Dennis Cassinelli: Things I usta do and be

I have now became an octogenarian. For those of you from Rio Linda, octogenarian means someone over 80 years old. Now I am tempted to change my name to I usta. This means there are many things I usta do that are now more difficult or impossible for me to do.
For example, I usta be tall and handsome, but now my shoulders are stooped and bent from bucking too many bales of hay and lifting too many sacks of potatoes when I was working on farms and ranches.
I usta drive more than one Cadillac Eldorado but now I drive a used Chevy pickup truck. I usta travel to interesting places in foreign countries, but now my passport has expired and I have no desire to travel anyway. I usta visit many other states, but none of those seem to be any better than the one where I live.
When I worked for the Nevada Department of Transportation years ago, I usta travel to nearly every town in Nevada working on highway construction projects. I did this for 18 years before moving on to other ventures.
Before I retired, I usta work as an engineer, consultant, contractor, or just about anything I wanted to be. Now, I have little desire to go back to the things I usta do, so I just tend to my garden and sit around dreaming about the good old days that usta be.
I usta go hunting and fishing, but now the thrill of the hunt or the desire to catch a fish have begun to seem much less important than they usta be. At my age, it is hard for me to get usta something new or different. I usta find arrowheads out in the desert. Now I cannot stoop down to pick them up so I leave them for someone else to find.
I usta ride horses and milk cows on the ranch where I lived as a boy. I usta have my own horse on the ranch but I never rode him very much. Years later, friends I usta know and I took a pack trip with horses and mules from June Lake all the way across the high Sierra Nevada to Yosemite National Park.
At one time, I usta have my own homemade motor boat for fishing and water skiing. Friends and I usta cross Pyramid Lake on the boat and one time we even climbed the pyramid. Do not even think of trying something like the things I usta do. When I usta travel to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, I usta climb every Mayan pyramid I saw.
I usta be a sailor in the U.S. Naval Reserve, but after a year and a day, my ship sailed no more. In fact, the World War II destroyer escort, USS Edmonds, I sailed on for training exercises has since been scrapped. My honorable discharge does not even qualify me for any veterans benefits.
I usta write interesting historical articles for the newspapers, but now I am finding it more difficult to think of interesting stories to tell. I usta write books about things that were interesting to me with some success, but it seems everyone who ever wanted one of my books has already bought one. If any of you out there needs some interesting Nevada history books, please let me know.
I really cannot complain about the life I have led. I have a wonderful wife and three great children and many grandchildren. My children and grandchildren sometimes tell me, “ Papa, you really usta do a lot of interesting things.” I just smile at them and agree what a great life it usta be.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


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