Categorized | Northern California

Georgetown, California

During fits of misplaced ambition, I join meetup groups.  Right now I belong to nine of them.  This doesn’t count other meetup groups that I have joined over the years which have dissolved. Most of them are food related – vegan and raw food.  I watch the meeting announcements fly through my inbox and rarely engage with any of them.

Georgetown Store

Part of that I will blame on chemo-brain and severe fatigue.  It has been four years since my initial diagnosis of 4th stage cancer and at this point, I am happy to report that my post-chemo symptoms are starting to subside.  I still don’t think I am the smart person I used to be and I am not as quick a thinker as I was before.  On the bright side, a certain creativity and “thinking outside the box” brain has appeared, and I am grateful for it.


The store interior remains intact.

But I am also grateful for the fact that I can now start thinking about attending some of those meetups and other interesting events. Recently I was at a Native American energy healing class led by a Native American Shaman.  In class, I learned how to meditate correctly and also learned how to handle people who have died but refuse to leave the premises.

Georgetown Main Street

Regarding meditation: ten minutes a time, twice a day. I started doing that immediately after I took the class and my life has improved exponentially.  I also do some yoga before or after the meditating.  Not sure why this is working, but I am less fatigued, more disciplined, sharper, less emotional, and able to take on more of life.

Station house and red car

Regarding dead people: the day after this class, my two co-workers (who live together) came home to find their third roommate dead in his bed. This was not entirely unexpected.  He was a world class drinker on a suicide mission. He got his wish.

Although he had been verbally abusive and extraordinarily cruel to his two roommates (who put up with this and gave him a place to stay) and although he had complained bitterly about his living conditions (not sure why – he would have been homeless without them), after he died, he refused to leave.

Between two buildings

Nature is reclaiming Georgetown.

They could still hear his phone ringing, smell his cologne, and the cat hid under the bed all the time.  Plus the house just didn’t feel right. I told them to do what the Indian Shaman had instructed. “Sit down,  close your eyes, talk to the spirit and find out what he wants”.  They did.  Everything got better after that.  The hauntings slowly diminished and the cat walks the house freely again.

What does the Indian Shaman have to do with Georgetown? I don’t know.

Georgetown old stoves

Back to meetups – one of the groups I belong to is a local photography group.  They do all sorts of interesting trips.  I’d never gone on any.  Wasn’t even sure how to work my big camera.  But last fall, one came through that caught my attention. It was for a place named Georgetown. Located out here in the wine country, Georgetown is a private residence, still owned by the family of George Smith, its namesake.

Georgetown cantina

George Smith was a collector / salvager who worked in Hollywood. His collection is so large that he built a small town to display it. There is a Cantina, a bar, a post office, a barbershop, a dry goods store, and various other municipal buildings that he built out of wood.  There is even a small chapel.

Georgetown house

It is very hard to describe Georgetown and I am not sure that my photos will ever do it justice.  There were close to a hundred photographers there over the course of the day. Finding the address was a challenge and then figuring out how to navigate the driveway and the road to Georgetown was the next challenge. There was a big field for parking and several picnic areas, so although there were a lot of folks wandering in and out, no one really got in anyone’s way.

Georgetown Tavern

The Georgetown Station House and Tavern

Georgetown was beautiful on that fall day.  George Smith did an incredible job building his little town and filling it with artifacts. The ground was covered with leaves and the day and the light was perfect for photography.

Bar interior

Georgetown is charmingly dilapidated right now – but at what point does dilapidation turn into collapse? George Smith dies in 2001. I am not sure what the family’s plans are for maintaining this incredible place or how this could be funded.  The TV show American Picker made a visit to Georgetown a few years ago and bought an item or two.

The Gas Station at Georgetown

Georgetown is closed to the public.  We were very fortunate to be able to visit it and photograph it when we did.  It is a visit I will not soon forget, and was a privilege to be able to see it while it is still standing.

No smoking sign

2 Responses to “Georgetown, California”

  1. Ellen Sandbeck says:

    Daphne, this piece is really wonderful. It is amazing to me that you managed to make all these disparate pieces of narrative meld so perfectly with the photographs to make a perfect little gem. You always were a wonderful creature, but you seem to have emerged from the other side of your health conflagration as a phoenix.

    Love, Ellen

    • Daphne says:

      I love you, Ellen. I am thinking that next year might be a good time for me to come to see you in Minnesota. What do you think? When is a good time?


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