Grant Keltner

The Wayne/Chapman Murders

The following story is based on a true set of murders that took place in Portland, Oregon years ago.  Not many people remember the crimes, I suppose it’s a mystery in a way in who committed the murders, nobody knows for sure what happened that terrible night, they were shocking crimes, some said it was the end of innocence in Portland, a double homicide, it took place back in the early 1960’s.

Through the years, I had heard of the murders when I was a young kid while growing up in N.W. Portland.  I was told spooky, scary tales with the grim details, they frightened me, people who lived in the neighborhood down through the years, bits and pieces of facts, stories that would scare anybody I suppose, especially a young kid, nobody ever truly knowing in what happened that fateful night.

People started locking their doors; things had changed in the neighborhood.  The murders involved a young couple, a few kids were held in jail and charged in committing the crimes, the authorities could not prove they were guilty and let them go a few years later.  The names; well the names have been changed in order to protect the innocent.  I hope you enjoy the following tale, it’s pretty gruesome, a story of a horrific set of murders that happened a long, long time ago, up in Forest Park, near Inspiration Point, they happened on a cold, wet fall night back in 1962.

It was early October in the year of 2014, I was restless that night, I told myself I had to get out of the house, I had been working hard that day and I needed to have a beer and I wanted to take in a football game.  I had not been out in a while; I needed to stretch my legs I told myself.  The colors of fall had set in, the leaves were in full color, and the nights were getting cooler as foggy white misty clouds rolled through the Douglas firs and Maple trees that covered the rolling deep dark hillside of Forest Park.

I meandered here and there through N.W. Portland that night, saw some homeless old man trying to ask a passerby for some money, I just kept walking, not knowing where I was going for sure, hiking over the old gray cracked cement sidewalks that wined through the Nob Hill neighborhood.  I strolled past old homes carved out in the 1880’s and 1890’s, passing by at what at one time were grand old lumber baron and sea captain mansions, they were huge, massive old structures, they seemed to go on for blocks and blocks.  I walked down to the Nob Hill Bar and Grill on that cool crisp Monday night, I had just remembered, lucky me, it was taco night, I was glad, I decided to pop in; the Nobby always served fifty-cent tacos on Monday night.  I usually would buy six or seven tacos cover them with tomatoes, lettuce and cheese along with salsa sauce have a beer and I was a happy camper.  I decided I would find a seat and relax for a bit.

I enjoyed going to the Nob every once in a while, there were some true characters that hung out in the dark lit bar, some of the customers were drifters, others were regulars, neighborhood folk, a real cross section of people, it’s a sports bar and you could always find it crowded if there was a good game on.  Some customers were down on their luck; others worked graveyard at the ESCO steel factory or maybe worked at the Good Samaritan hospital located across the street on N.W. 23rd.

Through the years, I had gotten to know several of the customers that frequented the Nobby; I enjoyed talking to some of these folks more than others at times I suppose, some of the regular customers could get a bit grumpy, especially when they started to drink too much.  I had a few people chew me out at times through the years while conversing with a few of the local folk at the Nob, I told myself I didn’t want anybody to get starting on me that night.

I found a spot in one of the corners of the bar and started to watch a Monday Night football game that was on the big high def. television that hung down in front of me.  I was going to meet my mother that night.  She was getting off work and wanted to have dinner with me at the Nobby and watch the game.  My mother was a huge sports fan, I’d often take her to watch a game at the Nobby through the years.  A few of the bartenders knew her by her first name.  She would order a drink and get something to eat; it was one of her favorite spots in a pinch.

The bar was dark that night, I looked around and didn’t see anybody that I knew.  I watched the game and scribbled down some notes I had kept in one of my pockets, they were notes with a photo shoot that I was going to work on in the next few days.  I enjoyed photography, always had, I was making notes in making sure I had the correct address with the scheduled shoot and making detailed notes with F Stops and exposure settings, making sure I had all the correct equipment, I thought maybe I could review my notes as I sat sipping on a beer that night.

