Another Great Pete Shaw Column From 1987:

“I’ve always admired people who can tune-up cars, fix plumbing and understand electrical wiring. Anyone who can remodel or build their own home possesses a gift of genius in my opinion. The miracle of cutting two 4×4’s and have them fit neatly together to make a corner borders on the supernatural.

I would love to be able to throw on a carpenter’s apron, draw my forearm across my mouth (John Wayne style) and think I’ll just add on a room; see-yah in a couple of days.”

Instead, when I pick up a hammer or saw, the dog immediately puts his tail between his legs and slinks away: the the cat takes refuge on the top of the bookcase to watch the show, and my children walk the neighborhood to see if they can find a place to spend the night.

I lack just two qualities to be a genuine handyman; skill and patience. The problem is that I refuse to accept the fact that I’m inept.

My friends in construction always say, “Just tear out a wall and you’ll have to learn….There’s really nothing to it!: That advice is tantamount to handling a seven year old kid the keys to a Peterbilt and saying,” Just start the engine and put it in gear; everything ‘ll work out.

I tried to hang paneling once. My real disappointment was was that molding didn’t come in 2 1/2 ft. widths to cover my multitude of errors. Actually, if I could have used the molding on the top and bottom of the wall there would only be three feet of exposed paneling and five feet of molding.

If I ever attempted a remodel it would end up resembling the Winchester House of Mystery.

This past week was a tough one for my ego. The light fixture over the kitchen table expired with a rather spectacular pop and flash one morning as I emerged from the shower. Ignoring caution I attempted to replace the fried bulb socket by just turning it off at the wall. For reasons I still don’t understand, I became a human conductor; during those brief moments I had great empathy for every insect that ever flew into an electric bug zapper.

I felt a great sense of relief that I survived: it could have been really “tacky to be found prone on the kitchen table with my old threadbare terrycloth robe.

A day later I decided to “set” a new toilet (notice how I use the jargon). I had watched one in our other bathroom a few months earlier and it just didn’t seem that difficult. I journeyed to home supply places and returned with a feeling of misplaced optimism. Things went swimmingly. I “set” the stool and secured the tank, turned on the water, pulled the handle and “wonder of wonders,” it worked! I was euphoric. the only small flaw was that the top of the tank wasn’t exactly level. Armed with a wrench I squirmed myself on my back into a contorted position beneath the tank and looking up, gave the nut one last half turn. there was a sickening pop that’s what porcelain sounds like when it racks) and immediately drops of water began bouncing off my forehead: soon the drops turned into a steady steam and I dully realized I had exercised poor judgement once again.

I tried to apply the experience to living in general. When thing are fairly flush accept the idea that life just doesn’t function entirely on the level. Most of the time if you try to crank out too much pleasure the fragile existence will crack leaving a flood of sorrow. Go ahead, I know it’s not profound but I need to believe I salvaged something from the experience: excuse me, I’ve got to towel off my head!


From 1986-Caplinger Field Opens in Running Springs

As the owner of The Alpenhorn newspaper in 1986 it was my joy to  take two full pages of my news paper when Caplinger Field opened to team sports. The really wonderful part of that day was that Larry Caplinger and his wife Sandy got to watch  the colorful balloons sail into the sky. To put it mildly it was a wonderful event for everyone but especially for (at that time) AYSO Area Director Larry Caplinger. Here is what I wrote on that exciting day….There were a lot of happy people that day so here is what I wrote at the end of that wonderful occasion.

“It was cool and crisp at the new field by Hoffman Elementary School in Running Springs on Saturday morning September 13 when Opening Ceremonies for the soccer area were held. Special events were held to mark the beginning of organized games on the field which was sodded by local residents last May who carried, laid and pieced together over 100,000 sq. feet of sod to turn the dirt field into a beautiful patchwork of green grass all in one day.

AYSO Mountain Commissioner Sandy Caplinger and husband Larry (who is Area Director) were honored when it was announced that the field would be named “Caplinger Field.” The announcement was made b Rim of the World Recreation and Park General Manager Les Kole. A few minutes later Kole L, and his wife Linda, were honored for their service, not only to the soccer organization but to mountain sports and recreation as a whole. Larry Caplinger stated that you can hire someone for a job and they do that job and work eight hours a day. However, when the District hired Kole they got a man who works until the job is done.” The Kole’s were presented with a plaque from AYSO. Les was awarded the traditional honor of making the first kick of the season and while he may not be ready for the pros, with a little practice he might make a team.

At the beginning of the ceremony, soccer players and their families gathered around in a big circle. The children hung onto plastic trash bags filled with red, while and blue helium-filled balloons .At the designated moment, the children opened the bags and let the balloons float into the air. They sailed on the wind symbolically toward Lake Gregory where the Opening Ceremonies of soccer were being held at the same time on that field.

