Constant Beginnings

Question: What are these?

“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…”

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

“Once upon a time…”

Whoever said, “Opening lines,” you are correct. Any more guesses?

You in the corner, hovering over the snacks. “Story starters?” Perfect! I like that.

(Also, a quick thanks and credit for their words goes to, respectively: Mr. Lucas, Mr. Bulwer-Lytton, and — well, take your pick: Herr Grimm and Herr Grimm? Meester Anderson? Monsieur Perrault?)

Question: What are these?



Excellent! Good job, everyone!

Guess how many stories they’ve started?


Much higher.


Um… Much, much higher. You there, lurking in the back?


Maybe even more. Today we’ll only touch on four of those stories.

The first is really more about what links them together. Those three locations are all places on my and Cindy’s trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in 2015. I’ll be highlighting those visits in future posts, but the important thing for now is: This is where the stories begin.

My friend Royce is brilliant at matching old photos with current reproductions: same place, same shot, different time. I wanted to give it a try, but the best I could manage were, well, pale imitations.

Confused? This should help. Here’s the first picture once again — both THEN and NOW.


The “then” is, that’s the hospital where I was born. (For the record, I am story number two.) Maybe the fountain arrived a few years after I did, but I choose to believe I heard it flowing from my crib, which explains why I still love the sound of flowing water.

Either way, behind that pillar is the same door I went through the first time I ever ventured outside.

The oldest photo I could find in their records (no, I’m not that old, but the archives don’t extend back much beyond when the hospital changed ownership) doesn’t show the fountain, but DOES include a Campfire Tales favorite — a tree! Here’s looking from the tree to the hospital, then from the hospital to the tree:


Moving on. The next stop? The boarding house where my grandparents first met and fell in love (story number three).


The first photo, in black and white, is courtesy of the Library of Congress. Maybe this is how to credit it? Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS CAL,1-BERK,3–6.

I can just picture them, pausing on the steps, savoring a last moment of semi-privacy before heading into the boarding house.

Finally, where it all comes together.


The B&W photo is courtesy of the NP Gallery Digital Archives LAVO collection.

The Lassen Peak eruptions (starting in 1914) led to the designation of Lassen as a National Park (in 1916).

The hospital, the boarding house and the national park alike all birthed countless stories; mine is just one of thousands. Today, these sentinels — each of them still standing, each of them still active — seem like time machines to me, witnesses to events long past. Those moments created me, inspired me, and brought me here to share them with you.

(previous Lassen post) / (next Lassen post)

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