To understand Loch Lomond, you need to get to know Ruth Springston (Prather) Moody. You met her last week; she’s the one who named the place, helped build it, and maintained it for years.
“I loved her,” says Judy Cortesi, who spent her childhood summers in Loch Lomond. “Some people didn’t like her. She was tough. But she was always nice to me.”
Ruth was there from the beginning. She cleaned rooms, checked guests in and out, filled in at the restaurant, ran the bar, and did everything else in between. After her divorce from Lilburn Prather, Ruth took over the resort and ran it for several years, influencing many. Her strong opinions and tough-mindedness still can be seen in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She’s the one who let Bob drive his brother and friends across the Golden Gate bridge at ten and dam up the pond until it crossed over the highway. She’s the one who put the grandkids to work but let them play just as hard. She gave her children and grandchildren the freedom to explore the woods and mountains surrounding them.
“Grandma Moody was great,” her grandson Danny Prather said.
“She’d let us do anything,” his brother Steve chipped in. “She didn’t care. We explored everywhere. And I’ve got some stories about that white Volvo she owned.” Don’t worry; you’ll hear them over the next few weeks.
Oh, there’s one more thing you need to know about Ruth Moody: She wouldn’t take guff from anyone. You already about her standing down the sheriff. But there’s one story that encapsulates who she was and what she meant to Loch Lomond. It’s the story of a church: Our Lady of the Lake.
The church stands on the crest of a rise that slopes steeply down into Big Canyon. There Mary rests quietly under the trees, her arms reaching outward in compassion.
The prayers for this small church nestled in a saddle of the mountain began years ago, back at Adams Springs Resort. W. R. Prather’s wife Hattie and her daughter lived as devout Catholics. For years they searched for a place to build a church on the resort property, but W. R., not a particularly religious man, didn’t see it as a priority.
“Use the resort’s dining room for masses in the summer, and the hotel in winter,” he told them.
So Hattie grew older and still had no church to attend. But before she died, her son Lilburn promised her that he would build one for her. Driven by this vow, in 1948, twelve years after the start of Loch Lomond, he set aside a piece of land for a church.
For the Prathers, it was more than just a project; it was a matter of a vow. Jim Prather (who would later design the courthouse in Lakeport) designed the plans. Wilbur Prather (who ran Lake County’s only railroad) graded the lot. And Bob Prather pulled the logs. “I used my work horse, Chico, a half Clydesdale,” he said. “He pulled the logs on the level ground, but as it got too steep, we had to get the rest with the tractor. All the smaller poles on the church I drug with a horse.” They hauled bricks from the Sulphur Bank Mine, whose tailings were pink, for the walls. The community chipped in, and the church became a reality.
And finally, Hattie’s wish was granted.
Now here’s where Ruth fits into that story. The Prathers had hired out some non-union carpenters to finish up the church. Now the Carpenter’s Union got word of it and sent a couple “representatives” out from Ukiah to “have a talk” with them.
They sauntered into the Bar at Loch Lomond one day while Ruth, Lilburn, and the boys were hanging out. “We’re going to shut down the job unless you hire union carpenters,” one representative threatened.
“It’s a free county,” Lilburn replied. “I’ve got no obligation to do so.”
All this time, Ruth was simmering. Finally, she exploded. “Just how do you intend to shut the job down?” she fumed.
The representative, full of himself, snapped at her. “We’ll send over a goon squad,” he boasted.
That was too much. Ruth, furious, yelled right back. “Well, we’ll meet your good squad with a gun squad!” As she yelled, she curled up her fist, reared back, and swung at that union representative, walloping him so hard he toppled over the barstool onto the floor.
Everyone in the bar stood up, ready to fight. The union representative, bruised, humiliated, and outnumbered, beat a hasty retreat and was never seen again.
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