Paul Radin’s Memorial “Dream Wagon” | Build It and They Will Come to Listen

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Beth Ruyak and Amy Tan reading. | Courtesy Community of Writers
Beth Ruyak and Amy Tan reading. | Courtesy Community of Writers

Have you seen the colorful “Dream Wagon” rolling through Tahoe? It looks as if it was plucked from a gypsy caravan. The tiny house serves as a mobile library, office and outdoor stage for the Community of Writers conference held annually in Olympic Valley.

The “Dream Wagon” is dedicated to the late Paul Radin, who was as unique and colorful as the wagon honoring his memory. Radin was a poet, Rhodes scholar and a serious student of Native American culture and music who once owned the old Rampart property between Olympic Valley and Tahoe City, according to Brett Hall Jones, the executive director of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, which returns from July 8 to 15.

When Radin enrolled in the first Community of Writers conference in 1969, Hall-Jones’ mother, Barbara, accepted his guitar as collateral for payment to the conference. In unique fashion, Radin rode his horse to the event.

“He was an intellectual and we were his people,” said Hall Jones.

Over the years, Radin attended the annual event for the dinners and the company. He died in 2005. A few years after Paul’s death, his brother Robin Radin, contacted Hall-Jones and wanted to do something for the Community of Writers in his brother’s name. The call coincided with the time Hall Jones was in the midst of trying to figure out how to garner more space for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, as back-to-back summer events at the resort had become a challenging issue for the conference.

Each year, 35 authors teach and present and each author has one to three book titles for sale. That’s a lot of books for her to carry and store. Hall Jones realized she needed to think outside the box for the additional space she needed for storage and readings — and for an office, which she had lost in Nevada City. She wanted something mobile that could break down easily and allow for the staff to get in and out of the conference with ease. With support from the Radin family, the Community of Writers board of directors, alumni and the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, the wheels started rolling. The dream became a reality in the form of a tiny, mobile house dubbed “Paul Radin’s Dream Wagon.” French doors fold out into a performance stage for musicians, poets and writers, and holds up to 250 books with a loft for extra storage.

“Squaw Valley is our home. It’s beautiful here,” says Hall Jones, who is in awe of the dream come true for the conference. The Squaw Valley Community of Writers brings well-known poets and authors to Tahoe annually to teach the craft of writing to aspiring poets, writers and screenwriters. Participants attend daily morning workshops, craft lectures and panel discussions.

During the week, published poets and authors give free readings and lectures open to the public. There are also ticketed events with nationally celebrated authors. Hall Jones carries on the legacy of her parents Oakley and Barbara Hall, who founded the conference 49 years ago that celebrates the craft of writing. The “Dream Wagon” will be used at Squaw Valley for both attendees and the public to see.

Craft talks and panel discussions are every afternoon between 1 and 4 p.m. at Bar One in Olympic House. Short take staff readings are at 5:30 p.m. at the Olympic Plaza Bar. Both are free and open to the public. For a complete list of events, visit TheTahoeWeekly.com; click on Events Calendar. | communityofwriters.org

Ticketed Special Events

July 9
7:30 p.m. | KT22 Deck
Tyler Dilts, Alex Espinoza, Rachel Howard and Victoria Patterson will read.

July 10 |
7:30 p.m. | KT22 Deck
Janet Fitch, Vanessa Hua, Howard Norman and Greg Spatz will read.

July 11
5:30 p.m. | Plaza Bar
Meet the Community of Writers alumni, who will read from newly published works.

July 13
7:30 p.m. | KT22 Deck
Dan Halpern, Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Tan will read.

Tickets are $20 per adult and $8 per student. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.