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Know the West

Frosty recesses


I must admit that after glancing at "Touring the frosties of the Lost Sierra" (HCN, 4/14/14), I was tempted to pass over it and move on to a weightier issue that would have more resonance with an under-employed conservation biologist. But because it involved the Sierra, not to mention frosties, it latched onto something in the recesses of my memory, so I gave it a read. I am so glad I did.

Starting from the early 1960s, my family spent several weeks each summer in a rented cabin in South Lake Tahoe, California. But my father was not one for suntans, gambling or crowds. His passion was fishing, and not from some boat or shoreline, but along mountain streams.

His stream of choice was the West Walker River, which meandered from the Sonora Pass to the Great Basin. We'd typically leave before dawn and drive in the old station wagon 75 miles or so to the banks of the river. My father worked six-day blue-collar weeks, and he fished as hard as he worked, all day long. On the drive back, I would invariably ask to stop in the community of Walker for a hamburger and a frosty.

My father was stoic and gruff, and sometimes he just drove past, but more often than not, he did pull over. He never ordered anything for himself, but I was treated to what I thought was the best burger in the world and, of course, a frosty.

A week or so ago, my mother came across a slew of old pictures and showed me some of my father and me fishing. I stared at them, transfixed. He was so young then – fit, handsome, with coal-black hair. Seeing those pictures sent a wave of nostalgia through me, and that wave, I suspect, drove me to your article.

After reading it, I felt an odd melancholy, and a lump began to rise in my throat. My father is alive and well, plenty active and healthy at 75, but he doesn't fish anymore. Those days are long past.

Even though my favorite frosty stand is now a coin-operated laundry, others, such as the Sno-Flake, still stand, and that puts a smile on my face. For no one, I'll bet, will ever wax nostalgic about a Jack in The Box.

Joseph Belli
Pacheco Pass, California