Rafting the American and Pigeon Coops


9144 Vancouver Drive, Sacramento

We moved from 892 Laredo Street in Aurora, CO in 1975 to 9144 Vancouver Drive in Crawford’s Barn in the La Riviera area of Sacramento.  That’s when I became a recruiter for the USAF since that was about the only way I could figure to be reassigned to California.  We had the vineyard on South Maple in Fresno and wanted to finish up my military career in California.  Crawford’s Barn was a very nice and new subdivision near the American River and close to Mather AFB where Susan would be born in 1977. 

The Adair’s came up to visit one summer and Emily and Patty planned to go shopping.  Fred and I decided we’d take Traci and Billy and go rafting, I had an 8’ rubber raft.  We got the girls to take us upriver on their way to the mall so we could launch there and float downriver to Watt Avenue, where we would wait for Emily and Patty to come get us.

Good plan!  We launched and began floating down the American and it was a beautiful day and the kids were enjoying the experience.  We started out with some whitewater but before long the river got wider and slower.  There were four of us in a rubber raft for hours and hours.  It became very hot in the raft with no shade and there was nothing to do but lay there in the sun with a couple of 8 year olds- no make that three 8 year olds, I’m forgetting Fred.  The water was very slow and we kept getting hung up so I climbed out of the raft and started pulling it downriver like Humphrey Bogart in ‘The African Queen’.  When we got abreast of the subdivision where we lived I decided that I would leave Fred and the kids and trek across country and get my truck and then meet them downriver at Watt Avenue since we didn’t want to wait on Patty and Emily. 

I guess it took me about an hour to get my truck and get to Watt Avenue where I parked and went looking for the raft.  I headed up-river and before long I rounded a bend and saw the raft with a bright, shiny red light on it.  That red light was Fred’s face.  He’d been laying in the raft with his head over the side and the sun reflecting off the water into his face for the last several hours.  I did the Humphrey Bogart thing again and towed the raft down to where I’d parked.  We deflated the raft and loaded it and the kids and I drove home. 

When we got there and Fred saw himself in the mirror he got really upset.  We called Macy’s and had the girls paged and they came home.  Fred was being a big baby and complaining a lot and wanted to be taken care of.  We went to the drug store to get him some solarcaine but he said he was still in a lot of pain.  Finally, Emily and Patty decided they’d take the kids and go back to Fowler and leave me there to take care of Fred.  That lasted about a day and we were both miserable so I loaded Fred into my truck and took him home.  I remember he moaned and complained all the way, about 200 miles.  Somehow this was all MY fault? 

5270 Sumner Road  Fowler 1964

Fred and I weren’t a very good check on each other and frequently did some pretty amazing things.  For instance, when he and Emily first bought the walnut orchard in Fowler in 1964, he wanted me to help him move his pigeon coop from Fresno to the new farm.  He knew I had been a house-mover in a previous life and thought that my experience might come in handy.  We rented some ‘Simplex’ railroad jacks and raised the coop and loaded it on a low-boy trailer.  The coop was about 8’ X 12’ and was about 9’ high.  Once we got it on the trailer it was well over 10’ high.  Fred was driving the truck and I was going ahead to block traffic at intersections and to look out for obstructions as we drove down Chestnut Avenue, a major arterial that would get us to Fowler. 

We were going about 20 to 25 mph and Chestnut was a typical country road at that time and people usually moved pretty fast, we were causing some traffic problems.  I noticed a particularly difficult situation coming up with big trees on either side of the road but I figured if I went on ahead I could block traffic and Fred could drive down the middle of the street and minimize any damage to the trees or the building.  I stepped on the gas and zipped down the street at about 50mph and when I got close to the area where I planned to stop traffic I looked in the rear-view mirror and Fred was right behind me. There was a trail of broken limbs in the street and all kinds of limbs and leaves all over the coop.  By the way, it was full of pigeons too.  They must have thought it was the end of the world, assuming pigeons can think.  Probably as well as Fred or I could, I suppose. 

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One Comment on “Rafting the American and Pigeon Coops”


  1. […] Rafting the American and Pigeon Coops September 5, 2010 Explore posts in the same categories: […]


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