The art of reinvention

Tim Holt
Ron McCloud: “We never looked back.”

The guy who sells fishing rods in Dunsmuir used to sell stocks and bonds in San Francisco. Down the street, the guy who’s selling nuts and bolts and kitchenware in the hardware store is a former Crocker Bank executive.

People often reinvent themselves, take on new careers, when they move up here from the big city. It’s a chance to learn new skills, maybe even take on a new persona.

Bob Grace, the fly rod guy and former bond salesman, had no retail experience when he bought the Ted Fay Fly Shop 20 years ago. But he learned on the job, with advice from the shop’s former owner, Joe Kimsey. Grace “hasn’t missed a meal since.”

“I had misgivings when I moved up here. I worried about how it would all work out,” Grace says. “In hindsight, I don’t see how I could have done anything else.”

For former bank executive and current hardware store owner Ron McCloud the move from the Bay Area was a chance for him and his wife Pat to get back to their roots. They had grown up in rural areas in western Nebraska and wanted to get back to that kind of life. They had two small children and, as Ron puts it, “wanted to get them out of the city and into a more wholesome small town environment.”

So in 1974 they moved to Dunsmuir, where there was a hardware store for sale. Ron had worked part-time in retail businesses in his college days, and, with Pat working alongside him in the early years, they made a go of it.

“After we moved here from the Bay Area we never looked back,” Ron says. “Things worked out well here.”

Fishing guide Steven Bertrand moved up here from the Bay Area over 20 years ago “to upgrade my office.” He had been a database consultant down there, but now his “office” is the great outdoors and a free-flowing river, an “upgrade” on the office cubicle he occupied before.

Chris Moss recently traded his life in Ohio as a handyman and contractor for the job of caretaker at the United Methodist Camp just below Castle Lake. He’s already experiencing some benefits from the move. He’s taken up hiking and lost 40 pounds. As the camp’s caretaker, he’s doing the same kind of handyman work he did in Ohio, but with “a big improvement in the scenery” and the added bonus of healthy exercise.

“You could say I’ve reinvented myself as a happier and healthier person since I moved here,” he says.

Dave “Big Dave” Keisler is a self-described “biker dude” from San Diego who spent nearly five years in prison on charges of attempted murder and mayhem. Since then he has, to say the least, rebranded himself, winning the post of Dunsmuir’s mayor for two one-year terms and currently serving a second four-year team on the City Council. He's a tireless supporter of all sorts of improvement efforts in the town and is on the board of directors of the League of California Cities.

It took Dave Edmondson awhile to reinvent himself after he moved up here from Los Angeles 12 years ago. After stints as a real estate appraiser and manufacturer’s sales rep, he started his own business in a small kitchen on Dunsmuir’s main street, making his “Salt and Savour” sauerkraut and selling it to stores and at farmers’ markets. After four years of working 60-hour weeks, he’s on the verge of hiring his first employees.

Despite the hard work and long hours, he’s glad he made the move. “I never felt I was living up to my full potential when I was working for someone else,” he says. “I’d heard older people express regrets that they never followed through on ideas they had when they were younger. I was 48 when I started the sauerkraut business, and I figured that if I didn’t take the plunge then I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

“You know what they say about an entrepreneur: He's someone who works 60-hour weeks in order to avoid working 40-hour weeks for someone else.”

We’d like to hear from you if you know of other folks in our region who've taken on new roles and occupations since they moved up here, for a future article. Please call Tim Holt at 235-4034 if you have any leads.