Grant Keltner

A yarn about a feud

Through the years while living here in Oregon, I’ve heard of many tales, been told many stories, and have had many fables passed down my way through elders from one generation to the next.  Many of the stories have been passed down through local families that settled in Oregon over the last 150 years, tales of pioneers that settled in Oregon, logging folklore, and legends of Native Americans that once lived here.

The following story is a yarn about a feud.

While attending school, friends and their parents passed down local stories to me, stories about families that had settled in Northwest Portland in the neighborhood that I grew up in.  I became familiar with old Portland, of the power struggles between families, and how certain families acquired money and land in Portland through the generations.

One of the most famous stories handed down was a tale of a terrible feud between two families that lived in the hills near Forest Park up off of Northwest Skyline.  The feud took place in the late 1930’s, back when the land off of Northwest Skyline and Northwest Cornell consisted of mostly rural farms, wide open ranches, large dairies, dense forests, old log cabins, hillbillies, and muddy country roads.  It was a famous feud, one that dragged on for over twenty years, covering two generations.  Rumors were spread, and locals talked about the feud.

Carl Taggert migrated to Portland from back east in 1931.  Taggert and his wife Deb had a son named Zachary who was around three years old at the time.  They had just enough money to buy twenty acres near Northwest Skyline.  They were farmers from Indiana.  Through friends, they had heard about the fertile land and bountiful fishing and hunting.  It was a nice piece of land.  It had open meadows that faced to the south, perfect for planting.  Fresh streams flowed through the meadows.  The land had room for cows to graze and rich soil to plant orchards.  They worked the land, watched their investments grow, and prospered through the years to follow.  They decided to buy more land near Northwest Thompson Road.  In this area, it wasn’t uncommon to spot red-tailed hawks and see deer roam the land.  It was 1938.

Around this time, Jack Benson and his family lived near Northwest Thompson Road.  They owned a small plot of land and barely got by.  Wild turkeys roamed his land.  The family had very little money.  They had an old small cabin and tried to forest the land and raise a few crops.  The roof was worn and some of the molding around the windows was loose and dropping off the home.  They were very poor.  Three old cars were parked on the land.  An old broken-down barn was located next to the cabin was full of car parts.  Dogs barked and cats ran wild.  The wet and cold windy nights made life hard for this family.  Whiskey bottles were thrown on the lawn.  One of the windows to the cabin was broken and an old blanket was tacked up over the window.  The shrubs near the house were overgrown.

Mr. Benson drank due to the loss of love, the loss of his wife.  Jack was famous for drinking.  His wife died from cancer in 1933.  It was a terrible death.  He was left with two small children, Dan age ten, and his younger sister Linda age eight.  Benson was known for yelling, swearing, cussing out, and beating his kids.  Neighbors knew of the problem and kept a watchful eye.  The kids weren’t given a proper education.  They attended the local school, but had no supervision from their father.  They helped tend to the land and roamed from time to time, learning to hunt and fish.  The anger brought on by their father was passed down to the children.  They learned to hate people.  Taggert had a couple of wild dogs.  They taught their dogs how to fight.  Dog food was scattered on the front porch.  The kids were missing teeth and wore dirty clothes most of the time.

As time passed, Carl Taggert came to acquire a taste for a piece of property next to Jack Benson’s property line.  He made the purchase on the land, three acres to be exact, to give his livestock more room to graze.  He planned to run a barbed wire fence following the property line for about three hundred yards and four feet high, posts put in every ten yards or so.  Jim Benson and his children caught wind of the purchase and confronted Taggert and his son as they were walking the property line one day.  “Taggert!  You and your son, stay away from my land and stay away from my kids!” yelled Jack Benson while slinging down a drink from an old whisky bottle.

“Benson, I have the title to the land right here in my hands,” replied Taggert, flapping the title for him to see.  “I’ll damn well do what I want with my land!  I’m grazing my livestock on this land.  I’m going to run a barbed wire fence following the property line.”  Taggert spat on the ground, his son Zachery by his side.

“We’ll see about that,” yelled Benson.  They slowly looked each other over and walked back to their homes.

Benson calls his kids into his house.  “Dan!  Linda!  Get in here now!” screamed Benson.  The kids ran into the rundown cabin.  The door slammed.  The dogs barked and some crows in a nearby tree squawked.

Taggert walked back through the rain, through his field that bordered Benson’s property.  He headed into his cabin and Zachery followed.  “Son, you stay away from his kids.  Stay away from Mr. Benson.  He’s trouble.”

“Yes sir,” replied Zachery.

In the next few months, Taggert put the barbed wire fence in.  It was hard work, but with the help of hired hands, they would get the job done before winter set in.  Carl Benson began to get low on money and started to worry.  His kids started to go hungry.  Late one cold winter night, Carl Benson decided he would walk through woods, wade through his streams, and walk down a small hill that took him to the new fence and the property line.  He proceeded to cut some of the barbed wire fence to let some of Taggert’s livestock and chickens roam his land.  Jim Benson led one or two of the chickens into his old barn and shot them with an old shot gun.  His kids watched.

The next morning, Zachery Taggert and his father found the cut barbed wire fence and followed the tracks to Mr. Benson’s barn.  The Bensons dogs barked, and they lunged toward Zachery as they got close to the Benson cabin.  Carl Benson walked out onto his worn-down front porch and looked at Taggert.  “Benson, what have you done with my chickens/” exclaimed Taggert.

“Taggert, those are my chickens.  Those aren’t your chickens!” screamed Benson.  The dogs got closer to Zachery and Mr. Taggert.

“Benson, I’m going to report this to the sheriff!”

The Benson kids screamed at Taggert and his son, “Get back on your land.  You’re trespassin’!”

Carl Taggert and his son stepped back onto the other side of the fence running along the property line.  The dogs barked and the rain pounded down on the group of people gathered.  Old oak trees swayed in the breeze as a barn owl hooted in the night.  Jim Benson clenched his fist and waved it at Taggert.  “Ehhhhhh.  I’ll get you Taggert!”  Zachery followed his father back into the house.  The rain kept falling through the night.

The scene with the chickens started a bitter feud that raged on for nearly twenty years between these two families.  The Bensons and Taggerts watched each other like hawks for the next few years.  Jim Benson was always yelling at his kids.  You could hear him swear through the woods, over the property line, and into Taggert’s cabin. 

The Benson cabin sat back about fifty yards from the property line and the fence.  A large thatch of trees stood next to the cabin.  Deep streams wound their way through the property.  A small hill led you down to the fence line.  The Bensons’ dogs would come up close to the fence and bark.  Jim Benson and his kids would throw bottles and garbage over the fence on to the Taggert property for the next year.  They didn’t care what the Taggerts thought of them.

The Taggert home stood about a hundred yards from the fence and the property line.  They had a side yard to their home.  It was fenced, containing chickens and geese.  A small herd of cows roamed along the new fence and the property line.

One day, Zachery was along the fence picking up old whiskey bottles thrown by Jim Benson.  It was a fall day in 1938.  The Benson kids, Dan and Linda, walked up to the fence and started to talk back to Zachery.

“Hey, you chicken shit bastard, are you and your parents going to do anything about those chickens of ours?” asked Dan Benson.  His sister Linda stood behind Dan, sticking her tongue out at Zachery.

Zachery bent down and grabbed a dirt clod.  He threw it at Dan and his sister.  The piece of dirt hit Dan in the head, and he fell to the ground and started to cry.  Linda started to scream.  The dogs started to bark.  Jack Benson heard the commotion and ran up to the fence line to see his son lying on the ground holding his head.  “Daddy!  Daddy!  Zachery hit Dan in the head with a dirt clod!” screamed Linda.

“Why you dumb kid!  I’ll get you for hurtin’ my boy!” replies Benson.  “I’ll get you one day!”  Zachery ran home to his mother and father.  The years passed and the feud continued.

Around 1948, Zachery Taggert, Daniel Benson, and Linda Benson started to approach their senior years in high school.  Dan Benson became involved with hot rods, some of the first ones ever built.  He fell in love with cars.  Working with parts from old cars that scattered his yard, Dan built a hot rod.  He had a few buddies that hung out and tinkered with his car.  Dan’s car was loud, and he made sure the Taggerts heard the engine.  Linda was attending high school that year.  She had a few friends, stayed to her chores, and around this time she began to fall in love with Zachery Taggert.

Zachery helped his father with the farm and saved money to buy an old Chevrolet 1921 roadster.  He drove the car to high school and back home and made deliveries in the afternoon for his dad.

Mr. Benson had a few contracts with his timber through the years.  His drinking continued and his anger over Taggert got stronger.  He always encouraged his son to fight Zachery and to cause trouble for the Taggerts.

One cold Friday night around 1948, the Benson kids and Zachery Taggert were out near the parking lot of the local high school gym.  Dan was driving in his old hot rod, cruising with his buddies.  Zachery was parked in his old Chevrolet.  A basketball game had just been played and the parking lot was full.  Several kids were excited to see the local team win.

“Hey, let’s go up to Northwest Thompson Road and race our cars!” yelled a kid.  Many people living in the area had heard about the racing on Northwest Thompson.  Several kids had been killed through the years while driving fast on the road.  The kids decided to meet around 9:30 that night.

It was cold, wet, raining and the night was dark.  Leaves filled the air as the wind rushed by.  A group of about thirty kids and eight cars had gathered.  Beer bottles were thrown and broken.  Kids started to rev their engines.  Car lights shined in the air illuminating the night.  Some kids smoked cigarettes.  A crowd had gathered to watch.  The cars lined up and raced down Thompson Road, one at a time.  Some of the cars approached 80 miles per hour down the mile and a half stretch of road.

Dan Benson saw that Zachery Taggert had driven his car up to Thompson Road that night.  He saw an opportunity to beat Zachery, an opportunity to get even with him.  Dan had been drinking that night, hadn’t eaten, and was bitter than ever over his lot in life.  He could hear his father in back of his mind.  He challenged Zachery to a race.  “Zachery, we can race to the end of Thompson!” screamed Dan.

“O.K.  You’re on!” replied Zachery.  The kids cheered.  Dan lined his car up facing west.  Zachery lined his car right next to Dan and his hot rod.  Kids screamed; the engines roared like thunder.  A kid with a checkered scarf waved it in the air and the cars took off, back wheels burning tire rubber as they darted out onto the pavement.  The cars started to reach 80 miles per hour.  Dan and his hot rod were being pushed to the limits and his car started to shake from the speed.  He hit a dip in the road and his car flew off the road, flying into a tree and throwing Dan through the windshield.  He died instantly.  The crowd raced to see the wreck.  Linda fainted as Zachery ran to her side.  Dan had died.  The police arrived and the story was told about how the wreck occurred.

That night, Zachery took Linda back to her cabin, back to her father.  She was in terrible shape, distraught over her brother’s death.  Her father was drunk when they got to the house.  “What do you want Zachery?” mumbled Benson.

“Mr. Benson, Dan is dead.  He died in a car wreck.  Some of the kids went up to Thompson road and we were racing cars.  Dan’s car flew off the road!”

“What, Daniel dead?  No, no, he can’t be dead!” cried Benson.  Mr. Benson grew madder and madder as he realized what had happened to his son.  He started to yell at Linda and slapped her.  She was knocked down and hit her head on a chair and passed out.

A fight broke out between Zachery and her father.  Zachery ran for the door.  Mr. Benson ran over to an old desk in the living room and pulled out a revolver.  He fired a shot at Zachery just missing him as he ran out the front door.  The dogs chased after Zachery.  Mr. Benson tried to run after him.  Zachery ran, zig zagged through the woods, through the streams, and jumped over the fence line, tearing his jeans as he raced through the field up to his house.  Mr. Benson tried to run after him.  He ran through the woods and started to wade through one of the streams.  He slipped on a rock and fell into a deep section of the stream, hitting his head on a rock.  The dogs barked as Benson slowly started to drown.  “Help, help I can’t swim!” yelled Benson.

Zachery reached his home and told his father what happened that night, while Benson drowned in the stream.  Nobody was there to help Benson.  The sheriff arrived and fished Benson out of the stream the next morning.

Next year in 1949, Zachery and Linda got married.  They partitioned the Benson land with the land owned by Carl and Deb Taggert.  They went on to have a boy named Luke.  The years rolled on.

In 1963, a developer offered to buy some of the land that Zachery Taggert and his wife owned.  The developer wanted to open up and sell land off Northwest Skyline.  A bitter land war broke out.  The streams that ran through Taggerts land were valuable to the developer to help supply water to other areas with development.  Since Taggert told the developer that he wasn’t interested in selling his land, the developer hired thugs to go up into the Taggerts’ land to break sewer lines, bust water pipes, and redirect streams.  The family reported the problems to the local authorities without much luck.  They were hassled with phone calls in the middle of the night and followed while they drove home at night.  This continued for about a year or so.

Luke Taggert was around seventeen years old when he started dating a local girl by the name of Sarah Collins.  Her family owned land not too far away from the Taggerts.  Her father was a rancher in the area.  Luke borrowed the family car one Friday night and drove to McLeay Park off Northwest Cornell Road.  There was a popular spot in the park that young couples would stop, look at the harvest moons at night, and make out.  They stopped their car in McLeay Park that night.  It was a dark night.  A few people reported seeing them there around ten o’clock.

The next day the Taggerts were alarmed by not seeing Luke at the breakfast table.  They called Sarah Collins parents.  They hadn’t seen any sign of them.  They called the police.  The police searched and searched for the Taggerts car and the young couple.  A few weeks went by and the police found the Taggert car in a gully down off of Old Germantown Road.  Nobody was in the car.  The bodies were never found. Several people suspected foul play, thought that one of the thugs hired by the developer had followed the couple that night and killed them.  Stories about the disappearance were handed down through the years.  As a kid growing up in the area the folk lore continued.  Nobody ever knew for sure what happened.  It remains a mystery to this day.

The stick fight

In 1964, I just moved with my mother into an apartment up above Chapman Grade School.  It was built at the dead-end of NW Pettygrove.  It had views that looked out to the north towards Montgomery Park and as far north to Vancouver.  Back then the apartment sat right in the middle of a green space.  Raccoons and deer used to come up to the back porch and beg for food.  It was a great wildlife area.

Next to the apartment, directly west, sat a large vacant lot.  It had two huge alders that reached nearly two hundred feet into the air.  The lot was wedged between our apartment and the last home on the dead-end street.  This home belonged to a prominent, very well-known doctor by the name of Dr. Ralph Pinecrest.  His home sat at the very end of Pettygrove, tucked up against the hill, built in the late 1940’s.  The vacant lot gave Ralph his own private meadow that included old growth trees that provided him shade in the summer and secluded him from the rest of neighborhood.  The doctor had a son about two years older than me.  He was around ten or so and he was noted for being what was called a “rough neck.”  Like most kids growing up in that area of the neighborhood, we use to run after each other, tackle, push, throw dirt clods, wrestle, and run through yards.  The Pinecrest kid always left me alone, but I was guarded against him.  His name was Doug Pinecrest.  We use to play in the vacant lot.  We played army, yelled and screamed, and caused all kinds of mischief.

I found out by talking with neighbors and friends that lived in the neighborhood that this vacant lot use to be one of the locations for one of the old turn around stations for the original Portland city cable cars.  The cars wound through the West Hills and stopped at the dead end of Pettygrove.  Old pieces of cement and rebar were wound around dark green patches of ivy and lush blackberry bushes.  The city left the large pieces of cement after city workers took most of the turnaround down in the mid 1940’s.  An old trail cut along the west side of the vacant lot and allowed us kids to explore other areas that ran along the west hills, leading us to hidden creeks and streams that wound through Willamette Heights.

I remember waking up on a Saturday morning back when I was around eight or so.  It was a dark cold fall day and my mother was rushing me out the door to attend a Bear Scout meeting at Friendly House.  Back then, I was involved with the Boy Scouts, as were most kids my age.  On the way back home from our den meeting, I ran into some friends that wanted to play touch football.  We played for about an hour in the soaking dirty mud at Wallace Park.  I headed home to get a scolding from my mother.  “Look at you!  You look like a dirt clod!” chirped my mother, “In the tub you go this minute!”

She filled up the tub.  I scrubbed and scrubbed at the dirt that had stuck to my hair, arms, and legs.  I finished my bath and ran into my bedroom and threw on some clothes.  I looked outside and could hear kids screaming out in front of our place.  It sounded like they were playing in the vacant lot.  The fall breeze painted a flash of red and orange as leaves rushed through the trees.  I ran outside and noticed Dr. Pinecrest’s kid playing in the lot next door.  The other kids playing in the lot with Doug were the Macalister kids.  Jerry and his older brother Greg were busy swinging sticks in what seemed to be a very serious fencing contest.

The Macalister’s lived down on NW Pettygrove in the big brick house that sat in the middle of the street.  Mr. and Mrs. Macalister were active in the neighborhood.  Mr. Macalister coached us in little league baseball and his kids attended Cathedral Grade School.  I played with the Macalister kids every once in a while, usually goofing around after school and while playing baseball.  Jerry was my age.

I ran over to the lot and tried to see what all the excitement was about.  Kids were screaming and jabbing each other with their sticks.  Then, all of a sudden I heard a terrible scream.  Everything seemed to stop in time.  The vacant lot became deathly quiet.  Greg put his hands to his face and started to run down the street, zig zagging his way towards his house.  I felt awful.  Jerry looked at me and started to run after his brother.  Doug turned beet red as his parents opened their front door.  “My eye!  My Eye!” screamed Greg as he rushed by me, crying, and sobbing through his pain.  I started to weep.

I stood speechless and looked up towards Dr. Pinecrest’s house where the doctor and his wife were yelling at their son.  “Get inside now!”

Their son put his stick down on the vacant lot and looked at me.  He ran inside and the front door slammed.  I could hear Dr. Pinecrest yelling at his son.  I stood in the vacant lot and looked at the stick lying on the ground.  A crowd had gathered down in front of the Macalister’s home.  Soon the sound of an ambulance’s siren could be heard coming up Pettygrove.  I ran down to the Macalister house as fast as I could.  Concerned neighbors watched as Greg was put into the ambulance.  “His eye!  Greg lost his eye!” shouted a neighbor.

I looked at the faces that had gathered.  Mrs. Macalister was crying and held by her husband.  Kids that new Greg and Jerry gathered around in the yard.  My mother came out in the middle of the street and started to call me in.  The darkness of the fall night set in.  I remembered walking back home in the dark, thinking about Greg.

The next day at school everyone was curious as to what had happened to Greg.  Word soon spread that he indeed had lost his eye.  He was going to be given a replacement.  I found out that the boys were playing in the vacant lot and started to pretend they were pirates or Robin Hood.  They began to use their sticks as swords, hitting each other on the arms, then the chest and then the head.  Dr. Pincrest’s boy got mad and stuck Greg Macalister right in Greg’s right eye.  He hit him so hard that the eye dislodged from its socket.

A few days later, I saw Dr. Pincrest and his son huddled down in the family car.  I soon found out that the good doctor had enrolled his son into a private school back east.  It seemed that his son had pushed his father to the brink.  Word spread of a lawsuit filed against the doctor and his family.  Dr. Pinecrest started to drink.  He usually made his way home through the Radio Cab Company.  I never saw Doug Pinecrest again.

In the next few years, I stayed good friends with Greg and Jim Macalister.  We attended high school together and both of the brothers studied drafting and took shop classes offered through Lincoln High School.  After graduation, they applied for their contractor’s license with construction.  They helped their family build homes through the following years.

In the mid 1980’s I found out that all of the land that lied on the north side of Pettygrove, including the land that went up directly behind Chapman and up the hill ending where Quimby and 28th intersect, was once a farm that was owned by the Macalister family back through 1900.  I was told that the farm had been in their family for years and that they subdivided it in the 1940’s.  I was also told that Dr. Pinecrest bought his lot for his home from the Macalister family.  The vacant lot where the stick fight occurred was handed down through the years in the Macalister family.  The vacant lot sat there for years.  The two old alders grew, and the old growth trees formed a small little forest on the lot.  I often saw hawk and an occasional owl perch on one of the broad limbs.

Around 1988, I was heading out the door at night and I heard chainsaws roaring.  I looked over at the vacant lot.  Here were Greg and Jerry cutting down the huge alders and old growth.  Birds flew in the air.  Crows shrieked in displeasure.  I found out that the Macalister’s were going to subdivide the lot and build two three-story condominiums on the land.  They would be disturbing the secluded sanctuary that Dr. Pinecrest had outside his door for nearly fifty years.  I felt bad.  I had remembered how I liked the lot and how much I liked the trees.  I got mad and barked at Greg.  “You can’t cut those trees down!”

He looked at me and seemed to be staring right at me.  He had a cold look on his face.  It seemed that Greg went back in time that very instant, to the stick fight.  I could see the pain and anger on his face.  “I should be able to do with my land what I like; don’t you think?” said Greg.

I thought about his remark.  I thought about Doug Pinecrest, his father, the issues with his drinking, and about how much I loved that vacant lot.

I went back inside and shut the door.  What had seemed like a lifelong reminder of what the neighborhood was once like vanished in a matter of days.  In the next few months, flatbed trucks and all kinds of construction equipment went through the lot.  Greg and Jerry worked on their condos, banging their hammers.  As they finished the project, I noticed that the entire lot was filled up by the condominiums.  They blocked any kind of view that the doctor and his family had.  Dr. Pinecrest died shortly afterwards.  His wife gradually got old and went into a care facility.  The home was put on the market in the late 1990’s.  I never saw the Pinecrest family again.

Greg and Jerry Macalister went on to build on property in and around the Willamette Heights area that was owned by their family.  Greg still lives in the neighborhood, is married, and has kids of his own.

I’ll never forget the stick fight.

The Smack’s

As a youngster, I would spend my summer months in northern California.  My parents split when I was five and once the divorce was finalized, it was decided that I would visit my father once school was over in the early summer.  I would stay with my father and stepmother for almost three months and visit for two weeks at Christmas.

My father and stepmother lived in Palo Alto, California, near Stanford University.  It was a beautiful setting.  Orange groves, grapefruit trees, walnut orchards, and wide-open fields dotted the landscape.  The summer months were full of bright sunshine and eucalyptus permeated the air.

My father had moved from Oregon due to a promotion.  He was working as a sales representative with Toyota manufacturing, in charge of sales and management support in the Bay area and northern California.  My stepmother worked for an advertising firm in Palo Alto, one of the largest firms in the area.  I have fond memories of growing up in the Bay Area.  A trip to Santa Cruz, Lake Tahoe, and the surrounding countryside was always exciting and fun.

My father and stepmother bought a new Ford Mustang in 1965.  It was fire engine red, had black interior, and was a convertible.  It was a great car to explore the sights and sounds of California.  Dad would take me along on his sales trips on the road.  We’d go to Oakland, Santa Rosa, up highway 101 to Eureka, Mendocino and other towns and cities located along the California coast.  I always looked forward in spending my summers with my father and stepmother.

Around 1971, when I was about thirteen, my stepmother suggested that I spend time with kids from another family that she worked with in her advertising firm.  A add executive that she worked with by the name of Mike Smack and his wife Tonya had three kids around my age.  There was Mike Smack Jr., who was the oldest of the children, Bridgette Smack was my age, and Dan was the youngest child in the family.

Tonya Smack was a very kind and really great woman.  I would spend time during the summer with their family.  Since my father worked long hours during the day and my stepmother was busy during the day as well, it would be better to have the companionship of the Smack family’s kids.  Since Mrs. Smack was a stay home mom, we would be under the supervision and watchful eye of this loving woman.

Mike Jr. and I became fast friends.  He was a few years older than me and really gifted.  We read Zap comics, ate Snickers candy bars, and built model planes.  He was amazing at building model aircraft.  He loved to read up on the history of armament of the era.  He showed me how to paint and decal.  I learned about the P-51 Mustang, the Corsair, and the P-38 Lightning.  We caused mischief, watched late night movies, and had a great time.  He was one of the best gymnasts in the state of California for his age.  He could stand on his hands, do flips, and had an incredible upper body.  He also had a number two ranking in the state in the discus throw.  He also played the guitar.  He turned me on to John Kay and Steppenwolf, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Alice Cooper.  He played lead guitar and had a band that used to play at high school dances.  He had his driver’s license and we cruised through the California countryside.  It was great fun.  He was my best friend in California. 

His sister was a typical California bombshell.  She was beautiful, one of the cutest girls I’d ever met.  She was my age and a natural.  I had a huge crush on her.  She was great at water skiing, softball, and was probably one of the fastest runners I’ve ever met.  She taught me how to kiss.  She was a great friend.

Dan Smack was always tagging along with us like a young pup.  He was so cute, singing songs and laughing at the mischief we made.  He was like my second shadow.

The Smacks loved to water ski and Bridgette was one of the greatest water skiers I ever saw.  They had a fast boat and we used to ski up on the Sacramento Delta.  My father and stepmother would go along.  My father was the best water skier out of all of us.  Almost everybody knew how to water ski.  I remember the long country roads that cut through golden brown corn fields.  It was so big back then.  Everything seemed to stretch for miles.  I spent three summers with the Smack family from 1971 to 1973.

I started to watch, learn, and hear about the stories of infidelity with Mr. Smack.  At night, Mrs. Smack would tell us stories about finding her husband coming home late at night, finding lipstick smeared on his shirts, and finding business cards with phone numbers.  She was sad.  She’d sit in the kitchen late at night looking out the window waiting for Mr. Smack.  We were all saddened by the stories, saddened by the news. 

I was up late one summer night with Mike Jr. watching the Three Stooges.  Mr. Smack pulled up in his ’68 Oldsmobile.  He staggered out of his car.  He was obviously drunk.  A young woman was in the passenger side of the car dressed to the nines, laughing and carrying on.  We watched as he stumbled up the pathway to his home, listened as he fumbled at the door, and heard him bump into the walls down the hall that led to the master bedroom.  Mrs. Smack was up waiting for him.  We could hear how mad she was.  They started to fight.

“You’re drunk!” yelled Mrs. Smack.

He grabbed some money he had on the dresser and looked at his wife.  “I’ll be home later!”  Shouted Mr. Smack.

Mike Jr. looked at me as we watched his father climb back into his car and drive off.  “This has been going on for a while now,” Mike Jr. explained.  “I think my parents are going to get a divorce.”  I felt bad for the kids and I felt bad for Mrs. Smack.

The last summer that I was with the family was around 1973.  I soon found out that Mr. Smack had been dating three or four woman behind Mrs. Smack’s back.  I guess he saw himself as a playboy, a real ladies man, a real Casanova.  I loved Mrs. Smack.  She was like a second mother to me.  She was sweet and kind and good to her kids.  She was always backing us up and supporting us in whatever we did.  I can remember being called in the kitchen late one night.  It was one of the last nights I stayed with the family.

“I’m afraid Mr. Smack and I are filing for a divorce!”  The kids started to cry, I started to weep.  I didn’t know what to say.  “As you know, for the last several years our marriage has been falling apart.”

The room went deafly quiet.  Mr. Smack came and went like the wind.  I left California late that summer for Portland.  I carried a heavy heart.

Mrs. Smack had decided that summer to file for a divorce.  Around that time, she had met another man by the name of Mark Hutchinson, someone she knew from the area.  I remember being saddened by the situation.

Mike Jr. sided with his mother.  So did Dan.  They would live with their mother and new stepfather.  Bridgette was her father’s princess.  She would live with her father in an apartment in Santa Clara.

My father and stepmother decided to move up the northern California coast to Mendocino, California.  My stepmother had received a new job with a legal firm and my father would stay in management with Toyota.  Due to the split in the Smack family and the move with my parents, things drifted apart with their friendship.  I used to think about Mike Jr., Bridgette, and Dan.  I missed them as the years passed.

Around 2008, almost thirty-five years after going our separate ways, I was asked to join Facebook.  “You’ll reconnect with friends,” said an enthusiastic co-worker.

Apprehensive at first, I joined up.  I reconnected with friends that I hadn’t heard from in years.  One day while doing a search, I found Mike Smack Jr.!  I asked him about his mother and father.  He told me about their divorce, about the pain.  I found that he was living in Ohio on a forty-acre farm.  He was married, had kids, and we reconnected.

I called him one day.  He went on to tell me the following story.  Back in 1973, the Smacks did indeed divorce.  Mr. Smack continued to practice his law, drink, and chase girls.  I guess he was around fifty at this time.  He led a pretty wild life.  Bridgette loved her father and lived with him in their apartment.  Mrs. Smack wound up marrying Mark Hutchinson.  He worked in a warehouse and was a tough man.  They bought a home east of San Jose, California.  Mike Jr. and Dan lived with their mother and new stepfather.  Mike Jr. was a senior at this time.  Bridgette was a freshman in high school and Dan would have been in seventh grade.  The divorce was difficult for everyone.

On a quiet summer evening around 1980, the boys were asleep, tucked away in one of the bedrooms down the hall from the kitchen.  It was a Saturday night.  Mrs. Smack was sitting at the kitchen table filing papers for a divorce.  It seemed that the marriage to her second husband wasn’t working out.  She had left the papers on the kitchen counter.  Mark Hutchinson came stumbling into the house late that night.  He had worked that day and went out drinking.  He had caught wind of Tonya filing for divorce.  They started to argue and fight.  Mark reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a revolver.  He pointed it at her, screamed, and pulled the trigger.  The shot rang out, the bullet went through her skull, and she fell to the floor.

