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Larry Stickney 1926-2010

Intrepid mushroomer Larry Stickney passed away on June 12, 2010. During several decades of collecting fungi, Larry was four term president of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, a long term member of the North American Mycological Association, and a vocal supporter and member of BAMS. He steadfastly led Sunday morning mushroom forays at Land's End in San Francisco for many, many years.

Larry Stickney Memorial
Larry Stickney

The memorial for Larry on October 3, 2010 at the Randall Museum was attended by scores of his friends, old and new. Larry's family from the East was also able to attend. Many thanks to Debbie Viess, Lorrie Gallagher, and Mike McCurdy for making it happen. This tribute page is still being updated and serves as a reminder for us to live life to its fullest, with generosity and compassion.

If you would like to add your own story or photos to this page, contact David Rust by email.

Larry loved to eat wild mushrooms and was a great resource for scrumptious recipes. He was a fixture at local fungus fairs, either checking in visitors or volunteers, or informing the public about fungi. Larry was a mentor to many — he was very open about telling people where to hunt for mushrooms, promoting cooperation rather than competition.

At one point in his career, Larry assisted in the popular Yosemite Valley Firefall at Curry Village. His role was to back a truckload of bark up to the edge of the cliff, slam on the brakes to disgorge the load (a maneuver requiring great precision), then help build a fire with the bark and push the massive fire over the edge to create the 3,000 foot illusion of a waterfall composed of sparks and fire. 

One year, when I had a few days to scout morels early in the season, Larry offered to take me to some likely spots in the Sierra. My car at that time was a Volkswagen Golf, with little passenger room. Larry squeezed in and never complained, but it was a very tight fit. When we arrived at the Silver Lake campground, way up Hwy 88 toward Kirkwood, the ground was covered in snow. I thought we should just turn around and go to lower elevation, but Larry spotted the camp host trying to clear a path to his trailer. They talked about mushrooms for quite a while, including the propensity for morels to grow in disturbed areas. Larry never missed a chance to share his knowledge. We peeled off Hwy 88 and spent the whole day searching likely habitat on the Emigrant Trail, but found nothing. As we approached Sly Park Reservoir, going 50 mph, Larry suddenly told me to stop the car. He told me to look below the road on the left side, and voila!, there were six perfect morels. I have no idea how he spotted them at that speed, below the road on my side of the car. When we got home I handed him the morels (since he found them), and he politely declined, and said I should keep them since I did all the driving.

Larry Stickney will be greatly missed.

—David Rust

Thank you for informing us of the passing of a true giant of amateur mycology. Larry Stickney will be missed by everyone who knew him.

It was my good fortune to have known Larry Stickney for more than 20 years. Living in Southern California, I did not often get to see him, but I always made a point of dropping by whenever I was in the Bay Area. Larry was ever the gracious and welcoming host and I enjoyed many hours in his company listening to his observations on the mycological scene and the people in it.

Larry passionately believed in sharing with others the joy of finding, cooking, and eating mushrooms. Many words have been and will be written and spoken about this remarkable man, but the one that describes him best is "friend".

Good bye, Larry. You are in all our hearts.

—Steven Pencall

I too was one of the newbies who could always count on Larry for guidance, and to answer my many naive questions. Larry was a BIG man... in many ways he, and his tales of adventure were LARGER THAN LIFE!! He gently informed me early on that the Amanita "mascaria" was not for the eyeslashes and urged me to look up the correct spelling. He also informed me that I should get with it and learn the Latin names when I told him I thought it was sooo snobbish.

My last memory of Larry was on a private trek when he took me and a couple of friends to the Sierra to look for morels. He no longer had the excessive weight and he hiked stalwartly and majestically, up and down the hills balancing himself tentatively using ski poles. He will always be a GIANT in my mind and I remember him with a smile, when I think about something I said to him that made him blush. The OTHER GIANT in this photo is someone recognized by most, David Bartolotta, who is also very sadly one of our "dearly departed." David and I had offices next to each other when we both worked at the San Francisco Ballet. David took me on my very first mushroom hike, looking for chanterelles in Marin. He and I shared so many laughs and stories. I am so happy to have this photo of these 2 guys together!!!

