Rick Toles / Alkali, Last of the 49ers Fire Fund

On Friday evening, August 30, 2019, Rick Toles' house burned down in Rough and Ready, CA. The fire started in a liquid propane barbecue grill. It was very hot and extremely fast. Rick lost almost everything. Until the fire department arrived, he was fighting the fire in his socks! Rick prevented the fire from spreading into the hills and the neighborhood. Thankfully Rick is safe, and so is his dog Ruby.

Rick is also known as Alkali–Last of the 49ers. He travels to 4th grade classrooms all over Northern California to share his love of history, storytelling and music with children studying the California Gold Rush. Rick has performed at the Nevada County Fair for over 25 years, sharing his instruments and his puppets on the Children's Tumbleweed Stage

Rick and his business partner, Tim Kretzmann, performed in their top hats and tails as the dynamic duo, Joyfull Strings. They entertained hundreds of people with their hammer dulcimers at Victorian Christmas and Cornish Christmas for decades.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of taking music lessons with Rick, understands what a caring and patient teacher he is. Rick is super talented, and his love of music, instruments, history and humor is infectious. Playing music with Rick is always great fun!

Rick will need money for all the basics... clothes, shoes, mattress, bedding, towels, blankets, a computer, printer, cell phone, kitchen items. I am hoping to raise $6000 to off-set many of the costs associated with restarting a home. In addition to house items, Rick will need to replace many of his beloved puppets, so he can continue to entertain all of us... soon.

We already know the insurance won't cover all of his musical instrument loss and the home debris removal. The $500.00 coverage for the musical instruments that were burned to ash will not even begin to cover the true replacement costs. He feels as though he has lost old friends.

Rick has given so much music, laughter and love to the Grass Valley/Nevada City communities for many, many years. It is my wish to give back to him at this difficult time. All the money we raise will go a long way to lift Rick's spirits. It is so devastating to lose so much.

Please share this with your friends and anyone who might be willing to help. Thank you SO very much for any donation!

Many blessings to everyone.


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Organizer and beneficiary

Stephanie Steyer 
Rough and Ready, CA
Richard Toles 
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