Mike Jr. and his younger brother were woken by the gun shot.  Dogs in the neighborhood started to bark.  The boys started to cry.  Soon, a second shot rang out.  Mark Hutchinson had shot himself in the head.  His body fell on top of Tonya.

Mike Jr. grabbed his brother and pulled him close to his body.  He protected his brother and peered around the bedroom door looking down the hall into the kitchen.  He could see blood and two bodies on the floor.  They ran towards the back door off the hallway.  They ran crying and screaming through the back yard knocking over lawn furniture, jumping over the cedar fence that separated them from their neighbors.  They ran into their neighbor’s yard.  The next-door neighbors came running out of their house.  The boys huddled down and cried.  The police were soon called in.  They went through the front door and found the two bodies, blood spattered against the kitchen wall.  It must have been terrible.

About a month later, Mr. Smack was driving his car through the streets of Santa Clara.  He was still partying, chasing woman, smoking, and living a hard life.  He felt terrible about his former wife and what had happened in his marriage, how hard everything was for his kids.  It seemed that through his lifestyle his heart was giving him problems.  His doctor prescribed medication, pills that would calm the pain he was experiencing.

Well, he was driving his car through the streets of Santa Clara that night, on a binge.  He had forgotten to take his blood pressure pills, suffered a massive heart attack, and plowed into a telephone pole.  His car was totaled.  He hit his head against the steering wheel of his car and died instantly.  The horn of his car alarmed everyone in the area.

By 1980, the children in the Smack family had lost both of their parents.  They had experienced a terrible ride of emotion.  I could hear Mike Jr. weep as he told me the story.  He moved a few years later, took his wife and kids with him to a forty-acre farm that he bought in Ohio.  It was a secluded location far away from the memories that he left behind in California.  Bridgette stayed in California, married, and had a couple of kids.  She went on to work for one of the local colleges as a counselor.  Dan became a contractor and lives in the Bay Area.

I was so saddened to hear the story about the Smack family.  I really couldn’t believe the way things turned out.  How ironic, I thought to myself.

Looking back Tonya Smack was like a second mother to me.  I can still see her smile.  I can feel the love she had for me.  She treated me like one of her own.  I’ll always miss her.

Apple Brown Betty

Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you an old folk story that was handed down from generation to generation.  A story about good friends, the power of love, kindness, music, and the magic that can happen when it’s all mixed in to create something special.

This story starts up in the cold confines of the British Columbia head waters and drifts through the rivers and streams that froze during the terrible winter of 1923, known in these parts as “The Famous Winter of 1923”.  Many locals in the British Columbia area still remember it as being one of the coldest, wettest, and wildest winters on record.

Our tale takes place on the island known as Vancouver Island, up in the Strait of Georgia, north of Vancouver as the crow flies.  This takes place in a small little town where fur traders, fishermen, and prospectors gathered together and formed the small town of Port McNeil.

Jacque L’eau Bleu lived in a small wooden cabin on the northeast section of Vancouver Island.  He painstakingly built his small home using some of the local river rock found on the island to form his solid foundation.  He then used the tall Douglas firs that grew on the island to frame his home.  His confines had a small kitchen, a tiny bedroom, and a warm fireplace that kept Jacque warm during the bitter cold winter. 

He owned a tug boat named Rosie.  He was a tug boat captain and had been running his tug in and out of the British Columbia waters for years and years.  It was a big tug, worn, and weathered.  It had old paint peeling off the boat and rust that had formed from the long, cold, wet nights.  He loved his tug, Rosie.

He had a trusty three-legged, one-eyed, black Labrador named Ring.  Ring had a broken tail that was bent and held together by an old bandanna.  Ring was a loyal dog and watched over the surroundings of the cabin for Jacque.  Ring was a good old guard dog.  “Woof!” barked his trusty companion.

Jacque also had two pet beavers named Ned and Ted.  They swam around near the edge of the island, up near the cabin.  They had made a house of brambles and brush and actually helped Jacque clear some of the timber when he built his cabin.  They were great friends in the first order, always helping each other with chores.  Jacque would feed his pet beavers bits of tuna and crab.  They were very full and content.

Jacque also had a pet bald eagle named Gus.  Gus would fly overhead, squawk, and screech if he saw anybody approaching the cabin.  He had keen eyes and sharp claws that could scratch the eyes out of anybody that bothered the inhabitance of the island.

Jacque wore a black stocking cap, had an old gruff looking beard, and dirty hands.  Sometimes he chewed his fingernails and had a few teeth that were missing.  He sported a plaid shirt with fish hooks attached to his sleeves.  He wore old jeans and a sturdy pair of muck lucks.

“Hello Jacque!” yelled the locals as they waved and paddled their canoes by his cabin. 

“My name is not Jacque, its Jacque L’eau Bleu you crazy bastards!” yelled the big Canadian tug boat captain.  Jacque had worked the waters for years.  He lived by himself and had never been married; he had bad luck with the ladies.  It was said that his true love lived in a small town, near a little city by the name of Sellwood, Oregon.  His true love was a girl by the name of Apple Brown Betty.  It’s known that the two loved each other very much at one time, but due to family differences and religious views they drifted apart.  It was said at times that Jacque could hear Apple Brown Betty singing in the night all the way from Sellwood as the stars twinkled in the bright Canadian night.

He played the banjo, whittled wood, whistled, set bear traps, took squats in a little outhouse, wore snow shoes, and read the latest stories by Jack London by lantern light.  He was a content man.  At times he smoked a pipe and realized at a young age that he didn’t need much in life to be happy, other than a full belly and a warm fire and his banjo.  He was a hard worker driving his tug in and between the islands of the Georgia Straight.  He’d help a large freighter with a hull full of fresh timber from Alaska find its way to port.  Sometimes he’d push a barge up through the island to unload sand for making cement.  He was loved and known by all.  He’d drink with his good friends when he came to port.  Usually he’d carry his banjo with him and strum it in the local dance halls.  He and his friends would sing into the night.  They’d laugh and tell lies, spit and cuss, and get into fights.  Usually he’d crawl back to Rosie at night and head to sea.

One day as Jacque was whittling a piece of wood on his front porch, a large raft carrying the local postmaster, a man known by the name of Ron Ronstien, stopped in and delivered a very important letter.  There in the mail was a letter from his true love, a letter from Apple Brown Betty!  He couldn’t believe that he had received the handwritten note.  They hadn’t spoken in years.  He tore the envelope open and proceeded to read the following scribbled words:

March 12, 1923

Hello Jacque –

I hope yer’ doin’ fine this cold and wet winter ya’ old coot!  It’s frigid as can be and wet here in Sellwood.  My cabin is old, but it longs for your company Jacque.  The roof is leaking, and the mice are gnawin’ at my toes.  My cat sleeps most of the day and is lazy as can be.  Darn ole’ cat!

 My good friend and comrade, B.O. Plenty, wishes that you would accompany us in the next few weeks for our annual hoot ‘nanny.  As usual will be playing and a strummin’ laughin’ and a stompin’ up a storm.  Be sure and bring yer’ banjo and be sure to bring Ring, Ted, Ned, and Gus!

Why don’t you look at bringing Rosie down through the Pacific coast?  You should head down the Willamette River and stop in on our little hideaway.  The hoot ‘nanny will be held on Saturday, April 3, 1923.  Friends and family will be in attendance.  It should be a grand time.

Best and hope to see you soon!


Apple Brown Betty

Jacque started to cry.  He couldn’t believe that Apple Brown Betty had sent him an invitation to her hoot ‘nanny.  “Ahhhhhh, Apple Brown Betty!  Ohhhhhh, Ahhhhhh!” cried Jacque.  He moaned and yearned for his beloved.  When Jacque started to mention the name of Apple Brown Betty, Rings ears would stand up straight and his eye would roll tether and fro.  The mere thought of this little wild flower conjured up a mighty emotion inside of Jacque L’eau Bleu.  Ring, Ted, Ned, and Gus would usually hide for a few hours knowing that Jacque usually would go into an uncontrollable heat in the mere mention of her name.  After all, he lived by himself in a cabin for cryin’ out loud!  “Ohhhhhhh, Ahhhhhh, Apple Brown Betty!”

He thought awhile and finally was settled on the idea that he would take Rosie, Ring, Ned, Ted, and Gus down the west coast to Sellwood, Oregon to visit Apple Brown Betty and her good friend B.O. Plenty.  He decided that he would leave in a week, gather his supplies for the trip, and head south down the coast of Washington.  He had several Native Canadian wood carvings that he would bring down to give to his friends.  He searched and searched for his clean duds and decided he would take his favorite banjo.  Everybody was excited.

Ring let out a happy bark of “Woof!”  Ned and Ted flapped their tails up and down in the river, while Gus squawked, dove deep in the water, and pulled out a thirty-pound salmon for dinner that night.  They knew it would be a fun adventure.  They all smiled.

Within a week, Jacque had all his supplies and decided to pack up Rosie and head out in a day or so.  The weather was rough, snow had fallen, and pieces of ice had gathered in the water.  It would take him about a week to get to Sellwood.  He started his trip early in the morning.  He woke up, put on fresh underwear and made pancakes and a big pot of coffee, and then fed Ring.  They jumped on the tug and set sail.

For days they drifted through currents, road the tides, and passed freighters in the cold dark of night.  They made their way in and out of high waves, zipping down through Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw Islands.  They weaved down through the Straights of Juan de Fuca and out into the vast Pacific.  Rosie’s bright-beamed headlight helped get the lively crew down the coast.  Whales helped point Jacque to the Columbia with their tails.  The stars, wind, and clouds would guide Jacque to their destination.

Rosie’s boiler belched a hot fire as Jacque stoked wood into the belly of the old tug.  She puffed and chortled her way down the Washington coast.  They passed through Native American fishing settlements and through Forks and Hoquiam.  Down the Washington coast line they traveled.  Once around the third night on his excursion, he pulled over and went clamming for a day in Long Beach.  Through the fog and torrential down pour of the hard-northwest rain Jacque finally found the mouth of the mighty Columbia River.

Down the river they floated, past Astoria, over the bar they drifted in and out with the swells.  Rosie’s whistle rang out with a toot, toot, tootie, toot, and toot!

They passed through farms and lush green countryside that sprawled along the landscape.  Salmon jumped as the tug cut through the bright sparkling water of the mighty Columbia.  Young kids waved at the sight of old tug.  The Canadian flag flew brightly high above Rosie.  Her smoke stacks belched dark black smoke in the sky.  It was cold and wet and approaching early April.

Soon, within a few days they saw the outskirts of Linton, Oregon.  At that time, it was one of the oldest trading posts on the Willamette River.  Jacque tooted Rosie’s whistle as they passed through the city of St. Johns and continued to chug down to Portland.  Docks and piers dotted the shoreline as the tug floated along the mighty Willamette.  They pushed south and soon came to the piers near Oaks Park in Sellwood.

There, a jumpin’ and a screamin’ and waving their hats in the air were Apple Brown Betty, B.O. Plenty, and several neighbors and town folk.  “Jacque!” yelled Apple Brown Betty.

Apple Brown Betty was near fifty years of age, sporting white long johns under a worn pink and green polka dotted dress.  She had big brown boots, dark red hair, and wore an old worn bowler hat with a daisy stuck in it.  She smoked a corn cob pipe, was missin’ a few teeth, and her face was worn like an apple doll from working hard at the local train yard.  She had been working in the train yards most of her life, watching after the locomotives, engines, and box cars.  She made sure they were pointed in the right direction and switched to the correct tracks.  Occasionally, she burped, snorted, and spat.  She had a pet owl named Hootie that followed her from time to time and an old tabby cat named Creaky Pete.  She even had a pet turtle named Buster.  She talked loud and loved life.  She was known as being a dirty bird from time to time.

B.O. Plenty was a great friend to Apple Brown Betty.  He had survived the Spanish American War, was a proud Republican, and a proud American.  He wore his old worn officer’s outfit and sported a long grey beard that reached down just above his belly.  He carried a flask of whiskey and would occasionally sneak a sip while nobody was watching.  He wore dark sunglasses and medals that he bought at an old second hand store.  He spread the bright pieces of ornaments across his chest.  Apple Brown Betty had met B.O. Plenty while he was hitching a ride through the train yards one day.  She offered him a place to stay.  In turn, he mended her house, nailed down her old roof, and mowed the lawn, and fed her chickens.

“Jacque!” yelled Apple Brown Betty.

Jacque looked at her and shook his head in disgust.  “How many frickin’ times do I have to tell you my name is Jacque L’eau Bleu!” yelled Jacque.  “Now stand back!  Let me pull Rosie into the pier!”

The crowd stood back as Jacque masterfully pulled the old tug up to the pier.  He guided her around and turned off the engine.  She floated into shore.  He grabbed a big rope that was attached to the side of the tug and threw it around an old stump.  He then dropped down a gang plank that allowed his lively crew to reach the friendly community of Sellwood.  Everybody waved and cheered as Jacque, Ring, Ned, Ted, and Gus jumped down onto the shore.  Apple Brown Betty ran up and gave Jacque a big smooch.  “Oh Jacque, how I’ve missed you!”

Jacque turned red, dusted himself off, and hugged Apple Brown Betty.  “Oh, Apple Brown Betty how I’ve missed you my little plump turtle dove!”

Jacque looked at B.O. Plenty and held his nose.  Remember, B.O. Plenty wasn’t named B.O. for nothin’.  “Howdy there Jacque Lea Bleu!  I heard many a tall tale about ya’!” replied B.O Plenty, “Can ya’ play checkers or shuffle board?”

“Why yes B.O., I have a carved checker set in my duffle bag, and I just happen to be the Canadian champion in checkers and shuffle board!”

“Ohhhhhhh Goodie!” screamed B.O. Plenty.

All of the neighbors gathered to look at Rosie the tug.  Her boiler had cooled down and was calm as she sat content and satisfied in her friendly confines on the Willamette River.  Ned and Ted floated around the tug gnawing on the fresh flotsam and jetsam.

Apple Brown Betty’s small cottage was tucked up under a huge old willow tree just up off of SE Nehalem Street off the cliffs that dotted the shoreline.  Her cottage was cozy.  She had a couple of bedrooms, a big pot belly stove in the kitchen, and a nice little yard that had a garden and a big scare crow planted out in front to frighten off the crows that would eat her vegetables.  She was known to be a hoarder, not with cats or rabbits, but with silver plates.  Her living room was adorned with silver plates and knick knacks.  Her prized plate was from the San Francisco World’s Fair held in 1904.  She quilted and sewed, made her own preserves from the apple trees she had in her yard, kept an old shotgun near the front door, and baked fresh pies and breads in her old French oven.  She had a nice sized canoe that she would take floating from time to time.

B.O. fished religiously, often catching and bringing home salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon.  He had a smoker in the backyard.

Jacque, Apple Brown Betty, and B.O. Plenty made their way up to the cottage.  Ring barked, the beavers made funny faces in the water, and Gus flew circling around them as they got to the front yard of the cottage.  “Well ya old sidewinder, ya’ brought yer banjo!” screamed Apple Brown Betty.

“Why yes I did!”

“Goodie, we should sit down and play!”  They walked into the living room where there was a big couch, a few sitting chairs, an old upright piano, and the walls adorned with paintings and her silver plates.  Jacque pulled out his old worn duffle bag and opened it up.  He unveiled prized wood carvings that he had made.  “Here B.O. Plenty.  I want you to have this little memento.  It’s an authentic Native Canadian totem pole that I carved!”

“Oh Jacque, this is great.  Thankie’ kindly!” replied B.O. Plenty.

Apple Brown Betty chirped in. “Now you know that the hootenanny is going to be held tomorrow!  All the neighborhood folks will be in attendance.  We’ll have his honorable, the Mayor Finster Fester Fibster in attendance and the pastor of our church, the Reverend Ms. Patti Smith saying grace and just about anybody that’s anybody will be here!”

“Ahhhhhh, Apple Brown Betty this will be great!  I cherish the ground that you walk on.  I look forward to playing my banjo and look forward to having you, B.O. Plenty, and the other guests and musicians playing at the hootenanny!”

They sat down and started to talk about his long trip.  He told his companions of the perils he faced with his cruise down the coast.  He told them of how cold it was.  His company sat in amazement as he talked with his hands describing the dark fog, currents, and tides that whisked him through his way down to Sellwood.

Apple Brown Betty ran into the kitchen and brought back some freshly baked whole wheat bread, a few scraps of a baked ham, and some goat’s cheese, along with a brown jug of fresh corn mash.  They drank and ate by the light of the stone fireplace, smoked their corn cob pipes, and told tall tales late into the night.  They laughed and screamed.  The neighbors gathered at the windows peering in and listening to the stories that were told by these monumental characters.

Jacque L’eau Bleu fell asleep on the couch, Apple Brown Betty stumbled around, accidently kicking her cat and fell into her bed.  B.O. Plenty stepped on Ring’s tail trying to find his way into his bedroom for a hearty night sleep.  They snoozed and snored through the night.  Hootie the owl hooted, and the alley cats sang as they poked around trying to find scraps in the garbage can to keep their bellies full.  The mice came out and scurried over the kitchen floor.

The next morning, the sunlight crept into the living room window casting a bright light in the blue eyes of Jacque L’eau Bleu.  He moaned and yawned, rubbed his eyes, passed gas, coughed, and hacked as he stumbled his way into the small bathroom down the hall.  Soon, Apple Brown Betty was heard rustling through pots and pans in the kitchen.  B.O. Plenty could be heard snoring in his warm bed, as he was a late sleeper.

Friends started to gather at the cottage that morning.  They carried food and musical instruments.  Some brought stuffed devil eggs, others brought fresh pies, crawfish caught in Johnson Creek, fresh smoked ham, and some fruits and vegetables.

They set up three big picnic tables in the big backyard that nestled up along the back of the cottage.  Gus the eagle and some of the local blue birds and sparrows spread out a huge checkered tablecloth over the tables.  Soon the place was a buzz.  Pots were boiling on every burner on her big kitchen stove.  All the women gathered in the kitchen peeling apples, baking bread, and stirring fresh baked beans.  They tried to keep the beans away from B.O Plenty!  The aroma carried throughout the house, drifted into the yard, and carried its way around the neighborhood.  The men weren’t allowed in the kitchen.  All the local dogs and cats migrated to catch a scrap of ham or a fresh piece of cheese.  Ned and Ted, the beavers, whacked salmon in the head with their tails out in the Willamette River.  Gus swept up the dead fish as they floated in the river and carried them back and drop them on a special plate on one of the picnic tables.  The women hummed away in the kitchen as the men chopped wood, smoked their pipes, and told tall stories.  It was a beautiful spring day in Oregon.

As the day got on, B.O. Plenty finally woke from his sleep, threw on his uniform, and shuffled out into the yard just in time to grab a cup of hot coffee and listen to a fishing story told by one of the local neighbors.  He squeezed on one of the beehives that hung from one of the rafters under the cottage.  Fresh honey came popping out.  He spread the fresh honey on a corn muffin.  They talked about fishing, carrying on about spinners and corkies, bait and ties.

Around 4:00 p.m., the women started to bring the feast out into the yard.  The bees buzzed around the food and Jacque L’eau Bleu grabbed a small concertina that someone had brought.  He started to play an old Canadian folk tune.  The folks gathered around and started to sing.  Everybody was so happy.  Soon, other musicians joined in.  There was big Danny Fudmucker pluckin’ the wash tub bass, B.O. Plenty a squeezin’ the accordion, Jacque L’eau Bleu strummin’ the banjo, Clem Kadiddlehopper blowin’on the harmonica, Slamin Sammy Sosa slidin’ away on the trombone, and Apple Brown Betty pounding away on her upright piano.  A few other musicians joined in and sat in on the gala event.

The place was rockin’ as they played “You are my Sunshine,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and “Camp Town Races” along with other well-known folk tunes from the day.  The children ran and played, squiring through the legs of the elders and hiding behind chairs.  Several of the children starting clapping and dancing to the music.  Some of their parents placed the children on the top of their shoes and shuffled them around the yard.  It was truly a sight to see.  The older folks rocked in their rocking chairs and several of the parents started to dance and hold hands, parading around the yard.  Lemonade was served and ice cream with strawberries were dished up.  The place was magical with music.  It turned out to be a festive event.  The cats put doilies on top of their heads and danced with the dogs.  The field mice popped out of the old wooden floor in the kitchen and started to dance out into the yard.  Some of the crickets started to chirp in.  Gus the eagle and some of the geese, crows, and blue heron hovered above the heads of the congregation that had gathered and chirped in the trees.  Blue birds circled in the air dropping fresh flowers that they had gathered from a nearby meadow.  The cottontail rabbits hopped and jumped to the music.  They partied and carried on late into the sweet Sellwood night.  Everybody had a grand time.

While the party was at its fever pitch, Jacque L’eau Bleu hurried around in the living room and found his duffle bag.  He reached deep down in the bag, rummaged around and soon found a small box that he packed away, a special something that he was saving for this special occasion.  In this small fragile little box he had stored a small precious wedding ring, a bright diamond clasped by silver.  He had been waiting for the right time to ask Apple Brown Betty for her hand in marriage.  He had thought to himself, “Why not ask her now at this great gathering?”  He started to weep.  He ran out into the backyard, waved his hands in the air, and asked for everyone’s attention.  “Shhhhhh! Shhhhhh!  Please, please, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please settle down all you woodland creatures!  If I could have a moment please!”

The crowd settled down.  You could hear a pin drop.  The mice even stopped dancing in the kitchen!  “I have known Apple Brown Betty for many years.  She is a special woman, with a heart as big as the mighty Willamette River!  I believe with all of my heart that she is the woman that I need in my life!”

He wrestled around in his pocket and pulled out the diamond.  He dropped to one knee.  “Apple Brown Betty will you be my wife?” shouted Jacque L’eau Bleu.

Apple Brown Betty dropped the coffee pot that she was holding in her hands, started to cry, and covered her mouth with her hands.  “Why oh yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Oh, yes Jacque L’eau Bleu!  I will be happy to be your wife!”

The crowd roared, the children screamed, the furry woodland creatures started to make funny animal sounds.  The women gathered around to look at the beautiful diamond and the men clapped Jacque on the back.

Jacque stood on top of one of the picnic tables and screamed at the top of his lungs.  “This is the greatest day of my life!  I will move down to Sellwood and live here with Apple Brown Betty!  B.O. Plenty has always wanted to fish the waters of British Columbia, so he can live in my cabin and fish the bountiful waters of my homeland!”  The crowd roared.  “So, now my friends, I invite you to eat the fresh sponge cake that I brought from Canada and to drink my Grand Marnier!”

The crowd roared.

The music carried on well into the night.  Candles were lit and a big bonfire was set in the fire pit.  It was decided that Apple Brown Betty and Jacque L’eau Bleu would marry that coming summer.  The reverend Ms. Patti Smith would perform the wedding ceremony.  The party continued into the early morning.  Several of the folks stayed the night, sleeping in the soft hay in the small barn in the backyard.

It was considered to be the hootenanny of all hootenannies, one of the largest the community of Sellwood had ever seen.  It took two days just to clear out the kitchen.

Jacque L’eau Bleu and Apple Brown Betty would marry in June of that early summer.  B.O. Plenty would be the best man and the wedding would be in the backyard.  After the wedding, Jacque L’eau Bleu and B.O. Plenty would travel back to Canada in Rosie.  Jacque then would help B.O. Plenty settle in the little cabin on the Strait of Georgia.  B.O. Plenty would fish and be content living the rest of his life in a very scenic spot.  Jacque would then travel back to Sellwood and live with Apple Brown Betty, Ring, Gus, Ned, and Ted.  The happy couple would live, hunt, fish, travel in Rosie, and spend the rest of their lives in the little cottage under the big old willow along the banks of the Willamette River in the small town called Sellwood.

The whistle blower

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This following story is a fictitious story; a yarn you might say, or what you might call a tale about a young boy, his love of music, and his rise to fame through hard work, the love of his parents and never ever giving up.  This story takes place in Oregon; it takes place in a quiet tranquil spot out in the green lush sprawling countryside.

It so happens this particular family lived on a small rural farm, where the family grew Christmas trees on their land.  It was a great place to grow up as a young boy; the family home was located off N.W. Old Germantown Road, out west of town, out past N.W. Skyline Road.  A secluded spot, with fields and streams; the farm had long rolling wooded hillsides that rambled on for what seemed for miles and miles.  The farm was about forty acres in size; the old family home had been built on the land back in the 1920’s, handed down through the generations to family and loved ones.  This story is about “The WhistlerWhistle Blower,” a famous tale indeed.

Tom Harney and his wife Sarah Linn lived on the family farm, Tom’s family had handed the land down to Tom and his wife when he married Sarah back in 1956 or so, within a few years they had a young son named Luke.  Mr. Harney was a musician by trade, played classical and jazz piano from time to time, he played at his local church, and he occasionally played at one of the local restaurants located in town, his wife Sarah Linn played the violin.  They were very good musicians.  Tom worked the farm, tending to his Christmas trees and taught music lessons from time to time; Sarah worked at the nearby school as a music teacher.  The family was well known throughout the county.

Luke was an unusual boy, and I do mean unusual.  When Luke was quite little, he was noted in having a pronounced lisp as a young boy.  The lisp was first detected say around when he was two or three years old or so, his parents noted the odd way in which he use to pronounce his words, Sarah first noted the problem with Luke’s speech with the first few words he tried to speak, “Mum an’ Dwad, I wuv wu ssso mush!”  Tom Harney was alarmed, “What did he just try to say?” as he looked at his wife Sarah Linn.  “Ah, I think he was trying to say, “I love you so much,” said Sarah Linn.  He was born with a speech impediment indeed.  It was quite noticeable when he first started to speak as a child, Sarah Linn was alarmed by the lisp, “Oh my, Luke indeed has a lisp!”  She took him to several well knownwell-known speech specialists in seeing if they could correct his problem.

The Harney family sought help with their son’s speech problem; they hoped their son’s speech impediment could be cured.  One well-known specialist, a Dr. Louis Bosworth Hasenpfeffer had him count to ten.  Luke looked at the doctor and started to count, “Wah, tawo, fee, fo, fave, sssix, sssheven, eigh, nine, twen,” he defiantly had a lisp and people had a hard time understanding him from time to time.

The Harney’s continued to take him to the speech specialists.  One doctor, a Dr. Bartholomew Snodgrass Yabada-Yabada had him try to pronounce and annunciate words repeatedly until poor Luke got blue in the face.  No matter how hard he tried to say certain words Luke just could not help but lisp the words, the words always seemed to turn out wrong.  He was around three or four at the time.

Another doctor, a Dr. Elephant Osafalafagus stood next to Luke and asked him to say, “Sally collects sea shells at the sea shore.”  Luke looked at the doctor and repeated the sentence, “Shhhallie cowects see sells at dwa’ see shhore!”  The doctor shook his head and rubbed his chin, “Why this is perplexing, your son here has a lisp that’s for sure!”

Luke’s family sat down every night with their son in trying to help him with his pronounced lisp, they bought flash cards and records, and tapes to play for young Luke in hoping it would cure him of his speech problem.  They made him read words aloud and had him practice certain words over and over again.  Luke’s mother held up one of the flash cards, “What word is this Luke?” asked his mother as she held up the card.  The word was “Dog,” Luke studied the word, and then yelled out the answer, “The wood is Dwog!” shouted Luke.  His mother looked at him and shook her head, “No Luke the word is dog, dog!”  Luke would get frustrated and poutght or maybe get mad or pull a tantrum and stomp his feet.  Luke would look at his mother, “Suffewin’ succotash muom, no matta’ how hawd I twie I can’t get the woods wight!”  Poor Luke, his father would hold up another flash card for him to practice, “What word is this Luke?” his father would patiently work with him every night.  “Da’ wood is wittle.”  His father would look at him and shake his head, “No, no Luke the word is little, little, L, little.”  Luke would start up a tantrum again and stomp his feet.  The Harney family kept trying to work with Luke and his disability.

Luke helped his family on the farm, he fed the chickens and helped take care of the horses and milk the cows.  He’d help his dad cut trees and haul them to the barn.  He helped his father sell the trees at Christmas and helped put the Christmas lights up in decorating the farmhouse.  He had a pet dog-named Ralph and a pet tabby cat named Herkimer.  “Herew Walf!  herew Hucamew, herwe’s your pood, come and get it!”  The animals would just look at him and wonder what he was trying to say.  Ralph would tilt his head and look at him strangely.  Kids made fun of him from time to time; adults would look at him and wonder what he was talking about half the time.  “Wha, ah, what are you trying to say kid?” asked one of the neighbors one day as he was walking to school.  Poor Luke would cry himself to sleep.