—Irma Brandt

I had the good fortune of meeting Larry in the early 90s and going on walks with him in the Mendocino area. I remember him most for his quick wit and sharp sense of humor. He caught me off guard more than once. I'd wonder "Did he just say that?" I even have some of it in old emails, but I'll let him RIP. I moved to the Sierras in 1998. The last time I saw Larry was in the spring of 2005. He came to visit because I told him of my incredible natural morel find. Most people think of morels as fire followers, and so did I until I found the mother lode of natural white giants. Larry couldn't stand it and had a friend drive him down to visit. Unfortunately the morels were a few miles from the trail head and he couldn't do that kind of a trek. We walked around a bit in an unnamed location and found a few morels. I think he was disappointed, but I know he’s now in mushroom heaven. Next year, I’ll take you to my favorite morel spot Larry.

—Karen Folger

I would be a very different person than I am today if I hadn't met Larry. We met quite by chance. In 1989 I was in a used bookstore in Oakland looking for a book on wild mushrooms. A stranger standing next to me pointed at Arora's Mushrooms Demystified and said it was supposed to be the best guide. I said I had no idea how to even start and he handed me a card with a number and told me to call his friend. His friend was Larry. I called. Larry was retired and I wasn't working much. I had a car and a new found "razh" for mushrooms. It didn't take me long to figure out the scope of my luck. That first year he must have taken me out at least 20 times. With his large personality and unbuckled frame squeezed into my tiny Toyota Tercel we would head off to the Berkeley Marina for blewits and agarics, to the Berkeley and Oakland hills for chanterelles, porcini and candy caps, to San Francisco for shaggy manes and more porcini, to a secret spot that someone made Larry promise not to hunt in while he was still alive, to hidden hillsides and groves above tunnels, on campuses and in parks.

Larry was also a master storyteller and would spin marvelous tales of mushrooms in Russia, epic morel hunts in the Sierras, bountiful chanterelle years in the East Bay Hills, porcini as far as you could see in the mountains of New Mexico, boletes and trout in Yosemite. As the years went on, I loved picking Larry up pre-dawn on a spring morning during morel season and heading across the green Central Valley and into the beflowered Sierra foothills. Whether in the Wasatch mountains in Utah, along the Klamath River in Humboldt County or trying to pass as hikers in Yosemite and the East Bay Regional parks, we would drive along playing classical music on the radio and he would tell more stories. San Francisco after WWII, months of hiking and fishing in the mountains, hot springs, stories of Death Valley and hitchhiking sailors, Polk Street in the 50s, gossip about Ansel Adams, summers working in Yosemite and of course always more mushrooms and endless ways to prepare them. I never got enough of his stories.

In short, Larry lived a life that I admire. He was rich in experience, adventure, knowledge, wit and friends. He was ever gracious, always a gentleman, unselfish and larger than life. He enriched my life and inspired me — and he will be sorely missed.

—Mark Thomsen

Larry was so supportive of SOMA from the very beginning, at the fairs, forays, at SOMA Camp whenever he could come... Oh, how I will miss him — that bright smile at the MSSF Fair, that welcoming hug, that generous spirit that has accompanied me for so long a journey....

—Dorothy Beebee

I am very saddened at the death of Larry Stickney. I have always admired him. He called me last summer here in Alameda because he thought there may be morels in the ice plant that abounds here. I had never heard of this habitat for morels, but he came over with a young couple and we went exploring, mostly on Bay Farm Island. Found a few blewitts but no morels. Larry couldn't walk very fast or far. We stopped after about a quarter mile of shoreline at a park, then I went back and got my car and met them so he would not need to walk back.

