Moving On, Missed Opportunities, and Making Memories


My brother and I in the Shaniko Jail in the 1970';s

Apparently, I’ve never been very impressed by men with power. If  I had been, my life may have changed forever when I was seven years old.

But I wasn’t, it didn’t and all I have to show for my brush with fame is yet another story about how headstrong I can be.

There are a lot of those stories, but only one about my brief encounter with Hollywood.

A television crew had arrived near the small town where I lived in Central Oregon.  At the time, my mother was an enthusiastic newspaper reporter who never missed an opportunity to combine her job with the opportunity to expose  her family to a world bigger than the one where we lived.

As I recall, I was already impressed with the world around me.  But then, my memory may be a bit biased. One of the advantages of living thousands of miles from your childhood home is that distance enhances the warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia.

And when it comes to my childhood, I am a completely nostalgic  for everything that isn’t part of my adult life:  sagebrush and juniper trees, cattle drives and rodeos and, most of all, ghost towns.

I loved visiting Shaniko, the ghost town near our home.  I loved the stagecoach. I loved the jail. And most of all, I loved the old hotel with the wooden Indian standing guard next to the front door.

Apparently Hollywood felt the same, because Shaniko was the site of an episode of the short-lived television show “Movin On.”

(Thanks to the internet, evidence of that event still exists at I’m even convinced my dad is

The Shaniko Stagecoach

in the third to last photo standing just to the left of  a sign that says ‘Home Style Cafe.)

At first, I was excited about the opportunity to be on the set of a national television show, but my interest was short-lived.  Watching the television shoot was tedious and boring.  The actors and crew just repeated the same short scene over and over and over again.

And while I was completely bored, my brother sensed opportunity and tried to seize the moment. Every time the cameras started rolling, he started coughing.  There was no doubt he was determined to get his voice heard on national television.

The director was just as determined that it would not be heard.

And the battle between the two became epic.  At one point, the frustrated director took a break to mingle with the crowd.

But he didn’t do much mingling.

Instead, he headed straight for my family.

I was hoping that he was going to ask us to leave or at least give my brother a muzzle. Instead, he focused all his attention on me and serenaded me with “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”  He ended the song by kissing me on the forehead.

I should have been in awe. I should have been gracious. I should have seized the opportunity to suggest that I join Ron Howard’s brother, the kid from “Gentle Ben”, who was a cast member for that episode. Instead, I gave him what, in my adult life, has become known as “the Trina look.”

That look said it all: I didn’t want a song; I didn’t want a kiss; and most of all, I didn’t want to be watching this boring television show.

Our family left shortly after the incident.

Since then, I’ve often wondered if the director had recognized potential in me. I like to think so, although he probably just felt sorry for me because I had such an annoying brother.

Whatever the reason, he singled me out, and I didn’t provide the reaction he was most likely hoping for. Because, even back then, I didn’t like feeding the ego of people in positions of power. I still don’t.

But I’ve also come to recognize all the opportunities I’ve lost because of that.

Acknowledging their power, or perceived power, doesn’t mean I’m giving up mine.  When I’ve rushed to judge people who seek the limelight , I’m most likely the person who is losing something.  After all, the television director in Shaniko didn’t need to sing to me to build up his ego.  He probably just saw a little girl in a crowd and wanted to make her feel important too. And I didn’t give him that chance.

And I’ll never have that chance again.

But other opportunities may arise, and when they do, I’m hoping the memories I make don’t end with “what if.”

Because a life with “what ifs” is similar to a ghost town:  a shell of what could have been with few opportunities to make new memories.

I’m planning on making a lot more memories.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, and a husband who works strange hours. I can generally be found wandering through the woods my dog, playing in and planting in dirt, and generally stirring things up.

Posted on April 1, 2012, in Family, My life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Can I have your autograph?

  2. Shaniko, Shaniko, Shaniko. I LOVE that place. I was intrigued with it as a kid but then introduced my own kids to it. We took several other families there too. All of these folks were from Portland and hadn’t been this far out in “the boonies” of Central Oregon before.

    For a while in the early 2000s, the town hotel was open and operating, along with a cafe. A home-cooked breakfast came with a night’s stay at the hotel. We have many fine memories of three-egg omelets with home fries. The hotel manager got to know our family so well that one summer I called her to ask if she had any vacancies on a week night. She announced that she was closed during mid-week, but offered to “leave the key under the mat” for us to stay in the hotel anyway. My kids were so impressed that we were able to arrange to stay in the Shaniko Hotel all by ourselves. There were no TVs in this hotel and the hotel furnishings and amenities were modest. The manager offered us two rooms for the price of one so we gathered that night in our kids’ room and told scary ghost stories as we were preparing to sleep in a lonely, closed hotel in a ghost town.

    After a couple hours trying to sleep in her own room down the hall with her brother, Anna joined us in our room. The ghost stories hit a little too close to home that windy night in a creaky hotel in Shaniko.

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