At that time in my life I was working as a photographer with one of the local newspapers based in Portland and had just finished a shoot with a story about a local politician that had helped fund a community center.  I had taken the photos that afternoon.  Soon mom walked in, she was wet from head to toe, I felt sorry for her, she was drenched, and she came in and sat down beside me.  “Man, it’s raining hard out Grant!”  She almost tripped on the way to the table I was sitting at.  She grabbed a chair, sat down and laughed.  I nodded at her, smiled, and continued to watch the game.  We looked at the menu, ordered something to eat, and chatted a bit.  We talked about the events in the day, how her work was keeping her busy, we talked about my writing and photography.

I’ve always enjoyed the local history of Portland, especially the history of N.W. Portland and occasionally I might be lucky in striking up a conversation with one of the well-known locals that frequented the Nobby and maybe have them conger up a conversation with me.  I knew of a couple older journalist’s that liked to hang out at the Nobby from time to time, maybe one of them would be around that night I thought to myself.  Through the years I had heard several stories about the history of the neighborhood while visiting the Nob, lots of the local history I know now was passed down through the customers that went to the Nob Hill, I always liked hearing them tell their tales.

Suddenly, one of the regulars that I knew walked in, he bumped into a chair, and almost fell over, he stumbled a bit and then bumped into a table and almost spilled a customer’s drink, it was Donnie Snell, everybody knew Donnie Snell, and he crept in the back door soon after mom had seated herself.  Donnie is a warm-hearted human being, a bit slow minded, uncoordinated, kind of an outcast, people poked fun at him, and at times he reminded me of Billy Bibbit, the character from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Ol’ Donnie grew up in N.W. Portland, went to Chapman Grade School, and then attended Lincoln High School and from there worked at the ESCO Steel Mill for several years up until he retired a couple years back.

Donnie was a proud American, loved his country, and loved N.W. Portland immensely.  I found it fascinating when it came to him knowing the local history with the neighborhood.  Why he even knew about the old prominent families and knew of the historical buildings that were built back in the area going back years and years ago.  He knew about all the street names and knew all about the facts with the local lore.

Donnie’s about sixty-five or so, stands about five foot eight, graduated from Lincoln High School in 1964 if I remember right.  I often had talked with Donnie about some of the local news events while he was a kid growing up in the neighborhood through the years.  He saw the famous Forestry Building fire when he was a youngster, knew about the famous baseball players that grew up in the area, knew both Johnny Pesky and Mickey Lolich while going to Chapman.  He knew about the local politicians and newsmakers of the day.

Donnie was a bit slow minded at times, weren’t his fault, according to him he didn’t get much love from his folks while he was growing up, according to Donnie his dad was always hollerin’ and screamin’ at him, he just never really fit in to well with people.  The way he seed it them people made him feel inferior in a way I guess, it was a shame the way those folks were always pesterin’ him so at times when he was growing up.  He seemed to be out of sorts when he talked to people, he was a bit nervous, kind of the runt of the liter I guess.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, please don’t misunderstand me, according to him he was the youngest in his family and he always got the short end of the stick.  I guess he had some agitating health issues when he was younger and it affected him.  Mentally at times he might seem a bit slow to some folk, didn’t bother me none.  He would twitch now and then, shrug his head and shoulders, or maybe forget the conversation from time to time.  Some of the regulars made fun of him, I always felt bad for Donnie, especially when some of the meaner folks that frequented the bar started in on him.  He always would ignore the locals when they got uppity towards him, then shrug ‘em off, I know he was kind hearted and always courteous and polite.  He was usually the scapegoat for some of the folks after they had a few too many beers.

In watching Donnie through the years I pretty much thought he was a loner in away, yep a social recluse you might say.  Usually heading home alone, no significant other in his life, and a bit of a drifter at times.  I would watch Donnie weave himself through a crowded bar or sit by himself.  He would stutter from time to time, his teeth needed fixing; he usually wore worn blue jeans, a Scottish golf cap and maybe a plaid shirt, maybe some old worn brown shoes.  He was scruffy at times.

