Elder Spotlight – Gerine Hinshaw
Submitted by Lenora Hall
Gasquet is one of the hottest places in Del Norte County. In this secluded micro-village is where Gerine Hinshaw lives. Gerine is new to the elder scene and doesn’t look a day over 40. I drove to Gasquet to interview her and was quite happy to be in the hot sunshine and out of the “marine layer” of clouds that hangs over Curry and Del Norte Counties until the early afternoon hours.
Gerine was born August 30, 1954 in Arcata, CA. She is the oldest of ten siblings and grew up at Hinshaw Flats east of Blue Lake. She also has two older half-sisters. She has many fond memories of her home and believes that it was one of the best childhoods that afforded her to be creative and humble. Her brothers and sisters are: Lorraine (dec), George Jr., William, Westley (dec), Sue (dec), Rhonda and Leon. Also she has two half-sisters Georgia and Misty and one half-brother Jessie. Her parents are Ione Moore-head, of Smith River, and George Hinshaw Sr., of Hoopa. George•s mother was Isabelle White from Hoopa. Gerine stated that her grandfather•s name was William Hinshaw and was an English/Irish immi-grant who came to America to find his fortune and became a logger.
On her mother’s side of the family; she is the daughter of Ione Moorehead who was the daughter of Theodore Moorehead and Isabelle Whipple all of Smith River.
Gerine said that she really enjoyed growing up at her family•s homestead called Hinshaw Flats on the East side of Blue Lake, CA. She liked it because the weather was always beautiful and the Mad River runs through their property. She remembers picking apples, fishing and eeling with gaffe hooks. She also enjoyed deer hunting. Since she was the oldest of the children her father took her everywhere and showed her how to do a lot of things that a boy would learn from a father. Her father said that she was going to learn the ways regardless of her being a girl. Gerine said that one time she remembers as a young girl she was swimming in the river and a huge black mass was coming towards her in the river. She got so frightened that she ran all the way back to her house. “I never did know what it was and wasn’t about to go looking for it.”
Gerine attended elementary school in Blue Lake and then went to Arcata High School and then attended Eureka High School where she graduated. She has one child whose name is Kourtney. Gerine has one grandchild named Adam Holtz.
Gerine remembers that in 1976 her all-Indian band was invited to attend the Indigenous Festival in Washington, DC. She remembers staying at Georgetown University with many other guests including her great uncle and auntie Fred and Lila Moorehead of Smith River. She was accompanied by her father George, Sr. and her uncle Ivan.
Gerine lived in Phoenix, Arizona for 15 years until moving back to Northern California. She has traveled to Washington, DC, Washington state, Portland, OR and around Nevada. Gerine has had several jobs around the western half of the United States. She worked as a security officer before moving to Phoenix, AZ. She has played in several bands and even worked in a lumber mill pulling green chain. Once she was in Phoenix, she again played with several bands and even took first place in the “Battle of the Bands” contest in Las Vegas. Upon returning home, she worked for Lucky 7 Fuel Mart, Elk Valley Casino, Crescent City Chevron and then finally she moved in with her mother (Ione) to take care of her in the last years of her life.
(Gerine told me a story after I nagged her to tell it to me because she was reluctant. I told her that I, too, listened and heard stories from long ago that are unbelievable and that she needed to go ahead and express her feelings about the story.)
She said that about 2-3 years ago, after her mother Ione passed away, her friend Robin and she were driving to Crescent City from Medford in a rental car. She said that she was really having a strange trip because there seemed to be an extraordinary amount of wildlife on the road. There were rabbits, a coyote, an owl, deer, raccoons, and skunks. So they were driving slowly and were heading two miles just northeast of Patrick’s Creek Lodge. It was about 12:30 in the morning with no moon overhead. They both smelled something really awful and started blaming each other for passing gas. They rolled the windows down to let fresh air into the car. Then they realized the smell was coming from the outside air. They continued to drive down the road and when they came around a corner they saw a huge hairy creature walking across the road in their head-lights. They couldn’t believe their eyes and thought they were seeing things. It was Bigfoot. When their headlights shined on him he quickly raised his arm to shield his eyes from the bright headlights. Gerine said that her stomach instantly felt queasy. Bigfoot continued to walk across the road and up into the brush. They quickly drove by where the crossing was and continued to Crescent City. Gerine said that she has never told anyone about this because people would not believe this really happened. As anyone knows, “Seeing is believing!”
One week later, she was reading the Triplicate and saw an article about Patrick’s Creek Lodge. The owner stated that Bigfoot was near the Lodge. The owner described Bigfoot as being shaggy, 7′ to 8′ tall and smelt like rotten salmon. The same smell that Gerine and Robin smelled that same night as they drove near Patrick’s Creek Lodge.
Gerine said that she remembers going smelt camping near where her cousin Elaine Moorehead now lives. They used to have a fish camp and dried the fish on gravel beds and driftwood. They would catch the smelt with a dip net and then would start the drying process. There was a little trail that led down to the beach. This is a very fond memory she has of being with her relatives in Smith River.
Another story that Gerine told me was that some-thing odd happened to her when she was about the age of eight. She was living at Hinshaw Flats and decided to go pick some apples at the Anderson Or-chard not far from her home. She was all by herself and wasnt concerned about her safety because Hen-shaw Flats was a secluded place not many people go. She was walking to the orchard and saw a bright red ball about the size of a golf ball. She was staring at it and it started to slowly move towards her all the while increasing in size. She was trying to figure it out and then it kept getting closer and closer and she felt mesmerized by it. Then some kind of noise or bird squawk snapped her out of it and she turned around and ran all the way home. She never did find out what it was and never has seen anything like that again. A long time later, about 10 years, she was listening to one of her cousins from Hoopa relat-ing a story about something odd happening to him while he was hunting in the Klamath-Trinity area near the Hoopa Reservation.
He said that he and his cousin were out hunting and saw a bright red ball that grew in size and started to chase them. She never
has said anything about her story but realized that it must have been the same strange phenomenon. (A funny thing happened to me when I was listening to Gerine tell about the Big-foot story and then this story. I was engrossed in the stories with all the details and undoubtedly she had 100% of my attention. Her little Chihuahua, Gizmo, jumped on the couch next to me and put her cold little nose on my arm and I screamed and jumped back on the couch and almost had a heart attack because I thought that the red ball and Bigfoot were there to get me! Gerine and I must have laughed for 20 minutes.)
An interesting thing about Gerine is that she is a self-taught musician. She plays the drums and the base guitar. She was in her father’s band with him and her Uncle Ivan. They would play at various places in Northern California and went to Washington, DC. One time she played for the Nevel Brothers when they were playing at the Lucky 7 Casino. Her friends bugged the band so much that they broke down and let her play a few songs with the band. The type of music she plays is classic rock, country & western, blues and a few jazz selections. She enjoys playing the drums very much.
Gerine says that she has a few concerns about Tribal matters. She would like to see more communication between the Tribal departments and the Tribal members. She would like to know the procedures and policies of the Casino in regards to employees.
Gerine’s words of wisdom for the younger generation: “Don’t smoke! You’ll end up on a respirator. And above all else, get your education or you will be left behind.