The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Al Crisalli, Jr. - Publisher, Culturalist, dad

Grassroots Tehachapi

 

My dad, Al Crisalli, made this mountain town a home for so many.

I grew up in Tehachapi. I learned to ride my bike while avoiding tumbleweeds, learned to drive a car in weather that can change in an instant, and got my first job - making pizzas at Little Caesars.

I moved away for college to study journalism, but moved back nearly two years ago to raise my family in this unique little town. So much has changed, but the things that remain the same and the people who work to preserve the charming small town atmosphere, help it to still feel like home.

These are the people at the heart of this new column, Grassroots Tehachapi. The column will focus on the residents at the root of the community who keep the small town spirit alive, those who work to preserve its history and tradition, and those spreading compassion to make a difference in our community.

I want this column to highlight as many Tehachapi personalities as possible, but please indulge me in a little personal nostalgia for the man who will forever make this place my home.

My dad, Al Crisalli Jr., was well-known in Tehachapi as a realtor, Publisher of the Tehachapi News and a Mountain Dulcimer teacher. I was living in Orange County when he unexpectedly passed away in 2013. Because of love for this little mountain town, it was hard for me to visit Tehachapi for awhile, even just for the weekend. Everything and everyone was a constant reminder of the loss I felt.

Two years ago, when my family and I returned, I was ready to embrace all that he loved here. The nature, the feeling of the air in autumn, the history and the people. My dad studied the language, art, folklore and history of the Kawaiisu people, who loved these mountains long before him. It was important to him that their culture and language not be forgotten. So, he learned the language and worked with others in the community to document and preserve the Kawaiisu history. Elders in the tribe gave him the name Sigugüd Pui, meaning "blue eyes."

I want to keep my dad's legacy alive in this town he loved so dearly. This year, I took over teaching his beginning dulcimer classes. I've been playing since elementary school, but it has taken some time to feel confident enough to teach others. However, every week, with the lesson book my dad wrote, I do my best to teach my students and keep the gentle hum of the dulcimer ringing through the Tehachapi mountains.

Like so many others in this town, my father's spirit and love for this unique community in the mountains is what sets Tehachapi apart.

Now Loop readers, I ask for your help. Help me share the stories of the amazing people in Tehachapi that make this town special from the roots up. If you have a suggestion for a person, group or activity that should be featured in a future Grassroots Tehachapi, email me at jcrisalli@gmail.com. See you next time.

 
 

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