When my late Grandpa Sam used to talk about things sometimes it seems that things haven’t really changed. There was an event that stuck in his mind so he told me about it. Many years ago there was a grown man who’s father did not stick around to see him grow up. His father left him and his mother when he was born. His father was around and he knew that was his son but while the boy grew up his father never did do much for him.
My Grandpa was at his house visiting with some other people. Someone else arrived outside by horseback. That person came into the house and told the fellow that his dad was dying in the hospital and asked if his son could come and see him. This is not like today where you just jump into a car and drive down to the city. This was horse and buggy days and such a request required a lot of planning and travel. The son said, “That man is not my Dad. When I grew up he never paid any attention to me. He never took me anywhere of even gave me a birthday present.”
(When my Grandpa told me this it was something you hear all the time or see on television. I thought that human nature hasn’t changed since his time.)
Then the new visitor said, “He sent you $500 and it is in the post office.”
(In those days that was an enormous amount of money. It was almost like a life savings.)
The fellow was sitting on a couch and all of a sudden he jumped up and yelled, “Oh! I ‘ve got to go see my Daddy!” He got his horse ready and went to the city to see his daddy.
Maybe money can’t buy you love but it did transformed a father into a daddy.
My late Grandmother Phenomena’s side of the family leaned toward witchcraft. One of her Grandmother’s brothers was Cinon Duro (Muttawere – Hardearth) one of the last big witches. She told a story about her cousin and how he was selected to inherit power from one of the elder relatives.
My Grandma’s cousin was a big cowboy and knew the mountains as he had traveled extensively through the backcountry. For some reason his older uncle chose him to inherit the power of CheeSlitch. The old man said he was going to die and needed to leave his power to someone. He selected my Grandma’s cousin because he was strong and could handle the power. So one day the old man came and they road out on horseback at night. They traveled very far and the cousin did not know where they were. He became frightened because he knew the back county but he didn’t recognize any landmarks. Finally his horse began to rear back and he knew the horse was frightened. “Now,” the old man said. “You are going to meet Cheeslitch.” Then a bush, in front of them, burst into flames high into the sky. The cousin became terrified and then the fire went out. “Cheeslitch is not going to come because you were afraid.” The old man said. They road back and the old man never mentioned again about giving his power away.
My Grandma said that her cousin was able to do things after that. He could hold out his finger and a bird would land on it. He would enter a contest and win. He would play peon and could not be beaten. He always lived a comfortable life.
The word CheeSlitch has always stuck in my mind. We use it for mystic stuff like ghost but some people translate it as the devil. In fact my Grandma used the word devil when she used English. When she was young and she saw a whirlwind she was told to make the sign of the cross with her fingers and say “Jesus” because it was the devil. Now my Grandpa Sam, on my Father’s side, said the whirlwind is a symbol of the Creator and when you see it you are suppose to remember him and the time the world was made. Then later on I read that there was a religious movement among the Indians in Southern California and the deity was named “CheeSlitch.”
So who was he going to meet? Burning bush or hellfire?
Many years ago my late Grandma Phil would tell me stories of her days in the Indian schools. She was taken away to live at the boarding schools and had many things happen to her. This happened when she was at a Catholic boarding school. I am not sure which school but it was probably in Banning California. For a while my Grandma became very ill. There was a wing of the building that was up stairs. It was where all the sick children were placed. My Grandma knew that some of the children would not recover and it was a very lonely place. The only comfort she got was when one of the elder nuns would check on her after evening mass. It was good to have someone care for you just before you went to sleep.
The check up was routine. My grandma would hear the downstairs door open and close. Then she would hear the tick tick of the nun's shoes as she went up the two flights of stairs. Then the door to the wing would open and the nun would come and check on the patients and it made my grandma happy.
One night my Grandma was waiting for the nun to come. She was feeling so bad because all around her the other kinds were so sick they couldn't even talk. So my Grandma was hoping and hoping for the visit. Then she heard the door open and became very glad. She heard the tick tick of the nun's shoes as she ascended the stairs. The footsteps as the nun went to the door of the room, and then nothing. No one opened the door and no one came in. Much later it happened again the exact same sounds but this time the nun did come in. My Grandma never really knew what happened that night. Was it a ghost, was it a spirit and why did it do that? My Grandma never figured it out but in her old age she would tell us the story of the walking nun.