Packing In

Shared by Cheryl Bly-Chester on 29th November 2018

My sister Gretchen and I first walked into Marjorie and Ridgeway's (Gillis) Lower Angora cabin with little backpacks in 1959 when we were very young. I don't think I was carrying much - but I remember the rucksack and that I did not get carried in because my dad was carrying little brother, Teddy. Fast forward 35 years and I had my three kids carry their backpacks in with the youngest, Kyle, at 1 1/2 years old. He carried all his diapers and had his life jacket stacked on top of his rucksack towering over his head.  We made it up the road across the Lower Lake from the Gillis Cabin, but did not know how to alert Cousin Carol that we were there - Jim came to our rescue honking his horn to wake up the cabins. He couldn't get over little Kyle with his huge load. I can remember the wry smile and he was still talking about it the next day when we came up for the traditional lemonade Popsicles.

I kept abreast of the fires in 2004 on behalf of the family and had long talks with Jim in the aftermath about what could have been done and how to move forward in saving the Tahoe Basin for the future. He had Angora in his soul and we are all the richer for it.


Shared by Eve Steccati-Tanovitz on 24th November 2018

Since first experiencing Angora Lake as a small child in the early 1950’s, the Hildinger family and my family have developed a lasting friendship. My connection to Angora Lake, and especially my memories of Jim Hildinger, is built on our yearly summer vacations there. Our time at the Lake every August was and is always something to look forward to. A large part of that positive experience is due to Jim and the Hildinger family being protective of the Lake and surrounding natural environment. Their love and respect for Angora is a legacy that continues to this day.

Jim’s appreciation and respect for the immense natural beauty of Angora Lake inspired my family in many ways. My mother, Alva Steccati, took inspiration for her watercolors from the rocks, trees and water as do I.

My father, Hugo, was a professional photographer. Over the decades, he took many photos of the ancient twisted junipers, majestic cliff and watery reflections. He also shot many images of Jim and the Hildinger family. On the “Gallery” page I have included five of Hugo's black and white images showing Jim during a music recital at the lake, the “Green Mule” making a rooster-tail as it sped along Angora's shoreline, and a rare shot of Jim actually relaxing on the beach.

Jim gave my brother, Leo, one of his first jobs, as a summer-time helper at the resort. Leo lived in his little room behind the store, known as “Leo’s Pad”.

So many memories: Jim standing at the doorway of the dining room, ringing the dinner bell, dressed in his white waiter-jacket. Jim giving us moonlit rides across Angora Lake in the “big” sailboat (equal parts electrifying and terrifying for me) as Jim expertly maneuvered the swiftly moving boat through the dark water to the waterfall cascading down the cliff.

In the early 1960s, the Telstar communications satellite had been launched into orbit. The evening of our weekly Angora campfire, Jim told us that Telstar would be visible late that night as it crossed the sky over Echo Peak. Much later in the evening, as the campfire embers glowed in the darkness, many of our fellow campers had headed back to their cabins. But several of us stayed, including Jim of course. We were thrilled and awed to see the lights of Telstar as it traversed the night sky against a backdrop of countless stars.

One of my other vivid memories of Jim is his recounting the long-ago experience of being at Angora Lake during a rare August snowfall. I have memories of that same morning, seeing the old wooden row boats covered with snow. As Jim looked on smiling, my father took a photo of me writing my name in the snow on the side of one of the boats.

Lunch in Emerald Bay

Shared by Tami Boudreau on 21st November 2018

We all knew Jim expected us all to be at the boat camp dock at noon when we were sailing for a nice lunch including the red checkered table cloth that I'm told only came out when I was in Tahoe in the winter.  Jim also used to bring crystal glasses for the winter to our special lunches.   I wrote a poem that kinda says it all. 

If I could only write,

A poem a story or a quip….

Describing the “winter sailors” in Tahoe,

I wouldn’t know where to start

…. and where to quit!!!!!!

