The Mill St. Gang

Mill St Gang251As I’ve mentioned here before, I live in the house I grew up in on Mill Street in Grass Valley. I left in June of ’69 after graduating from high school and wandered the backroads “to search for America” as Paul Simon once put it, for the next thirty five years. After Dad passed away Mary Ann and I moved in and continue to try to keep the old homestead from falling down.

The neighborhood has been changing since we returned. This last week, Joe Rivera, who lived across the street in a house he built himself back in the fifties, passed away. Up the street, it appears that the last holdout from the twentieth century, Erma Kistle, has left her residence. I’ve noticed a lot of activity up there in the last month, but wasn’t sure what was up until I received this photo from Andy Cassano in today’s mail, along with a note saying that one of the kids found it while they were cleaning out the house.

This sure brings back some memories. Pictured are my old gang; (from left to right) Tom Lott, Ron Kistle, (I assume that’s his little sister on his knee) Pete Prichard, me, and Dave Lott. The motorcycle, a Harley Davidson Sprint H, belonged to Pete. He was the first on the block to get wheels, and he let all of us have a turn at riding it. Of course, I immediately dumped it and ripped a gash in my leg, but such minor injuries never stopped us from getting back in the saddle. Within a few years everyone had some kind of cycle, and we had one of the oddest looking motorcycle gangs you’ve ever seen. Pete on his Italian-made Harley, Dave on his Allstate 150, (You bought them through the Sears catalog) a few Honda 50’s and a pair of Vespa motor scooters. We terrorized the ‘hood, mostly with noise.

So the last of the Depression era residents are gone now, and us baby boomers are the old timers. A new generation is moving in, young families with kids mostly, and they’re sprucing up the old houses and breathing new life and new sounds up and down the old street. Life goes on.

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13 Responses to The Mill St. Gang

  1. Ryan Mount says:

    Lovely piece. Thanks for sharing. The retiring generation looks with with a cold eye on the upstarts, and the upstarts want them to get the hell out of the way.

    However pieces like this remind us that, as I’m reminded everyday, that I was once “brain damaged” as Bill Cosby once put it. It also reminded me of a Springsteen song about how the generations blame each other for everything that goes wrong. It’s built into our DNA, I think.

    Adam Raised a Cain

    In the Bible Cain slew Abel
    And East of Eden mamma he was cast
    You’re born into this life paying
    For the sins of somebody else’s past
    Well Daddy worked his whole life for nothing but the pain
    Now he walks these empty rooms looking for something to blame
    But you inherit the sins, you inherit the flames

  2. Ken Jones says:

    Pete is still riding, a KTM now, racing and winning. Pete took first in the Masters division recently at Virginia City Grand Prix 2013. Good man.

  3. Juan Browne says:

    Pete Prichard?! Yea, he’s still a ridin’ fool! Super competive enduro Sr. rider…wins all the time. Great guy to talk too as well.

    Great stuff…keep it up.

  4. San French says:

    Bob~ Your doo is serious and brought it all back for me. Product? I was an Alberto V05 boy which I swiped from my Mom on the sly…applied after I left the house. I would also cop a dab of Brylcreem from Jack Schlosser on the way to the bus stop in the event that Mom was out of V05. Those were the days of style and risk. Thanks for the memory!

    • rl crabb says:

      Yeah…Brylcream, only a little dab never did it. I used to have an oil slick in the bathtub.

      • Your hair style was associated with punks where I grew up in San Mateo County. Did you have a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up in the sleeve of your T-shirt?

      • PeteK says:

        At first glance I though you might have been wearing your Daniel Boone coonskin hat. Love the pic, keep throwing one in now and then with some back story brings back some great memories for all of us.

  5. Larry Thomas says:

    Nice picture…nice story. Once we were young.

  6. LTodd says:

    Ah, that’s a keeper! How lucky we were to make our own worlds outdoors. I had no idea Mr. Rivera still lived on Mill St. I was a classmate of his son, Joey, and would love to have news of him.

  7. Jean says:

    Hi. My name is Jean Jacobs (Ratel). Grew up in Nevada City and Grass Valley, lived across the street from Erma, she is my Aunt. She passed away 2 years ago. I’d love to be added to your list/website. My husband is also an original Nevada Countian!! Graduated in 1972 from NU, I graduated in 1980.

    • Ken Mitchell says:

      I been doing some Kistle research and would like to get in contact, as my great great grandmother was Jane Kistle and married Joseph Bascano Mitchell in Jo Davies IL before coming to Red Dog in the Fall of 1854. I farm in Elk Grove on the same piece of property. I’m the last of the Mitchell’s , two boys. Mitchell’s and Kistles came together from Cornwall England. Would like to share.
      Ken Mitchell

    • Randy Ellis says:

      Jean hello my name is Randy Ellis, I came across this post while researching the Kids of Orville and Lena Travis Scott. I am a distant cousin and would love to speak with you about Orville and Lenas kids and grandkids. My email is please if you receive this I’d love to hear from you.

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