Seasons are a wondrous thing! As I grew older, time seemed to speed up, and I gradually became more observant. As time sailed by, life’s cycles became more apparent. As a young man I tended to envision time as a vast, unlimited resource; time it seemed was an inexhaustible sea. Now in the autumn of my life, each hour is increasingly precious, and I thirst for each minute as it drips away from an alarmingly finite pool.
The 1870s found ol’ Hangtown completing another cycle of its own. Following completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, much of the freight that had previously gone through Placerville by wagon, now circumvented the ravine city by rail. Hangtown’s traffic took another nosedive, and our freight service took on a mighty leisurely pace! Simultaneously, our fortuitous investment in railroad stock began paying some pretty good dividends! Lidge and I were able to cut back to eight-hour days, with weekends off. With most of our route now consisting of local trips, we were home most evenings and beginning to live the good life. With dividends coming in regularly, our finances perked up considerably, and we began indulging in a few luxuries. One weekend I found a good buy at auction, and surprised Mariah with a piano. We put the oak veneered upright against the east wall of the parlor, and following some practice, Mariah and Eliza both got pretty good! Quite often on Fridays, the Kinneys would come for dinner and spend the evening. The girls would play the piano, Lidge would accompany on his concertina, all of us would sing, and the entire house would ring with music and laughter.
We made a number of home improvements during these years, and achieved an unprecedented level of sophistication by closing in a portion of the back porch for use as a water closet. These state of the art facilities boasted shiny, new porcelain fixtures, complete with a claw foot bathtub, pedestal sink, and a remarkable flush toilet. These advancements, besides being lavishly convenient, proved to be quite a novelty here on Reservoir Hill, and drew fascinated children from all over the community, requiring the procurement of extravagant amounts of derriere-grooming supplies, and necessitating copious quantities of time, spent in the grooming of the facilities themselves, as our aim was to keep the facilities immaculate, but the children’s’ aim was atrocious! “Obie’s Quest”