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The View from the Pier By Herman Sillas
The View from the Pier By Herman Sillas

By Herman Sillas

Time passes, but some memories stay with us. As this year passed, I had the pleasure of visiting my dear friend from the Pier, Shirley Stanley. I met her when I went out on the Pier for the first time in the 1980s. She and her husband, Don Stanley, ran the shack at the end of the Pier. They had a great friend, Daisy Sherill, who helped them practically every day. She was not paid help, just a good friend.

They were out there early in the morning and with coffee ready for visitors. They also had mussels and anchovies for bait. A crowd came out to get coffee, yesterday’s news and the new day’s projected plans. I did not really know what they talked about; I was too busy fishing. I just knew they gathered at the end of the Pier by the shack and spent two hours there and then headed back to their respective homes. There were some great characters in that group.

One of them was “blind Jim.” He had been in the Navy at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. His eyesight was limited, although I don’t know whether he was injured during the attack or later on in his life. He would stop on his way to the shack and tell me a joke. On Dec. 7 every year, he brought a bottle with him to share a drink with his friends. Later, I dipped my bait into my drink. I caught more fish than I had before. He got a kick out of that.

Another fellow out there was John. He was a widower and lived in a place for senior citizens that provided him food and a room. He was in his 90s and met a woman in her 80s at the location where he resided. She began walking out with him and they held hands. They later married and we were invited to the wedding.
One morning when I was fishing, John and his wife stopped by me. He said to me, “This is a special day.”

“Why?” I asked.

“All of our children after today will be legitimate,” he said with a big smile. I cracked up. He stayed on for several years before he passed away.

As time passed, the crowd dwindled. Some people moved away or passed away. Those who moved came back to visit Shirley and Don out on the Pier. There was something about the place. Shirley and Don’s days were sometimes long hours. They arrived early in the morning and stayed until it was dark. They served hot dogs, coffee, candy and ice cream.

Don and Shirley eventually sold their business, but still came out to be with their friends. As I listen to Shirley tell me her tales and adventures at the Pier, I couldn’t help but admire her mutual love for the Pier and her friends. Some of her friends are gone now, but she is still here with memories. It is nice to have memories during Christmas time; they go well together. That’s the view from the Pier.

Herman Sillas is an artist, writer and formerly the United States Attorney of the Eastern District of California. He may be reached at

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