Little League 1957 All-Stars_Page_1_Image_0001
Moving In The Flood Of ’57
by G. Louis Heath

     The rain teemed over the Feather River in 1957
when I was thirteen and my brother eleven. It
was a storm for the record books. It went on for
days. We lived downtown near the river that
threatened to breach the levee. My Dad, a brakeman,
could not get home through the canyon to Oroville.
The Western Pacific Railroad was stymied by
washed-out tracks. My Mom, in a panic of distress,
called our Aunt, who lived on high ground, said
we were coming over till the storm passed. We
hurriedly packed boxes and a couple suitcases with
clothes and a few other belongings. Mom drove
our family Chevy away from the levee, through
water rising in the streets, up to our Aunt’s. (The
song writer who later wrote the line “…drive your
Chevy to the levee” was definitely not in Oroville
at this time.) For a week we stayed with our Aunt.
My stay with her, and her kind eyes and hands, in
loving service to us, is one of my fondest young

     The water topped the levee. It flooded our street, filling
our basement, which collapsed, threatening to swallow our
home whole into a subterranean tunnel built by Chinese gold
miners. TV news, in its teething days, grew up a bit covering
Oroville, foretelling for sure doomsday was near.

     The levee did burst, but not in Oroville. It broke through
downriver. My Mom and Aunt did what they could. They bought
linen and blankets for a family who took refuge in Oroville and
prepared several meals for them.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/PHOTO CAPTION: A recent summer storm and tornado watch filled me with a similar sense of imminent disaster that I experienced during the 1957 flood. I had that summer played on the Oroville Little League All-Star team that advanced to the California State Little League playoffs in Santa Monica. Soon after I returned home, I went back to school and turned 13, about two months before the floods began. Recently a friend on that team sent me a photo of our team. It brought back memories not only of a team that won 8 straight to get to the championship game for the state, but also strong memories of the flood as several others on the team were flooded from their homes. And shortly thereafter, our shortstop, Amos Robertson, died of leukemia, my first experience with death and a funeral after the traumas of the flood. Since all these disparate memories got wrapped up in the flood of ’57 for me. I am second from right, front row. Amos is in back row, last to the left. Incidentally, the name of my hometown, Oroville, is a portmanteau of the Spanish word for gold, oro, and the French word for town, ville.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple, Long Dark River Casino, and Redbird Prof. He has published poems, fiction, and nonfiction in a wide variety of journals including The Nation and The Progressive.