Well," I said, "you're still smiling," and quickly turned my attention to the little cow. A whole bunch of Hindus, about twenty of them, had silently materialized. One of them extended a plate of cookies, very fine ginger snaps. We were all arrayed around Rati, the record setting Zebu. I think the monk said Rati meant "Wise Love," a non-exist phenomenon in most of our life experiences, but Hindus have a different take on these things. Little Rati, as soon confirmed by a veterinarian named Michelsen out of Ukiah, is about two inches shorter than the current Guinness Book record holder, an English cow called Margaret Thatcher. Now that Rati's dimensions have been officially witnessed and confirmed by Dr. Michelsen, we can soon say that the Anderson Valley is home to the smallest cow in the world, and that the Hindus of Signal Ridge, in all their serene magnanimity just might have found the antidote to the chaos beyond their perfect twenty acres.

AS MTA'S Glenna Blake explains it, round-trip bus fare from the Anderson Valley to Ukiah are a good deal. "Let's take the month of October," Glenna writes. "We operated for 26 days. If one rode everyday between Boonville and Ukiah the fare would be $71.50 or $35.75 for a senior or disabled person. Round trip would be $143 full fare or $71.50 for a senior or disabled person. Of course you could always buy a 3-zone monthly pass for $75 for unlimited rides, as I know you or someone from your newspaper does. That makes the round-trip a two dollar fare if one rode every day. Which is a pretty reasonable ride for 50-plus miles per day."

THERE WAS A big pot raid at Lone Pine, which is deep Peachland Road, last week. But the DEA commando team was a week late. The dope was gone.

LOCALLY, THE DOPES REMAIN, but marijuana is going for as little as $700 a pound as Mexicans and Mexican-Americans will let go the fruits of their summer labor go at bargain prices as they accumulate the capital for their annual holiday trips home to Michoacan. Ordinarily, pot goes for about $2400 a pound.

GOT A LITTLE chuckle out of Val Muchowski's lead sentence in a letter to the Ukiah paper in favor of Measure C: "I have lived in the remote hamlet of Philo for the past thirty years...." Remote from what? Is any place remote any more?

THOSE RECURRENT RUMORS of a mutilated corpse turning up in Noyo Harbor have been confirmed. They are the remains of a middle-aged Novato man named O'Brien who walked out of his Fort Bragg motel room in October and apparently fell over the bluffs into the sea and drowned. The police do not suspect foul play. Eric Grant, 30, employed by the Mendocino Redwood Company, has not been found. His MRC truck was found at Highway One and Navarro Ridge Road almost a month ago. Grant, who was not known to be suicidal, has been missing ever since.

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