It really got bad with his lisp when he started kindergarten, back in 1961 or so.  His teacher made the children say the Declaration of Independence one day.  “Luke, can you recite the Declaration of Independence for me?”  Luke cringed while sitting in his seat; he got up from his desk and stood in front of the class.  “Won naytwon undwa’ god, wiff wibettie and justice FO’ all.”  The kids laughed and rolled on the floor and made fun of poor Luke.  “Ha!  Luke can’t pronounce anything right,” yelled one of his classmates.  The kids laughed and pointed their fingers at him.  Poor Luke.  When Luke would walk home from school kids would tease him and make fun of him.  “Luke can’t say anything right!  Luke can’t say anything right!”  The kids would carry on and point their fingers at him.  Luke would come home, his face covered with tears; his parents did everything they could for him.

Secretly, at night Luke practiced hard words that gave him problems, words like flabbergast, perplexing, and haberdashery.  He would sit in front of a mirror and watch the shape of his mouth while trying to pronounce the words correctly.  He practiced all summer long going into first grade.  He wrote words down that gave him a problem and practiced annunciating the words.  He practiced in the morning while walking to school and practiced while heading back to the farmhouse, he practiced while taking a bath, and he practiced in bed before he fell asleep.

One day his parents bought him a flute in thinking it might help him in learning how to play music.  They taught him how to play and read music by the time he was six or so.  He would sit with his parents and play the flute while they would play the piano and play the violin.  They would sit for hours and play music, it sounded wonderful.  He became very good.  Playing the flute seemed to give him confidence and he really enjoyed playing.

Luke tried to carry on with his disability with his lisp.  He would often wonder the family farm from time to time.  His dog Barry and cat Herkimer usually would follow him anywhere he roamed when he was little; they followed him as if they were one of his own shadows.  He would sit in one of the lush green meadows near one of the streams located behind the family farmhouse.  It was a quiet spot, secluded and private; nobody could hear or see him, his favorite spot was located not more than a quarter mile away from his family’s farmhouse, he would sit and watch the birds and woodland creatures that would gather in the meadow that boarded a beautiful stream.  It was a secluded spot, peaceful; nobody would hear him as he practiced his words.  He’d sit and play his flute or maybe whistle to himself, he whistled all the time, he became quite good at whistling, actually his whistling was magical.  He loved to whistle and he practiced whistling in the wooded meadow all summer long going into first grade.  He practiced whistling “Twinkle, Twinkle, little star,” and he practiced a few other tunes as well.

When he whistled, strange things would start to happen.  Why he whistled so beautifully at times that the birds, the fish in the stream and the woodland creatures would gather in the wooded meadow in trying to listen to his beautiful tunes that he would whistle.  Rabbits, raccoons, robins, and owls would gather in the wooded meadow and marvel at the way Luke whistled.  The animals seemed to get excited by his wonderful whistling.  The animals loved the way he would whistle his tunes, they seemed to be mesmerized and fascinated by his magical whistling.  Birds would float in the air, and fly in circles above Luke’s head, the deer would dance, the squirrels, raccoons, groundhogs, and fox would pounce about.  The fish would flop in the air and then swim around in the stream.  The woodland creatures would follow him through the forest; they often followed him back home while he whistled his hypnotic songs.  His parents did not know of their son’s wonderful talent with his whistling for quite some time, he kept it hidden.

Then one day, in the late summer, just before Luke was to enter third grade his parents started to soon notice Luke’s magical talents with his enchanted whistling, he must have been around eight or nine at the time when they happened upon his whistling.  They first took notice when Luke came up to the backside of the farmhouse through the wooded meadow one late afternoon.  His parents saw that the woodland creatures would gather around him and that they magically seemed to be following him.  Birds flew in the air as they fluttered above him, and as he got closer to the farmhouse, the birds and woodland creatures would slowly vanish into the meadow or the woods as Luke got closer to the farmhouse.  It was truly magical.

His mother noticed the strange occurrences first and then soon quickly told her husband Tom.  “Ah, Tom you have to see this!  Why it’s Luke, the strangest things are happening when he goes into the wooded meadow!”  Tom looked out of one of the windows in his study.  He could see the wooded meadow and the birds and woodland creatures flocking around Luke, he could hear his son whistle a beautiful tune as he made his way into the backyard.  He watched as the animals slowly disappeared as Luke made his way into the farmhouse.

Luke entered the back door to the farmhouse.  His father and mother were waiting for him as he walked in, his father looked down on upon Luke, “Luke, ah, son, ah what are you doing out in the wooded meadow?”  Luke looked at his father and slowly answered his question, “Well fada’ I’m gowing for woks out in the wooded meadow.  I yike to whiffle and the animals yike it as well!  The boids, waccoons, squoiwels, fox, chipmunks, dwer and beava’ all yike it when I whiffle a merry tune!”  His father was amazed; his son looked up at his father and mother as they stared at their young son.  “The woodwon cweatwues gathwa awound me’, I think it’s kind of amwazing, my whiffelwing seems to make ‘dem happy, some of the woodwon cweatwures like to dwance while I whiffle.  The boiods and da’ west of the woodwon cweatwures seem to dance about as I whiffle a mewiemerry tune!”

Luke’s fathers looked startled as he listened to his son tell his strange tale.  “See I told you so!” said Luke’s mother as she looked at her husband.  “How long have you been going down through the wooded meadow and whistling to the birds and the other woodland creatures?” asked Luke’s mother.  Luke looked at his mother and father, “Oh I suppose I’ve been whiffelwing for about a wier or so.  When I fwist went down to the wooded meadow I sat down along the stweam and started to whiffel Lieberstraum.  The stwangest twing happened, the fish poked out of the watah and da’ boiods and bees stated to fly awound me, wabbits and waccons started to hop about,  they always fawoedfowled me back to the farmhouse.”  The Harney’s did not know what to say.  “Luke can you whistle a tune for me now?”  Luke looked shyly at his mother and father and smiled.  “Why wes I suppose I can whiffle a tune or two.”  He soon puckered his lips and started to whistle, it was magical, Luke’s parents started to tap their toes and clap their hands, they started to dance about, it sounded wonderful, and it was enchanting.  His tune and pitch were perfect, his whistling was perfect, the mice came out of their holes in the kitchen floors and danced all about.  Soon there were woodland creatures looking into the windows of the farmhouse, birds had flown down the chimney and flew around inside the house.  Luke stopped whistling.  The woodland creatures disappeared and the birds stopped flying around the room.

“My, Luke, you’re a wonderful whistler!” said his mother; she opened the back door to the farmhouse so the birds could fly back out into the backyard.  Luke’s father couldn’t believe that his son could whistle so beautifully, he sat down and started to play the piano, ”Luke, Luke, please, oh please whistle while I play the piano, Sarah grab your violin!”  Sarah grabbed her violin and they started to play along as their son started to whistle.  They played through the night as Luke whistled his merry, enchanted tunes.  Luke was exquisite; he could carry almost any tune that they played.  After an hour or so Luke looked at his mother, “Muda’ mway I have a dwink of watah?  My wips are soe and I need to wet my whiffle!”  They laughed as Luke drank his glass of water.  They played music through the night.  They continued to play music as Luke whistled away.

Within a few months Luke had become a master whistler at the young age of eight years old.  It helped to have a mother and father that could play and read music.  They practiced playing all kinds of tunes when they had time.  One morning Tom and Sarah Linn Harney sat at the breakfast table with their son.  “Luke I know that the state championships with whistling are coming up in two weeks, I want you to enter the contest, I think you can win!” said Sarah Harney as Tom practiced playing the piano in his study.  “I think you can win the state championships with whistling Luke, matter of fact I know you can!”  Luke sat there and smiled as his mother went on and on in telling her son about the state whistling championships.  “It will be held in Portland, Oregon.  We can take the bus and stay at one of the hotels in Portland; they will have the championships at Lincoln Hall over at Portland University.  Oh, Luke it will be so much fun!  If you win the championship, you will get an all-expense paid trip to the National Whistling Championships being held in Boston, Massachusetts.  Grand prize is $50,000 to the winner!”  Luke jumped around the room as his mother and father watched as he whistled a happy tune.  A raccoon looked through a small window as Luke continued to whistle.

The state championships were right around the corner; his parents filled out an entry form and mailed it to the head of the Oregon State Whistling Championships, which was located in Salem, Oregon.  Soon, within a week or so an envelope came in the mail addressed to young Luke Harney.  He was registered and the competition was going to be held in early March over at Portland State University.  They practiced every day, poor Luke got tuckered out at times while he was practicing, and his lips would get tired from all the whistling he would do.  He whistled and whistled, he practiced in the morning and on the way home from school, he whistled until he fell asleep at night.  He’d go down to his favorite spot in the wooded meadow and practice his tunes as the fish, birds and woodland creatures danced about.

Finally, he was ready for the big day.  It had been decided that the family would take the bus from their farmhouse to Portland, not more than an hour or so away from where they lived.  They packed their things and caught the bus on a Friday afternoon; they rode through the countryside, as they got closer to downtown Portland Luke became excited.  Soon they came to their stop and got off the bus.  Luke’s father pointed to their hotel, “There’s our hotel, and we’ll stay here for a night and wake up in the morning and walk over to Portland State.  The competition will start at 9:00 A.M. sharp; they’ll crown the champion late Saturday afternoon.”  Luke was beside himself, “Whoopee!” he shouted as they made their way to their hotel.  They checked in and Luke sat down and practiced for an hour or so.  They had dinner and went to bed early in order to get a good start to the day.

The next morning Luke’s mother woke him up, “O.K. Luke today is the big day!”  Luke was so excited; they had breakfast and made their way over to Lincoln Hall.  There was a big crowd in the lobby as they walked in; there were at least thirty or forty kids that had registered for the whistling championships being held that day.  Luke registered, the officials gave him a nametag, and he was scheduled in whistling at 9:30 A.M.  His parents led Luke to the auditorium; the auditorium was old and ornate with woodwork.  The auditorium was where the whistling competition would be held that day.  There were all kinds of kids, tall, skinny, girls, boys; they all practiced their whistling, as the competition got under way.  You could barely here yourself think as all the kids practiced their whistling, it sounded wonderful.

One by one each child was asked to whistle a song in front of three judges.  A distinguishing older man that had a long mustache and flowing gray hair played a grand piano as each child was asked what song they wanted to whistle.  The master of ceremony, Mr. Frank Banama stood watching each contestant.  The judge’s sat at a table near the piano, they were dressed in long black tuxedoes and evening gowns that glimmered, they sat quietly and made notes as songs were whistled, they filled out score cards after each contestant would whistle their song and then the judges would tabulate the scores.  The highest point total a contestant could get was 30 points, each judge tabulating a score from one to ten with their scorecards.  Some children were nervous as they whistled their tunes, some got scared in having to whistle in front of the crowd that watched.  Some kids forgot there tunes, some kids did not do very well at all, the competition went on the entire morning and into the late afternoon.  One by one the judge’s tabulated the scores.  Some of the kids looked nervous while they waited for their scorers.

The competition started promptly at 9:00 A.M.  The first contestant whistled a beautiful rendition of “Kinderszehan (Scenes from childhood),” written by Robert Schuman, the second child got nervous, forgot the tune and started to cry and walked off the stage.  The next contestant whistled a tune by Arron Copeland,”Appalachian Springtime.”  There were some very fine whistlers.

Finally, at 9:30 A.M, master of ceremony, Mr. Frank Banama called Luke’s name.  “Ah, we now have Luke Harney!”  People in the crowd clapped their hands, several of Luke’s classmates and even a few families that lived around the Harney farm made the trip to watch young Luke whistle that day.  Luke looked at his mother and father as he made his way up to the stage and the microphone, his hands were sweaty, he was nervous, the crowd clapped as he approached the microphone.  “Ah, Luke, what song will you be whistling today?” asked Mr. Frank Bonama.  Luke titled his head a bit and smiled a shy smile, “Well, I wood wike to whiffle a song witten by Nikolai Rimsky-KorsarovKorsakov and arranged by SergaiSergei Rachmaninoff, “The Flight of The Bumble Bee,” I hope you yike it?”  The crowd chuckled as Luke talked, the piano player looked at Luke, “What did he just say?”  The judges laughed.  Luke looked at the piano player.  “I want to whiffle, “The Flight of The Bumble Bee,” it was whitten by Nikolai Rimsky-KorsarovKorsakov and arranged by SergaiSergei Rachmaninoff,” The judges talked amongst themselves and nodded at Luke, “Go ahead, son whistle your tune,” said the piano player.

The piano player started to play the arrangement that Luke’s parents had put together.  Within a few seconds, Luke had started his tune, he whistled a beautiful tune that day, he seemed to capture everyone’s attention in the audience, and it was mesmerizing.  The judges were stunned at the beautiful way in which Luke carried his tune, people in the audience got up out of their seats and started to dance, the judges clapped, and Luke continued to whistle his song.  Birds started to fly into the windows of the auditorium and circle about; pigeons flew in the air all around Lincoln Hall.  Dogs who’s owners had tied up outside in the park blocks started to howl and bark, everyone in the auditorium was enchanted by the young boy’s whistle blowing.  He stopped at the end of the tune and everyone in the auditorium clapped with approval, they gave him a standing ovation, the judge’s tallied their scorecards and Luke was given a perfect 30 point score!  People continued to cheer Luke.  His parents were as proud of their son as he made his way back to his seat.  “Oh, that was a fine job son!” exclaimed his father, his mother gave him a big kiss on his left cheek.  He blushed as he sat in his seat.

Suddenly a parent of one of the other contestants got up and stood up on stage.  It was the father of Abigail Vanderveer Stratton, Abigail had won the state competition the year before.  Her father Mr. Stan Vanderveer Stratton was the local mayor in town and was well known in trying to do anything he could in getting his daughter to win the state whistling competition.  “I object!  I object!  This boy has a lisp!  He can’t possibly be expected to win this state whistling contest!”  He stood in front of the judge’s and pointed his finger at Luke.  “I demand that the judge’s look in the rule book.  I demand that this boy be disqualified from this contest immediately!”  Everyone in the crowd started to boo; they booed for several minutes.  Luke’s father stood up in front of the crowd, “Now wait a minute here, I want you to show me where in the rule book does it say a whistling contestant can’t have a lisp!”  The judges stood amongst themselves and flipped through the rules manual as the crowd started to heckle Mayor Vanderveer Stratton, they took several minutes before they addressed the angry father who had complained about Luke and his lisp.  One of the audience members stood up and shouted, “Oh, sit down, this isn’t one of your mayoral elections, for cryin’ out loud give the boy a chance, how does his lisp bother anybody and what does it have to do with his whistling?”  The crowd roared with approval.  Within a few minutes, the judges addressed the issue with Luke and his lisp.  The master of ceremonies, Mr. Fran Bonama addressed the audience, “Sir, after each judge searched diligently through the rule book, we have not found one rule saying that a contestant cannot compete in the state whistling championships if they have a lisp” The crowd roared with approval, Luke and his parents smiled.  “It has been ruled unanimously that Luke Harney may compete in this state competition!”  Everyone clapped his or her hands with approval.

The competition continued.  The angry father grabbed and shook his daughter and looked at her when it came for her to whistle, “I want you to whistle you’re very best, that boy has a lisp, and no daughter of mine is going to lose a state whistling championship to a boy with a lisp!”  Abigail went up on stage and whistled, “Moonlight Sonata,” written by Ludwig Von Beethoven.  The judges gave her a perfect 30 score after everything was said and done.  Her father smiled at the audience.

At noon, there was a lunch break, Mrs. Harney had packed a lunch for the family, and they sat out on the Park Blocks and fed the pigeons as they ate their lunch.  Within a half hour the Harney’s went back into Lincoln Hall, the audience sat back in their seats, news crews with some of the local T.V. stations and reporters from the Oregonian crowed around the stage as the competition went on, all the contestants whistled their tunes.  At the end of the afternoon, the judges tallied all the scores.  Master of ceremonies Mr. Frank Bonama stood up to the microphone on stage, “Luke and Abigail here are tied with a perfect score of 30 points!”  The crowd roared and cheered.  “In case of a tie we will have each contestant whistle a tune; after the scores are tabulated a winner will be declared.  The winner will receive an all-expense paid for trip to the National Whistling Championship being held in April in Boston, Massachusetts.  The winner will receive a grand prize of $50,000!”  The crowd clapped their hands and whistled their approval.  Luke was visibly nervous.  He looked at his father, “Oh dwad, I’m newvous, I, I, I, well I, I, I ,I don’t know if I can win!”  His father looked at Luke, bent down and said, “Luke I know you can do this, you have the love of your mother and me; we know you can do it!  Don’t be nervous son, the crowd loves you, the judge’s love you, and why look even the piano player loves you!  Just think of Ralph and Herkimer, think of all the woodland creatures, fish, and birds that love to hear you whistle down in the wooded meadows!  Why look Luke, look out that window!” sure enough Luke’s dad was right, the woodland creatures had gathered outside the auditorium, they had traveled on foot just to see Luke whistle, birds flew outside the auditorium windows and fluttered about.  Luke smiled and looked at his father and mother,Dag nabbit, I’ll twiey to do my bawwie best!”  His father hugged him and his mother started to cry, the audience started to cheer his name, “Luke!  Luke!  Luke!”  Mr. Stan Vanderveer Stratton and his daughter Abigail frowned and gave Luke a dirty look.

Luke walked up the stairs that led him to the microphone on stage.  He drank some water, whipped his mouth, and smiled at his parents.”  One of the judges spoke, “Mr. Luke Hanley, we would like you to pick a tune to whistle.”  Luke looked at his father, and then he looked at the judge,” I would like to sing “Liebestraum,” written by Franz Litz.  The piano player pulled out a musical sheet with the tune.  The audience grew silent as Luke started to whistle.  He whistled a perfect rendition of the song, it ebbed and flowed with a musical masterpiece if there ever was one.  Soon the woodland animals started to dance down the aisles, the birds flew into the auditorium, the crowd started to clap, Luke slowly and gracefully finished his tune, and the crowd roared.  He had given a perfect performance; the judges went over their scorecards and tabulated the score.  Master of ceremonies Frank Bonama walked up to the microphone, “I’m pleased to announce that Luke Henley here has received a perfect score of 30 points!”  The crowd was beside itself, Mr. Stan Vanderveer Stratton gave another dirty look at Luke, he looked at his daughter, “C’mon honey, I want you to do your best and win this competition.  If you don’t win you’ll regret the day you were born!”  Abigail Vanderveer Stratton got up on stage and looked at the crowd.  She started in and whistled the tune, “Fur Elize,” written by Ludwig von Beethoven, she started out slowly and near the end she stuttered with her tune, she paused, the crowd gasped.  Soon she was done with her whistling.  She gave a good performance, but not nearly as good as Luke Henley.  The judge’s conveyed and soon had totaled up Abigail Vanderveer Stratton’s score.  Mr. Stan Vanderveer Stratton looked at the judges, “If you want that permit to build your house Mr. Bonama I’d make sure my daughter wins!”  Master of Ceremony Frank Bonama walked up to the stage, he trembled a bit and looked at the other judge’s as they got in a circle and tabulated their scores.  A few minutes passed, soon Master of Ceremony Mr. Frank Bonama faced the crowd in the auditorium, “Please quiet everyone, and please be quiet!  The winner of the 2016 Oregon State Whistling Championships is none other than Luke Henley!” 

The crowd erupted, photographers snapped what seemed to be hundreds of photographs, and reporters rushed Luke and shoved microphones in his face while they asked him all kinds of questions.  Luke jumped up and down as his parents beamed at him.  Mr. Stan Vanderveer Stratton and his daughter Abigail looked at Luke as he was given the championship trophy.  Mr., Stan Vanderveer Stratton started to scream, “Why I oughtta’, why I oughta’ Why I’m going to call my lawyer, yeah that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to file a complaint, this is unfair!  This is unconstitutional, why I, why I’m going to go to the Supreme Court!”  The crowd picked up Luke and carried him off the stage, the birds flew around the auditorium, and the woodland creatures danced into the night.

Luke and his parents carried the trophy back to the hotel; they packed and took the late bus heading back to the farmhouse the next morning.  Luke fell asleep on the bus; he was exhausted from the championships.  He slept the entire ride back to his home.  When he got home his dog Ralph and his cat Herkimer were there waiting for Luke, some of his classmates and their parents had gathered in the driveway, they wanted to let Luke know that they were so happy to see him win the state championship.  When he got off the bus he ran into the crowd, his dog and cat ran into his arms, the crowd roared, they had made signs welcoming Luke home.  Mrs. Henley made hot coco for everybody, they all congratulated Luke and left within an hour, or so, everyone was so proud of Luke.  He fell fast asleep in his bed that night clutching his trophy next to his side.

The next day the local newspapers had headlines and articles with Luke winning his state whistling championship.  The television and radio stations ran stories about his state title during their newsbreaks.  People stopped by the farm and dropped off cards and well wishes.  The phone rang all day long, people wanting to let Luke know how great it was that he won his whistling championship.  A news reporter and a camera operator stopped by the farmhouse around 10:00 A.M. that morning.  They wanted to interview Luke.  They pulled their news truck up to the farmhouse.  Luke’s dog Ralph started to bark as the news team made its way up to the front door.  Mrs. Harney answered the door.  “Well Hello Mrs. Harney, I’m Tony Bishop with News Channel Seven.  I would like to interview your son if you do not mind, it will only take a few minutes, and I have my camera operator John Templeton here.  He can set up his camera in a flash.  We can shoot the interview and be out of here in about a half hour.”  Luke came to the door and peeked around his mother as she stood by the door.  “Why this must be Luke!” exclaimed Tony.  Luke blushed a bit and smiled.  “Ha-ha!  I’ve sween you on the television!” everyone chuckled.  Tony looked a bit startled when Luke lisped.

Within a few minutes, the news crew was ready to shoot the news segment.  The camera operator had a tri-pod set up and a film camera mounted on top of the tri-pod.  Tony Bishop talked with Luke for a few minutes, lights were turned on, and then Tony Bishop was broadcasted live on the air interviewing young Luke.  “Luke, where did you learn to whistle?”  Luke thought a moment and then answered, “my muda’ and fada’ are mewsicians, I whistened to ‘dem pway when I wuz’ whittle.  I would whiffle all day as dway pwayed mewsic.”  The news crew looked at each other and really couldn’t’ believe the lisp that Luke had, they looked as though they had a loss of words.  Tony Bishop finished his interview with Luke and it aired on the eleven o’clock news that night.  Mrs. Henley looked at the news crew, “You’ll have to excuse me gentleman, my son needs to practice, and we need to start practicing for the National Whistling Championships that are being held in Boston in early April!”  Within a few minutes, everyone left the farmhouse; young Luke ate dinner and shuffled off to bed.

So, Luke and his parents practiced every day for the next month, Mr. Hanley would play his piano while Luke practiced his whistling, his mother would accompany them on the violin as he practiced his whistling.  They went through and practiced several classical tunes.  Luke continued to practice and practice, he practiced until his lips got tired.  The woodland creatures would gather around the windows of the farmhouse, Luke’s dog Ralph and cat Herkimer would get up on their hind legs and dance in front of the fireplace.  Birds flew down the chimney and flew about the farmhouse.  They practiced for one hour early each morning and practiced for two hours after dinner each night.  They continued to practice famous classical tunes.

By late March Luke was pretty nervous; the championships were soon approaching.  Luke’s mother and father booked a train from Union Station in Portland, Oregon, they would leave on Tuesday April 1st and arrive in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday April 4th.  It would take about three days to travel by train cross-country.  From Portland they would take the Empire Builder to Chicago, Illinois, from there they would switch trains and go to Albany, New York, switch to another train in Albany and then go up through the Hudson River to Boston, Massachusetts.  They would stay in Boston for two nights, their plan was to get to Boston the day before the National Championships, go to the Championships on that Saturday morning, and head back to Portland, Oregon on Sunday after the competition.

Within a few days the Harney family was packing their things and getting ready for their epic trip across the country.  The morning that they were to leave, a large crowd gathered in the front yard, a marching band was playing music and the news reporters were there to film Luke leaving for the National Whistling Championships.  Luke gobbled his breakfast down; grabbed his back pack and flew out the front door, he was followed by his mother and father, Luke hugged his dog Ralph and his cat Herkimer for good luck, Luke’s father started up their family station wagon, everyone jumped in and headed down the long gravel driveway that led the family to Union Station.

Once they got to Union Station, they waited in the big hallway at the train station, another crowd gathered, a few more reporters from one of the radio stations in town pushed their way towards Luke so they could interview him.  One of the reporters held his microphone in front of Luke’s face.  “Luke, Luke good luck in Boston, the whole city wishes you luck Luke!”  Luke smiled and hid behind his father.  “Tanks so much evwebody!”  Luke waved as the train pulled up to the train station.  Soon they boarded the train, the conductor found the Henley family their seats, people waved to Luke as the train pulled out of the station.  It would take them three days to get to Boston, Massachusetts.  The train took them through Washington, Montana, Minnesota, down through Wisconsin, through Illinois, where they switched trains; Luke was always practicing his whistling as the train took Luke and his family through the countryside.  Once, while Luke was practicing his whistling through Ohio a group of passengers gathered around Luke as he whistled one of his favorite tunes, the crowd clapped their hands and danced in the aisles as Luke whistled one tune after another, birds of prey followed Luke’s train car and flew outside the train windows as Luke whistled his tunes.  Cows and horses would buck their legs and dance about as Luke passed through the pastures and countryside.

Within a few days they arrived in Boston, the train took them to the South Train Station.  A group of local reporters was there to greet them at the train station.  “Hey Luke!  Welcome to Boston!”  Luke smiled, jumped off the train, and followed his mother and father to a cab, they got in the cab and headed to the hotel that Luke’s mother had made reservations with.  Within a few minutes they pulled up to the hotel, got out of the cab, walked into the lobby and checked into their room.  Luke practiced whistling that night.  The competition was going to be held out in front of the state Building near the Boston Commons.  A big crowd was expected to be there the next day.  The championships would run throughout the day and into the evening.  There would be a master of ceremony, three judges, a piano player, and a huge crowd! 

Well, they woke up early Saturday morning, they went down to the restaurant in their hotel and had an early breakfast, Luke was nervous and fidgeted in his chair.  “Luke calm down, we’ll soon be at the State Building,” barked his father, Luke frowned.  “Geez dwad, I can’t wait!  I know I can win the whiffling championships!”  His mother smiled and soon they walked out the front doors of the hotel and walked a few blocks to the State Building.  Luke skipped and whistled along the way and soon they arrived.  There was a couple security guards to greet them, Luke’s father handed the security guard their pass to get in.  The guard looked at Luke, “Oh, Luke Hanley, everybody is excited to hear you whistle!”  They entered the State Building.  They checked in, Luke was given a number that he pinned on his shirt, he was handed instructions and was guided down a flight of stairs that led down to almost fifty contestants, fifty contestants from fifty states all practicing their whistling in a large ballroom.  Luke looked at his mother, “Gosh mowam I can’t beweave all the people that are here!”  His mother looked at him, “Yes Luke, you have the tune you want to play when it’s your turn, you know we’ll be cheering you on.  Do your best son; we’ll be in the crowd cheering for you.  I know you can win Luke!”  She bent down and gave Luke a kiss on the cheek, he smiled, and soon she disappeared in the crowd.

Luke sat quietly waiting his turn, the competition soon began.  Within an hour Luke’s name was called by the master of ceremony, Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee.  He was a distinguishing looking gentleman, he sported a green jacket and wore a four leaf clover ion his lapel.  Luke walked up and performed ‘Claire de Lune,” by Claude Debussy.  He puckered up and slowly began to whistle the beautiful tune; the crowd went deathly silent; people smiled and were in awe of his whistling talents.  The highbrows in the audience couldn’t believe his whistling.  The crowd got up and cheered Luke, by the time he was done everyone was clapping and applauding Luke’s performance.  Pigeons came down off the rafters and flew in circles all about the room you could hear dogs bark out on the street.

The judges added up his point total and handed it to the master of ceremony, Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee.  Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee announced Luke’s score, “Mr. Luke Henley has received a perfect 30 points!”  The crowd roared as photographers created a sea of flashing lights as Luke finished his whistling.  Luke smiled and waved to the crowd.  Luke was in first place!

One by one, the contestants whistled their tunes, by the late afternoon all the contestants had whistled their tunes.  Luke patiently waited until the very last performer gave her performance.  Little Gwen Rothschild gave her performance, it was a moving performance, even Luke cheered her on, she whistled “The Minute Waltz,” written by Frederic Chopin.  The judge’s added up her point total and handed the results to the master of ceremony Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee, “Ah, Ms. Gwen Rothschild has received 30 points as well!”  The crowd went nuts; everybody yelled and clapped their hands.  There was a tie!  The crowd roared, the judge’s sat at their table as the master of ceremonies went up to the podium and spoke into the microphone, “Attention please!  Ah, attention please!  Ladies and gentleman we have a tie!  Little Gwen Rothschild and Luke Harney have a total of 30 points each!  In this case we will have the two contestants whistle another tune in order to declare a winner!”  The crowd cheered and threw their hats in the air.

Soon the master of ceremonies, Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee approached the podium and spoke in the microphone, “Ladies and gentleman the first contestant in determining the winner of the 2016 National Whistling Championships will be Gwen Rothschild followed by Luke Harney!”  The crowd roared, the lights were turned down and it became dark, a few spotlights were turned on and they lit the podium where the contestants would soon whistle their tunes.  The judge’s sat at their table and looked on as Gwen stood up and approached the stage.

