A Lesson from The River Fire

Pauline Nevins October 27, 2021 - Auburn Journal

Seated outside a charming café in Meadow Vista – appropriately named The Local Café – on a sunny October morning was a petite, lovely lady.

“Dale,” I yelled much too loudly. “I have to give you a hug.” I flung open my arms, not bothering to ask permission.

I would love to call Dale Shuttleworth a friend, but that would be presumptuous. Our meetings have been accidental and brief. But when we bumped into each other at events in Colfax and Auburn, we’d smile across a room, maneuver toward each other and exchange a few words.

I learned that Dale and her husband, Alan, were educators, she a reading specialist who taught at several grade levels and retired from Rocklin Unified School District. Alan, also a reading specialist, taught fifth grade and was a school principal in New York and California. Alan retired as superintendent at Colfax Elementary School District. He then became a full-time faculty member at Sierra College and retired in 2019. Both have been active after retirement. Dale is active in the Colfax Soroptimist Club. Alan is a member of the Colfax Lions Club, the County Municipal Advisory Council and the Auburn Assistance League Advisory Council. Add photographer for the city of Colfax Monthly Newsletter to the list.

I knew the couple lived in Colfax, and when the devastating River Fire exploded Aug. 4, Dale and Alan were among the people I thought about. I asked a mutual friend, Helene, if she knew if the fire had affected them. Helene’s response was the reason I was so happy to see Dale outside The Local Café.

“How are you?” I asked Dale after our hug. “Better,” she said. Shielding her eyes from the sun, she told some of what she and Alan experienced following the River Fire. I stood by her seat, riveted.

“Would you be willing to share your experience with others?” I asked. I’d learned a lot and thought others would, too. A minor, but significant fact, was that the jars and boxes sitting on business and community counters, soliciting donations, actually go to those in need. I’ve dropped in a few coins and cynically wondered if the money reaches the stated recipients.