He would interrupt you if he got on a roll with a story, he would go on for a while and tell a yarn or two or maybe a recollection about folklore in the neighborhood, he enjoyed the attention of a crowd when he got on with his famous long-winded stories.  I always enjoyed his conversation.  He would go on and on, it was hard to get a word in edgewise at times.  I think when he got people listening to his stories it set him free in away, once he saw the green light he would stretch a story out for what seemed to go on for days if he was given the opportunity.

His face was weathered; he had a scar or two on his hands, burned ‘em from working in the local steel mill I figured.  He had a scruffy brown stubble beard, had big dark bags under his eyes, he had worked hard his entire life, you could see it in the way his face was carved out.

Donnie came over and took off his cap with both his hands, bowed his head, looked down and seemed to almost to be apologetic in interrupting me as I sat there at the table watching the football game with mom and eating my tacos.  My mom smiled at him and looked over at me.

“Ah, ah, hi, Gra, Gra, Gra, Grant.  Ah, hello ma’am, why you must be Mrs. Keltner, Grant’s mom!”  Donnie stuttered, mumbled, and searched for words, he seemed to blush at my mom.  He kind of shuffled his feet as he stood beside me.

“Hello Donnie, how are you tonight?  Wet out isn’t it?”  My mother looked at him, “Well hello there Donnie, ol’ Donnie Snell, glad to meet you, won’t you have a seat, blow your nose, it looks like you have a man overboard.”  She smiled at me, turned and she smiled at Donnie.  My mom was funny.

Donnie beamed at me, it had looked like he had not spoken to anybody for a few days or maybe weeks for that matter, and I think he enjoyed knowing I was there this night.  He smiled and looked around the room.  He fumbled for a chair and began to sit down.  He reminded me of a child at times.  Stuttering and drifting on with his stories.

Suddenly one of the customers sitting at the crowded bar shouted at Donnie.  “Hey Donnie you owe me for the drink I bought you the other night!”  It was big Mark Tatter, one of the regulars.  I did not like Mark Tatter that much, came across as a know it all, was big, overweight you might say and smoked too much.  I hated talking to Mark Tatter, he’d always holler about things, I glanced away and looked at mom.

“Wha, wha, what’s happening Grant?”  I looked at Donnie and looked back at mom; his hair was thinning on top, sported a nice smile, and as I said he always took time in telling me a story.  He was a good listener, and if he got lost with a story that I was telling him he would look at me, tap me on the shoulder and stare me in the eyes and say, “Now wait, wait, now let me get this straight Grant, you’re sayin’ that this and that happened?”  I always enjoyed talking with Donnie, he’d always want to hear a good story, better yet be able to tell a good story.

Mark Tatter looked over in our direction and hollered even louder than before, “Ah, Donnie, you know good for nothin’ Wimpy, I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday freeloader!”  My mother looked at me “Who’s that Bozo?”  I shrugged my shoulders.

As far as I could tell Donnie Snell indeed was a loner or recluse, was raised by his folks who lived in the neighborhood going back to the 1940’s or so.  I do not know if Donnie ever had a girl in his life, I kind of doubt it to tell you the truth, I just think he was shy and unsure of himself, brought up to be respectful and found his adopted family usually at the Nobby or maybe one of the other bars in the neighborhood.  He told me he had a rough upbringing, I often wondered about the possible neglect he received as a kid, he reminded me of a punch drunk fighter at times, didn’t really know if he was coming or going.  People would point their fingers at him, make fun of him, and laugh.  I know it bothered Donnie at times, I watched his reaction, he let things fester up inside, then all of a sudden he seemed to shrug it off, don’t know if it bothered him, can’t say one way or the other, maybe didn’t matter know how.  Some people can take more than others, I thought to myself as he sat in front of me.