Luke extended his hand to Gwen in wishing Gwen luck, she looked down on Luke and said, “Don’t waste your time in wishing me luck Luke, I’m going to win this competition!  No need to waste your time in trying to beat me at whistling!  You have a lisp; you cannot even annunciate your words!  Nobody can understand what you’re trying to say!”  Luke was deeply hurt, he frowned and started to cry a bit, his parents heard what Gwen had said.  His mother looked at Luke, “Don’t pay any attention to her Luke, she’s a poor sport, just a spoiled little girl, you can do it Luke, we know you can do it!”  Luke smiled and looked at his parents, “I wuv woo muom and dwad!”  Luke hugged them both as the piano player started to play “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” by Franz Liszt.  Gwen gave a rousing performance, her whistling was flawless.  The crowd applauded her as she walked off the stage.  The judge’s added up her total with points, they handed their scorecard to master Of ceremonies Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee, he looked at the scorecard, and “The judges have given Gwen Rothschild 29 points for her rendition of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2!”  Luke nervously watched as someone in the audience gave her a bouquet of flowers.

Soon it was Luke’s turn; he slowly drank a glass of water that his father gave him to wet his whistle.  Luke made his way on the stage, he shuffled up to the microphone, the lights went low, the crowd was deathly silent, and he puckered up his lips and started to whistle his favorite song, “The William Tell Overture,” written by Gioachino Rossini.  Luke started in and whistled his tune beautifully, he whistled it perfectly matter of fact; the crowd was mesmerized by his flawless whistling talents.  Again, pigeons flew in through a window in the auditorium; they began to fly around Luke as he finished with his tune.  The crowd applauded, cheered, and clapped their hands wildly; it was wonderful.  The judges huddled around in a circle and then gave their scorecard to master of ceremony, Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee, “Attention everybody, attention!  Luke has received a score of 29!”  The score was tied once again!  Never in the history of the National Whistling Championships had two contestants tied with a score of 29 points.  There would be another round of whistling, the crowd could not believe it, it was close to 7:00 P.M., the competition had lasted most of the day.

The master of ceremonies, Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee stood up in front of the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we will have another round of whistling performed by these delightful contestants, “The crowd roared with approval.  There was a slight break in order to give Gwen and Luke some time to pick another song to whistle.

Gwen would go first, she walked up to the podium and started to whistle “Well tempered Clavier book 1 prelude 1,” written by Johan Sebastian Bach.  She started out methodically, gracefully; she carried an almost perfect pitch with her whistling.  Near the end of her tune, suddenly she couldn’t quite get the last few bars of the tune that she was whistling, her lips had become dry, and she suddenly got nervous and had to force out the last few notes to her tune.  It sounded horrible, people in the audience groaned with displeasure.  She stopped her whistling, looked at the judge’s, and then looked at the crowd; she knew she had made a mistake.  She ran off the stage sobbing.  The Judge’s tabulated their score cards to Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee, he strolled up to the microphone and announced Gwen’s score, “Ms. Gwen Rothschild receives a score of 29 points!”  The crowd applauded.  Luke smiled as Gwen stuck her tongue out at Luke as he walked up on stage.

Luke waited nervously in his seat, “Muom!  Dwad!  What shong should I whiffle?”  His father looked at Luke, “Son I think you ought to whistle whatever you want!  Whistle your very favorite tune son!”  His mother shook her head in agreement.  Luke scratched his head a bit and thought to himself.  “Why I, why I, why I’m going to whiffle Liebestraum!  I know it’s a good twune and I twink I can whiffle it pewfectwee!”  His mother and father shook their heads in agreement.  “I think it’s a fine tune Luke,” said his mother.

Luke’s parents smiled as he walked up to the microphone, he paused for a moment and then started in on his very favorite tune, he started to whistle, “Liebestraum,” The crowd started to clap to his tune, the pigeons started to flutter about once again, they hovered above the crowd, they dipped and weaved and flew in circles.  Luke carried out a near perfect rendition of “Liebestraum,” the judges’ were amazed, the crowd was left speechless, soon he finished his performance.  Everyone sat in awe of Luke’s whistling.  The judge’s gathered around Luke up on stage, they calculated their score cards and handed the final results to Mr. Thaddeus MacDougal Magee, he turned and faced the crowd, “We are proud to announce that Luke Henley has received a perfect score of 30 points!  Luke Henley is the 1964 National Whistling Champion!”  Luke started to jump up and down, his parents started to hug each other and cry, the crowd went nuts, they went wild, and they threw popcorn in the air!  Gwen Rothschild kicked her father in the shin once she found out she had lost the competition.  The master of ceremonies Mr. Thaddeus McDoogle Magee went up to the microphone once again, “Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Luke Henley is our 1964 National Whistling Champion!  Luke has won the $50,000 grand prize!  Let’s give Luke another round of applause!”  The crowd gathered around Luke and lifted him on top of their shoulders, they carried him off stage, somebody spilled their soft drink, reporters gathered around the champion.  “Luke!  Luke!  That was phenomenal!  Colossal!  Stupendous!  Magnificent!”  Luke smiled, “Twanks evwebody, ‘dis was a wondable competition, I’m so happy that I won!  I want to tank my muda’ and my fada’, they were the ones to encourage me, all the hours of pwactice willie paid off!”  He waved to everyone as a check for $50,000 was handed to him.  The news reporters and cameramen gathered around Luke, you could barely see him as microphones were shoved in his face and flashbulbs flashed all around him.  Soon a taxi was waiting to take Luke and his parents back to the hotel, their train would leave the South Train Station early the next morning.  When they got back to their hotel room the phone was ringing off the hook, everyone wanted to talk with Luke, he was exhausted and soon fell asleep.

Bright and early the next morning Luke ate a quick breakfast and the Henley’s made it to the South Train Station just in time to catch the train leaving west for Portland, Oregon.  A group of people waved to Luke as his train pulled out of the station, at almost every town the train passed through the local town folk gathered along the trackside waving as Luke watched from his seat on the train.  Within a few days Luke and his parents arrived in Portland, a marching band was there to greet him along with all his friends and neighbors, the governor, his honorable Nathanial Wallaby Quagmire was there to give Luke the key to the city, hot dogs, and lemonade was served to everybody in attendance.

Luke waved to the crowd, “I want to twank evweeeone, this is an honor indeed.  It’s so nice to bwe back in Portwand, I plan to continue my whiffling and hope to win another championship next wier!”  People in the crowd looked at each other, someone in the crowd said “What did he say?” everyone laughed and clapped their hands.  Soon Luke and his parents arrived at the farmhouse, people had gathered in the front yard, a big banner that read, “Congratulations Luke!” was hung from the front porch.  His pet dog Ralph ran up and jumped in Luke’s arms, his cat Herkimer circled around his legs and purred.  They had a party that went well into the night, people left; Luke fell asleep on the living room sofa.

The next morning Luke received phone call after phone call, news reporters, radio stations, even the local 4-H club called to see if he could visit him with an interview.  His mother wrote down names and numbers and acted as Luke’s secretary, Luke’s father watched as people gathered out on the front porch, everyone wanted a peek of the National Whistle Blower Champion.  Around noon, the family went to the local bank and deposited Luke’s winnings.  The bank teller looked at Luke, “Congratulations Luke, you were wonderful!”  He smiled and blushed, “I pwacticed willie hard!  I pwacticed and pwacticed and pwacticed, I’m so gwatefull for my muda’ and fata!” he waved as he walked out of the bank.  You just could not but help like the kid.

In the days to come Luke was bombarded with calls and mail, people had become fascinated by the wonderful whistling boy.  Within a few days Luke was sitting in the kitchen when the phone rang, “Hello,” replied Luke’s mother as her son looked at her mother while she was talking on the phone.  “Yes this is Luke Henley’s mother.”  The voice on the phone got loud, “Mrs. Henley this is Sol Silverstien with Desilu Productions located in Hollywood, California, we saw your son perform at the 1964 National Whistling Championships, we listened to his whistling, your son is magical!, stupendous!, colossal!  Mrs. Henley we would like you and your family to fly out to Los Angeles and have Luke whistle and record a tune we have in mind with a new television show that will be airing later this fall!  We think his whistling would be perfect for the show, it will be the theme song for the show!  Will pay for the trip and hotel stay, we would like Luke to perform the theme song for our show!”

 Luke’s mother was speechless, “We’ll pay you $10,000 in letting us record Luke and his whistling!  If you could we’d like to have your  family here in Hollywood this coming Saturday, we’ll fly your family out Thursday afternoon, you’ll have time to unwind on Friday, we’d like to record on Saturday if that’s possible?”  Mrs. Henley continued to listen to Sol Silverstien at the other end of the conversation, “I also have tickets for your entire family to go to Disneyland!  We’ll also pay for your flight back to Portland, how does that sound?”  Mrs. Henley thanked Mr. Silverstien and hung up the phone.”  Mr. Henley came into the kitchen to see what all the excitement was about, Luke tugged at his mother’s apron, “Muda’ what is it?”  Mrs. Henley started to laugh.  “Luke!  Oh Luke!  We’re going to Hollywood that was a producer for a television show in Hollywood, California.  They are going to fly us out this Thursday to Hollywood, will be there for three days!  You will get $10,000 for whistling your tune!  We get to go to Disneyland as well!”  Everyone jumped for joy in the kitchen.  Luke looked at his mother, “what swong will I have to whiffle  muda’?”  Luke’s mother looked at him, “Well honey I’m not too sure, he didn’t say.”  Within a few days, the Henley family had packed their bags and were soon flying to Hollywood, California.

They arrived in Hollywood, California that afternoon, there was a limousine waiting to take the family to their hotel, within a few minutes there was a knock on the door.  A well-dressed tall blonde-haired man with sequins on his jacket came into the room and introduced himself, “Why hello there I’m Sol Silverstien!” he offered his right hand to Mr. Henley.  “Oh, hello there you must be Mrs. Henley,” replied Sol.  After shaking Mrs. Henley’s hand Mr. Silverstien turned around and looked at Luke.  “Why this must be Luke!”  He patted Luke’s head.  “Ha-whoa,” said Luke.  “Luke, I represent Desilu Productions, we have a fabulous new television show that will be running later in the fall.  We think it’s going to be a great show, it’s called, “The Andy Griffith Show!  We have a tune that was written by the leading actor with the new show, his name is Andy Griffith, have you ever heard of Andy Griffith?  Well, Mr. Griffith has written a song for the show and we would like you to whistle the tune written by Mr. Griffith, the tune is called, “The Fishing Hole!”  In a few minutes, I’d like to take you and your parents with me to the Desilu Productions recording studio, it’s located not too far from the hotel here.  A limousine will be here shortly to pick everyone up.  Once we get to the studios, we would like you to listen to our tune and then practice it a bit, then we’d like to record YOU whistling our tune.  Once we have the recording will mix it a bit and then it will be used for the opening and ending segments of the new show, we think it is going to be a GREAT tune!  Once you finish whistling the tune, we will write you a $10,000 check in letting us record you with whistling our tune, we’ll then take you back to the hotel here after we’ve finished recording, we also would like to give you and your family tickets to go to Disneyland on Sunday!  That should be a real treat.  First thing, Monday morning will take you and your family out to the Los Angelo’s International airport and you will then fly back to Portland first thing Monday morning.  How does that sound?

“Wow!  Sounds Wundafull!  I get to go to Dizzwiewand!”  Mr. Sol Silverstien looked at Luke and then quickly gazed at Luke’s parents, “What did he say?”  Mrs. Henley looked at Mr. Silverstien, “Oh he said that it sounds wonderful, he can’t wait to go to Disneyland!”

Within a few minutes a long black limousine pulled up in front of the hotel, a chauffeur, dressed in a black uniform got out of the car and went over to the passenger side of the limousine, a small crowd gathered.  Mr. Sol Silverstien guided Luke and his mother and father to the car.  People started to scream as Luke approached the car, someone screamed, “Hey!  Hey!  Look!  It’s Luke the whistle blower!”  The crowd made a mad dash towards the car, Luke and his parents could barely squeeze into the car as the crowd tried to get in the car, one of the fans ripped a piece of Luke’s jacket and was holding it in their hands as the car pulled off.  On the way to the recording studios, Mr. Silverstien pointed out a few of the sights in Hollywood as they drove to the recording studio.

Along the way, Mr. Sol Silverstien pointed out Grauman’s Chinese Theater, The Hollywood Star Walk of Fame, and the Hollywood Bowl.  Soon they arrived at the Desilu Productions recording studio.  They walked in, a crowd of employees had flocked around Luke, someone yelled, “Luke, oh Luke, can I get your autograph?”  Luke signed a few autographs and then was whisked away to the recording studio.  They walked down a narrow hallway and then walked through a door leading them into a large recording studio.  A large pitcher of water and a plate of crackers were sitting on a table.  There was a large microphone hanging down and a grand piano was set-up in the room.  A few sound technicians sat behind a large glass widow, they had headsets on; and were pushing buttons on a console that sat in front of them.

Mr. Sol Silverstien looked at Luke, “Now Luke I want you to listen to the following tune that will play over the speakers, this song is the song that we’d like you to whistle for us.  Listen to it carefully and take your time,” Luke’s parents sat watching while Luke listened to the tune.  Soon they played the theme song over the loud speakers located in the recording studio, Luke listened patiently as the music played.  It was a happy tune, a carefree tune.  Luke listened to it a few times and then said, “Mr. Silberstien, I twink I can whiffle ‘dis tune!”  Everyone smiled.  “Places everybody!  We’re going to record Luke and his whistling!”

Technicians ran around the room, adjusting the microphone, turning nobs and flipping switches, they soon left the room.  Mr. Sol Silverstien looked at Luke, “O.K. Luke, this is the big moment!  Will que you when were ready to record the tune.  I will point to you when we start to record; all you have to do is whistle into the microphone.  Do you have any questions?”  Luke looked at Barry, “No, I twink I know the tune, I twink I’m weady to whiffle and wecord!”  Everyone sat quietly, soon an electrical sign lit up the room, it flashed a few times, it continued flashing the word, “Recording,” Mr. Sol Silverstien pointed at Luke and suddenly Luke started to whistle, “The Fishing Hole.”  Everyone in the room was amazed at how well Luke had picked up the tune, his whistling was perfect, some of the lab technicians started to tap their feet, and Luke carried on the tune for a few minutes until he finished the tune.  When he finished whistling everybody clapped and shouted with glee.  “That was wonderful Luke, let’s do one more recording shall we?” said Mr. Sol Silverstien.  Luke smiled and nodded his approval with the tune he had whistled.  Once again, everyone was quiet, Mr. Silverstien pointed at Luke, and soon he was whistling the theme song to the show.  It sounded better the second time, he whistled a beautiful rendition of the song, he whistled for a few minutes and soon he was finished.  “Luke!  Luke!, Luke!  That was marvelous!  That was fantastic!  That was perfect!”  Screamed Mr. Sol Silverstien.  Luke smiled and ran over to his parents and hugged them.  The recording took about a half hour or so.

“That’s a wrap!” yelled one of the technicians sitting behind the glass window; he gave everyone a thumbs up with approval with the recording.  People scurried about and ran around the room making sure everything was turned off and put in their proper place.  Luke and his parents walked out of the recording studio and were led down a hallway into a large office.  Mr. Sol Silverstien sat at a desk and pulled out a check from his wallet.  “Luke this is your check for $10,000!  I want to thank you and your parents in helping Desilu Productions in recording the new theme tune for “The Andy Griffith,” the show will be airing later this fall.  I also have three tickets to Disneyland for you and your family!  A limousine will pick you up tomorrow morning around 9:00 AM and take you and your family to Disneyland!”  Luke jumped[GAK1]  around the office; he was beside himself.  Mr. Henley took the check and stuffed it into his wallet, shook Mr. Sol Silverstien’s hand and then was led down the hallway out to the front of the studio.  Their limousine was waiting for them; they hoped in the car and were driven back to their hotel.

The next morning Luke and his family had a quick bite and were whisked away to Disneyland in a big black limousine.  They got to Disneyland in about a half hour, they rode all the rides, bought musketeer ears, got Mickey’s autograph and near the end of the day were taken back to their hotel.  The next morning they were taken to the airport and flown back to Portland, Oregon.  The trip to Hollywood had been wonderful, Desilu Productions had gotten their recording of Luke whistling their tune, the entire family had gotten to see Disneyland, they got paid $10,000 and they flew back home.  When they arrived at the old farmhouse, a small crowd was gathered once again in the front yard in welcoming Luke and his family.  They ate a quick bite for dinner and then Luke fell fast asleep with his dog Ralph and pet cat Herkimer lying by his side.

Within a few months, things had died down a bit, Luke was entering third grade by then, he was ten years old now.  “The Andy of Mayberry Show” made its television debut early that fall.  The Henley family had a party at the farmhouse, neighbors and friends gathered around the Henley T.V. set located in the living room.  There were at least thirty people anxiously waiting for the show to air.

“Shhhhh, everyone stay quiet!  The show is about to start!” yelled Mrs. Henley.  Within a few seconds, a commercial ran and then cut to the “Andy Griffith Show.”  CBS aired the first episode that night.  Soon the opening tune was playing, the whistling started, and the whole crowd roared.  People laughed and clapped as “The Fishing Hole,” tune blared through the speakers of the Henley television.  The song came to an end and everyone clapped their hands!  Luke smiled and blushed.  Within a half hour the entire country was introduced to Andy, Aunt Bee, Barney, Opie, Floyd, and Otis.  It was a great show.  At the end of the show credits were shown and Luke and his whistling started again, the tune ended and the show was over.  Everyone laughed, got to taste Mrs. Harney’s prize winning pies, had a cup of coffee, said their good-byes, and soon left.

Mr. and Mrs. Henley were so proud of Luke.  “Son, I have to say that you did a beautiful job whistling that tune with the “Andy Griffith Show!” said Mr. Henley as he helped Luke get to bed.  They hugged Luke and soon he was under the covers of his bed and he fell fast asleep.

Luke went on to whistle in a few more state whistling championships in the years to come.  He was considered one of the finest whistlers in the country; they placed a statue of Luke in the town square, from time to time he received requests in whistling at state and national competitions.  Luke went onto to high school and received several scholarships with his musical talents.  He went to the University of Oregon and received a music scholarship.  He graduated with honors and got his Master’s Degree in teaching music.  He married and went on to raise his children on the family farm.  From time to time he’d take his children down to the wooded meadow, he’d take them down to the grassy meadow near the stream and whistle with his children, the woodland creatures would dance about, birds would flutter overhead, and the fish would jump out of the stream.  Luke was a folk hero, he had overcome his disability with his lisp, and he had become the most famous whistler in the world through hard work and the love of his parents.

The End.


Jim Magee and the blustery day

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I met Jim Magee when I was a young kid while growing up in N.W. Portland, he was old then, near 70 years old I guess, back in 1952 it was, I’m not sure exactly how old he was, he never told anybody his age.  He would watch us kids play in Wallace Park, most of the kids in the neighborhood back then knew who old Jim Magee was.  He had grown up in the neighborhood, was a well-known folk legend during his day.  Jim lived in an old worn down house off of N.W. Upshur and 26th.  He was a famous high school football player in his day; he played at Lincoln High back in the 1900’s, he worked the docks in N.W. Portland after graduating from high school.

The early spring air permeated with the fresh scents of spring, the Douglas firs of Forest Park reached high in the blue winter sky that day.  Jim Magee was kind of a drifter, he drank a bit too much from time to time, neighbors complained about him knocking over trashcans in the middle of the night when he tried to let himself into his little shack.  He was kind and happy at times and at other times he was kind of shy and reserved when he wanted to be.

He was born a Catholic, attended Cathedral Grade School as a boy while growing up in the neighborhood.  He lived in his old shack, had an old rusty screechy screen door, it made a thud when it slammed shut.  He had longer gray hair, had a big wooly gray hipster beard, he wore an old black bolder top hat, had a shamrock green colored vest and wore an old dark worn gray overcoat.  He wore ol’ beat up brown boots that squeaked when he walked around.  He was raised in the neighborhood, had a big tabby boy cat that went by the name of ‘Skippy”.  Jim Magee was known throughout the neighborhood; he would walk down N.W. 23rd, and stumble about, waving and chatting with people or maybe borrowing a cigarette from a stranger.  Sometimes he would sit on a park bench and play a small harmonica he kept hidden in one of his pockets.  He would sneak a flask out from time to time and have a wee drink of whisky every once in a great while.  He was Irish and proud of it.

Jim Magee would slowly hunch down, quietly walk up to you, put his arm around you, and start telling you these wild stories about the neighborhood when he was younger.  He would go on and on and on, if you had to go somewhere and were in a hurry, you did not want to run into Jim Magee, he would talk your ear off if he could.  Jim Magee would sing a merry tune occasionally, “Ah skittle dee, dibble doo, yeah-butta, yeah-butta’, skittle dee dibble doo,” He’d try to do a little shuffle, walk, shuffle dance, his breath stunk like an old sock.

He had an old wooden right peg leg, he’d hop, hop, hop at you and laugh, “Ha, ha, ha, whoa!  Hee, hee, ha!  ha!  ho!”  He would slightly drool on himself once in a great while, he napped on a park bench, and he chewed on sunflower seeds.  He would get breadcrumbs stuck in his old gray bushy hipster beard, occasionally a small bird would fly out of his old gray bushy hipster beard, and it would startle people.  He was missing a few teeth, he always had a candy bar wrapper stuck to one of his shoes.  He wore big suspenders; he’d get rowdy from time to time and try to wrestle with you if he could, you had to watch yourself when you were around ol’ Jim.  Some of his friends lived up around Forest Park.

Jim Magee occasionally would meander up under the Thurman Bridge and meet his good friend “Chief” Juba Winterhawk.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk was a full-blooded Multnomah Indian.  He whittled wood and lived in an old log cabin located off of N.W. Thurman, up near to the edge of Forest Park.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk was well known in the neighborhood; he had a small shop and sold wood pipes and figurine characters of people, he had a pet owl named “Carver” that flew around in the shop.  ”Chief” Juba Winterhawk had longer gray hair and kept it in a ponytail; he wore spectacles and an old multi-colored headband around his head.  He played the accordion from time to time and threw a small hatchet at an old tree in his backyard.  He had a pet cat named “Maurice,” and an old hound dog named “Jasper.”  He had a big bushy handlebar mustache and wore an old red and black checked lumberjack shirt, a pair of snow shoes were hanging out on the front porch along with an old long saw.  He lived by Balch Creek and from time to time, you could see beaver swimming in the creek out in front of his house.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk was born in the Columbia River Gorge, He did not talk much, he liked sayin’, “Tatter,” instead of potato.

Another good friend of Jim Magee back then was a mate by the name of “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner.  He would stop by and have a chat with Jim Magee from time to time, Horace was raised in London, England, his family had bought a home down off of N.W. Wilson back around 1915, he had moved to N.W. Portland when he was a young boy with his family.  Horace was older, he had a long gray beard that hung down to his waist, he wore black sunglasses and had a large dark gray trench coat with medals on it and walked around with a grand walking stick that was carved out of an old Maple tree.  At the head of the walking stick was a cast iron portrait of a Lion.  He wore a checkered wool scarf and had a pet black lab named of “Mr. Gibbons.”

“Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner ate scones and usually kept them wrapped up in a napkin in one of his coat pockets.  They were great friends.  “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner had worked on one of the old tug boats on the Willamette River when he was younger; he told tales with his escapades on the Willamette River, he actually use to compete in the log rolling competitions held at the state fair and had photographs to prove it.  He was big and muscular and liked to whistle from time to time.  He talked with an English accent and loved soccer, his favorite team was Liverpool.

“Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner would call Jim Magee or maybe “Chief” Juba Winterhawk on the telephone and they’d all get together and have a beer now and then, sometimes they might go over to Wallace Park and sit on a park bench and get carried away in a conversation or they might play a heated game of checkers.  They would watch the kids as they played in the park, at other times they might go back to Jim Magee tiny shack and play songs.  Jim Magee was an excellent harmonica player and “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner had a banjo that he would play from time to time, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk would play his accordion.  They would play music into the early morning, some of the neighbor kids would gather outside on Jim Magee porch and listen to them play, usually “Jasper” or “Mr. Gibbons” would howl as they played their songs.

Another one of Jim Magee good friends was Screamin’ Ned Parker.  Screamin’ Ned, was deaf in one ear, he had a hearing aid, but could not hear a lick out of his left ear.  He was of African-American decent and proud of it.  He would always scream, he screamed about almost anything and you had to yell at him to be quiet from time to time, he’d hold his hand up to his bad ear and look at ya’ kind of funny and giggle.  He had moved from Alabama back to Oregon when he was young, lived up on N.W. Raleigh in a grand old home, located above Balch Creek.  He had been a businessperson and had struck it rich in the stock market, he had a grand library and his home was full of nautical antiques, he had a big spyglass located in one of the studies, he’d stare at the stars late at night and jot down notes.

Neighbors swore they could hear Screamin’ Ned Parker scream from time to time.  Old Screamin’ Ned Parker liked to play a trumpet he kept in his library, he had a hipster goatee, and wore a monticule over his left eye, he kept a handkerchief in his coat pocket and wore a red biuret from time to time.  He liked to wonder at night, he’d walk up Balch Creek and feed the pigeons that hung out under the Thurman Bridge.  Screamin’ Ned Parker was about 5’ 6” tall, his clothes were usually wrinkled and his home was usually a mess, it never surprised guests in finding an old sandwich that may have been left under a newspaper or shirt.  Ned liked to tinker; he had a shop and was always trying to invent things.  He had no wife, lived in his big house, and led a pretty quiet life.

Lastly and certainly not least there was Jim Magee’s famous friend by the name of Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin.  Harriet would bring jams, and baked bread and pies to Jim Magee and his friends from time to time.  She was a big woman, Iowa born and bred, migrated to Oregon with her family back in 1920, she was a saint to the boys, she swore from time to time, was known in smoking a pipe and carried an embroidered umbrella with her whenever it looked like rain.  Sometimes she’d shave her legs and armpits, sometimes she wouldn’t.

Harriet had known Jim Magee and the boys for quite some time; she met them a few years back while attending a neighborhood social.  She lived off N.W. Upsher in an old home that was built in the 1880’s.  It was a bit dilapidated and needed work.  She had a big orange cat named “Jeb.”  It was a secluded spot where Harriet had her beautiful vegetable garden.  She had rare flowers and her garden included a rare Monkey-arm tree planted back when the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair was held in Portland back in 1905.  It was a beautiful garden indeed.  Animals would come over and visit Harriet from time to time.  Deer or an occasional raccoon could be found knawin’ on her vegetables out in her garden.  Harriet had been married, her husband Wayne “Frisby” Chamberlin passed suddenly of a heart attack one day, and he worked at the ESCO steel factory on N.W. Vaughn.  He was a hardworking man.  He died of cancer.  All those that lived in the neighborhood loved Harriet.

It was like a village back then in Northwest Portland, yes indeed a small village, everyone knew each other and kept an eye out for one another.  It was the winter of 1952.  It had snowed a bit right after Christmas that year and there was a thin dusting of snow on the street as people shuffled through the early morning traffic.  Children could be found sledding on the hillside behind Chapman Grade School.  Tugboat whistles, banging railroad cars, big factory machines, and large trucks hauling timber could be heard as the day slowly went by.

The Dedak Café was a local gathering spot for most of the neighborhood back then, several of the neighbors would get breakfast at the well-known café, and you might have to wait to get seated.  Jim Magee might order up large stacks of hot cakes and coffee, usually it was packed with customers in the morning.  In the afternoon, the lunch crowd would thin out around 3:00 P.M. Jim Magee, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, Screamin’ Ned Parker and Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin would chat and drink coffee and tell stories while they passed away the time sitting at the Dedak Cafe.  Someone might pass gas or burp and they would all laugh.  They were all older now, well into their 70’s and 80’s.  The neighborhood knew of them, and kept an eye on them from time to time.

Well, they were sitting there that day enjoying their coffee, the dogs “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” were tied up out front of the Dedak Cafe; customers waiting in line to get into the cafe would chat with the dogs or maybe pet them while waiting.  Jim Magee, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, “Colonel” “Snodgrass” Hockner, Screamin’ Ned Parker, and Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin would have a hoot while they gobbled their food, they usually told jokes and talked to some of the locals.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk was usually whittling something as he sat and listened to the conversation.  “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner would hum to himself, Screamin’ Ned Parker would scream from time to time and read stock quotes, and customers would turn and look at him funny.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin would laugh and cackle like a hen.  They had their snacks; they might have coffee and a doughnut, or maybe get some waffles and syrup.  Afterwards they might go to Jim Magee’s and play chess for an hour or so, maybe drink cold beer and munch on pretzels for a while and listen to classical music records.  From time to time, they would sit around a roaring fire in the fireplace located in Jim Magee’s living room and make up stories until they all fell asleep, Jim Magee cat “Skippy” would usually cuddle up in someone’s lap.  A old pair of stinky long John’s hung on a door knob going into the bedroom.  You usually had to wade through clothes or newspapers and his kitchen sink was always full of dirty dishes.

