Double Cone Quarterly
Fall Equinox 2003-- Volume VI, Number 2

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PAST TIMES:
Letter from Gorda
By David Rogers

On August 8, 1908 the following (very romantic) description the Pacific Valley area of the Big Sur Coast was published in the Salinas Daily Index. It was written by Nina Berger Plaskett (Mrs. Arley Plaskett), who, according to a report by Mabel Plaskett published in 1962, was a teacher at the Pacific Valley School in 1902 and later on at the nearby Mansfield School for several years. Although the author states that she was "a guest and a newcomer" to the Pacific Valley area, according to the Mabel Plaskett report, Nina had married Albert (a.k.a. Allie, Arley and Dude) Plaskett in 1893. Albert was one of the "Lonny Plasketts," so named in order to distinguish them from the other branches of the family in that area. The Plasketts settled in the Pacific Valley/Gorda area in about 1864 or in 1869, and eight family members received land patents in that region.

LETTER FROM GORDA.

Gorda, August 4, 1908.

Editor, Index: As a guest and a newcomer at this imprisoned world, for it seems a world to itself, I cannot refrain from sending my friends a few lines giving my impression, and a sketch of our life as we lead it here in the very heart of these grand old mountains. Positively nature was in a beneficent mood when she placed these surroundings of such majesty and beauty here. For here not only can the sick in body find rest and strength, but the tired, melancholy soul rid itself of its burden while gazing on the heaven that seems so near. Here we are guarded by the sun-kissed and flower-crowned hills on one hand and the peaceful green-blue Pacific on the other, which roars and raves, then whispers and breaks into silence as quiet as the grave, concealing hundreds of secrets of which we know little or nothing.

From whence we came the road is long and tiresome to many, but to me it was a dream of happiness of which I hoped the spell need never break. A source of unending wonder and joy at the beauty and grandeur of the scenery that every turn in the road unfolded to view.

The poet may sing and the artist paint of the wildness and grandeur of the Alps and the Rhine, but one doesn't have to leave Monterey County to equal their majestic splendor. Exquisite, beautiful, grand, magnificent! No word in the English language could express this adorable paradise.

Of all the pastimes and pleasures of delight, such as walks, rides, rowing, swimming, fishing, berry gathering and hunting and so forth, the most enjoyable of all to me was to know that this was the place of husband's birth. When small, freckle-faced, red-headed, bare-footed and curly-topped Dudie first heard the splashing and roaring sad sea waves, rode his first bucking calf, milked the cows and herded the hogs, hunted the wildcat and shot the deer. All these memories come trooping back as each one steps in to claim its place in the record of life. Are they pleasant dreams? What could be more pleasant? When he sees the spring or creek from whence he pulled his first fish or sprung his first dive. These and more all make one beautiful dream registering their histories in the pages of life. The tall ferns, the rugged rocks, the cliffs, the redwoods, the pines, the bending willows, the winding stream that ripples and bubbles, always gay and ready to quench the thirst of all that come to its brink. Dancing over rocks and splashing its way, always rushing onward to the deep blue ocean, telling its story to those that listen.

We were delighted at the hiss of the white foam as it spilt into a creamy pathway for our rowboat, as we pushed through the ever rolling, dashing waves toward the fishing grounds, to learn to soon what sea-sickness was like. We were glad to get back by the bank of blooming flowers and tall ferns and watch the stream sing away the hours. So, while thus engaged, the moments flew on the wings of time and Dude would tell us of fresh nooks and streams and waterfalls of which we never dreamed. We always found the humming bees among the flowers and the birds singing and building their nests.

But all too soon the time has come when we must say good-bye, the shadows are long and the breezes have hushed, the murmur in the fir and pine is still and the sun is going down behind western waves far away, lighting up the sky in all its beauty and grandeur, kissing the hilltops in the background and drawing the curtains of night over all, and away in our camp-fire's glow. We hear a rustling in the leaves which seems to tell us "sweet summer is going away," and as we lie down on our cots to rest we just begin to realize how tired we have become from our day's tramps. We think of the bathtub at home, and the spring bed haunts our acing bones, while a good supper cooked on a range wouldn't go bad. But while thus thinking of the home comforts we gaze upward to heaven and in each star we seem to see the face of our Creator, whom we thank for the beauty and happiness on earth, and we realize that for his pleasure all things were and are created.

MRS. ARLEY PLASKETT.

REFERENCES:

Clark, Donald T. Monterey County Place Names. Kestrel Press, Carmel Valley. 1991.

Plaskett, Mabel. The concluding part of a "History of Coast Schools" series (transcribed by Steve Chambers) that was published in the King City Rustler in November of 1962.

Shearer, S. M. "An Out of the Way Corner of County," Salinas Daily Index, January 2, 1911.


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