If I could only write,

The story would begin

With a warm & sunny winter day,

 A sailboat, Lake Tahoe, and Captain Jim

A friendly smile, an invitation

Was all that it would take

I could never have guessed,

The warm friendships I’d make

Out on that beautiful, cold lake

I’m reminded when we sail of rule number ONE

Stay on the boat and always have fun.

Looking for Eagles, short walks on shore

Even my own rock garden!!

Who could ask for more? 

Noon is lunch time for us all

Cadenza arrives promptly at the Pier

…  equipped with red checkered table cloth ..…

Red wine and sometimes beer

Great stories and laughs….

….snacks, fruit & cheese,

little Danish sandwiches, tea

and usually sardines !

There’s always time for joking,

The boys each telling their own tale

Of races that were won or lost

How and why….

And who was using “which sail”

And so what?  if a fender …..was left off the side ??

So what?  if one of them

choose their own path…. “outside”…??

 he has  his “hundred ton”

and surely has been there before…. Right????   Steve?  

…. A walk up the hill and back to the boat

 …and then out fail,

CHOCOLATE … and of course,

More wine before we sail 

But before we cast off at the end of the day

We’ve already planned our next time together

For “lunch at noon, in Emerald Bay”

So in closing I thank you

For making my “work” time there fun

…. For caring and sharing,

Great times on the lake in the sun

…. For being subjects in my photos

… Tolerating wine stains and all my gear,

For patiently teaching me

Sailing 101… year after year!!

For friendships and laughter and our “special” lunch

But mostly for allowing me to spend time each winter

Getting to know this truly “crazy bunch”

Shared by Eric Norrby on 16th November 2018

As a kid at Angora, Jim was always this larger than life and downright scary presence. He was the the keeper of the rules and his was the booming voice, "Get your Dog out of the Lake!". But, one night, playing cards late with Judith and Eric in Manzanita Jim came by and silently, stuck his face in the lower corner of the window and sat there as a disembodied head. At first, nobody noticed but when we did...Wow that was scary. But after the shock wore off it was one of the funniest things ever. Thank you Jim for allowing us to also see your warm and funny side too. Both sides of you will be dearly missed.

Shared by Claudia Boulton on 14th November 2018

I first met Jim when I was about 5 or 6 (when was it, Ken Wagstaff? we discovered that we first went to Angora the same year).  In those first years, Jim taught me to row a boat and his brother Al thrilled me by allowing me to help set the tables in the Dining Room (later Jim and Gloria's House). 

When I rediscovered this treasure of a place in the 1970s, I asked the person who answered the phone(must have been Effie) whether she remembered the white-haired German lady with 3 little kids wearing miniature back packs and hiking to the peak with pebbles under our tongues, so we wouldn't get too thirsty.  She replied "Oh, of course, we remember you!"  The kids were our cousin Rick Dietz, my brother Bob Dietz and myself.  After a couple of years on the waiting list, we achieved the third week of July as a treasured reservation.  I think the only year I've missed was 2014 when my first grandchild was born in the middle of "our week."

During all those years since, Jim was a constant - a gruff but loving guardian of this little piece of Paradise. "Get your dog out of the lake!" he'd holler, but he was all smiles to greet our return each year. He was ''johnny-on-the-spot" when the inevitable accidents happened to the cliff jumpers.

I hope that Jim is sitting on a bench somewhere with John Muir,  discussing their efforts to preserve the beauty and health of the Sierras, Lake Tahoe and, especially, Angora.

Poem by David Faivus, Angora guest

Shared by Judith Hildinger on 14th November 2018

may the wind fill ur sails,
and run with it.
may the rock and trees,
wind and rain hold u tight.
look up and see the stars,
look down on the warm damp earth.
for it is crying for your loss.
we have lost our friend and protector,
how can we survive?
ahh...  I see.
the baton has been passed.
and we must run with it. 
thank you Jim
for teaching us
for showing us
how to love our mother earth.....

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