Late in March of 1952, it was decided that they would all meet and go for a hike in Forest Park; they usually got together and might take a stroll from time to time.  They planned on meeting early in the morning the following Saturday morning, pack a lunch and sit up in the meadow up on N.W. 53rd.  It was a secluded spot; quiet and peaceful, they could sit for hours, a small stream provided them with a wonderful sound of cool mountain water as it flowed down from a nearby creek.  They would meet at Harriet’s and go for a stroll that day.  They liked going on long cool-aired hikes when the weather cooperated.

Well Saturday approached and they all met bright in early that fine spring morning.  Spring was indeed in the air; some of the trees were blooming and showing their pastel colors.  They walked up Balch Creek, went up to the Stone House and then stopped and sat on an old Douglas fir that had fallen over and tried to catch their breath.

Jim Magee at everyone, “Will rest here a minute, then will go up Apsen Trail to N.W. 53rd, it will be a good hike!”  A few doves that were in a Rhododendron bush hurriedly flew out and startled Screamin’ Ned Parker, “What the hell was that, Jesus Christ, ah what the hell!” screamed Screamin’ Ned Parker.  Harriet “Middelsborough” Chamberlin perplexity looked at Screamin’ Ned Parker, “Do you have to yell so loud Screamin’ Ned?”  Screamin’ Ned Parker looked at her and held his hands to his ear, “Wha’?”  They continued on their hike up N.W. Aspen.

Jim Magee pulled out his harmonica and startled to play as Screamin’ Ned Parker started to whistle, the rest of the group hummed along as they climbed up towards N.W. 53rd.  They continued hiking up the small hill.  Within a half hour or so, they had arrived to a wonderful green meadow located near N.W. 53rd.  A couple of deer were feeding in a nearby meadow, they were standing by a group of big maple trees.  “Oh look!” shouted “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner as the deer suddenly got spooked and darted off into the forest.  It was a beautiful spot.  Big Douglas firs and Maple trees provided them with ample shade on the sunny spring day.  It would be a fine day for their social.

They made their way over to a nice spot and Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin pulled out a blanket and spread it out on the green spring grass, she almost fell as she tried to shake the blanket.  “Colonel“Snodgrass Hockner pulled out a loaf of bread from the pic-nic basket, his dog “Mr. Gibbons,” barked a chased a few rabbits that were hiding in the brush as “Jasper” followed him.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin had some wonderful cheese, Screamin’ Ned Parker pulled out a bottle of wine from the pic-nic basket, and “Chief” Juba Winterhawk brought some smoked salmon.  Jim Magee pulled out some smoked sausage.  They all sat down and had a feast if ever there was one.  They ate and talked, and watched birds that flew about in the meadow.  The wine tasted good that day.  The afternoon slowly went by.  Screamin’ Ned Parker brought a book on jazz to read, Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin knitted a scarf, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk whittled and played his accordion, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner did a crossword puzzle, and Jim Magee practiced his harmonica.  They passed away the afternoon, they were best of friends.  ”Chief” Juba Winterhawk’s dog “Jasper” barked and played with “Mr. Gibbons.”  It was a fine day.  They recited poetry; someone brought binoculars and looked at hawks flying in the air above them.  Soon it was time to head back home; they all lived within a few blocks of each other.  They said their good-byes and then went soundly to sleep that night.

Jim Magee would chat with people in Wallace Park, why sometimes he would spin around on his wooden leg and whistle; sometimes he’d fly a kite if it was windy enough outside.  He liked cheese snacks and bits of sausage and he liked Ritz crackers.  He was a character for sure and seemed to attract people wherever he went.  Sometimes he would fall asleep in the park; the local kids would come up to him and hold his nose shut until he woke up.  “What!  What was that!  Why I oughta!’, “he’d yell and fuss a bit, pigeons sometimes would rest on top of his head.  His toe’s stuck out of his left shoe, he wore gloves that didn’t have any fingers on them, and from time to time he would buy a fine cigar and smoke it and sit on one of the park benches in the park.  Maybe he would share a bottle of wine with one of his friends, or they might sit around and sing songs well into the night, neighbors would yell at him to be quiet.  He’d watch the little league games and cheer a team on, sometimes “Chief” Juba Winterhawk would sit with him or maybe “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner or Screamin’ Ned Parker would join him, Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin was usually busy baking a pie or working in her garden.

“Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner wore suspenders from time to time and quoted poetry or might get in an argument about politics with Jim Magee.  Jim was well known for the fine soup he would make from scratch, he would have his friends over, and they would have a feast.  Sometimes they gathered up wood for fires or maybe they’d go over to Harriet’s “Snodgrass” Chamberlin’s and help her tend to her garden, maybe work on one of Harriet’s bee hives.  “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner was nifty at fixing things, he would help repair Harriet’s fence with her garden or maybe go up to Screamin’ Ned Parkers and help fix a leak in the roof of his fine home.  Sometimes critters would follow Jim Magee, he seemed to attract all kinds of animals from time to time, and it was quite a site indeed.  Dogs and cats would usually roam around him, birds would try to land on his shoulders or peck him in the head.

“Chief” Juba Winterhawk would go huntin’.  He had a rifle and in the fall time he would load up his gun and start shootin’ at deer or maybe even elk that roamed up in Forest Park.  He would drag the deer back down a trail that was close to his cabin, sometimes he would make jerky and hand it out to his friends, and Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin made fudge or Carmel apples.  Why one day “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner had a tooth of his come out while he was knawin’ on one of the Carmel apples that Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin made!  Harriet would let berry pies cool off in her kitchen window, Jim Magee, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk and Screamin’ Ned Parker would gather around the window and snitch her pies, their faces usually were covered with berries.  “Do you gots any milk?” asked “Chief” Juba Winterhawk as he wolfed down a hunk of apple pie.  They all laughed.

Screamin’ Ned Parker loved jazz and had a fine collection of jazz records, he loved Theloious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Nat King Cole.  He had an old black Desoto that he kept parked in his garage, from time to time he’d fire it up and take everyone on a ride out in the country, and they might go out to Cornelius or maybe go to Corbett.  They would stop in at one of the local diners, order a bucket of chicken, and eat it in the car, you could usually count on finding chicken bones under the back seat of the old car, and usually where “Chief” Juba Winterhawk would have sat.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin usually wore a small little pillbox hat on top of her head, a small daisy stuck out of the top of her hat.  She wore a gray coat and always carried her trusty quilted umbrella.  People would stop and look at the odd group of friends and laugh and point their fingers.

From time to time, they might go and watch a movie at the Esquire Theater, “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” would tag along.  They might have a burger at the Nobby, Nobby, Nobby or maybe have lunch at Besaw’s.  They would play cribbage and shell walnuts, maybe go out to Sauvie’s Island and buy local fruits and vegetables at one of the farmers markets located out on the island; it was all such good fun.  They might drive up to the Pit tock Mansion and watch the harvest moon at night, or go to the Portland Armory and watch Portland Wrestling some Saturday evening.  They loved to go to the Vaughn Street Stadium and watch the Portland Beavers play baseball from time to time.  They ate at Rose’s and got big huge cinnamon rolls, occasionally they’d walk down to Quality Pie and have cake or maybe go to Henry Thiel’s and have a order of prime rib to go.

One night Jim Magee ran into a friend that had tickets for one of the Portland Rose Buds (the local hockey team in Portland.)  Back then the Rose Buds played down at the old Portland Ice Arena located at N.W. 21st and Marshall, it was a huge old hockey rink, the local hockey team played to around 5,000 people or so back then.  Jim Magee, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin, and Screamin’ Ned Parker all went to the hockey game that night; why Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin yelled so loud that her dentures slipped out of her mouth as she was screaming at one of the hockey players that went skating by her.  Screamin’ Ned Parker laughed and yelled at Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin, “You lost your teeth!” everyone heard Screamin’ Ned Parker yell, Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin blushed as people laughed, a hockey puck went whizzin’ towards “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner he opened his mouth and caught the puck with his teeth, everyone roared.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk wore some muck lucks and a big raccoon coat to the game.  Afterwards they might go to Joe’s Cellar and have coco.

Occasionally they would go to Screamin’ Ned’s Parkers and have a fine Sunday meal; they would all bring over something for the feast.  Screamin’ Ned Parker was a famous cook, he was known for his roasted turkey and all the fixings.  They would congregate in the kitchen and prepare the food, they’d have turkey and sweet potatoes, beans, salad, rolls and pie, and they’d talk about the latest news or maybe play jazz music in the grand old N.W. Portland home.  Screamin’ Ned Parker had an old workshop in the backyard of his house, it was a big workshop, he was always tinkering away at things, usually late into the early mornings.  He would weld scraps of iron together, or maybe wire up some lights, he had all kinds of tools in his shed and was always fixing something.

After dinner Jim Magee, would sit himself in a big chair in the living room, he usually could be found chewing the last remnants of what was one of Harriet’s famous apple pies and maybe smoking one of his famous pipes that “Chief” Juba Winterhawk had carved.  “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” would cuddle up on the floor and beg for scraps of food.  The others helped clear the table and joined Jim Magee in the living room, “We must do this again,” replied Harriet “Middleborough’ Chamberlin, they all nodded with agreement.

“Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner looked at everyone, “I’d like to go and have Chinese at Huck Fung’s next Sunday night, it’s located down in Old Town, down on N.W. 4th and N.W. Everett to be exact.  It would be fun to jump in Screamin’ Ned Parkers black Desoto and take a trip downtown, why don’t we plan on meeting here next Sunday in the late afternoon, say around 5:00 P.M. or so?”  They all agreed to meet the following Sunday, they all liked Chinese food.  They left that night, said their thanks and strolled out into the night.

Well, the week went by, and late that Sunday afternoon there was Jim Magee, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, “Screamin’” Ned Parker, “Jasper,” “Mr. Gibbons“ and Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin all out in the front yard of Screamin’ Ned Parkers home.  They climbed in to “Screamin’” Ned Parkers black Desoto and started down N.W. Thurman, crossed over to N.W. Front Avenue and headed down to Old Town, within a few minutes they were parked out in front of Huck Lung’s Famous Chinese restaurant.

They all got out of the black Desoto and walked into the famous restaurant.  Soon a waiter by the name of Kim Shoe Guy appeared and led the group of friends to a wonderful table where they all sat down.  They were all looking over their menus when all of a sudden a red roster came running out of the kitchen!  He ran around the restaurant as people gawked in amazement, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, “Screamin’” Ned Parker and Jim Magee all got up out of their seats and started to chase the wild red roster.  “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” ran after the roster as well.  The red roster ran all over the place, the waiter Kim Shoe Guy ran around and around and around, his hands stretched out in front of him while trying to catch the roster.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin laughed tremendously, “Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  Catch him!  Catch him if you can!”  They raced into the kitchen, the roster ran down a long flight of some dark stairs, it was unlit.

Kim Shoe Guy ran after the roster and suddenly tumbled down the dark long stairs, he landed with a thud, he had fallen into a dark unlit room, the rest of the group tumbled down the stairs as well in chasing after Kim Shoe Guy.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin could be heard at the top of the stairs, “Are you boys O.K.?” shouted Harriet.  She took a step forward and then she tumbled down the long flight of stairs, she landed on “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner, “Ouch that hurt!” yelled “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner.  ”Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” fell down the stairs and fell on top of “Chief” Juba Winterhawk.  Nobody could see a thing; Jim Magee pulled out a book of matches and lit one of the matches.  The room was scarcely lit but they could now see they had fallen into a dark room indeed; they screamed and yelled for help.  No one heard them.  “Look, look over here!” yelled “Chief” Juba Winterhawk.  There was a large door that looked like it led to a large tunnel.  The door was located in one of the walls of the dark room; it seemed to go on and on; a tunnel it was, “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” ran in the tunnel and chased the red roster, you could hear them as they barked.  Off in the distance you could hear the roster and Kim Shoe Guy, they seemed to be running down the tunnel, you could faintly hear the dogs, the roster, and Kim Shoe Guy continued down the dark tunnel.

Jim Magee looked down the long dark tunnel, “Why this must be the famous underground tunnel, it was used to Shanghai workers back in the 1890’s!”  They all looked at the entry to the tunnel.  “If I remember right this goes through N.W. Portland, it makes its way up through to N.W. 28th and Vaughn if I remember,” replied Jim Magee.  “What about Kim Shoe Guy?  What about the dogs?  We need to see if we can find them!” screamed “Screamin’” Ned Parker.  They all nodded with agreement.  “This could be dangerous!” exclaimed “Chief” Juba Winterhawk.  “We need to find Kim Shoe Guy, we need to make sure he’s alright!” said Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin.

One by one they slowly stepped into the tunnel, they found an old lantern that was hung on one of the walls in the tunnel, they lit a match, and slowly the lantern was glowing a bright light.  It was muddy and dark as they moved forward, off in the distance you could hear the dogs and Kim Shoe Guy, the roster was squawking.  They walked through the tunnel, after an hour or so they had had covered a lot of ground, they kept heading west, up through the tunnel, hoping to find the end.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin complained, “We’ve been walking in this tunnel for a long time boys, when does it come to an end?”  They kept on going, they could barely hear Kim Shoe Guy by now.  They kept moving forward, Jim Magee held the lantern in his hand as they stayed close together while walking down the long dark tunnel.  Some of them started to get tired “Come-on!  We’re almost there!” yelled Jim Magee, he kept moving through the dark tunnel holding his lantern.  They tripped over rocks an occasional rat would squeak, and frighten them.  They kept moving through the tunnel, they found old pieces of broken bottles and old tin cans, newspapers were scattered about the floor of the tunnel, they walked through thick mud.

Soon they came to the end of the long dark tunnel and there suddenly standing in front of them was “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons,” barking and wagging their tails, they were happy as could be.  They were very jumping around and glad to see everyone, a soft light beamed down on them, it looked like some sort of room was above them, a trap door was left open and an old wooden ladder was resting along one of the walls of the tunnel.  “This must be the end of the tunnel!” yelled “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner.  They rushed over to the old wooden ladder; one by one they slowly went up the old rickety ladder, they carried “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” up through the trap door, as soon as the last person steeped up off the old wooden ladder it suddenly broke apart and shattered to the ground below, the trap door slammed shut.  “Now what are we going to do!  How are we going to get back?” screamed Screamin’ Ned Parker.

They found themselves in an old wooden dilapidated warehouse down off of N.W. Vaughn.  They were standing in this dingy, moldy, dusty, cold dark room filled with old files, papers were strewn about the floor, they looked around, they could see that a door in front of them was open, and it led down to a long dark hallway, they followed the long cold dark dingy hallway into a brightly lit room.  There were windows facing out, looking out on N.W. Vaughn, there was a front door that was left open.  They could see Kim Shoe Guy out front of the old building, he was outside in the street running after the crazy red roster, he ran around a corner and vanished.  They yelled at him and he did not hear their calls.  “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” ran outside.

They quickly walked out front of the old warehouse building and could not believe their eyes, why there in front of them stood the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair!  They rubbed their eyes in amazement.  They had gone back in time, they had gone back to N.W. Portland, and it was 1905!  There were horse drawn carriages, there were a few horseless carriages scurrying about and all sorts of grand Plaster of Paris buildings, Guilds Lake was full of water, huge exhibit halls, pavilions and gardens spread out before them, boats floated out in the lake, a few bi-planes and hot air balloons floated in the air above them.  A large island could be scene right in the middle of Guilds Lake; they were flabbergasted, they had gone back in time indeed.  Forest Park spread out to the west of them.  There was the Forestry Building, which at the time was the largest log cabin in the world, what had happened, how could they have gone back in time?  Had they gone back in time while walking through the tunnel?  It was 1905, they recognized the neighborhood, but it was not the same, some of the buildings looked familiar, they were speechless.

“Why I say, this is the old neighborhood, but it’s not the same, this is peculiar indeed,” said “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner[GAK1] .  They stood close to one another and gawked at the spectacle.  They drifted out into the famous Exposition, within minutes people started to stare at the odd looking group of friends.  “My, I’ve never seen such a sight,” exclaimed one passerby.  People looked strangely at them, they were not wearing clothes that looked familiar to people, and they looked odd, they certainly stood out in the crowd.  They continued walking about and wound through the crowd going to one of the massive exhibition halls with the fair, they slipped behind a corner.  Jim Magee looked at his friends, “Look, look over there, it’s the Pittock Mansion!” they stood there staring at the newly built mansion, sitting on top of Kings Heights.  Off in the distance was Council Crest, at the top of Council Crest was the famous Council Crest Amusement park that was located at the top of Council Crest.

The N.W. neighborhood had newer buildings that had been recently been built.  They could recognize the terrain, they noted homes that had been built and that were still standing back in 1952.  They continued to walk through the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair.  They went out to the island, they went through the exhibits, they meandered down to the entrance of the fair.  There standing in front of them was the Fine arts building, the Oriental Palace, and the Oregon building.

They decided to head down N.W. Vaughn; they walked down to N.W. 23rd, they noticed the cable cars going up to Council Crest.  Suddenly a group of people that had been closely watching the oddball group of friends, started to slowly walk towards them.  They quickly crossed through a crowd, Jim Magee looked at his friends, “We’re being followed, quick, quick we need to jump on one of those cable cars!”  They looked at the cable car in front of them and slowly climbed aboard, the small group of people that had been following them watched as Jim Magee and his friends waved at them as they tried to run towards the cable car.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin stuck her tongue out at the small group of people that had been chasing them.

Jim Magee and his friends watched from the cable car as they slowly headed south down N.W. 23rd.  They passed N.W. Burnside and slowly their cable car took them over the Vista Bridge, winding up S.W. Vista, they passed by Mrs. Nance’s, shortly in a few minutes they finally reached their destination near the top of Council Crest.  Jim Magee and his friends strolled over and looked at the amazing amusement park that was located at the top of Council Crest.  It had been built in 1904; it was a famous amusement park.  There was a dance hall, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a log plume where you could ride hollowed out logs, it had a few water towers, and it had rides for all the children.

The top of Council Crest gave people a wonderful view of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and the Willamette Valley.  They decided to buy tickets and go through the amusement park.  It was a popular amusement park indeed, the park was full that day, they went on some of the rides, they rode the Ferris Wheel and were enjoying themselves, suddenly off in the distance, out towards the N.E. they could see dark black ominous clouds forming and heading towards Council Crest and the amusement park.  People ran for cover, children cried as the wind slowly picked up, someone’s balloon floated up in the air, the Douglas firs swayed back and forth.  The wind soon started to howl, it started raining, it poured, people headed for the dance hall, paper flew through the air, dark thunderclouds rolled in around the amusement park, and a terrible nor’wester surrounded Council Crest!  People screamed and yelled, suddenly a bolt of lightning followed by roaring thunder crackled around the trees and the Ferris wheel; it got darker and darker as the terrible storm carried on.  A bolt of lightning hit one of the water towers and lit up the sky.  Someone’s hat flew through the air, soon some newspapers went flying by, and then a hot dog flying in the air almost hit Jim Magee in the head.  The night got darker and darker, the lightning raged on!  Oh, it was a terrible storm, one of the worst ever!

Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin screamed, “Oh dearie, dear, dearie oh dear!”  She opened up her trusty embroidered umbrella and slowly the gusty wind lifted her up in the air, she flew about, darting here and there as “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” ran around and barked and barked.  Jim Magee tried to grab the left leg of Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin, he jumped two, or three times in trying to grab her hairy leg, finally he got a good hold of her left leg.  She flew up in the air holding on to her umbrella.  The wind whipped up and soon Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin and Jim Magee were flying high in the air, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk quickly jumped up and grabbed Jim Magee’s right leg, he was lifted up off the ground as well, quickly “Jasper” jumped up into the arms of “Chief” Juba Winterhawk.”  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin kept a tight hold of her umbrella, she was being lifted higher and higher into the terrible storm, “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner grabbed the left leg of “Chief” Juba Winterhawks left leg, he was lifted up off the ground as well.  Last but not least was Screamin’ Ned Parker, “Mr. Gibbons” jumped up into his arms, he held the frightened dog in his left arm and reached up with his right arm and grabbed the right leg of “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner.  All five friends, including the two dogs started to fly into a black raincloud and soon disappeared, the wind lifted them higher and higher into the dark night as Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin held on to her umbrella as tight as she could.

They floated over The Pittock Mansion, the wind threw them around, and around in the air, a Great Blue Heron went flying by, they were tossed and turned into the wicked storm, lighting flashed and the thunder roared.  In the next few minutes the small group of friends was bouncing and floating through the air, the lightning flashed, dark rain clouds and a mist rolled on through the Douglas fir trees, leaves flew everywhere, the lightning continued to flash up at Council Crest amusement park.  The rain poured, the wind whipped up and they continued to float in the air.

Suddenly, they found themselves floating over N.W. Portland, they drifted over Forrest Park, they floated down near the Thurman Bridge, they drifted down, down, down, twirling and twisting, they started to scream, slowly they landed right into “Chief” Juba Winterhawks front yard, landing softly as a feather.  They rolled around in the soft grass out in front of his cabin, “Jasper” and “Mr. Gibbons” barked and yapped as they ran around in the yard.  Everyone had made it safely back, they had returned to the year 1952, everything was the same, and nothing had changed.  They laughed and hugged each other.

“Why I say, why I say that was the most amazing adventure that I’ve ever experienced,” noted “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner.  They dusted themselves off, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk looked at his friends, “I’m quite surprised by all of this, and I think we should all go inside my cabin, I have some beer, and we can make something to eat!”  The close group of friends followed him inside of his cabin; Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin suddenly stopped and looked at her friends, “Oh my, I forgot my pie!  I was baking a pie before we went on this little journey, oh dearie!  I’m going back to my place; I’ll return in the morning, I’ll bring you all a berry pie when I return.”  Harriet walked off, the rest of the weary travelers walked into the cabin, they made a fire, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk pulled out a few beers from his ice box, they sat, and sipped on their cold brews, they started to recollect what had happened with their amazing adventure that day.  “Why I say, I don’t think that we should say a word to anybody about this, I think we should forget that this ever happened!” noted Jim Magee.  Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.  Screamin’ Ned Parker looked at everyone, “Oh my I need to get my car!  I left it parked out in front of Huck Lung’s!  I suppose I could get it tomorrow morning, why I wonder what happened to Kim Shoe Guy.”  They sat there and drank beer into the early morning; they soon fell asleep on the big sofa located inside of the tiny cabin, they were exhausted.

Early the next morning there was Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin at the front door of the cabin, the wooden front door was left open, she was holding one of her famous berry pies in her hands, “Hello, is there anybody here?”  There was a commotion inside, she slowly walked into the cabin and found her friends fast asleep in the living room, several empty beers were scattered about on the floor, and she looked around and recognized everyone except for a strange furry creature that had cuddled up with Jim Magee on the big couch.  She slowly crept towards the furry creature and soon realized that it was a huge hairy, mangy, dusty ol’ bear.  She moved closer, it surprised the unwanted guest, the startled big bear suddenly raised its’ head up from under a blanket and suddenly it started to roar.  Everyone jumped up and ran around the small cabin.  It looked as though indeed a huge brown bear had snuck in the middle of the night and had made its way in to the small cabin while everyone was sleeping.  Screamin’ Ned Parker went running by Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin, he was wearing his red long john’s, “Chief” Juba Winterhawk, and “Colonel” Snodgrass Hockner ran around and around in the room, screaming as tables and chairs got knocked over.  The bear roared and ran after them, Jim Magee grabbed a rifle that was standing over in one of the corners of the cabin, he cocked the trigger and fired at the big ‘ol bear as it ran out of the cabin, his shot missed and hit a tree.  Harriet “Middleborough” Chamberlin ran after her friends, the bear darted off in Forest Park and disappeared, the dogs barked, everyone yelled.  Within a few minutes they made their way back in the cabin, they sat down and decided to eat the delicious berry pie that Harriet had made.  “Chief” Juba Winterhawk looked at the mess in his cabin, “Damn!  I wonder how that big ‘ol bear got in here?  I suppose we drifted off and left the front door open!”  They laughed amongst themselves, the berry pie tasted delicious as usual.  Someone stepped in one of the bears squats that he left behind on the cabin floor.

Eventually Screamin’ Ned Parker got his black Desoto back.  They had some marvelous times together, they were great friends, and their friendship endured throughout the years to follow.  They had other famous adventures, but none quite like the night that they traveled back in time.  They never went back to Huck Lungs; they never went back through the magical underground tunnel.  They had their stories and memories that would last their entire lives.  They never would forget the night they traveled back in time.  They were best friends for life.




I had just arrived at my father’s home in Half Moon Bay, California; my flight from Portland was fine, smooth, and a quick flight. I was twenty-two years old at the time; I was visiting my father, stepmother and half-brother Nathan. I looked around the house, seeing if anything had changed, the home sits along the coast range overlooking the coast line, it was the middle of July in 1982. The phone rang; my father walked into the kitchen and answered the phone.


“Hey, Glen its Bob!”

“Hey Bob!” my father replied.

My father’s closest friend through most of his life, through thick and thin was my uncle Bob. Bob at that time lived in Atherton, California, just about an hour from my father’s home in Half Moon Bay, California. My uncle Bob was a bit of rouge in a way, worked in management with A.T. and T, and lived life to the fullest. He had been married four times by then; he loved his family, cars and his beloved boat by the name of the “Anna Mae.” He was a character for sure. A bit weathered with age, he had suffered a heart attack a few years back, was weak from the surgery, ‘ol Bob was a great friend of mine. Ever since my parents divorced back in 1962 my father’s brother was a true confidant. I always knew that I was loved by Bob. My father hung up the phone and smiled at me.

“Your uncle will be here in an hour; he wants to see you.”

I winked at my pop. I walked out to the back deck off the family room and looked out to the hillsides and down toward the ocean; a bit of fog was looping down through the mountains that run along the coast line. About an hour passed; a car rumbled out in front of the house, I could tell it was Bob in his Firebird. The front door swung open and there stood Uncle Bob. He smiled at me; I gave him a long hug and patted him on the back. He had a cut on his face in nicking himself while shaving earlier that morning. We walked into the kitchen and sat down at the counter. He laughed and shook my hand.

My uncle Bob was deaf in one ear. He wore a hearing aid that was attached to his thick black plastic glasses, and if you got to close to him the darn hearing aid would start to whistle and sound like a sharp beep that got pretty loud; it was a bit of a family joke in knowing if you got too close to Bob his alarm would go off in his ear. His hearing aid started to beep when I gave him a hug, his eyes got big, and he grabbed his right ear. According to my uncle when he was around four years old a group of kids threw sand at him while he was swimming along a river, some of the sand ended up in and went down his ear. Bob always needed the hearing aid since he was little. He could hear you fine at times, once in a while you had to repeat yourself, and sometimes he had to put his hand to his ear and say.


I usually knew that I had to repeat myself when I talked with him. It wasn’t uncommon in telling a story a few times when Bob was around. I will always remember Bob’s temperamental hearing aid. My father and my uncle Bob were inseparable as friends as I had mentioned. They seemed to understand each other without ever speaking a word. Bob normally wore jeans and a sport shirt, when he had to dress up for business, he usually wore a dark rain coat; black wing tipped shoes, a white dress shirt and a thin tie; he almost looked like he could have worked with the F.B.I. He got kidded about his wardrobe. He reminded me of the actor Robert Duval, a bit of a cowboy, part sailor, and a good business man was ‘ol Bob Keltner. He worked up in San Francisco, commuted every day, and took the train out of Atherton. After work, he liked to hang out at the Royal Exchange bar and grill located in the financial district. He had a quirky sense of humor; he had the ability to listen to a conversation, listen and pay attention, it was a virtue of Bob. He loved his country and usually bought American made products. He loved his freedom, and he reminded me that he had fought for this countries freedom several times in my life. Bob confided in me and would often talk with me for hours heading into the early morning. At times, I think I was the son he never had.

Bob looked at me and smiled.

“Do you want to go up to the Delta? We can drive from here and get to the Ana Mae by 4:00 P.M. It’s up in the marina near Clarksburg. I’ll leave my car there in the parking lot and head back up with Caroline in her car in a few days and pick up the Firebird.”

He tilted his head one way and then the other and made a funny face and looked at me.

“Grab your things, we can drive up there, and you can help me float the Anna Mae down to Coyote Point.”

My dad looked at me and shook his head in agreeing with my uncle. Coyote Point is located near San Mateo, California, tucked down the south western side of the San Francisco Bay, down past Treasure Island. In late summer my uncle would perform an annual float with his boat winding his way down through the Sacramento Delta, performing a fairly mild cruise to the San Francisco Bay. The float would normally take a few days, maybe three days if we took our time. He normally plotted stops along the way, trying to find marinas where we could hole up for the night. My uncle had maps of the bay and the delta that showed almost every moorage conceivable. I had performed this feat with him once before a few years early. I knew it would be fun. He’d keep his boat in the bay during the winter months.