The first day of the day was played between two Running Springs area teams. Coach Ed Kikuchi’s team, the Lightening Bolts, beat the Hurricanes, coached by Bill McCorkle by a score of 3-1. The first goal of the game was presented with the game ball.The game was stopped to allow Larry Caplinger to present the ball to her. It was a special moment, not only for her but for everyone who was present and shared in the excitement of the day.

  • The actual dedication of Caplinger Field will be held next spring.


When Running Springs Elementary Became Hoffman Elementary School….It’s a Long but Wonderful history!

From My May 13, 1985 Issue of my Newspaper, The Mountaineer, (before the name was changed to the Alpenhorn.

” The Rim of the World board voted at their May 7 meeting to rename Running Springs Elementary School to Charles Hoffman Elementary School. The change is effective immediately. It honors Principal Chuck Hoffman who will be retiring at the end of this school year. Jack Duckworth, school board member, who made the formal motion cited Chuck’s many school and community activities  and his compassion for all people, most especially the students whose lives have been directly affected by Chuck’s  personal  warmth and caring during his 30 years of teaching and administrative services.

Barbara Biannes, president of the Running Springs P.T.A., presented Chuck with a bound copy of 34 letters of support and thanks from members of his teaching staff and the community. Following a long standing ovation by his many friends and admirers Mr. Hoffman expressed his special gratitude to his wife, JoAnn and to his mother who recently passed away. A reception was held following the presentation.


Local Rotarians Sponsoring Community Flash Mob-You’ll Love it!

If you thought that flash mobs are a thing of the 1960s  you don’t know much about the always-wonderful members of the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club. The local members are planning a community flash mob and all non-profits, public services, churches and schools in our local mountain communities from Crestline to Running Springs will be having a great time when they participate in this mountain-wide event.

The planning meeting will be held in the Rim High School library on Wednesday, January 31 at 6 p.m. The goal of this  interesting local event will be to establish a sense of camraderie among the participants and to create a ??? that will combine their efforts to make possible a project that will fund the major dreams of many in our community, possibly  a community center that would accomodate teens, scouts, social gatherings, ect.

The flash mob will be held in April in Lake Arrowhead village before 9 a.m. on a ate that has yet to be confirmed….. depending on the weather, probably after the school district spring-break. We will utilize the talent of the Rim High media departments to compile and collect the video recordings and to get CD’s for distribution. We will use the music from Andy Grammer’s “Good to Be Alive.” Watch it on your cell phone or computer to check it out. Please rally your groups to participate in this community effort to improve our opportunities to fund and make possible the creation of a meaningful and appropriate project that will enhance and enrich our mountain area. All the information and how to participate will be on


When Reba and Alabama Played a Concert at Snow Valley in 1989

What sees like a centuries ago Reba McIntyre and “Alabama” played an incredible concert at Snow Valley. I recently came across the story I wrote after that and I have to say that reading it all over again really brings back wonderful memories. Here is the story I wrote back then for my newspaper, The Alpenhorn,  in the July 20 1989 issue.

To put it mildly, that concert was fabulous, fun, exciting and  great!. Here’s what I wrote  and published for my newspaper at the time. Those of you who were there can read it and yearn for more concerts at Snow Valley but that’s not likely to happen.

“What has 20,000 eyes, ears, hands and feet, roars like a lion, stomps hard enough to shake the ground and yells and screams their lungs out….all in the name of fun? Well, try the 10,000 Reba McIntyre/Alabama fans who piled into the parking lot of Snow Valley Ski Area last Monday night to witness the first historic local concert of its size on the west side of “The Mountain.”

The event, sponsored by the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce, was an experiment and it worked beautifully.

When the petite McIntyre took the stage at about 8 p.m. (a half hour delay due to, oddly enough traffic on Hwy 18) that little lady proved that she had one pair of lungs; she “wowed” everyone with her individual style of country/western singing. Her version of “Cathy’s Clown”” was a real crowd-pleaser but when she sang an oncore acapella, well, the mountain was in serious jeopardy of falling down due to the thunderous applause.

“Alabama kept the audience going with a long string of their hit osngs and they, literally, had the audience dancing, clapping their hands, swaying back and forth and lighting cigarette lights in the air so it looked hike a bunch of tiny, flikering lights.

And, as if planned,as the entertainment went on, a big round, full moon climbed over the mountains to shine down on thos assembled. Nice touch!”

From 1994-“Frustrating Packaging” by Pete Shaw

This post was one of Pete Shw’s fabulous columns when I owned The Alpenhorn newspaper and he was principal at Charles Hoffman Elementary School. He sent me a fabulous column for each week and some of them were funny as all get out and others were beautifully sentimental. I never knew what he was going to write for the paper but each one was a gem. Wasn’t I lucky!!!!! This post is from the November 17, 1994 issue of The Alpenhorn. It’s called Frustrating PackagingR.I.P. (Rest in Plastic'”

“I’ve never  understood why companies spend millions of dollars advertising their products and then package them in such a manner that you risk serious injury or teeth-gashing frustration trying to gain access to the items therein contained.

