We moved from Los Angeles to Inyo County, California in 1978. Soon after, we discovered a beautifully rustic neighborhood in the Sierra foothills called Oak Creek. This could have been the place described by Bing Crosby in his Dear Hearts and Gentle People hit song of the 1940s.
Up in Oak Creek lived a little old man. Under a tree, covered in his driveway he kept a flawless, original light gray 1940 Chevrolet convertible, which he purchased brand new at Miller’s Chevrolet (1936-1979) in Lone Pine, a scant 18 miles away.
This car had never been restored. He kept a tonneau cover tied over the original top. It still had the original black FNU-series plates issued at the Lone Pine DMV in December, 1962. With 40,000 correct miles, it was last registered in 1968.
In front of the Chevrolet, wedged and fastened between two trees, he kept an assembly of metal foot lockers, in which was stored an assortment of well-used Smith-Miller toy trucks from the early postwar years. These were for his grandkids to play with whenever they came to visit.
In May, 2010, on my way to a nude camp-out in Saline Valley, I decided to swing by Oak Creek and see how the Chevrolet was doing.
Upon arriving at Oak Creek I found nothing; no houses, no buildings, no cars, no trees, no people, no roads, no power poles… just a barren alluvial fan, sloping down off the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada mountains. At once I was both eerily haunted and confused.
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