The Anna Mae was a great boat; she was in built in 1962, built by Chris Craft Corporation, and billed as a cabin cruiser. It could hold four people with bunks in the front of the boat; she had a little toilet and sink, a tiny kitchen, upstairs was the cabin, including the steering wheel, a throttle and all the electrical instruments needed with navigation; a large compass was attached in the middle of the dash in helping in finding our way down the river. The cabin could hold a few people; off the back was a small deck area of about ten by eight feet. He had a few chairs; a few storage bins and bench space, fishing poles were usually found to be close at hand along with three or four life preservers. The deck had areas to fish on the back; pole holders were attached to both sides of the boat. My uncle hung an American flag and had the name “Anna Mae” painted on the back of the boat. She was a big boat, about thirty six feet in length. The bottom of the half of the boat was made of dark-brown wood. The upper part of the boat was trimmed in white; she was a great boat.

“Do you want to go with your uncle?” asked my father. I thought it over and looked at Bob. “Sure I’ll go! Let me go pack some things.”

“It may take three or four days with the ride,” said Bob.

I walked down the tile hallway that led me to the family guest bedroom. I packed swimming shorts, t-shirts, socks, jacket, shoes, spare underwear, a pair of blue jeans a book that I was reading and a toilet kit. I threw the pack together and met my father in the family room. My father looked at me.

“Now calm down and make sure your uncle gets safely to Coyote Point.”

“Don’t worry will be back by the weekend,” I replied.

My uncle always liked nice cars, American muscle cars to be exact. He once had a 1968 Mustang, metallic gold, black leather interior, it had a hemi and was one of the fastest cars I’ve ever been in. His latest car that he drove in those days was a 1980 Pontiac Firebird, fire-engine red, he loved that car. He unlocked the passenger door and I jumped in and threw my stuff in the back seat. Bob started the car up and the engine rumbled as my father waved at us pulling out of the driveway. I was going on another adventure with Bob; it would be fun, through the years he had taken me on trips to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, on trips through the San Joaquin valley, up through Fresno, Modesto, Salinas, and Santa Cruz. He had taken me on a few trout fishing trips when I was younger. When I was a kid, I always liked hanging out with Bob if I could, he was a bit of a loaner in a way, and I liked that about him. If Bob could get away from a crowd at a family gathering, he would usually find an excuse in escaping to the out of doors. I always felt he was more at ease with himself when he was in the outback.

We headed east over Highway 92, winding our way through the hills, and farmland, weaving through the country; the roads kept going and going leading you up to Skyline Boulevard, always heading east, down towards San Mateo, over the never-ending San Mateo Bridge and up to Highway 680, and then cutting over to Highway 580, driving through Hayward, Dublin and Tracy, meandering our way up to the San Joaquin valley and I-5.

Bob had aged through the years; his face was worn, and he looked older, more fragile. He was losing some of his hair on top. His radio was playing some tune by Merle Haggard. He had fair skin and red hair. He had a funny smile and a dry wit. By that time, Bob was close to fifty-five years old and going on his fourth wife, Caroline. Caroline had been with Bob a few years now. Bob loved driving through California; he loved the scenery and the vast endless miles of golden fields.

We continued up north on I-5 towards the Delta. The farm land stretches for miles on the river. I swear that I had never seen such vivid yellow, orange or purple shades of color as with those nights spent on the Delta. We talked about the Giants and A’s, talked about politics; we talked about Ronald Reagan. We stopped at a tiny local grocery store and got some bread, cold cuts, potato chips, cereal, milk, beer and some fruit. Dusty covered country roads were dotted with migrant workers working in the fields, wearing hats to protect themselves from the hot sun. It was beautiful this day with our adventure. We took I-5 to the Hood Franklin Road, cut west to River road and over to the Clarksburg marina. We reached the marina right around 4:30 P.M. An old hound dog started barking and jumping around, howling at my uncle and his car. We found a parking spot close to the Anna Mae. Locals wearing baseball hats and drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer hung out on the docks, looking at my uncle’s car as we pulled in. There were a few people at the docks; big boats were floating in their slips.

My uncle would keep his boat up on the Delta from early summer until late fall. He liked the Anna Mae closer to Atherton in the winter months. At Coyote Point, he could take Anna Mae out in the bay, or go out into the Pacific and fish through the potato patch and chase salmon. The drive from Atherton to Coyote Point was about a half hour. My uncle loved to play golf on the Poplar Creek golf course. He’d go play eighteen holes and then walk over to the boat at Coyote Point. The golf course was located just a few yards away from the marina, after playing golf he’d go take the boat around Alcatraz, or maybe out to Treasure Island. My grandfather (Bob’s father) had served in the Navy and was stationed at Treasure Island back in 1918. He’d cruse around the bay, and go cod fishing. He loved the sea.

My uncle Bob was a well-read man, having served in the Air Force, going through Air Force intelligence training he served in the Black Ops division of the Air Force from 1948-52. He worked in Air Force intelligence, out of the Air Force he started working for A.T. and T.; he got into management within the phone company in the early 1960’s.

Lying on the floor of his car was a book; he always had books by his side. Bob suggested that I started to read Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck back when I was in eighth grade. I use to sit in his home in Atherton and read Hemingway; I remember reading “The Sun Also Rises” at his place. He loved American authors; he once gave me a copy of “The Paper Lion” when I was twelve. I remember him reading “The Godfather.”

Bob was a bit cantankerous at times; he liked a beer or two and liked his cigarettes, when he smoked his cigarettes, he would hold them in his fingers and twist them in a way while holding them, twisting them around in a manner in which it looked like he was almost painting words with his hands and his cigarettes. Bob always liked me.

When we parked Bob pointed down to the boat ramp and there sat Anna Mae. She rocked a bit, glistening in the sun. I hadn’t seen her in a few years; she hadn’t changed. She was clean as could be, I smiled at Bob. This would be a fun trip. He locked up his car and made sure he had everything he needed.

‘She looks great Bob!”

We swerved around the hound dog barking at us, walked down to the ramp, our hands full with our supplies. We reached the boat, crawled over the side, unzipped the canvas protecting the cabin and went down inside the boat. We put some of the supplies in the fridge located in the tiny kitchen. We finished putting everything away; making sure the cabinets were battened down. The sun was starting to set; we checked the pumps, fuel and fluids, emptied the toilet and started her up. We let her run for a few minutes. Everything was set for the float down the Delta. We’d start out the next morning; we’d start out around 8:00 A.M. or so. I threw my things in the bottom bunk. Bob was out on the back of the boat sitting in the sun. A cooler was full of pop, juice and beer. He was talking to somebody standing on the dock. He had grabbed a Coors and was tweaking at a smoke; he threw on his lucky San Francisco Giant hat. Bob loved the Giants.

“Have a seat Grant”

I sat down and looked over the marina; it was a small marina, weathered and a bit worn with age. I waved to a few people standing up on the docks. There were eight or nine boats rocking in the water. The countryside consisted mostly of corn fields that stretched on both sides of the river. The landscape stretched on for what seemed for endless miles, crows squawkin’ in the air. The Delta looked inviting, green and blue with color, glimmering and shining, reflecting the golden-yellow colors of the endless corn fields. The hillsides to the west seemed to be further away than I can remember, they were colored golden dark brown.

I looked at him and laughed. I had started out that day with my mother dropping me off at the Portland International airport around 8:00 A.M. in the morning; the flight was quick, and I got to San Francisco International airport around 10:00 A.M. It was a beautiful sunny day in California. By 5:00 P.M., I was on the Delta, on the Anna Mae. How funny I thought, what a whirl wind!

I grabbed a soft drink and started to talk with Bob. Clouds started to roll in from the east; a small summer breeze picked up. The clouds were big, huge cumulus clouds rolling in, casting long shadows on the land. It was warm and beautiful. Bob pulled out his latest book that he had been reading. He held a copy of “Winds of War”, written by Herman Wouk. He loved his history with war.

“I love this boat Bob.”

Bob looked at me and laughed and gave me a nod. He beamed at me, looking like a pirate. He was content on his boat; the wind rustled his red hair.

“Are you hungry?”

I thought it over and decided I was.

I went to the kitchen and made a chicken sandwich, grabbed some chips and came back to sit with my uncle. We didn’t say much to each other, we were caught up in the tranquil setting, an hour or so drifted by and Bob decided to make some soup. He banged around knocking pots and pans, rustling through drawers in trying to find forks and knives. A few minutes later he returned with a cup of soup and sat down; half of his soup was on his shirt. The sun started to go down over the countryside. Long stems of purple, red and orange light illuminated the sky. We lit a couple of lamps that my uncle had tucked away in one of the storage bins. The water twirled and formed oblong shapes as the night set in, a couple of small bats darted by in the flicker of the lanterns, the light from the lamps twinkled in my uncles glasses. He’d look at me and smiled, he was happy on the water. He reminded me of an old sailor, of a salty dog, maybe an aged sea captain?

“Everything set for the morning, this should be fun Grant!”

“Yep, it should be just great Bob!”

Right around 9:00 P.M. or so the sun had started to set, and the darkness of the night surrounded us. Bob put on a jacket and started to look at the reflection in the lantern, memorized by the light casting shadows. I remember his profile and how he looked; he almost appeared as a ghost in a way, it was a bit eerie.

“Bob, can I ask you a question?”

He looked at me and blinked slowly.

“Sure Grant ask away.”

I fiddled around and finally asked him a question that had been knawin’ and knawin’ Bob looked at me and laughed and gave me a nod. He beamed at me, looking like a pirate. He was content on his boat; the wind rustled his red hair.

“Are you hungry?”

I thought it over and decided I was.

I went to the kitchen and made a chicken sandwich, grabbed some chips and came back to sit with my uncle. We didn’t say much to each other, we were caught up in the tranquil setting, an hour or so drifted by and Bob decided to make some soup. He banged around knocking pots and pans, rustling through drawers in trying to find forks and knives. A few minutes later he returned with a cup of soup and sat down; half of his soup was on his shirt. The sun started to go down over the countryside. Long stems of purple, red and orange light illuminated the sky. We lit a couple of lamps that my uncle had tucked away in one of the storage bins. The water twirled and formed oblong shapes as the night set in, a couple of small bats darted by in the flicker of the lanterns, the light from the lamps twinkled in my uncles glasses. He’d look at me and smiled, he was happy on the water. He reminded me of an old sailor, of a salty dog, maybe an aged sea captain?

“Everything set for the morning, this should be fun Grant!”

“Yep, it should be just great Bob!”

Right around 9:00 P.M. or so the sun had started to set, and the darkness of the night surrounded us. Bob put on a jacket and started to look at the reflection in the lantern, memorized by the light casting shadows. I remember his profile and how he looked; he almost appeared as a ghost in a way, it was a bit eerie.

“Bob, can I ask you a question?”

He looked at me and blinked slowly.

“Sure Grant ask away.”

I fiddled around and finally asked him a question that had been knawin’ and knawin’ at me for years.
at me for years.

“Bob, you served in the Air Force. What was that like?”

He looked at me and laughed, rolled his eyes and gave out a hoot. If he had been an owl, his feathers would have been ruffled by the mere mention with his involvement in the military. He rubbed his chin and rubbed his hands together in trying to stay warm. I looked at him; his whiskers stood up and made his face look scruffy.

“Well Grant I went into the Air Force in 1948; I had spent the first two years after graduating from Gresham High School studying and going to school at the University of Oregon, located in Eugene. I had studied business and due to lack of money, I enlisted in the Air Force. Back then they recruited me pretty heavily so I signed up, and I went in and was placed in Black Operations. Do you know what the Black Ops is?”

I had heard of Black Ops. I wasn’t too sure exactly what it stood for. The lanterns continued to glow as the night settled in, the darkness seemed to make things so much quieter. A couple of dogs barked, carrying their voices down through the corn fields and bouncing off the water. I looked at my uncle; his face was a bright orange from the lanterns.

“Back in 1946 I was stationed in Germany, in Berlin to be exact. I was working for the Air Force; I was basically a spy working for the U.S. government. I was given assignments, assignments in helping find and locate foreign agents and enemies of the United States living and working in Berlin, basically working for the communists.”

He stopped and stared at me. He cleared his throat and swallowed slowly. I blinked at him. He started to shake a bit. He looked out towards the corn fields, and then looked at me. His eyes had a look of pain.

“I killed people when I was in Germany Grant. I killed people that were dangerous.”

He blinked and took a drag from one of his trusty smokes. I looked at him as serious as I could.

“How many people did you kill Bob?

He thought a bit, looking to the heavens in trying to remember. He looked at me and stayed quiet.

“I figure I killed about ten or eleven people, spies and terrorists they were, out to steal documents and information, some were out to kill us!”

I stayed quiet for a minute and let him continue his train of thought.

“I was ordered to help find these people; many had been working for the Nazi’s near the end of the war. Several former Nazi’s were in Berlin after the fighting stopped.”

There was a moment of silence.

“How did you kill them Bob?”

“I was ordered to go out in the field and hunt and locate these people down. Along with counter intelligence we would locate and try to help capture and hold them captive with war crimes they committed. A few times we were forced to kill them. At times we’d have to chase them down dark allies, or track them down in old bombed-out buildings, or maybe chase them into East Berlin. I was forced to kill them. There were times when we had them cornered, we had no choice. They tried to shoot their way out while we chased them. Several times they would try to resist us.”

He looked at me, he started to shake.

“I was forced to shoot people Grant. I usually carried a 45 caliber revolver.”

It seemed to get darker and quieter as we spoke, almost as though others were listening to our conversation as his conversation got more intense. He looked at me and excused himself for a moment.

“I need to go squeeze the lemon.”

I was fascinated by some of the things my uncle would tell me, especially that night. He came back a few minutes later and past some gas and laughed at the sound it made.

“Buck snort!”

“I was stationed in Berlin. It’s where I met my first wife, her name was Katie. She was German; I was twenty three at the time. I loved her very much; I was too young to fall in love then and didn’t realize it. She was born in Berlin, and we met when I was stationed in the city. She was young, around eighteen; she fell for me. I married her; we had a small flat. At the end of my hitch we decided that we would come back to Oregon, I would finish school in Eugene and then settle down and raise a family.”
He looked at me and smiled.

“Things changed when we came back to Oregon, back to Gresham. I bought a small home and within a couple months I found her in bed with another man one night, the next day she was gone. She ran away with him, and I never saw her again. She hadn’t been in the states more than a month. She used me to get to the Unites States I figured. My dreams and plans changed after that.”

I stared at him. I didn’t really know what to say.

“Yes, I killed men who tried to kill me and other allies working in Berlin at the time, men we corned down like drown rats. We’d track ‘em down, they’d shoot at us. We shot at them, shot them after they fired at us first! I had no choice! What was I supposed to do? We had no choice!” He stared out into the night. He started to sob. I felt sorry for him.

“You were only doing your job Bob, don’t cry,” I patted him on his shoulder.

“Yeah I guess you’re right. I hate knowing I killed people. It’s something I’ll always have to live with.”

A sudden hush settled in. I heard a pheasant dart off out of the brush. The moon was big and bright; soon it was around 10:00 P.M. I started to rub my eyes; I was tired.

“Bob, Bob can we will continue this talk tomorrow? I’m a bit tired,” I asked.

“Sure Grant, get to bed. The bunks are ready to go. Have a good night sleep.”

I crawled down through the cabin, headed down the stairs that led me to the friendly inviting beds. I changed, brushed my teeth and crawled into the lower bunk; the covers felt nice and warm. I looked up the stairs and could see Bob’s face as he stared out in the night. He was rubbing his eyes, trying to dry the tears. He was talking to himself, mumbling a bit, dealing with his demons in Berlin; I watched him for a while. I fell asleep listening to the sounds of the night. An hour or so later I heard Bob bumping around trying to find his bunk. He fell into his bed with a thud and snoozed through the night. I loved Bob; he fell asleep with his Giant hat on.

The next morning I woke up, the sun was shining bright as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I couldn’t remember where I was. Oh yeah I was on the Delta. I threw on my clothes and found a Cheerios cereal box and poured some milk, poured some orange juice and pulled a cinnamon roll out from a sack lying on the kitchen counter. Bob rolled around and fell back to sleep.

I went out on the back of the boat and looked at the river; it was calm and dark; the wind picked up a bit; the sun had already risen in the east, and the morning sun felt wonderful. Shades of purple and lavender mixed in with green meadows that radiated, glowing in the early-morning light, the fields were full of butterflies and bees; a few cotton tails bounced around eating bits of grass.

I ate my cereal and turned on a small transistor radio that my uncle kept in the cabin. I found K.N.B.R on the radio. I listened to the news and surfed through radio stations trying to find some music. A few minutes later Bob poked his head out and ducked back to the kitchen. I could hear him fumble through slamming cabinets, opening coffee cans, pouring water and filling an old warn coffee pot full of water. He soon joined me out on the deck.

“How did you sleep?” he asked.

“I slept pretty well, pretty quiet.”

He rubbed his head and belly. He looked at me.

“Are you ready to shove off!” as he tried to clear his throat.

“Give me a minute or two Bob; I need to finish my cereal.”


“Give me a minute or two Bob; I need to finish my cereal!”

He went down into the galley and started to shave his face; he came out on deck and finished off his morning ritual, cleaning off his face with a towel. He poured himself, some coffee and some cereal and stood there and ate looking at his maps. He planned on drifting down to Rio Vista, down to the Delta Marina the first day, maybe covering around forty miles or so. He made reservations in staying at the tiny marina in Rio Vista that night. The next day we would put in a stop around near Oakland and dock Anna Mae there for the night. The following day we would head over to Coyote Point. Bob was on his short-wave radio, one hand holding the hand set attached to the radio, talking with the harbor master in Oakland, arranging for us to get a space to park his boat the next night at one of the local marinas that Bob liked.

“You’re confirmed for the night Mr. Keltner,” barked the voice at the other end.

My uncle fired up the engines, hummed and started to sing a little tune as he checked the gauges, I released the lines, my uncle pulled in the anchor, and soon we were backing out of the moorage and drifting in the middle of the Delta. He waved to a few people on the docks and blew his horn; we headed south, floating along as we passed the brown banks of the river, drifting along dark-green lagoons that had big willow trees with long branches of green moss attached to them, we drifted past off shoots of the river, some that stretched on for miles, going by old farms that had cattle grazing; some of the cows would stop and stare, occasionally a car would buzz along the side roads that followed the river. The land reminded me of a Thomas Hart Benton painting.

The Anna Mae chugged along as my uncle settled in his seat commandeering his vessel. He looked proud and excited at the same time, like a kid opening a Christmas present for the first time. I laughed at him. He watched the river, looking at drifts and paying attention to the water, watching how it swayed and moved; he was good at gauging water depth. We passed small docks that must have been carved out during the early 1900’s, many of them were falling apart; old broken-down wood piers could be found along the river, as we made our way down south. Orchards ripe with apples, walnuts, pears and oranges sprawled out along the river banks. We drifted and floated down the river; the morning sun kept us warm.

I walked alongside the stern and made my way to the front of the boat. I waved at Bob as he looked at me through the front of the cabin window. He sounded his horn; it blasted down the river; the horn sounded so loud. We passed two or three boats; one boat was pulling a water skier; they waved as we passed them. Down we went, down the Delta. Acres and acres of land, corn, wheat, land for grazing, land for planting, lots and lots of land. The skies rambled on for miles; the mountains located to the east were off in the distance, golden brown with color.

Bob waved at me and pointed at the steering wheel.

“Do you want to drive?”




I worked my way back to the cabin, and he allowed me to sit in his swivel chair and steer the boat. He reminded me of where the port, starboard, stern and bow were located. The Anna Mae was a fine boat, and really had a sturdy strong engine. Bob started to tie fishing lines, long three-foot leaders with wiggle warts attached to the end on each leader. He put some smelly jelly on the wiggle warts and threw a line out as we bobbled in the drift down the river. Bob loved to fish, he’d fish for salmon, rock cod, white fish; you name it, and he loved it all. He left his line out for an hour or so.

Soon a bright yellow biplane showed up in one of the corn fields that we were passing through; he started spraying in a certain area in the field, and then the tiny bi-plane would fly off and maneuver around in a circle and start spraying in another area in the field, continuing this pattern until we passed and the little plane became a small dot in the air. Bob noticed the end of his fishing pole; its tip was bending down toward the river, bouncing with activity.

“Fish on!” yelled Bob.

He grabbed his fishing pole and tried to set the hook, lifting up on the pole and trying to set the sharp shiny hook as quickly as he could.

“It’s a salmon!” cried my uncle.

You could see the excitement on his face. Sure enough he had hooked what looked like a twelve-pound salmon. It was putting up a great fight. The handsome fish jumped in the air a few times, tossing his head back and forth.

“You got him Bob, ya’ got him!

“Yeah, Yahoo, yippee!” yelled Bob.

Bob reeled in the salmon; it kept fighting until he was too tired to fight; soon it was next to the side of the boat flapping its tail, banging his fins against the boat.

“Grab the net!”

I ran over to the side of the boat and found the fishing net; I dipped it in the water and tried to scoop the fish’s tail into the large green net; he wiggled and tossed around and finally fell right into place; I pulled him up and put the net on the deck while he flicked his tail.

“It’s a buck and he’s clipped, he’s a keeper!” cried my uncle.

I grabbed the salmon and whacked him on top of the head with a wooden mallet that my uncle handed me. After a few knocks on the head, the fish became still, a small amount of blood came from his mouth. It was a fine fish. It was around 1:00 P.M, and we had caught our dinner for a few nights. It would make a fine meal. My uncle was in his own little world when he fished, he taught me how to tie knots, taught me about line weight, about corkies and yarn, about spinners. He loved every minute of the trip. I cleaned the fish, and soon had it covered with olive oil, garnished with chopped onions, garlic and I added a bit of lemon wrapped it in aluminum foil. I put the fish in the fridge; we were sure to have a fine feast. I threw the remains of the fish in the water.

A few hours later we reached the small, weathered marina for the second night. We drifted down the river taking about seven hours with the first part of the excursion. We’d hold up at Rio Vista. The docks were pretty small, up along a beat-up bank, up along the river where it was deep and opening up to a wide area for the moorage, a perfect place to rest the second night. A large brown meadow ran along the side of the marina; I saw what looked like pheasant fly out from a batch of long tall weeds. A few wild cats ran around the docks, eating scraps of fish that had been recently cleaned.

I threw one-half of the fresh salmon in the oven along with making a small salad and toasted some French bread, within an hour the salmon was ready, and we ate like kings. I grabbed a couple of beers from the cooler. The fish tasted wonderful; it was flaky and light to the taste. I love salmon. I cleaned up as Bob sat back on the porch. I handed him a beer, and we chatted through the night.

“Bob, so after your first wife left you what happened then?”

“Well, well I was in Gresham; Katie bolted, and I was left in the cold. It hurt. I had started working with A. T. and T. in the local sales department and asked for a transfer down to Scottsdale, Arizona, that would have been back in 1960 or so. That’s where I met June, my second wife.”

As a kid I loved his wife June, she was great. I remember her being in my life at an early age, and she was always so kind to me. She listened to Johnny Cash back then, along with Credence Clearwater Revival. When I visited Bob and June in Arizona as a kid, she took me on my first horse ride and was always looking out for me. She was great. She couldn’t have been kinder to me if she tried.

“Well June and I moved up to the bay area in 1966 or so from Scottsdale, up to San Jose, California, and we got a place up near Saratoga Avenue. We lived there for about three years or so then bought a day light ranch out east of San Jose, yes it was a great home on a huge lot next to golden fields that rambled on for miles. It was beautiful up in those mountains back then; wildlife was abundant. I’d go hunting for chucker’s and pheasant, up in those hills looking east to Fremont.”

“I remember the house Bob; it was a great home!”

“Yes it was, why you visited there a few times, didn’t you? Didn’t you like the yard and the view of the bay?”

“Sure did Bob; it was a fine yard, it was a fine time, it was a great time to be living in California. I can remember the view looking north, the view of the bay.”

I remember that June and Bob stayed married for about ten years or so, the marriage fell apart around 1974. I was saddened by the news, seems like times had taken a toll on their relationship, and they split up. June had been married before meeting Bob and had a daughter by the name of Belinda, she was really kind to me, and she was one of the first kids that I knew who liked the Doors. She had posters in her room of Jim Morrison. Bob and June adopted Sheri (their second daughter) around 1964; she was a beautiful girl and loved both Bob and June, and they treated her like one of their own. I know the divorce hurt her; I always enjoyed my time with Sheri.

“I liked June a lot Bob.”

He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

“Shit happens Grant; I blew that relationship with her. I should have been more patient. I shouldn’t have been so insensitive about things. I grated on her like a chalk board at the end of our relationship.”

I nodded my head.

“After you divorced June you were single for a year or so and then you met Lucille back in 1975 or so didn’t you?

He started to laugh. He looked towards the heavens.

“You do have a good memory don’t you Grant? Yes, we met back in 1975 or so, she worked for the phone company, and we soon got married and bought the home up near Los Gatos, up near the golf course. Do you remember that place?”

“I sure do Bob. It was a great home, built right on the sixteenth hole, right on the Los Gatos Country club; it was about an acre or so wasn’t it? It was a big home, and if I remember Lucille had two daughters who lived there with you.”

Bob looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

“We didn’t get along too well. I think the marriage lasted two years at the most. We split and sold the home and that’s when I bought the condo in Los Gatos.”

I looked at Bob.

“Maybe you should have married Elizabeth Taylor.”

He laughed and just about fell off his chair. I usually could make Bob laugh.

“Yep I remember Lucille; she was pretty tough, and not very friendly at times was she, kind a bit of a screamer and a control freak?”

He laughed and nodded.

“She wore on me, I’m sure I wore on her. I didn’t have much patience with her. She was a bit of a nag. I don’t do very well with a woman who yells. I’m sure I gnawed at her as well, matter of fact I know I did. I guess I should have never married her.”

I started to laugh. I looked at my watch and decided to head to bed. He looked at me and gave me a smirk as I shuffled down towards the bunks.

“It was a great day Bob!”


“It was a great day Bob!”

I changed my clothes and crawled into bed. Bob stayed out on the back of the boat. I could hear him talking to himself. He mumbled and looked at the moon; soon I fell off to sleep. The next morning I looked over to the other bunk and there was Bob, his back turned to me snoring. He had a blanket wrapped around his body; his feet were stickin’ out.

I got out of bed and grabbed the cereal, made some strong coffee and went out on back of the boat. It was a clear morning, bright, no sign of a cloud in the sky at all. The stars and stripes flapped in the air as I fumbled for my cereal bowl. Blue Jays and sparrows flew through the air, swerving in all kinds of directions. The tiny marina was pretty little; it had three or four boats floating in a few of the slips. There was a gravel parking lot off the docks, there also was a small old rickety grocery store up off the ramp, I jumped out onto the dock and walked through the parking lot, over to the grocery store. I went in and a little bell started to ring as I opened the door, I grabbed a Chronicle; I paid for the paper and went back to the boat. I opened the sports section and glanced at the baseball standings, finished off my cereal and had another cup of coffee. Bob soon appeared; he looked worn, and his hair was messed up; his glasses sat slanted on his face.

“Morning Bob,” I said.

“Morning there Grant!”

“The Giants won last night!”


“The Giants won last night!”

Bob walked down and fixed cereal and poured some coffee and grabbed a cinnamon roll. He snatched the business section and glanced at some stocks he was working with. Bob was smart ‘ol Bob was; he had worked himself up with the telephone company. By 1982, he had been working for the phone company for almost twenty-some years. He was good with management; it was a stressful job. He had come back after his tour of duty, finished up getting his Business degree from the University of Oregon. He moved up the ladder into management, transferring to the bay area in 1967. I think he moved to the bay area so he could be closer to my father. They were such great friends; they were inseparable.
Bob started the engines and looked at me.

“Let’s get going Sunny!”

I jumped on the dock and pulled in the lines. Bob got the anchor. He drove us out onto the main drift. We started to head down south down towards Collinsville. The countryside now started to show more signs of homes and warehouses spread out on the land; the river unveiled more signs of development as we started to head down the Delta. It got hot, hotter than usual, around 11:00 A.M. it got to be around 93 degrees before noon. I looked at Bob; I could see that he was getting hot around the collar.

“Bob, Bob why don’t you stop the boat, I want to jump out in the river and cool off.”

Bob looked at me and turned the engines off. He threw out the anchor. We came to a stop in a wide section of the river. I put on a life preserver and got on the back of the boat. I looked at Bob waved and jumped in. I could hear Bob laugh as my head bobbed up out of the water. The water was fine, just right. I could feel a current down about six feet from the top of the water; the current was cooler than the rest of the water and felt cool on my feet.

“The water is great Bob!”

I started to float down river, treading water, floating on my back. I floated into adrift and went by the Ana Mae. I swam back up the river towards Bob.

“It’s perfect, the water is just fine.”

I loved the Sacramento Delta; it’s such a smooth river, with cool drifts that felt great in the hot summer. Bob picked up the sports section of the Chronicle; he loved sports; he liked the Giants and A’s. He had taken me to an A’s game back in 1970. He liked to grin at me once in a while, making funny faces. His arms and face were getting red; he started to put sun tan lotion on his arms, then his face. He left some of the soothing while lotion on his face. About fifteen minutes later I crawled back onto the Anna Mae. He handed me a towel and started to pull in the anchor.

