From Paul de Barros’ Friday column in The Seattle Times:

For anyone who grew up in California — as I did — the story of the Donner Party is indelibly embedded in one’s psyche, an archetype of terrible possibility.

Though Seattle composer and free-jazz guitarist Tom Baker was raised in rural Idaho, his father was from the San Francisco Bay Area. Almost every summer, their family crested Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada range, where a monument stands to that fateful 1846 journey, marked by starvation, death and cannibalism.

“We would always stop and read the thing,” Baker said in an interview last week. “It really was frightening for me. I remember times after this, when we would be traveling and it would be snowing and I would get very nervous about not getting to where we were going.”

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