Have you been infected with Auburnitis yet?

Symptoms include extreme annoyance over out-of-townerisms
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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The symptoms of Auburnitis can slowly creep up on you.

And then, whammo, you’ve got it, full-blown.

For relative newcomers, it may be a switch from khakis to a pair of comfortable jeans that have been tucked away in the back of a drawer. Or maybe you’re drawn to buying a green and gold Placer “P” hat, just because.

Longing for some Taco Tree nachos? Or a pile of Wiener Works fries?

Yup. You’re infected.

Like that pair of jeans, Auburn tends to get more comfortable with the wearing.

Before you know it, you’re walking, talking, enthusing and complaining like a local.

You may have come down with a serious case of Auburnitis and not even realized it yet. As a public health service, Media Life will set you right with a list of the Top 25 symptoms:


1. When you give out a local phone number, you skip the ‘530’ area code because, well, everyone already knows that, right?

2. You’ve started to complain about those Bay Area people coming up here and changing things, even when you may be an ex-Bay Area resident yourself.

3. When someone mentions the Auburn Ale House, you start jonesing over the chow mein from the old Shanghai Restaurant that the Old Town brew house succeeded 13 years ago.

4. You walk past the embedded plaques in Central Square and recognize with a smile the names of people you know or have known.

5. Travelling east toward Auburn on Interstate 80, the Denny’s sign in Newcastle has become a beacon that signals to you that you’re almost home.

6. Same direction, you’re driving in the fog. But you just know that by the time you reach Auburn, it will be gone.

7. The Union Pacific trestle over I-80 just before Old Town signals to you that you are “home.”

8. Traveling west on I-80, your beacon signaling you’re says “home” is the red-and-white Machado Orchard blimp floating on high

9. And if it’s snowing in the Sierra, you’re driving with the confidence as you head downhill that the snow will all be gone by the time you reach Auburn roads.

10. “Flatlander” has entered your lexicon — but not in a nice way.

11. You now say “49” instead of “Highway 49.”

12. You go for a hike on the Stagecoach Trail and you’re no longer looking over your shoulder for mountain lions and bears.

13. Those semi-naked Amazon woman statues by Dr. Kenneth Fox on Auburn Ravine Road? Not even a glance anymore, much less a chuckle.

14. In fact, you now unblushingly show those topless concrete statues off to visitors as “large-scale folk art” rather than “local oddities.”

15. You know exactly what people mean when they say “the confluence” — the American River confluence below Auburn.

16. You know exactly what people mean when they say “The Domes” — the architecturally significant Placer County Administrative on Fulweiler Avenue.

17. You know precisely what people mean when they mistakenly refer to “No Hands Bridge.”

18. And it vexes you a little to think that they’re not using the correct name for the 106-year-old span — the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge.

19. It bothers you when people get the pronunciation of nationally renowned pie place Ikeda’s wrong. It’s “Ee-keda’s” not “Eye-keeda’s.”

20. Congratulations. You’re saying “mandarin” now — as in “pass me another mandarin slice, please.” And you’re not adding the dreaded, misapplied “orange” to the phrase. Mandarins are not oranges.

21. A freight train passes through Auburn in the night as you sleep. Brakes screech. A horn blasts. Wheels rumble. You hear nothing. Extreme Auburnitis.

22. Jake brakes groan on Interstate 80 on a Sunday night. You curse and fall quickly back to sleep.

23. You hear “Placer” and your brain registers “high school” instead of county.

24. You wince when someone pronounces Placer with a hard “A.”

25. “LeFebvre Stadium,” home of the near-miss state champion high school football Hillmen, is another tough pronunciation but you’ve mastered it. It’s “Le-fever.”

Auburnitis? Think you’ve got it. There’s no cure. So the best thing to do is to learn to live with it — and have another slice of pie. Machado’s or Ikeda’s. That’s your delicious dilemma when you live in a town like Auburn and have a serious case of Auburnitis. 

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.