“That felt great! The water was perfect.”

Bob started up the engines, and we floated down towards Collinsville. By the late afternoon, the sun started to cast long shadows. The hillsides towards the east were painted golden brown. I could see the lights of the bay off in the distance. We started to see warehouses and large docks, weaving through the Delta we went, massive barges and ships carrying cars passed us along the river. It reminded me of rush-hour traffic. Oil refineries belched smoke in the air; the river had become very active. Ships carrying wheat, barges piled with gravel were tied up to the docks that stretched for miles. We passed under the Martinez Bridge; the bridge rattled with rush-hour traffic.

We came to one of my favorite sites on the river; the U.S. Navy has at least one hundred or so ships tied up near the a town called Benicia, located down under the George Miller bridge, located on the north side of the bridge, where it gets big dark and wide, these huge boats are tied up and stretch out down along the river for what seems forever. They all mothballed, stretching east along the delta. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere. We cruised towards the boats, aged battleships, transport carriers and destroyers. Row after row of these old ships, worn, each one must have had its own story to tell. Some of them were missing parts, several had rusted hulls. It was such an amazing sight, especially drifting by these old ghosts in the Anna Mae.

We traveled through busy sections of the Delta without a hitch, not too much traffic through this stretch of the trip. The fog started to roll in over some of the hills as we approached Pittsburgh and Suisan Bay.

Shortly, there was the San Francisco Bay in full view. We headed west out into the bay; it seemed to open up like a popup book, it was so big and blue, the sun bouncing off the water. We cut through the small waves, almost bouncing in rhythm at times. We started out around the north side of Alcatraz; we soon approached the historic island and gazed in wide wonder. Looking towards San Francisco there sat the Golden Gate Bridge, beaming proudly as we spun past her, I could see Sausalito off in the distance, and I could just make out and see the Presidio and Chrissie field. We cruised around the west side of Alcatraz, and headed down towards the Bay Bridge, down towards Oakland. San Francesco sat to the west, big, tall, and wide. It’s such a great city. The skyline was beautiful, the Transamerica tower and the financial district stretched up to the sky; the Bay Bridge sprawled out to the south; Treasure Island wrapped around the west side of the bridge, abundant with green foliage. I love Treasure Island it has so many things that I enjoy, the naval yards, and the gigantic eucalyptus trees.

“We’ll stay in Oakland tonight. We’ll tie up at the Alameda Marina.

“That sounds good to me Bob.”


“Never mind!”

I grabbed one of his maps and tried to see where we were, trying to see if I could find the location as to where we were going to spend the night. About an hour later Bob started to head towards a marina located on the west side of Oakland, down through a long narrow slough; you could see the lights of San Francisco to the west and Treasure island; we passed along a few docks, and then we pulled down a row of boats; Bob parked the Anna Mae into a vacant slip. He turned off the engine and winked at me; we seemed to just float on the water, a few seconds later we drifted perfectly into place.

“Smooth as silk,” laughed Bob.

Bob was always proud of being able to navigate his boat. Ramblin’ and tamblin’ down the river. He had been traveling to the waters of the Delta for almost ten years by then, a true veteran of the river. He liked to hang out in Oakland; it was a great city. He knew where to go, he knew people with other boats in the city. He loved Jack London square, loved to read his beloved stories. We tied the boat up at the docks and walked down a ramp that led us to a local bar and grill. We meandered around and found a seat tucked away in a dark corner with a view looking out to the west, looking out towards the bay.

Bob ordered cheeseburger and fries and had a beer; I ordered a club sandwich and a coke. We talked about heading out towards Coyote Point. We’d be there in the middle of the afternoon he figured. We ate and watched an A’s game. We headed back to the Anna Mae. He grabbed his smokes and sat down in the back of the boat. I sat next to him. It was dark, and the lights of Oakland lit up the sky.

“So Bob after you divorced Lucille; you married Caroline.”

“Yep I met Caroline back around 1977 or so. I’ve been with her for five years now.”

By that time, Bob and Caroline were living in Atherton, California. Both were working for A.T. and T. She was good to Bob, was born in Oregon and had moved to California when she was young, she watched after him, and made sure he was well fed. I don’t think my uncle could live without a woman in his life; he wasn’t raised that way. She could be stern with him, caring and loving as well. They were a cute couple. She had been married when she was younger, divorced and met Bob. She had a daughter by the name of Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Bob were great friends. Bob looked after her and helped her through her schooling; she was like a daughter to him. They got along fine. The night started to surround us once again. Bob peered out and looked out at the bay, always twirling his cigarettes.

“So Bob you’re on your fourth wife now, do you think this will be the last?”

He rubbed his head and laughed.

“Who knows; I love her and she’s kind to me. I hope this one sticks.”

I shook my head and nodded in agreement. I went to bed and looked forward in seeing Coyote Point the next day. During my sleep, some of the big ships blasted horns in the middle of the night that woke me up. The sea breeze swept through the boat, rustling up some of the newspapers that were left on one of the bunks. I fell back to sleep; I slept like a log that night; I was woken up early in the morning, right around dawn as I watched Bob dart up to the cabin, his trusty short-wave radio was blaring; a voice was at the other end. It was my father talking loud as could be.

“When are you guys going to be at Coyote Point?”

“Hey Glen, we’ll be there around late afternoon, say around 3:00 P.M. or so. Why don’t you bring your sticks and will play nine holes at Poplar?”

“O.K. See you then, over, out Roger that captain hook!”

I looked at Bob, and he was laughing; I could tell he was hungry. He headed to the kitchen, found some brown eggs in the fridge, poured some oil in a pan and cooked them sunny-side up; he also made some toast and poured a bowl of cereal. We ate and listened to the radio. The skies were clear; the water was a bit choppy from the wind, seagulls darted by, come to think of it I never had seen gulls in what seemed as though that they were frozen in the air watching us as they glided in flight. There was a lot of activity at the docks that day, people talkin’, squawkin’, shoutin’, drinkin’ coffee, and starting their big boat engines. I could smell the mixture of fish and exhaust in the air; it was around 7:30 A.M. or so. Horns blared and soon we were heading out of the marina.

The water stretched out towards the bay, down towards the south. We floated along, out to the west side of the bay, following the peninsula. Soon, there was Coyote Point off in the distance a couple of miles away. It looked inviting, surrounded by large trees. I looked at Bob, and he smiled; we were almost there! There were a few boats circling around us in the water, sail boats, a few catamarans, it was a great day to be out on the bay.

“Hand me the binoculars would you Grant?” asked Bob.

I fumbled around inside of the cabin and found his binoculars. The U.S. Air Force emblem was affixed to one side of the binoculars.

He grabbed them from me and started to look out towards Coyote Point.

“Looks excellent, I can see the marina, looks like everything should be good to go Grant!”

I was excited as we wound up our trip; it was a great ride. I started to clean the galley, make the bunks, clean off the deck, grab garbage and sack everything up. Bob sat behind the wheel of the Anna Mae, smiling as we started to head into the marina.

“Don’t go swimin’ with bow legged woman,” Sang my uncle as we made our way to Coyote Point.

There was my dad standing by his 1965 Mustang, laughing and waving at us as he waited in the parking lot. The top was down, and he was dressed in his golf duds. My uncle waved and started to slow the Anna Mae down to a crawl; we headed towards the marina, down towards a slip that my uncle had moored his boat at several times before through the years. We came to a stop. My father walked down the boat ramp and climbed on board.

“Well you guys made it! How was the trip!” he exclaimed.

“Fine just fine,” I replied.

“Grant was a big help; we caught a salmon, and we caught a keeper!”

My father beamed when he heard the news. He sat for a bit and talked with Bob as I grabbed my belongings and put them in the back of my father’s car. I went back to the boat; it was decided that they would go play nine holes of golf, and I would stay on the boat. My uncle went down in the cabin and came back with his golf clubs. They walked up the ramp and headed over to the golf course. I sat on the Anna Mae and listened to the radio, read a book and took in the beauty of Coyote Point. A few hours later my father and uncle were back at the boat; they looked tired.

“How was your golf game?”

“Your father beat me as usual; he always beats me at golf!”

We made sure everything was locked tight on the Anna Mae. I zipped up the leather covering that surrounded the cabin, checked the lines and made sure everything was turned off. We jumped in the car and drove over to Atherton; Bob got out of the car and grabbed his things. I gave him a hug and thanked him for the great time; Caroline was standing in the doorway waving at us. I waved back and then in no time my father, and I headed back over to Half Moon Bay.

My father died in 1994 of complications from a stroke; my uncle Bob died shortly about two years later, they’re both buried at the Golden Gate National cemetery located in South San Francisco, buried next to my grandmother and grandfather, not too far away from Coyote Point. As I said before my uncle Bob was really close to my father, I think that when dad died, part of my uncle died as well. I’ve been told that can happen sometimes.

Bob died in the late summer in 1996; he died early in the morning, right around 4:00 A.M., his body had been shutting down on him the last couple of years. I was in Portland, Oregon at the time that he passed, fast asleep in my bed. I’ll never forget what happened early that morning. I was woken up after hearing my uncle’s voice as clear as a bell while I was asleep in my bed, I was startled when I woke, I woke up exactly at 4:00 A.M.; I could hear his voice clear as a bell, it was frightening in a way; I could hear him saying good-bye to me believe it or not. You might think I’m crazy, but I swear I heard his voice. I got the call from my aunt around 7:00 A.M. in telling me he had passed on.

“What time did Bob die Caroline?”

“He died around 4:00 A.M. Why do you ask?”

“Oh I was curious; I was just wondering.”

Bob and Caroline stayed married right up until he died, they had a few ups and down in their marriage, a few rocky roads, and a few mishaps along the way. I was happy they stuck together through the years. He had some rough seas with the woman in his life; a few heart aches here and there; I was happy that they found a way to make things work in their marriage. I miss Bob; I miss his love, friendship, his stories, and his laughter. He was a great friend, faithful to his country and loyal to his friends and family. Whenever I’m around water I think of Bob. I hope he’s at sea, floating in his beloved boat the Anna Mae.

Eric Ladd

I graduated from Lincoln High School in 1976, attended school at the University of Oregon located in Eugene. I was nineteen at the time, came home that summer looking for work. I had a few buddies by the name of Smitty Parnelli, Ron Ronstien and Orson Bartlett that were hired in moving antiques and hauling away furniture from several homes that were owned up near the Vista Bridge around that time, they were doing various chores for the owner of the properties, his estate stretched out along the N.E. side of the hill; dropping down to S.W. Jefferson, his land covered most of the hillside.

I visited with my chums that summer, talked with the owner of the property, tried to explain that I needed a work; he scratched his chin, looked at me and soon I was offered a job. The land was owned by a well-known entrepreneur, aristocrat, and socialite by the name of Eric Ladd. Eric was active in Portland, articles were written in the Oregonian about his projects, he was well known for historic preservation in the Portland area, he was a social debutant. He lived in the world of high society.

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Eric had purchased old historical homes that had been built in and around Portland, many of the dwellings had been targeted for demolition. He bought and moved several of these landmarks up along his hillside located at S.W. Jefferson and S.W. 20th, He painstakingly placed them alongside of what now is known as “The Goose Hollow”, Eric strategically placed them on his land, organizing them to follow the landscape of his hill.

One prized home was the old Lincoln House, built in the early 1920’s, it was a replica of the old Lincoln home built in Kentucky in the 1800’s. He also bought the Kamm house which was built in the 1880’s, the original Kamm house sat on the land that now is inhabited by Lincoln High School. The Kamm house was built by Captain Jacob Kamm a famous old sea captain, his home was a jewel in the Portland area, it sat up overlooking what is now the football field at the high school. Eric bought rare antiques and furniture, gold leafed mantels and pillars, elaborate mirrors. Anything with historic value Eric usually would buy it.

Eric Ladd was a bit of a mystery to most people in Portland, many people had seen him or maybe even spoke with him, but generally he lived a life of recluse. I had heard many stories about Eric, heard he was born in Portland, went to high school in the City of Roses, I heard rumors that he changed his name to Ladd, taking on the name of the famous Ladd’s edition located off S.E. Hawthorn.

Back in the 1950’s Mr. Ladd was one of the leaders in stopping the demolition of the famous Pittock Mansion located up in N.W. Portland. Back in the late 1950’s or so some city leaders formed a group in trying to get the city to tear down the historic landmark, Eric Ladd formed his own group, including several architects with the intent of stopping the removal, he believed in historical preservation, within a year or two Eric helped save the Pittock Mansion from the wrecking ball, city council put a stop to the plans that had been made in tearing down this historic building. My friend Smitty;s father (Alex Parnelli, a local architect) was involved in one of Erik Ladd’s committees that put a stop with the demolition.

From around 1958 to 1962 Mr. Ladd actively worked in trying to make his small community along the hillside prosper. It consisted of business offices, shops and restaurants. It was billed in the Oregonian at the time as “The Old Portland Colony”, it actually had old gas lit lamp posts that ran along the sidewalks. He built a little village in this area, the first of its kind. It was a shire in away. It would have been 1958 or so. His idea did pretty well for a few years, Eric was a visionary, and he wanted to restore old Portland and bring it to life. He bought two homes up off of S.W. Market, on the south side of the Vista Bridge. They eventually would become his homes, a place where he could hang his hat, he stored his prized antiques, beautiful carvings and furniture in the basements of these homes that over looked his village. Eric was a rogue in a way, had grand ideas in shaping Portland.

“The Old Portland Colony” didn’t do as well as Eric had hoped, by 1966 or so he boarded up his homes, the businesses left, old vines, overgrown trees and brush grew in and around the property, by 1976 or so his dream had become a convenient place to hang out and smoke or sneak a beer, it had become an eerie place, his old homes became worn, dilapidated, neglected a ghost town in a way.

By 1976 Eric had decided to move all his antiques out of his buildings, he wanted to find someone that could help him clear out the furniture, and valuables that he stored in the “The Old Portland Colony” His plans were to eventually sell the property. He asked my friend Smitty’s father (Alex Parnelli) if he knew of anybody that could help him, my friend’s father mentioned his son and a few of his buddies in giving Mr. Ladd a hand in clearing his land that summer.

Mr. Ladd hired three of my friends, including myself in starting the huge project that lasted for almost a couple of months; it was hard work, really hard work. We lifted tables and chairs, bars, end tables, lights, chandeliers, boxes, books, huge columns and statues. We loaded up U-Haul trucks with almost everything he had stored for nearly fifteen years, it was a tiring project.

Eric was pleased with the work that we did, could see we were hard workers. Within a few weeks he asked us to clear off his land for him; we would have work for at least the rest of the summer going into fall that year, he wanted us to get rid of old shrubs, trees, blackberries and weeds that have taken over his property. It was a huge chore; it took us a couple months to complete. He wanted us to thin off the lush habitat that surrounded his holdings. He had plans to sell “The Old Portland Colony” when we were finished, eventually he did sell the homes and sold his land associated with the historic project, he even sold the two homes that he lived in up on S.W. Market and soon moved into and developed one of the first great condo and historical preservation projects down on N.W. 21st and Couch in the early 1980’s. He turned old apartments into a great renovation project, transforming the property, moving in his antiques and resurrecting the great old brick structure with his elaborate ornaments and knick knacks.

That summer that I worked with my buddies on Eric’s property was hard, physical work, we used chain saws and hatchets and axes to fall trees and bushes that climbed up the steep hill to the Vista Bridge. We had dump boxes and an old truck to help haul away the debris.

We were clearing off the land back around the Lincoln House one hot boiling summer day; we usually would meet in the morning, get our tools and start working. Around lunch time or so we went over to the Goose Hollow Inn to grab a sandwich for lunch, we ate our tasty Reuben’s and walked across S.W. Jefferson, back over to the Lincoln House.

You have to understand that this land was really overgrown, the Lincoln House had a fairly large courtyard in the back of the property, it was in bad repair, and you could barely see it. In the middle of the courtyard was an area for entertaining, a large tiled patio, weeds and ivy were overgrown dropping down into the lot. We were poking around, trying to find a good place to start our afternoon work. The Lincoln House was a real chore; you had to watch where you stepped, or you might fall down into old foundations that were covered up, it included a small driveway leading into the courtyard. Old branches and rhododendrons ran a muck.

Suddenly Orson started to giggle, looked at me and waved me over to where he was standing, Smitty and I hurried over to Orson who was peeking through an opening in an old stone fence that surrounded the courtyard, we could see into the courtyard clear as could be, we could hear noise, what sounded like branches russlin’ and twigs snappin’. There in the middle of the overgrown patio was a beautiful girl, maybe around twenty or so, modeling, sitting on a brand new shiny silver chopper motorcycle, striking up a provocative pose, an old van was parked off the back road, the doors were open and two long 2 x 6’s were laid out in the back of the back bumper in helping wheel the shiny motorcycle out of the truck, she was barely wearing a tiny black bikini, well-endowed wearing black high heels, she seemed to be showing off her features pretty well, she was tall, had shapely legs, long brown hair, busy posing for the photographer who was clicking away with his camera while his assistant held flashes and lights.

We laughed and peeked at them for a good minute or two, Ron Ronstien started to howl with laughter. We tried to get him to stop laughing, begging him to be quiet, shortly the photographer and his assistant came walking over to the ivy covered fence that we hid behind, we poked out of the bushes and smiled, the model in the bikini looked mad, she stomped over to the van and grabbed a robe, she looked perturbed.

The photographer was wearing jeans and a worn t-shirt; he had a beard and looked like Jerry Garcia, his assistant had long hair, wore worn shorts and a t-shirt, held a flash in his hand. We tried to wipe the smirks off of our faces, Orson laughed.

“What are you kids doing here!” barked the photographer. We looked at him, stepped back a bit in not knowing for sure what he and his assistant were going to do to us.

“We, we, well we’re clearing out the land for Mr. Eric Ladd! He owns this property,” shouted my friend Smitty. He looked at us and then looked at his shapely, upset, snittie model.

“Oh don’t worry honey baby, these boys will be gone shortly, just relax, things will be fine, and why don’t you put on some of that pretty red lush lipstick you have? You look wonderful you’re a goddess, you’re a princess a true angel!”

She looked agitated as we stood there. We had never seen a scantily dressed girl sitting on a chopper on the Lincoln House property before, it was a bit of a surprise.

“My names Jeff, my assistant here is Harold, we’re shooting photographs for a major, major, heavy duty major motorcycle magazine, and Peaches Lature here is modeling one of the new choppers for our shoot. You turds should get lost. Doesn’t she look great boys, a real honey if there ever was one! We felt that this location was perfect; do you think Mr. Ladd will get mad at us for shooting this here, we will only be here a few minutes more?” He chewed on a cigar as we kept looking at Peaches.

My friend Orson looked at the photographer and asked, “So you’re not doing a shoot for Calvin Klein?” We laughed.

“You know we just don’t see this kind of thing very often in this part of the woods, ” said Ron.

“We thought you might have been a couple of raccoons in heet, or maybe shooting a Twisted Sister video,” I jokingly said.

“I thought you may have been doing a Felinni film,” replied Smitty.

His assistant started to laugh; Peaches looked disgusted, and acted like she had a bee in her bonnet, she looked away.

We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders, we were dirty, covered with blackberries and leaves, and we kept laughing and continued to stare at Ms. Lature. My friend Smitty started to wink at the voluptuous young girl; she looked at us in anger and made a face. Jeff walked over to the chopper and pointed to the flash units, his assistant fiddled with the gadgets, Peaches took her robe off and climbed on the shiny chopper. Jeff started to shoot as his assistant held the lights. Smitty, Orson and Ron just smiled as I giggled. Within a fifteen minutes or so they finished their shoot, rolled the chopper into their van and drove off, Peaches flipped us the bird as they drove off.

Eric eventually sold the homes and his property, developers restored the buildings, and they now house lawyers and businesses in the area. Eric Ladd wound up living in his condominium project down on N.W. 21st, he passed away in the mid-2000.

I’ll never forget Eric Ladd; he was part of another time in history while growing up here in Portland. He helped bring historical preservation to Portland, I think he was a bit ahead of his time, matter of fact I know he was. I think he’d be surprised in what has happened to the Goose Hollow over the years. It now has light rail, new buildings run along S.W. Jefferson. I was glad to have met and worked with one of Portland’s original visionaries. We never told him about the encounter with the motorcycle photographer, his assistant and peaches Lature, I think he may have found it to be a funny story

H1Shaw Island

“It’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going too.”

Day 1.

Left Portland, Oregon early in the morning, overcast out of the Rose City, started heading north up I-5, left around 9:00 A.M. or so, made it to Seattle, Washington, got through noon hour traffic without a hitch. The sky broke, clear blue skies as I continued north towards Anacortes, Washington. Made it to the ferry boats around 1:00 P.M. Parked and waited for the boat taking me west. The ferry boat “Evergreen” stopped in and picked me up, a huge double decker, quite a few people were at the ramp waiting to go to Orcas, Lopez, Friday Harbor or Shaw Island. There was rust on the boat in a few spots; it looked like smooth sailing during the ride to Orcas.

I was glad I made it up for this four day camp, I love camping, one of the best ways in which to see sites in the west. The San Juan’s are one my favorite places to explore, knew what to expect in drifting around the islands, knew the weather could change instantly, hoped that I wouldn’t have too many problems on this excursion. I love the San Juan’s; they always have something new to offer. Love the farm land that stretches in front of you, rambling on for miles, the fact that people wave to you as you drive your car along the roads and by ways is pretty special. Some people like to island hop, I was going to visit Shaw, Orcas and Lopez islands with this short trip.

Anacortes is a great little town, cute cottages and shops dot Main street, the people were friendly as I stopped in to get supplies at a few of the local stores, driving west towards the ferry dock you start to get wonderful views of the waters surrounding the islands, beautiful craftsmen homes, built in the 1920’s lead you to the big boats that cruise through the islands, taking tourists and people that live on the island to their appointed rounds. At the ferry dock they have a concession area, including a restaurant and gift shop. They have maps and information with all the islands. The total cost for the ride around the islands is around $40.00.

After an hour or so in waiting for the ferry boat I drove my car on to the huge boat, got the first spot up front on the first deck, great view of the San Juan’s right from my front seat of my car. The ocean air felt great on my face, gulls swarmed around flying in all kinds of directions. You could see Orcas Island off in the distance, the clouds rolled in almost creating a thick fog around the islands. You could see Mt. Constitution off along to north of the horizon, towering up through the thick clouds that circled around Orcas island. I was planning on biking up to Mt. Constitution the next day; it’s always a challenge in biking up to the top of the mountain, it’s a big hill.

Before I left Portland I had packed my tent, camping stove, folding cot, spare clothes, sleeping bag, kitchen utensils and portable radio along with an ice chest full of food, it should last me at least four days on Shaw Island. I loaded my Fuji cycle cross bike on the back of my car. Shaw Island is remote, I had been there before and knew what to expect. We floated over to Orcas Island first, the wind smelled of the sea and firs that grow on the islands; it seemed to waken me up after the four hour drive from Portland. I started taking photographs with one of my digital cameras. I always seem to pack more clothes than I need when I go camping.

I had been to Shaw Island, back in 2006, been through the islands camping with my good friend Dan Wade. Knew that the island was less traveled, there’s a general store and that’s about it, there are eleven camp sites located at the county park, I was hoping to get a spot, they don’t take reservations on the island, the sites are situated about two miles due east of the ferry landing. I had biked through Shaw Island on my bicycle six years earlier, knew about the deer, orchards the wide open fields and forest.

We floated over to Orcas, fog horn blasting away in letting everybody know that we had arrived, I waited for passengers to unload and then after about fifteen minutes we were heading out over to Shaw Island, just a few minutes away, directly to the S.E. I was excited to get to Shaw Island; it had been a long day. When we got to Shaw Island I drove my car off the boat and stopped in to the general store. I got to know the owner, Steve his name was, he had bought the store nine years earlier from the nuns that had owned the island, the Benedictine nuns had run the store in the past, and they still have a convent located on the island. The store was built in 1926; it has wood floors and an old black Labrador in the front of the store, happily barking and wagging its tail. The store has a soda fountain in the back. Old wooden slats hold the store together.

“Can you get ice here?” I asked the owner.

“Yep, we have ice.”

I picked up a bag of ice and packed it in my cooler. I pulled the plug on the side of the cooler, letting it drain the melted ice. I had brought more than enough food for the trip, everything looked so fresh in the countryside, the late summer sun cut through the firs and shinned down on the sprawling meadows.

I headed south on the main road out along Blind Harbor, down to where the road connects with Squaw Road, I traveled down towards the east end of the island, the road sort of twists and curves around family farms and orchards, I passed by boats in Blind Harbor Bay, it’s a beautiful bay, sail boats are anchored a few hundred yards off the shoreline. I meandered through one hundred year old apple orchards; saw young deer feeding on the red ripe apples. The yearlings looked like little kids at the candy store, ears floppin’ around, hoping and jumping, all in order in getting a tasty bite from one of the delectable morsels. Everything is so wide open on the island, no traffic.

In talking with the locals I could tell they wanted to keep the island pristine, they wanted to keep it the same, didn’t want change and they don’t want growth, they were wary of visitors. I talked with several people, families, that had pioneered their way to the island, going back almost one hundred years, I loved the cabins and cottages, the marine life was active, noted ravens and hawks in the air, big blue heron balancing on one leg, standing in the water along with sea lions bobbing in the water and barking.

I think that September is a great time in camping on the islands, the weather is usually good, not many campers and you don’t have to contend with overcrowded sites or traffic. It was pretty quiet most of the way on the trip. I’d love to build a home on Shaw Island; according to some of the locals it’s pretty hard to get the permits to build anything on the island. Large homes sit on large acreage on the south side of the island. I stopped and looked at the landscape, took photographs.

Drove down to Indian Lagoon, finally made it to the county park, it was getting along in the late afternoon, I reached the campsites, there were six campsites on the east side of the main road, out along Indian Lagoon, out along the bluff, looking out to the peaceful waters, the calm waters, five camp sites on the west side of the gravel road that are situated in a small forest. The county park sits along Indian Lagoon, offering sandy beaches and allowing access to the ocean if you want to canoe or kayak.

I spent the night in campsite number six, located on the east bluff, had views of the moon that night, watched it set, the reflecting light was cast down on the lagoon, a clear night the first night, no clouds. It was memorizing, I had a great campsite, and the fire roared in the fire pit as I ate some chicken I had brought, made a small salad, munched on some big oatmeal cookies and gulped down a good amber beer before I hit my sleeping bag. The moon casted silver ribbons of light glistening on the surface of the water, sea lions barked, a slight breeze picked up.

Got my tent situated, unfolded my cot and spread out my sleeping bag, slept on and off through the night, rustled out of my sleep a few times, once by deer trying to find bits of scrap, a few hours passed and was woken by one of the local ferry boats, drifting through the islands, you could hear the engines helping propel the boat along, a soft hum, the huge vessel wasn’t located more than an eighth of a mile off shore, it was lit up with bright lights decorated around the outside. I woke up and poked my head out of my two man tent, I was half asleep, rubbed my eyes, yep there was the ferry boat, it reminded me of the big stern wheelers that drift on the Mississippi, it conjured up a few memories about Tom Sawyer, Huck and Jim on the mighty Mississippi. I sat there and watched as it rolled off in the distance. It was great, I went back to sleep and snoozed.

In talking with locals you could see their pride they have in their island, Shaw Island is inhabited by 250 people. Bill Gates owns a secluded home on the N.E. section of the island. Shaw is quiet, peaceful, tranquil, from the campsites you can hear the tide roll in.

Day 2.

Looking back I think the campsite I had was one of the best camp sites in the San Juan’s, isolated, private, quiet, and inexpensive. The sites overlooking the bluff have trails that you can take down to the lagoon, Canoe Island sits right out in front of the campsites, I’d say about two hundred yards off shore, directly due east, it’s a small island that makes the spot a bit more remote and private, providing you shelter from the wind and rain. The sites have water, firewood for sale, restrooms, no public showers, in order to grab a shower try taking the ferry over to Lopez Island; in Lopez Village they have free public showers, right in the middle of the village, in a small park. The campsites are located right on the bluffs, offering sandy beaches, you can take a swim if you want to, I waded in the water, it was cold, not too cold though, cool enough to swim in. The beach spreads out for a couple hundred yards or so, the tide went in and out causing hypnotic sounds throughout the night. I could see that there were four or five other campers on the island.

I got to chatting with one of the park rangers, Katie was her name, she was really kind, asking if I had enough wood, was there anything I needed with my stay, she thought that I might have the entire island to myself for a few days, I liked the sound of that, nice to have an entire campsite to yourself. She lived over at Lopez Island; kayaked over to Shaw to her job every morning, made sure everything was in order with the campsites and then she would kayak back to Lopez. It took her around a half hour to float between the islands. She was really thoughtful and she checked up on me while I stayed through the rest of the week. The campsites were in perfect condition. The county park has a large field that has a small enclosed cabin, open to the public, providing a fireplace and water in case the weather is bad.

I made some coffee in the morning, poured some cereal and ate a blueberry muffin. I pulled a map out trying to figure out which way to go with my ride that lay in front of me, trying to find roads, or landmarks that wound through the countryside on Orcas Island.