I joined MSSF at the 1982 Fungus Fair, signed up for a beginner foray at Land's End. Of course, Larry was conducting the foray. My wife Judy and I were impressed with his knowledge, and over the years with his enthusiasm. But mostly I admired him for being so generous with beginners, and for sharing his mushroom finds with others, beginner or not. In those days he loved to eat and did not stint with the butter and cream in his mushroom dishes. This did not help his health, but he lived as he wished, not as the food police dictated. He reached 84 years of age (am I correct?). That is not bad. He had wonderful experiences in the woods and fields, on the small and large forays, at the mushroom events in the Bay Area, Sierras and afar. I will miss him.

—Roger and Judy Ecker

Here are three fairly recent photos of Larry in his element. The photo of Larry above the reservoirs in Lafayette was our last outing. He had a wonderful day, and was proud as punch to have made it that far up the ridge trail. In fact, he insisted that I take the picture to document his accomplishment.

Earlier this year he scared the heck of me on a trip for black chanterelles. We were on top of a ridge, but there was ample area along the road perfectly suited for Larry, being fairly open and level. We had walkie talkies to stay in touch, and our agreement was that he would stay in the area along the road while I scoped the canyons below. Every few minutes we would talk, and he seemed quite content, and was finding mushrooms. Unfortunately he was following the mushrooms downhill. By the time I found him, he had dropped considerably in elevation, and I was concerned that without help it could be a one way trip. Slowly, one step at a time, and not ignoring any fungi, we ascended to the ridge top. I was sweating bullets, but he never showed one bit of concern as he patiently made his way back to the road. Sorry, no picture of Larry on that one, only some of the mushrooms he might have collected.

—Mike McCurdy

I've been behind the group for a bit, but just read this and it came as a shock. Larry was probably my earliest mentor in the world of fungi.

When I first joined MSSF back in 1981 when I was 14, I sent in the application with my interests checked off, including a written in spot about interest in ethnomycology and psychoactive fungi. I got a personal letter back from Larry welcoming me to the society, but expressing concern over my interest in psychoactives at such a young age.

Soon I was a regular attendee at his Land's End and Presidio walks, and quickly learned the common pine/cypress mycota of SF. In about a year, he was having me lead the walks when he couldn't make it out to SF.

I encountered him again in 2000 when I rejoined the society after being away from the Bay Area for about 10 years. He recognized me after a little prompting and was pleased that I was pursuing an education in mycology. A few years later, he was unloading some excess belongings and gave me the complete back catalogue of "Mushroom: The Journal", something I'm very pleased to maintain as part of my mycological library.

Larry was a treasure-trove of info, and I had hoped to interview him at some point about the early history of the Society. Shouldn't have put that off.

Anyway, he'll be missed in these parts,

—Peter Werner

Thank you for letting us know about Larry Stickney's death. How sad that he couldn't make it to the NAMA 50th anniversary. We knew Larry for many years and admired his exceptional writing and cooking skills. The last time we saw him was a few years ago at a MSSF meeting and then drove him to the train station. My fondest memory of Larry was at a NAMA Foray in northern Minnesota where some of us got into voyageur canoes to paddle to an island to cook dinner. We were sure that Larry would tip the boat but he made it fine.

—Sandy Sheine

In 1973, I went camping in the Sierra with a group of friends. We really didn't know what we were doing and brought way too little food for five young men for a week of exercise (mainly we brought brown rice, which was not only heavy but took forever to cook at high altitude). We met this guy near our destination campsite and invited him to share our meal, frankly hoping he might bring a little more than he ate. He was Larry. After hearing that we were going to have to hike back many days early because of our stupid food packing, he spent the next day with us, walking around showing us edible fungus. I still remember the very abundant sulfur shelf fungus and how delicious it was, like abalone (we were really very hungry). What he taught us was sufficient to let us stay for the whole week, one of my favorite camping trips ever, in what turned out to be a long habit of Sierra camping. Just to emphasize how close we were cutting it, when we reached the Bay Bridge coming home, we had to search the car floor for enough change to pay the 25 cent toll. We hadn't budgeted for it.

