A podcast about history

That's not stuck in the past


A few years ago, Aussie Holcomb was going through a divorce, and her relationship with her dad wasn’t going well, either. Feeling lost and lonely, she began reading her grandparents’ old love letters, which had recently been uncovered after sitting at the back of a dusty closet for more than 60 years. As Aussie made her way through bundles of envelopes, the emotions captured in those letters spilled off the pages and infused her life with the contagious joy of young love. Wanting to retrace her grandparents’ path, the letters sparked an adventure that led Aussie to a remote corner of California, far from home. In this unlikely place, she found reconciliation with her dad, and much more.

Ray Hertz loved being a fire fighter for the Forest Service, but he dreaded the loneliness of lookout duty. From the top of the tower, he could see for miles in every direction, but rarely spotted another human. [Photo: Aussie Holcomb]

Listen to the full episode now to hear the love story of Ray Hertz and Ginny Stewart, as told by their granddaughter, Aussie Holcomb, and their son, Mark Hertz. Ray and Ginny’s letters, which were written between 1949 and 1951, are read by their dear friend Carl Weinberg and their daughter Tracy Hertz. You can stream the episode at Apple, SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts.

Shortly after their first blind date, Ginny and Ray had to spend three months apart when Ray took a summer job in Modoc County, which is 350 miles northeast of Oakland. They stayed connected by writing each other letters several times a week. [Photo courtesy of Aussie Holcomb]
Mark Hertz pays tribute to his dad’s love of nature with this tattoo of Ray in Yosemite. [Photo: Aussie Holcomb]
Aussie never met her grandfather, but felt compelled to follow in his footsteps after learning about him through the letters he wrote as a young man.
Mark Hertz said his dad Ray never spoke about his years in the Forest Service. More than three decades after Ray’s death, Mark finally learned about his dad’s experiences fighting wildfires thanks to an old shoebox full of letters. Mark also discovered an emotional side of his dad that he’d never known while his father was still living. [Photo: Aussie Holcomb]

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Topics: Oakland

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