I moved my campsite across to the other side of the road when I first got up that morning, I camped in camp site eleven, a larger, bigger camp site, providing more shelter from wind and rain. It took about fifteen minutes in setting up my site. I’d be taking my Fuji cycle cross bike out for a spin that day, I put air in the tires, cleaned the chain, put water in my water bottles. I had planned on biking to the Shaw Island ferry dock and then taking my bike on the boat, pedaling around Orcas Island for most of the day, I’d head out and bike over to Moran State park and then up Mt. Constitution. I might be traveling about fifty miles or so I figured. I had plenty of food, packed a sandwich, a ripe pear and wore my rain gear. I was warm, covered from head to toe, no signs of moisture.

I locked up my car, made sure everything was tucked away, most of the people left the campsite that morning, heading to other islands or back to Seattle. I loved the campsite; it was perfect, nobody was there when I left that morning.

I started on my way, the first few miles I traveled through forests, lush meadows, heading west to Blind Bay Harbor, had to make it to the ferry dock around 10:00 A.M or so, had my back pack, packed up with food and my digital camera. As I headed towards the general store, traveling along the road looking out towards Blind Bay Harbor I stopped at an old orchard on the east side of the road, noticed young deer in the orchard along with an old house that sat in the middle of a large field. A pack of deer were gathering around a few of the trees, having a fine feast, not paying much attention to me as I stood there with my camera. I thought it would make a nice shot; I rarely get a chance in seeing so many young deer feeding. Just as I was adjusting my lens I noticed a large woman, a woman screaming at the top of her lungs at me. She was huge, and seemed to be a bit mad at me.

“You can’t take that picture! You can’t take that picture! You, you, I, I, I didn’t give you the authority in taking that picture!”

I looked around in making sure she wasn’t talking with somebody else. She was a mad large woman wearing a big blue skirt that completely covered her legs, draped down below her ankles, she wore a blue denim shirt and a dark blue bandana wrapped around her head big head, in one hand she carried a long pole, maybe eight feet long, seems as though she was cutting down the apples in the orchard and letting the deer feed on them. She seemed to appear out of nowhere as though she was hiding behind one of the trees waiting to spring out and yell at me. I thought she was going to hit me with her long pole, the pole had clippers attached to one end of it, a rope followed the pole down to her other hand, a large pruning pole I figured. She continued to yell at me and run around in her field. I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

I looked at her and calmly spoke and tried to gather my thoughts.

“I don’t know who put the bee in your bonnet ma’am but I’m visiting here, camping down the road, I just wanted to take a photograph of the deer feeding, where I come from you don’t see this many deer too often.”

She became beet red, steam seemed to come flying out of her ears.

“I don’t care what you have to say there buddy boy, delete that photograph now!”

I looked at her and then at my camera, I proceeded to delete the photograph and spoke to her. She gleamed at me, turning red and a few shades of purple, she was a true character, she lived off the land, lived in an old cabin over grown with black berry bushes, she was big as a caboose, and she crept closer, waving her pole at me. She had a big nose and tiny little squinty eyes; her face was scrunched up from yelling and carrying around her pole.

“There I’ve deleted the photograph!”

“Fine, I’d appreciate it if you would kindly leave.”

I looked at her, looked at the deer that had gathered around her. I thought she might be the keeper of the deer or maybe the deer god of Shaw Island, watching over her flock, staff in hand. I swear those deer surrounded her and she stood there and started to huff and puff, she reminded me of Moses in away. She watched as I got on my bike and pedaled down toward the general store. I waved to her and smiled.

When I got to the general store I told Steve the owner of the general store about my chance encounter with the keeper of the deer.

“Oh yes Grant that would be Ms. Ritter, everybody knows she’s nutty, nutty than a fruit cake, she barks at everybody, the Seattle Times came up here a few months ago and did a story about her. She’s lived on the land with one of her girlfriends, they had a falling out and split up, her parents owned that land for years, she’s a recluse, and she won’t allow anyone on her property.”

We laughed about my introduction to Ms. Ritter and I sat on one of the wooden benches that nestled up along the docks, a few minutes later the ferry boat arrived, around six cars drove down on to the docks, I was waved on to the ferry, the state workers scurried about, if you bike or walk on the ferry boats that travel the islands you can travel almost anywhere for free, it’s a great way to see the islands. I headed over to Orcas Island, it stretched out in front of me, I took pictures as we traveled along the outer western part of the island.

Within fifteen minutes we arrived at the town of Orcas, it’s a quaint little town, lodges and motels drape down to the docks, cute restaurants and bed and breakfasts are built along the hillside, I biked up a small hill off the dock, wanted to make sure I had the right road, once I got my bearings I darted to the east, grinding away looking for Orcas Island Drive, then out to Olga Drive, headed out towards Moran State park. It takes about an hour to get to Moran State park from the Orcas ferry dock. You travel through fields and farms, creeks and ponds that dot the land. The road stretches on for miles, cows, sheep and other livestock inhabit the island. I ran into other bikers traveling around the island, usually people wave as the pedal along, Orcas is so majestic.

As I approached Moran State park young deer started to dot the roadside, bucks and does, continually flicking their ears as I went by. The ride seemed fairly long; I wanted to make sure I had time to climb up Mt Constitution and make it back to the ferry boat later that afternoon. I made it to the gates of Moran State park within an hour or so, it’s a great park, dark forests nestle down along the north side of the park with the scenic Cascade lake that spreads out to the south part of the park. The park is named after the former mayor of Seattle, he originally owned timberland on the island and use to harvest the firs that grew on the island dating back to the 1880’s, he’d cut his trees in helping construct massive sailing ships. As I traveled through the park, heading due east, I finally came to the road that takes you to Mt. Constitution, up to the highest point in the San Juan Islands.

I’ve climbed up this road before, on my bike, it takes a while in getting to the top, sometimes it seems like your traveling forever up on this swerving road, a cold wind and light dew started to fall, making it much harder to head up the steep hill, it became a bit more difficult as I kept heading up what seemed a never ending road. I kept climbing up, up, up to the top. I actually climbed through clouds that had gathered around the mountain. Vistas and beautiful scenic views popped up from time to time. After a few minutes, small lakes and fields sprang up as I forged up the road, the views to the south and east are spectacular. Always climbing, huffing and puffing to the top of the hill, people waved from time to time as I continued the climb. I started to reach the top of the mountain. At the peak there is a small gift shop, restrooms and tall Douglas fir trees that surround the parking lot. The famous stone lookout tower is located a bit further to the north of the parking area; it stands out climbing up to the sky, giving you a great view of the islands. It was early September and it was cold, colder than it should have been, it reminded me of the fall, clouds continued to roll around and the mist fell, the wind howled ducking in between the dark green trees, gray rocks and boulders stuck out dotting the hillside.

I took photographs and ate my lunch when I reached the top; I found an old wooden bench and I sat for a while before taking on my descent down the hill, as I headed traversing the road I rolled along golden meadows. I headed down the hill, down, down, down, twisting and turning, cruising past Moran State park, I went by the ranger’s office and headed back down along Cascade lake, traversing the park. I got back to the town of Orcas, traveling the byways that ramble through large farms and ranches, got back in time to take in the town, stopped and grabbed a coke at one of the little stores by the harbor, before the ferry boat left for Shaw. I had gone for a fifty mile ride that first day I figured, toured all around Orcas Island with a heavy back pack, I was good and tired, talked to a few locals on the docks, soon the ferry boat was there, I boarded the boat and took the huge boat carrying cars, bikers and hikers over to Shaw; it took about fifteen minutes, I road my bike off the ferry, passed by the general store and waved to Steve, pedaled back to my campsite. The ride on Orcas was epic, I figured the ride took about five hours with touring the island. The clouds started to burn off; I finished the chicken from the night before, loaded up on water, changed into some dry clothes and washed up, listened to my radio for a while and went to bed right after night fall. The sounds of the fire crackling in the fire pit along with the the sounds of the ocean made for a wonderful night of sleep. I was amazed at the birds on the island, spotted wood peckers, and osprey. The ferry boats woke me again around 4:00 A.M. in the morning, the lights shinned bright, and you could see reflections of the boat in the water. I fell back to sleep for a nice snooze.

Day 3.

Woke up to clear blue skies, there is nothing like clear blue skies when you camp, not a single cloud in the sky. Made some coffee, grilled some French toast and looked at riding over to Lopez Island, I figured it would be around a forty mile ride that day, twenty miles out and twenty miles back to Shaw. I looked forward to taking a hot shower in the village.

Katie, the friendly ranger stopped in and checked up on me, it was nice to know she would pop in and see how I was doing, I was camping alone and it was reassuring in a way. I asked her about the history of the campsites, she proceed to tell me that around 1890 the locals that lived on the island wanted a county park, the land was owned at that time by the U.S. military, they sold sixty acres to the residents, the locals paid $75.00 for the land. What a deal! I thanked her and got my bike ready for the ride. I laid out some of my damp clothes in the warm sun, left them hanging over my tent hoping they would dry out in the next hour or so.

The ferry boat for Lopez left around 9:30 A.M. that morning. I put on my bike gear and headed down the gravel road, biked along the harbor and dropped into the general store. Grabbed some bananas and packed them away in my back pack. The ferry boat arrived and I rode up onto the big double decker boat that plodded through the water, it was sunny and warm. The ride over to Lopez took about twenty minutes. I took in the sites of the San Juan’s as we past smaller islands along the way. I could see Lopez off in the distance, could barely make out the boat ramps. I had camped on Lopez several times through the last five or six years, had camped at Spencer Spitz and Lopez Farms (a small private campsite nestled in a big meadow.) Lopez is around thirty five miles in circumference, fairly flat, with old gravel roads that stretch to the far side of the island.

I got to the ferry dock on Lopez, biked up a small hill and then headed through fields and forest, curving through the countryside, a few rosters cackled at me as I spun by. I decided I would bike around the sights and sounds of the island first, then head into the village, the island is so pristine, old farms and homes dot the island, it took about an hour, maybe a little longer to take in the entire island, soon there was the small town of Lopez Village. It’s a great little village, consisting of a few homes, stores, restaurants, coffee shops and a small park that has public showers. The showers are free, nice and warm. I brought a back pack and some clean clothes, headed to the inviting showers, let the warm water cover me, scrubbing away, I must have taken a good ten minute shower that day. Shaved, brushed my teeth and went over to one of my favorite coffee shops located not more than thirty yards away from the showers, after having a much needed coffee I road over to the local market and got a few things, took a few photographs, got on my bike and headed back to the ferry docks. I waited about an hour before the friendly ferry bumped up along the docks, boarded the boat, looked back at Lopez and floated back to Shaw Island. I really love Lopez Island, it has always been such a nice place to visit, the people are friendly and the weather is usually really nice in late July and September.

Got back to my camp site, nobody else was there, it was dark, I lit a fire and made some soup, toasted some cheese sandwiches and wrote in my journal. Listened to the Oregon Duck football game on my small radio, glad the Ducks won that day, glad to hear that Oregon State won as well!

The stars were out that night, a terrific constellation provided me with a fine show that night, the moon came out and lit up the sky. Deer showed up after my fire went out, I could hear them doing a little dance next to a field that butted up against my campsite, I could see their silhouettes up against my tent, I didn’t move, didn’t want to scare them. At night, in going to bed I usually dressed up in a sweat shirt and wore warm ups and a pair of good wool socks. My sleeping bag was warm and I usually had a spare blanket to cover me up. The second night in sleeping was perfect; I even had some ear plugs in case I needed them.

Day 4.

Woke up to clear skies once again, I had lucked out with the weather, made coffee and a fire. I slept in that morning, I figured I covered close to nighty miles in the last couple of days with biking around the islands, I decided to stay at the county park that day, I wouldn’t leave Shaw, I wanted to explore the beaches, I wanted to walk around the lagoon, after breakfast I draped my sleeping back over my tent, letting it air out and organized my clothes and ice chest. I relaxed, wrote in my journal after breakfast, a few sparrows hopped along the picnic table and picked at scraps of food, made sure I put out the fire and headed across the gravel road and then made my way down to the beach. Not a single person was in the campsite other than me, it was perfect.

I waded in the water, soaked my feet and tired legs, they were sore from the rides that I had done, suddenly out off in the distance, off of Canoe Island there was a large orange canoe heading my way, two young guys around twenty five were busily paddling, huffing and puffing along in the still waters, trying to make their way to the inviting beach. I looked at them, and waved, I could tell they were exhausted from their trip. They looked like they were in good shape, they looked curious when they saw me.

“Welcome! Welcome to Shaw Island,” I said.

They smiled and looked around.

“Where are the campsites?” I pointed up to the bluffs not more than twenty yards up the hill.

“Nobody is here, you’re not going to have a problem spending the night.”

They smiled, dragged their canoe up to the bluff, they had stuff bags and supplies. Within twenty minutes or so they had set up camp. I walked over to their campsite.

“Why don’t you guys head over to my site tonight, I have a few beers and will make a fire, I have some chips and salsa.”

“Sounds good,” They replied as they smiled and unpacked their belongings.

I walked down back to my campsite, cleaned my bike, oiled it, checked the gears and brakes, everything was fine and ready to go with the ride the next morning.

I spent the rest of the day taking photographs, writing in my journals. I decided that the next day I would ride around Shaw Island, there were a few roads that went down the southernmost tip of the island and a few roads that went to the west. I cleaned out my ice chest and made sure the food was good to go. I made some spaghetti, had some tomato sauce, salad and bread, I put a few cold ambers on ice.

The night settled in, shortly bright stars started to sparkle in the sky, twinkling as bright as could be. I put on a fire, and made sure I had enough wood to last a few hours. I had brought a portable lounge chair, put on a sweat shirt, warm ups, some clean socks; I sat bundled up warm and dry as could be. I found a good radio station playing some soft jazz.

Around eight or so the two kids that had canoed in that afternoon came walking across the road and made their way to my site. They sat around the fire, and I offered them a couple beers. They were bundled up and gazed into the fire, almost drifting off as we started our conversation.

“Grant I’m Ian, my buddy here is Dan,” I shook their hands and sipped on my beer.

They went on to tell me that they had recently graduated from college, lived in Seattle and had taken the ferry boat over to Lopez Island from Anacortes. They had set up camp on Lopez the first couple of nights and decided to head over to Shaw Island. Dan was big, he looked like a football player, had graduated from Whitman College, studied political science, Ian was tall, good natured, had graduated from Seattle University had studied environmental services. We striked up a quick conversation, they had never been to Shaw Island, and I told proceeded to tell them what I knew about the island. We had the entire camp ground to ourselves that night. Dan took a long stick and poked at the fire, it kept us warm as we sat there, talking about current events and music.

“We’re heading out early in the morning; we want to go down south on the island.”

We were enclosed in my camp site; the tall firs seemed to wrap their arms around us. I told them of the deer I had seen. Dan looked at me and started to smile.

“Grant call me Tank.” I looked at him and asked, “Why do you want to call you Tank Dan?”

He looked at me and started to tell me the following tale.

“Well Grant I was raised by my father, a Lutheran minister. He put me in summer camp when I was eight; we had a great counselor named Tank that summer. He was the coolest guy in the camp, he taught us how to tie knots with rope and showed us how to tie fishing lines, he taught us how to read the stars and navigate the seas. All the kids loved him.All the kids loved him. I want people to love me the way they loved Tank.”

He looked at me and smiled after he finished his story, “I want you to call me Tank Grant. Please?”

I thought it over and nodded my head in agreement.

We sat there for a good five minutes not saying a thing, one of the ferry boats started passing in the night, it fascinated them. We started talking about Mark Twain. We laughed, telling stories of Huckleberry Finn, Dean Moriarty and Tom Joab.

They went on to tell me they liked Jimmy Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies. Told them I had seen Buddy Miles the drummer with Band of Gypsies back in 1982 or so. They were amazed when I told them of this fact. Ian told me he played guitar.

“He’s really good Grant! He can really play the guitar” barked Tank.

We talked about Django Reinhardt, told them he was my favorite guitarist. Ian had just checked out a few of Django’s records at the library and pulled them out. We started to play his mesmerizing tunes.

We talked about what their generation was facing with the national debt. We talked about the state of the economy, Afghanistan, and the changing weather patterns. We sat quietly once again as we looked at the clear dark blue night, it was great. It was Zen like, a moment in time forever sketched in my mind.

We continued to chat into the night, I looked at my watch, and yawned, it was close to 11:00 P.M.

“I should get to bed guys.”

They looked at me and agreed, made their way across the county road holding their flashlights in their hands, kicking small rocks across the road. It was a great day, no rain, no wind everything was dry. I looked over at them and waved.

“See you later Ian, see you Tank.”

I fell asleep pretty fast that night, I had a great night with sleep, had a dream about an old girlfriend.

One of the great things about camping, about sleeping under the stars, when the moon lights up the sky, like a bright ball, the water glistened, creating visual images that fade and twist in the water, not a cloud was is in the sky that night. The young guys were great company that I could tell they appreciated the hospitality.

I thought to myself as I went to sleep, “Ha, ha, ha, he wanted me to call him Tank!”


Day 5.

Woke up early on Monday morning, it was sunny, a perfect day once again, the best day camping by far. I poured cereal, noticed fresh deer tracks in the dirt surrounding my fire pit. Made coffee, looked over at where Tank and Ian had been camping, they were gone. They did leave early, most likely before dawn.

Ate breakfast and checked out the map with the island. Soon I was on my bike, I headed south on my bike, out on Squaw Bay road. Went due S.E. along the contour of the island, the first mile of the ride is really nice, passing through old orchards and fields. Followed Squaw Bay, went out to the outer part of the island. Shaw Island is about fifteen miles round. The convent still stands near Squaw Bay, the nuns live there. They own several acres, they have livestock and orchards, and fields that roll through streams and creeks, old wooden fences follow dusty roads, it sits on a beautiful spot in the island, surrounded by forest and deer. I left around 9:00 A.M., noticed old cottages that dotted the landscape, old family farm homes, horses and lamas seemed to flourish through the countryside. Made it to the farthest point due south, there are some nice homes on this part of the island, remote homes. Headed north, made it to the point in the island where you get to the old historical two room school house. The library sits kitty corner of the school house. Kept biking to the community center. It’s a nice community center, small offering a few things to the locals; it sits right smack dab in the island, a big pasture sits on the other side of the road. Went along Blind Bay road. Wound my way down to the campsite, nobody was there. Got done with the ride in about two hours or so, took some great photographs of the landscape on the island as I plodded along the old country roads.

I changed in to some dry clothes, I started to break down my camp and head back to Portland, packed away everything into my car. Cleaned my bike, made sure my campsite was left spotless. I spread out a wet towel in the back of my car, covering the ice chest, I didn’t have to many things that were wet, hardly anything to speak of. Looked around one last time, nobody was left in the campsite, I drove down to Blind Bay Drive, made it to the ferry docks and the general store. I was early, decided to park my car and wait. I went over to a little park across from the general store and sat on a wood bench in a tiny little park that looked out to the still quiet waters of the San Juan’s.

Noticed an old grizzly guy sitting over on a bench, striked up a conversation with the old islander, he looked like something between an old cowboy, an old fisherman and an old wise hobbit, he had an old gray beard that hung down, wore a cap on his head and was missing a few teeth. He looked at me and spat on the ground, rubbed his forehead and started to ramble away.

“Ya’ been campin’?”

I looked at him and he started to kind of suck on his gums asking me questions and eying me up and down.

“How long ya been here?” he said as he flapped on his gums.

“Oh I’ve been here for about four days or so,” I replied.

He scratched his head, kind of tilting his hat to the side as he looked at me.

“Did ya’ get to see the sites of the island, Purty island ain’t she?”

I looked at him and nodded with agreement.

He wasn’t more than five feet five or so, his clothes were worn, and it looked like he had been working on something that must have been a big chore, maybe working on a farm or maybe doing work on one of the large homes located to the south side of the island. I tried to answer all his questions.

“What cha’ been doing?” I asked.

He fumbled around in his pockets and pulled out some chewing gum and popped it in his mouth.

“Oh, I insulated a big new home over near the community center. Just finished the job this morning, had been workin’ on it for a couple weeks, I’m heading over to San Juan Island, back home to my sweetie-pie.”

I told him I was from Oregon. He looked at me and shot up in the air a bit, blinked his eyes and kicked his right foot out, almost like he had been stung by a bee.

“I lived in Eugene for a few years, use to fly  helicopters for a couple of the big logging companies outside of Eugene, I helped lift logs off the land,” He smiled at me.

I told him that I had a friend out of high school that died logging, died while he was tying a choke, the cable snapped and hit him in the neck, snapping his neck instantly.

He looked at me, “Yep it can be real rough logging, sorry about your friend.”

We looked out at Orcas Island. I thought of John Monague, my friend that had died logging.

The 4:30 ferry boat started to approach the island, was heading over from Orcas. When the boat arrived it was scheduled that we would head over to Orcas and then head to Anacortes, then drive down 1-5 to Portland. I loved my camping trip to Shaw. I’ve camped on Orcas, camped on Lopez, I have to say that Shaw Island is my favorite island with camping; it’s rural, small, and peaceful. The locals were real nice, real friendly, the county park was a great place to camp and explore.

I wish that the community of Shaw Island would look at putting showers in at the county park or maybe even at the community center. Maybe look at allowing a brew pub would be pretty cool, maybe call it “Shaw Island Brew Pub?”, have it look over one of the rolling meadows, with a big beer garden and play music on the weekends. I can understand why the islanders want to keep the island the same. They want to preserve the past, leaving things the same after for other generations to enjoy. I doubt if the nuns would want to allow liquor on the island. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to drive for almost four days once I set up camp, that I biked everywhere I went, it was fun, liked meeting Ian and Tank. I love Shaw Island and look forward in staying there again, I hated to leave.

I wound down through I-5 heading south, down through Seattle; the trip down from Anacortes to Portland took about four hours that day, drove down through Tacoma and Longview, through Woodland and Battleground, down to Vancouver and finally making it in to Portland, made it through the cars driving to fast, made it through the traffic and the madness of the big cities. It had been a great camping trip, was rested and I wished that I could have stayed longer on that magical little island.


In May of 1968, I was ten years old. I attended Chapman Grade School. I was in fourth grade. I had lots of friends back then, friends from all kinds of socioeconomic backgrounds. I was active in the cub scouts, played little league baseball, and took art classes at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. At that time, it was located up on NW Culpepper Road.

One of my good friends back then was Kendall Perryman. Kendall and his brother Randy lived up on NW Westover, just a few blocks away from my mother’s apartment. Kendall was my age, loved sports, and loved to clown around. His brother Randy was a really great kid, a few years older than his brother. He looked over us younger kids with a watchful eye, making sure we didn’t cause too much mischief. We played tackle football in their mother’s yard, played street hockey, wrestled and had a great time.

Kendall’s mother had divorced a few years earlier, was single and kept active raising her two boys. Around the winter of 1968 she remarried, sold her house, and moved her family into her new husband’s home near what is now known as the Hoyt Arboretum.

At that time, the arboretum had a nine hole golf course called the Hoyt Arboretum Pitch and Putt. It was a popular spot for golfing at that time, especially if you were a kid. It was a tricky little par three course. We use to play there ever so often. The course was hilly with gopher holes and had old Douglas firs that surrounded the grounds. In the late 1970’s, the Vietnam memorial was built on the land and the golf course was closed down.

One day while we were at school, Kendall ran up to me. He was excited. “Grant, do you want to spend the night on Friday?”

I looked at him and thought it over. “Let me ask my mom. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

After school that day, I dragged my books home and waited to see if I could spend the night with Kendall. When mom got home, I popped the question. “I don’t see why not,” replied my mother.

While sitting at the kitchen table, deeply involved in doing my homework, my mother was reading that day’s Oregonian newspaper. On the front page was a picture of Bobby Kennedy. In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was running against Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey with the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Both Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy were scheduled to speak that day. On the Republican ticket you had Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater running for their party’s nomination. It was a heated battle. To this day, many people believe Bobby Kennedy would have taken us out of Vietnam much earlier. It was a great time in American politics. Locally you had Tom McCall, Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield in the forefront of Oregon politics. “Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy are going to give a speech at the Portland Zoo on Saturday afternoon. Kendall, Randy, and you ought to go see them speak,” noted my mother.

The Portland Zoo wasn’t located more than a few blocks from the arboretum. As a matter of fact, it was located right next door to it. Friday night rolled around. I packed my things, jumped in my mother’s Volkswagen, and headed up to the Perryman’s. Kendall opened the front door of his house. I ran up and went inside.

Mrs. Perryman was making dinner. “Hello Grant!” she said as Kendall and I wrestled in the hall.

“Hello!” I yelled as Kendall got me into a full nelson. We ran into Kendall’s room and started to plan the next day. Randy came in and sat on the edge of Kendall’s bed. I looked at Randy. “Do you want to hear Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy speak?”

“Yep, sure do!” replied Randy. If I remember right, they both were going to speak that Saturday afternoon in front of a large crowd. They were scheduled to speak in front of the polar bear cage near the main entrance of the zoo. That night we were so excited. We decided to get a good night’s sleep, get up early, and get a fast start on the day. The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn. We rushed through breakfast. “I’ll bring the football so we can throw it around!” screamed Randy.

We flew out the door and ran down the street toward the zoo. We proceeded to go down the path that cut through the golf course. We ran across the street that led us to a small field next to the zoo. “One Mississippi! Two Mississippi! Three Mississippi!” yelled Randy as I hiked him the football and ran out for a pass.

It was a clear day that Saturday, a beautiful spring day. Cars were pulling into the parking lot next to the field that we played in. Some kids ran up and joined in our football game.

About an hour had passed when I suddenly looked over towards the street next to the field that we were playing in. In what seemed like a New York minute, a black convertible Lincoln Continental passed right in front of us, in the back seat was Bobby Kennedy! He was waving at us as we played. Kids started to scream. Some of them ran out in the street running after his car. I thought this one kid was going to wet his pants. “It’s Bobby Kennedy!” screamed Randy. He started to run around in circles.

I couldn’t believe it. I had just seen Bobby Kennedy! I started to jump up and down waving to him. Everybody went nuts.

Before we left Kendall’s home that day, Mrs. Perryman wanted us to be home by noon. She clearly told us that she wanted us three boys back home for lunch that day. I looked at Randy. I hated to ask the question. “What time is it?”

He looked at me with a painful look on his face. “It’s noon!”

“We better get back to the house or your mom will get pissed!” Randy and I started to head back to the house.

“I’m going to go hear Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy speak!” shouted Kendall.

“Kendall, mom will get angry at you. You better head home!” shouted Randy. Kendall didn’t even think twice. He took off running down the street and darted off to the zoo.

Randy and I slowly headed back to their house, walked in the kitchen, started to eat lunch, and tried to explain to Mrs. Perryman why Kendall was tardy for lunch that day. If I remember right, she looked at us and shook her head in displeasure with the actions of her youngest son.

About an hour later, Kendall came walking down the driveway of his home. He had a huge smile on his face in total nirvana and his shirt was decorated with several McCarthy and Kennedy buttons. He proceeded to tell us of his exploits that day. “I ran down to the zoo after you two left and I was one of the first people to get in line to hear Bobby Kennedy and McCarthy speak.” Randy and I looked at each other in disbelief. “I got there right in the front row! Eugene McCarthy waved to me, gave his speech, and there were people screaming and yelling! It was so much fun!”

I started to sip on my soup. “Photographers were there. They took our photographs and they gave their speeches, waved, and drove off!”

Randy looked like he was ready to explode, his temper got the best of him. “Okay Kendall, so you saw Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy! Big deal!” yelled Randy. You could tell he was angry.

I felt bad that I wasn’t able to catch a glimpse of these iconic political figures. Soon, my mother pulled up in her car and we headed back home. I fidgeted while telling her the story that day. I went on and on about the events, about how Kendall saw Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy speak. I went into detail about how Bobby waved. “My, isn’t that exciting!” my mother replied.

A week or two passed and I got a call from Kendall. “Grant! Grant! My picture! My picture, I…I… got my picture in Life magazine!” shouted Kendall. I could barely hear him talk, he was so excited. My mother had subscribed to Life magazine for years. I always loved the photography in the weekly publication. Well I thumbed through the June 7, 1968 edition of Life and there, right before my eyes in a large color photograph on page 38 and 39 was Eugene McCarthy in front of the camera. Several polar bears were roaming around, almost smiling for the photographer. I blinked in astonishment because in the front row, sporting a big smile and standing as proud as could be, was Kendall Perryman! I sat there and my jaw must have dropped to my knees. I remember asking myself, why did I have to go back to the Perryman’s that day and eat that lousy bowl of soup and miss out on all the fun? I could have been in Life magazine!

About a week later, shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by an assassin after giving a speech at the Ambassador hotel. I was in shock. Most of the kids in school that day cried in the hall. It had to be one of the worst days of my life. I remember how sad I felt. I cried for days. Looking back, I was so lucky to have had the chance to experience the thrill and to feel the excitement in the air that day when these two political figures. Looking back, it was one of the best days in my life as a kid in Oregon.