After that, I would come to SFMS events and look up Larry and remind him about that enormous favor. He would remember it, but I quickly realized that he had helped a lot of campers over the years, and he'd have to sort out which ones we were.

Incidentally, I thought of Larry today because my oldest daughter is a food-blogger and a recent post about mushrooms mentioned this story her dad tells about this great man who saved him with wild fungus when he was young and stupid.

Really, a great man.

—Randall Goodall

We first met Larry at an MSSF Salt Point foray in the late 1990s, where he extolled the edible virtues of Russula brevipes to this doubting Thomasina! Soon after, as newbies ourselves, we attended a formal tribute to the man, where many, including David Arora, got up on stage and spoke praise of him as a pioneer CA mushroomer and told stories about his many mycological exploits.

Larry was always quick with both praise and encouragement, and wasn't afraid to add a bit of constructive criticism where needed, always done privately, and never showboating in a public forum. I welcomed and deeply appreciated his many insights and encouragements over the years that we were friends.

He was quick to encourage any newbie to mushrooming, sharing his love of the hobby to all who showed an interest, and always generous with his hot mushroom tips. The very first morels that David and I ever picked here in California were directly dependant upon Larry's generous and precise directions to a hunting ground, although he was a bit surprised to hear how many we ended up pulling off of that morel-laden slope above Fresh Pond, back-picking the Master!

We were pleased to have been able to help Larry celebrate his 84th birthday with a blazing Amanita muscaria cake (no actual mushrooms were harmed or added to the batter), and we enjoyed the fact that we were both Pisces People, and shared birthdays in March. Several of Larry's friends and colleagues helped to bring him to the NAMA foray in McCall, ID two years ago, where he had a wonderful time hunting and socializing with his many friends from across the country and decades, a man in his element.

Despite the fact that Larry had little money or effects, he was rich in friends and experiences, and always willing to share what little he had with others.

We went to visit Larry yesterday morning in Hayward, and could see that he was struggling terribly in his corporeal shell. Now that great spirit is free to roam the cosmos without restraint. There are surely mushrooms in heaven, and somewhere, Larry is in the thick of them.

You will be missed, Gallant Sir.

—Debbie Viess

Though I knew him only for a brief time, Larry became such a dear friend and role model for me. I am in tears wishing I was there to hold his hand ... I know I should be grateful for having spent any time with him at all. How he made me laugh, and saved my family from picking Gomphus floccosus when we thought they were just funny-looking chanterelles!

—Gigi Stahl

Larry taught me to be a big-mouthed mushroom hunter who would tell others where and when to go and find them. He showed me that way. Why hide what you find so enjoyable? Back in 1992 or '93 Larry was the first person in the MSSF who showed me (all one had to do was the driving) Board's Crossing and its early morels sitting in the summer homes' flower beds and in the campground there. He inspired me to write the "Foragers' Report" column for years for the "Mycena News" and relate bits of info that was gotten from other mushroomers and tell the society good stuff.

Another member (Kathy Faircloth) and Larry and I hit the Cleveland burn all over those mountains several times and he'd measure his abilities to hike by just how many times he could get out of the truck (he was a big boy back then). He helped Arora with a foray the year before that burn and showed us all the Ice House area. Larry slept on the ground, in his bag, under the food table. His stories of hiking the Sierras were wonderful at the nights' campfires. The conscientious objector in him was admired by his friends.

When I was a child the family would spend a summer week or so in Yosemite (1950's) and years later Larry told me that he was one of the guys who "let the fire fall." Very cool.

When I first tried to join the culinary group I told the person in charge (a Drysdale for you older members...) that I was a chef and she went silent on the phone. End of call. I asked Larry what was up with that and he said that maybe she felt threatened, didn't want anyone intruding upon "her" then group. He told me to persevere and I became the Christmas dinner chef that year and she and her husband, well — that was their last dinner with us.

When I mistakenly ate a mushroom that was sort of whacking me out with nicely strange hallucinations Kathy called Larry, told him what we thought I had eaten, and he said to go with it, not to worry, and soon I would be fine. Right he was, again. I will miss him dearly — a true giant and a good friend, in our little world of wild mushrooms.

