I was saddened to hear of the death of Huell Howser (featured in the above video), who passed a couple of days ago at 67 years old.
Howser will best be remembered by his iconic television program here in California on PBS entitled California’s Gold. For those of you outside the Golden State, his show chronicled those far-flung places that not many people see, yet contain the true spirit of California. He brought to life places such as the Skunk Train, the traditional harvest in the Central Valley, or the California Special Olympics. Treasures such as Sinatra’s House, Springtime in Death Valley, and yes even gold itself*, are detailed in a way that was truly special to Howser. His curiosity and wonder were contagious, and he had a knack for drawing you in with the stories he covered.
When I was a kid, I hated his show. I thought it was boring. But then again, most adult shows on PBS are boring to a lot of kids. As I grew up, however, I came to really appreciate Howser’s unique delivery and trademark sign-off. He also introduced me to many nuggets and tidbits of California history that I never would’ve come across in the first place.
As Howser would be sure to confirm, California is a special place, a wonderful place of beauty, diversity, and culture. With all of its problems, California continues to be a place where dreams are realized, and a beautiful sunset on the beach or mountain vista is never too far away. One of my own personal favorite sights is flying in to Sacramento at night over downtown and catching a glimpse of the golden Tower Bridge, a breathtaking view, especially for one who has been away from home for a while. I was born and raised here, and in my short time on this Earth, I’ve seen California go through a lot of changes, good and bad. No matter where life takes me, however, California will always hold a special place in my heart, and Huell Howser had a hand in carving out that place, even though he never knew it.
Mr. Howser, God bless you for your wonderful work, seen and unseen, on behalf of the Golden State.
Requiescat in pace.
You, sir, were truly a part of California’s Gold.
*Note: If you are ever in the foothills of California, east of Sacramento in the Placerville area, check out Coloma, where gold was discovered in 1848. The town is a terrific place for families, full of history, and there’s a few nice outdoor excursions, in addition to camping. The locals are great people too. Fair disclosure – I’ve had family in the “Motherlode” area and surrounding hills all my life, and spent many summers, a lot of high school, and generally a large amount of time up there. My opinion may be biased. Oh, and this post was not endorsed by this agency, although you should come and visit sometime… 🙂