Curtis Sollohub remembered

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Who of us could have thought it true? Curtis Sollohub murdered his baby sister’s pet grasshopper! Apparently, she, her two sisters, along with brother, Curtis, were packed into the back seat of the family car. They were on a trip, maybe a family vacation.

The little insect was on a tiny leash when the murderous instinct overtook 9-year old Curtis, confined in the backseat with his sisters. He knew of a small hole in the car floor that was a perfect fit for a grasshopper. Without hesitation, he shoved the small guy into it, snuffing out its little life (presumably, but who knows the ability of a hard-shelled insect to withstand the trauma?). At Curtis’ Memorial, gasps of surprise and embarrassed chuckles followed this revelation. Who would have thought Curtis capable of it?

This poignant tale was told by the wronged sibling after untold numbers of other people recounted stories of Curtis Sollohub’s contributions to our community. The sister who of course had finally forgiven Curtis, wanted to make sure everyone knew he was human after all the glowing stories about how wonderful he was.

The venue was Traveler’s Café on the Las Vegas Plaza Saturday afternoon, Jan. 4, 2014. It seems even people like our dear friend Curtis Sollohub can have a skeleton in the closet. (Does a grasshopper have a skeleton?) Life is too long (or too short?) not to have made a couple of murderous gestures under desperate circumstances.  So after 50 years, a sister gets it off her chest and tells the tale. We all loved her for it.

The truth is Prof. Curtis Sollohub was good man. He contributed so much to NMHU and Las Vegas in his years with us.

He worked for Habitat for Humanity, the acequias and their associations, workers’ unions, a Town & Gown attempt in the 90s, and the Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth. And there were more. In all these organizations he showed his solid ethics about community and service. He worked for fairness and social justice. We can all learn from his life.

Perhaps we can imagine what our own memorial service might be like. Can we see numbers of people coming out to speak? And what will they say?

For myself, I never had a sister to persecute and fight with. But I did have two brothers. Once I attacked my brother, Charley, with a sharp pencil. My mother screamed at me to stop. She said I would give him “lead poisoning.” I don’t think that stopped me.

We all have a few memories of murderous sibling mayhem, I suspect. But at the end, few of us will have as great an outpouring of love and admiration as Curtis had. It’s worth our thinking about it as this New Year begins.

Joan Krohn

Las Vegas