—Patrick Hamilton

Wish I had more time to hunt with him, and develop his eyesight, and insight. He was always supportive of newcomers to the game and made me feel very welcome. And his stories of trips in the high Sierra have given me a list of places to go. He expressed a sadness at not being able to get up there on his own steam any more, and I told him he could ride in with a mule team — I like to think I would have joined him up there at least once before he passed.

—David Lubertozzi

Larry and Bill Burk handled the books for me , as I recall,, at the 1980 NAMA foray in North Carolina. We had the new Hesler and Smith Lactarius volume that really moved. The two of them had driven from Chapel Hill across the state in Bill's new Volkswagen Bug. (For those of you who do not know, Bill was the Botanical Librarian at the University of NC at Chapel Hill until he retired and a superior mycologist in his own right.). Larry had called me when Bill first came to NC with the request that "I look out for him."

In 1978, Larry was one of those responsible for the Gualala Foray and saw to it that 350 wine glasses were transported into the California woods. Some of you may remember this as the Gourmet Foray. What I remember was Larry's graciousness to me... I really don't remember getting to San Francisco but I do remember that Larry had made arrangements for me to stay at the hotel where he worked. Not only did I have a room there for the night but we all (yes, a group) wound up at Larry's home that evening and from there, out on the town. He had also made arrangements to get me to the foray.

Through the years, Larry was always a staunch NAMA supporter and kept hoping we would, some day, produce a recipe book... He kept working toward that goal. If we ever do, it should be in his honor.

—Allein Stanley

When did I first meet Larry? It must have been before time began, because it always seemed that Larry was my image of North American Mycological Association (NAMA) forays...

While I was doing the research for our history of the NAMA forays, Larry always came to mind: tall, gentlemanly, ever so knowledgeable about mushrooms and more. At random, I pick a year from the shelves of my foray notebooks: 1988 — Isabella, Minnesota: Larry, in a purple tee shirt with gold lettering (no telling what it read!) and a camouflage brimmed hat, with our West Coast duenna of inland 'shrooms, Dorothy Brown.

I'm short; to me he was bigger than life, but gentle in speech (not in vocabulary!) and actions. Not onstage, but always in evidence...

Pick another foray: 1996, Vermont: a postcard, to remember I'd been along on a St. Gaudens trip with Larry and Ken Gilberg... and in the long line of folks (though I was photographing from a distance) tall Larry was easy to pick out. And of course he'd have been there: his origins were East Coast; his passions, good food.

In our magical trip to Russia and Siberia in 1989, it was Larry who took umbrage at some of the Moscow museum lecturer's remarks about art; it was Larry whose was the "guardian" of our luggage while we waited for the midnight train inroute to Novosibirsk, Siberia. On the plane trip to Leningrad, it was clear that Larry's size was against him: his legs were paining him. The stewardess, noticed his obvious discomfort and brought him a glass of bubbling fluid. His comment, graciously: " I don't care if it's a knockout pill: so much the better!" Leningrad was where the exhaustion hit: I'll never forgive myself for declining the "Eugene Onegin" performance with him, and never forget his bringing me a packet of seeds, a tiny metal box of balm, and asking after my health. At the end of our last evening, a party at a restaurant specializing in wild foods. Larry knew the details: the meats, the appropriate beverage for each, the appropriate dessert: light and colorful.

Our last meeting was in Berkeley, where, staying with David Rust and Debbie Viess, I was glad to know he would be there for dinner before my talk. When he arrived, with cane and a new limp, his other hand held a white box, which he handed me with his rare and special smile. I opened it, and felt like royalty: a corsage for the speaker!

—Maggie Rogers

Larry was an exception to the aphorism that there are no old bold mushroomers. Larry was an adventuresome collector and a rich store of mushroom lore and memories. He was ambassador to clubs outside the Bay Area. He came to Davis several times and to a foray we organized near Fairfield.