Opening a bag of chips can shear off fingernails and cut lips in an attempt to chew off the tops.I have found that the best method of opening the sack is to lace it on a hard surface, jump into the air and hit the bloated object in a sitting position. Oftentimes the bottom blows out first and you must serve the chips upside down. Besides being insufficient, this method is somewhat undignified and misunderstood in large social gatherings.

Once you have gained entry to the chips, the next challenge is to open the chips container. It has a little ring you pull to peel back the top to create a a round razor blade that can take a thumb or finger to the bone. I wonder how many jalapeno cheese dip freaks have dipped their chips while regulating the pressure on the tourniquet.

In order to bind the wound from the dip top, it is only natural to reach for the band aids. Have you ever tried to extricate a band aid from its wrapping while you bleed to death? Trying to grab the little red thread with  trembling fingers and blurred vision is tough enough when you find your new challenge with these two little strips that cover the adhesive. Meanwhile, you’ve lost a couple of pints.

Embarssed, bleeding and wet, you pick up the new cassette tape to play during your snack and discover that there is no way to penetrate the cellophane covering. Temporrily crazed, you grab an ice pick and attack  the neatly packaged treasure until your new Neil Diamond tape has just stabbed to death in your homicidal frenzy.

Suddenly you find an angina attack coming on. You race to the medicine cabinet, grab your nitroglycerin prescription container and with the stubs of bandaged fingers attempt to rip open the glue-scaled cardboard box only to find a vial that can only be opened by consulting with a mechanial engineer.

After solving the “King Tut Vial Mystery” you discover a cotton wad embedded in a hole designed to discourage human access. With this final and terminal obstacle, you succumb. Using the most contempory undertaking techniques, your loving friends and relatives view you resting in your open casket shrink-wrapped in havy plastic with your bandaged hands crossed over your chest..lutching your vice-grips.

Over the new gravestone, the letters R.I.P. begin in memorial statement: “Rest in Peace.”


Mountain Driving Tips from Auto Club

I am enjoying going through so many of my “Alpenhorn” newspapers from the 1980s. I came across one of my stories that is filled with tips for driving in the mountains. In the 1980s we had tons of snow so I typed out the information for my January 8, 1987 issue. Although that date was quite a while ago the information is still great for driving in the snow. The story I wrote carried the photo of (then) Channel 4 correspondent Conan Nolan. He was reporting from Green Valley Lake and while he was in the community he had a great time not just seeing the huge amounts of snow but meeting and interviewing a lot of “locals”

From Feb. 22, 1990 the Headline said, “Six foot Snowfall Cripples Mountain“…..and it did!

“The snowfall this past weekend resulted in clogged highways and county streets, multiple fender-benders, frantic phone calls to the county and Caltrans maintenance yards and countless furious tempers by frustrated residents and snowplowing personnel.

As the storm moved heavily into the mountains on Friday evening, by Saturday there was several inches of fresh snow. However, as the snow c0ntinued fast and furiously on Saturday, county snowplowing equipment began to break down. Edward Rhoades, , day supervisor of the Running Springs county yard told The Alpenhorn on Monday that the trucks cannot be used because of the depth and heaviness of the snow. Rhodes also said that there were problems with the graders. However, loaders were due to arrive Monday afternoon from San Bernardino and he said there were more on the way.

One of the problems, Rhoades explained, is that there are cars parked across the streets  so that snowplowing equipment can’t get through and around the streets that they need to get to. Rhoades credited most of the snowplowing problems with equipment failures. He also said that on some roads three and one-half to four feet of snow remained on some unplowed roads.

Rhoades added that due to the mechanical breakdown of so much of the equipment, it has been difficult opening up the primary roads, let alone the secondaries.  While not trying to make excuses for their snowplowing, Rhoads said that when Caltrans plows (and there’s as much snow as the mountain have experienced in the past few days) it makes it difficult because the state will often push up berms of snow on the county roads which must then be plowed again. The county keeps some spare parts in their Running Springs yard but major repairs require mechanics or other specialized personnel must be brought in to make repairs on the equipment  hen it breaks down. Depending on the repairs that need to be local mechanics may be utilized. As for opening the road, Rhodes said hat he had heard thee was a meeting set up between the county and Caltrans to decide whether or not to open Hwy. 330 to everyone rather than just residents which which had been the situation for two days. Whether or not that meeting was ever held and the outcome of that meeting remains unknown to The Alpenhorn as of press deadline on Monday afternoon.

Remember: Living in the mountains is a choice and in the past several years the huge snows we used to get aren’t the same as they used to be. Be sure to make your auto and home as weather-related as much as possible.