HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

October 12, 1988

Hey, there, Udo!–

Fall may be here at last.  We had summer temperatures all through September and this month up until now.  But today the sky is cloudy and the air is in the 50’s.  All of which means–out here on the frontier–that we can start getting ready to go to Lake Tahoe once again for Christmas week.  Another example of the pioneering spirit that won the West.

In The Big Tomato

The terms that describe the summer weather in Sacramento are not the same as those used in the effete East, where everybody gets “the vapors” when the thermometer goes over eighty.  Here we have frontier weather.  We don’t want nobody as wears lace cuffs getting down off the stage and going a faint on us in the middle of the street in front of the Last Tomato Saloon.  He would have to be drug down to the ice house and that would distract the serious customers of the Last Tomato, and affect the economy.

First off, any temperature under ninety is “fair,” unless it’s raining, and then it’s “rainy.”

Over Ninety
90° – 95° = pleasant
96° – 100° = warming
101° – 105° = warm
106° – 110° = warmer than it was
111° – 115° = real warm
116° – (up) = thermometer on the post office roof is acting funny

This is a scientific approach to defining the weather, not one of those subjective methods like are used in the effete East where the newspaper sends a reporter to fry eggs on the courthouse steps, and that decides how hot it is: “It’s fried-egg hot out here today, readers!”  You might as well hold up a wet finger to measure a hurricane.

We also had a very dry summer–the second in a row–but water rationing was not needed because everybody cut back on water use by 15% without being asked.  (We cut out the jolly water fights with two hoses.)  We water our lawns in the dark, and that cuts down evaporation.  But it encourages toadstools and night insects that like moisture.  We just make the best of it, like any pioneers.  The word is, however, that if we have a third dry year in a row, the lawns will have to parch.  The important thing is to get a big snow-pack in the Sierras, not necessarily a lot of winter rain in the city.  The melting snow-pack fills the reservoirs, and we’re home free, ready to face another pleasant summer of “The Nicest Weather This Side Of Death Valley.”  Who would want to live anywhere else?

We have been going to Lake Tahoe every Christmas at the expense of my step-daughter and doctor-husband, and we have no complaints about the arrangement.  Mary and step-daughter drove up there a few weeks ago and got a lock on a holiday rental right on the lake front.  TO make sure of this kind of location, it’s necessary to negotiate in September.  The lake-front houses get grabbed first.  By November all you can get is something down a back road that won’t get plowed if there’s a heavy snow.

The place this year is about seven miles from Tahoe City, which you will find on your convenient map of Lake Tahoe.  We go there because it’s close to ski areas, which everybody but us uses.  (We take walks.)  At the other end of the lake is South Lake Tahoe, which is across the Nevada border where the casinos are located.  My pal Raspy Kelly hangs out there during the holidays (to make his annual killing), and after I see him I’ll report on his System.  You can then zip down to Atlantic City and rent a Brink’s truck to bring you home.

Since moving to Stamford you have not furnished any news about how all of you like it, how you are adjusting, how the locals have been treating you, etc.  Does Thomas go to the local school, or does he have to ride a bus to one of those “union” district schools?  Does Anne have to pump water for the bathtub, or is the brook routed under the house?  Do you chop wood for the stove, or use kerosene?  The American People are entitled to know the answers of these questions!

We will return you to Dan Rather after a word from our sponsor, Clem Plowrake, your friendly farm equipment dealer, where you can always depend on the horsewhips.  “Yes, sir, folks… when you see one of us floggin’ some tourist down Main Street, you kin be SURE we’re usin’ a ol’ reliable Touristlash ask any tourist if’n it doesn’t give a better floggin’,  You’ll be surprised at the answer, yes siree!”


I AM CONFUSED by your two mailing addresses.  Your last letter had a Bank Street return address, and a Stamford postmark.  Where should your mail be sent?  Are you just throwing creditors off the track?  I’ll go along with your plan, whatever it is.

Red Herring Dobbs-1

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