Bob only doubted him one time. After we published our article on "Morel Blindness," Larry took Bob on a morel hunting expedition near a burn site in the Sierra. During the hike, Bob thought Larry claimed to smell the morels which we never found. Later Bob realized Larry was talking about smelling the char from the burn site.

Larry always greeted us warmly when we attended or worked at the Fungus Fair. He will be missed.

—Bob and Barbara Sommer

I attended my first Fungus Fair in Santa Cruz in 1978. Since then, I have been an active participant in the annual event. Every year this rather ponderous person would show up to the fair decked out in the latest mushroom regalia and sometimes even attend for both days. I found out through David Arora who this giant of a man was — Larry Stickney, a prominent member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco.

I'd see Larry every year at the Fair, and he'd marvel at what a great display we had and what great volunteer help we had. He mentioned that we ought to start our own club "down here."

A year would go by and I'd see Larry again at the fair. He'd marvel at how good a display we had and how great it was to have all those wonderful volunteers. "When were we going to start our own club?" Another year would pass and there was Larry, couldn't miss him, mingling with the masses at the Fair. He'd come up to give us praise for such a splendid display and how much dedicated volunteer help we had. "You guys should really consider starting your own club," he would also add.

We got tired of Larry badgering us, and in 1984, the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz became the Bay Area's second mushroom club. Larry supported us whenever he could. He religiously attended our fungus fairs over the years. He said ours was the best. And he attended many spring forays to the Sierras with our club, looking for morels whenever he was invited and could find a ride.

Because he lived in the East Bay, Larry was more active with the clubs in the Bay Area, but were it not for him and his trips down to our early fungus fairs, the FFSC might have gotten off to a much different start or not at all.

—Bob Sellers, FFSC founding member

Larry Stickney was bigger than life. He was and will always be a man who I looked up to for his generosity, openness and kindness. I will never forget when I first met Larry in the mid-80s at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show. He was at the French Isle, hanging out in front of a truffle company's booth. He had a large photo album full of his morel mushroom hunting trips up by Yosemite. The Frenchmen were blown away by all the pictures of morels. Then, from a brown paper bag, he pulled out a cepe (porcino) mushroom that he had just picked in the East Bay Hills. Larry said, "Are you familiar with this mushroom?" The Frenchmen's eyes popped out their heads. They exclaimed, "of course!"

At this point I had to introduce myself to Larry. He gave me his card from the San Francisco Mycological Society and from that moment I was introduced to the mycological society world. Prior to meeting Larry I only knew ten types of culinary mushrooms that I learned from my grandparents, passed down to me as my myco-heritage. Larry opened my mind to hundreds of new types of mushrooms that I never knew existed.

It is amazing sometimes how everything we do in life is interconnected to our past, present and then carries us into the future. The following Spring after I met Larry, my grandfather Ed Marcellini and I went on a morel hunt with him. After that we got involved in the culinary group with the MSSF. I soon found out that Larry was friends with Salvatore Billecci, who was one of the founding members of the MSSF. Well, Salvatore was a friend of my grandfather, and a music teacher for my mother at Balboa High School in San Francisco. In my family's eye, Larry was quickly respected in the small-world feeling that connects us to everyone around us. Larry will never be forgotten by me or our family. He was a special and beautiful person. I am honored that my life was touched by his.

—Todd Spanier

All California Club Foray 2009 Land's End, San Francisco

Group photo at All California Club Foray, Albion, CA.
© photo by Hugh Smith 2009

Larry at Land's End, San Francisco, CA.
© photo by Debbie Viess 2009

Larry Stickney in His Own Words

Here are some of Larry's thoughts, from his own postings on the group email lists. Outspoken? Yes!

On US Forest Service Bureaucracy

The US Forest Service has always been so hidebound, so ill prepared to deal with anything but lumber, that one wants to cheer when they try to do something helpful for us and/or the forests. The sifting spores idea... is an ignorant federal thought, one we should praise for its effort but eschew for its limited vision. Newcomers to collecting edible wild mushrooms should always keep a salt shaker handy when dealing with the bureaucracies, and shake the containers vigorously.

