Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

I’d like to start off by disclosing one of the reasons we post historic photos in the Triplicate and ask folks to tell us what they know about them. The truth is, we simply enjoy doing it.

For myself and reporter Jessica Cejnar, who take most of the calls. it’s a chance to hear local history first-hand. Everyone in the newsroom is happy and interested to hear what’s been uncovered about the photos after they’re published.

The most recent photo published was of a tall-appearing woman in a uniform standing next to a California Highway Patrol car. We knew nothing about it, as the aged black and white photo had no writing or dates anywhere on it.

However, calls started coming in as soon as soon as the papers went out.

The first came from Jerry Bigler, who identified the woman as Alta Jackson, saying he graduated with her in 1959.

“She and I were among the first class to graduate from the new high school,” he said.

Bigler went on to say she moved to parts unknown after marrying CHP Sgt. Louie Glass.

Another call came from Rosemary Nielsen Garcia, who confirmed it was Alta, saying she was her best friend in the 7th and 8th grades. Steve Berg added that the CHP station used to be where the Java Hut is today and all estimates put the photo in the early 1960s. Jerry Cochrane said he’d emailed Alta to tell her she’d made the local paper.

In person

Since we had a name, I decided to give her a call.

Perhaps only the Triplicate’s phone number displayed on her phone, as her voice seemed a little dubious when she answered. However, when I told her I was calling from the “Daily” Triplicate in Crescent City, I heard a little gasp and her voice turned cheerful and welcoming.

I explained that we had run the photo and were receiving calls from people who knew her.

She estimated the photo was taken close to 1962 to 1964, outside the CHP Office, located off US 101 at the Fairgrounds.

Eloquent and cheerful on the phone, Alta said she was a secretary and dispatcher for the CHP. At the time, she dispatched for eight hours of each day and the Sheriff’s Department dispatched for the remaining 16.

She explained that at the time, non-sworn personnel had the choice of two uniforms, although her captain, Al Johnson, insisted that she wear that one. She said she was essentially modeling the uniform in the photo.

She said that’s where she met the love of her life, when he was an officer with the department. Louie Glass later promoted to Sergeant and they transferred to Redwood City and then Ukiah.

Alta said she went back to the CHP from 1973 to 1989 working in facilities management and accounting. She later became a telecommunications manager for the California Department of Forestry.

She was there

To say Alta is a part of local history is an understatement, as she was working at ground zero during the one historical event for which the city is most known.

“I worked the ’64 tsunami and the ’64 flood,” she said. “After the tsunami, we worked 16-hour shifts.”

Alta said when the floods started happening, she was on her way home to Gasquet from an office holiday party. She said she was unable to get home, as the weather turned her around at Sims Camp.

“Where I had to go through water, my car floated sideways before I got through,” she said. “When I got to the Hiouchi store, I called my captain and told him what was happening.”

She said the call kicked off the emergency response, and her captain instructed her to start carrying out emergency plans.

“I worked for three days in the same cocktail dress,” she said. “I worked from Dec. 23 to March 13 without a day off.”

At the time, the local CHP office had 12 or less officers and the only way to get more into the area was by air. Alta said officers were flown in from Redding, Yreka and other offices.

“I was on the radio with an officer in Klamath when he told me, ‘The Klamath River Bridge is gone,’” she said.

Dispatching for CHP following the tsunami, she again worked double shifts for days without a break.

Alta was happy to talk and said the attention to the photo has been fun for her and has brought back a lot of good memories.

“I’ve been gone from Crescent City since 1967,” she said, “but I still consider it my hometown.”