Old timers don't have all the answers either, but all of us should be left alone to venture forth freely following our own lights, not those of others whether they be officials or amateurs. We can't do worse than the uninitiated, politically appointed park superintendents and forest supervisors.
Larry Stickney (March 23, 2007 BAMS)

No, it's not a law which is being implemented, but rather a regulation introduced by new leaders in the NPS, usually locally, who were trained at colleges and universities generally preaching the popular conservation line. They often say, "We," meaning the public and the officials, "don't know how to distinguish between what congress meant in 1917 " when edible fruits and nuts were specifically exempted from the general protection of everything to simplify administrative decision making. In those days people often ate off the land, and always expected to be able to do so. It became easier to forbid picking anything than to enumerate specifically any exemptions, although that is what the original operating rules said could or should be done. Fungi were not part of the equation that long ago, and almost no one could identify any of them to species let alone their edibility. We could request (or demand) that a list be compiled, as provided by Congress, of those free to be gathered, but of course there is no one in all of the NPS qualified to draw up such a list, and even qualified citizens could not be trusted to draw up a list either. And if such a list were approved, what enforcement officer would be prepared to distinguish between acceptable genuses and forbidden, presumably poisonous ones. No, just ban them all, and everything else possibly edible because that way the cops and the public won't be confused with the distinctions folks 90 years ago took for granted.

Wish I knew a congressman interested in taking on this issue, but many more popular problems are apt to grab their attention, especially if the clients have lots of campaign money to offer. Remember when the highly visible rock climbers in Yosemite Valley demanded showers at the campground (#4) behind Yosemite Lodge after the Lodge decided to close its public showers since most new units came with private ones. Some congressman on the committee that deals with the Parks convinced the full Committee to strong arm the Park into building camp showers. They did so by shutting down collection of all Park entrance fees until the facilities were in place. It was surprising how quickly the project was completed, with hot water even!

On Morel Hunting

Our first [MSSF] club president (after our founder, Ralph Mayer), was Salvatore Billecci, and he and I often headed for morels quite early in the season. Many times we encountered a new snowfall of several inches which just covered the fresh crop of morels. In every case snow was melted back away from the living stalks and caps despite below freezing temps. during the previous night. It wasn't thrips providing any added heat, but the very life process itself. We just went on collecting until our feet and fingers couldn't continue any longer. The harvests were not noticeably damaged by the conditions at all. Frostiness only occurred when the fungi were so mature that growth (life) had already ceased. Those quickly turned to a stinky mess when, or if, picked. How exciting is is to have every specimen pointedly marked by these holes in the snow.

The last such exhibition I recall was at Hodgdon Meadow Campground where fine morels stood out proudly amidst acres of hail when Darrell Jang and I reached the unopened facility.

On Echo Summit

This is a beautiful spot; mushrooms in season, glorious view in all seasons, right from a comfy stuffed chair next to a warm stove. I watched the bombing of Harvey's Casino from such a seat years ago. The sky was full of black helicopters looking to intercept the money drop. It was years before the extorters were tracked down in Fresno.

I started hosting MSSF groups there with the cooperation of Ed Aguilar long ago. It was a good deal all around, but I never subscribed to the lessor's extreme conservation aims, and eventually allowed my membership in the lodge operators organization to lapse when dues went sky high. Lots of fond memories from many stays there in winter and in summer. The Santa Cruz group is a most worthy club, with many fine and dedicated members. Please express my regrets about being unable to drop in for a visit this weekend as I have often done in the past. One of my very favorite people who is apt to be there is Mark Gillespie. Do extend my greetings to him.

And the best of luck to you all this weekend. The time is right, but the necessary rainfall is undependable.


Yosemite Firefall Larry at McCall NAMA Foray 2008

Yosemite Firefall, Mt. Clark (background).
© photo by Richard Marklin 1963.

Larry in McCall, ID at 2008 NAMA foray.
© photo by Hugh Smith 2008