I was watching the Niner vs. Vikings game that Monday night, the Niners were having an O.K. year I suppose.  All of a sudden out of the blue Donnie Snell went on and on in telling me a story about some famous local family he knew, he went on telling me a story about a local family that he grew up with, he was going on and on and on about this damn family and their kids that he knew going back starting from the time he was in first grade.  I was not really listening to him.  I was drifting off back in time, all of a sudden he reminded me of a story I had heard when I was younger, and I started drifting back to the history of the neighborhood for some reason.  Donnie continued to talk as I kept trying to reach back in time and recollect back to a famous story that I had heard about when I was a kid, a story I could barely recall, it had happened such a long time ago.  I watched him as he sat and talked, mom yelled at the television, she was getting pretty involved with the game.  “Yay!” she screamed, it seemed like everyone in the bar turned and looked our way; Donnie was twitching a bit and rambling on and on and on.  His mouth moved and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, his lips moved as I tried to recollect back to a famous murder that took place in the neighborhood, it happened a long time ago, back in 1962, back when I was only four years old or so.  Oh I hated it when I couldn’t remember certain things, I knew I’d remember it, what was the name of those kids that were murdered?  Mom got excited at a play and started to cheer.  She clapped her hands.  I loved my mother.

My mother had divorced my father back in 1962; I was four at the time, she moved to N.W. Portland in 1963 and I started to attend Chapman Grade School in 1964.  When I was going to school back then families I knew in the neighborhood and their kids that I use to play with told me these far out stories about these terrible murders that took place.  I heard bits and pieces with the details of the gruesome crimes, they were passed along from their relatives and family members.  It had been a long time since anybody told me about the homicides.  I figured hardly anyone knew about the murders by now, time had passed by.  As a child I remember hearing long drawn out yarns about the way certain things happened that night up in Forest Park, the famous murder stories handed down through the years in the neighborhood when I was just a kid.

These stories always frightened me when I was young.  I guess they happened to close to home I suppose, after all they occurred only a few blocks away from where I grew up.  They took place up in Forest Park, up off of N.W. 53rd road, up in the dark part of the forest, in a secluded, cold, isolated old location called Inspiration Point.

The stories frightened me, they disturbed me, sometimes I couldn’t sleep at night in just thinking about the murders, especially when the wind howled at night and it was raining outside.  I’d lay awake a cry myself to sleep.  These were forgotten tales about young kids bodies being found, stories about a young couple, stories about them being sweethearts, bits and pieces of the story circled around in my mind as Donnie sat there telling his story rambling on and on, I thought he’d never stop.  Christ all mighty I thought to myself!  Mom glanced at Donnie, listening to him go on and on, she sat and watched the game and nodded at Donnie every so often as he rattled away.  Damn!  I wanted to remember the story.

I looked at Donnie, he had finished his yarn, seemed about a year since he started his story.  I sat upright and looked him square in the face.  All of a sudden I remembered the details with what I was trying to remember with that long forgotten story.  It was like I had just woken up, a light went on in my head.  Mom looked startled.  I looked at Donnie, “Donnie, Donnie, do you, do you know about the Wayne-Chapman murders?”  I had remembered now, I had remembered the story!  I felt relieved.

Donnie, well Donnie looked at me, flinched, made a face, he looked at me, flinched, sat back, shook his head and stared at me, then looked at mom.  He looked startled and a bit surprised at me.  “Ah, well ah, I uh.” was his reply.  He seemed to withdraw from the conversation.  He sunk down in his chair.  He blinked his eyes at me, mumbled a bit.  He took a look around, almost wanting to check and see if anyone else was listening.  He scratched his head.

He leaned over at me and whispered, I could barely hear him, and his breath was bad from smoking.  “Grant, how, why, why, how, well how do you know about the Billy Wayne-Mary Beth Chapman murders?”  His mouth dropped open as he looked at me.  He drooled a bit, mom made a funny face.  “Do you need a napkin Donnie?”  He wiped his mouth.  He had a blank look on his face, he started to twitch and could not sit still in his chair, and he was revved up that was for sure.  He grabbed his cap and rolled it up in his worn hands.  My mom looked at me, kind of frazzled in a way.

“Why Donnie, you know I grew up in this neighborhood, and let me remind you that as a kid I first heard about the stories with those murders back around in 1964 or so, I was probably four or five when I heard those stories.”  I looked at him, “I knew families that told me about the tragic events, the whole neighborhood was in an uproar about those murders, lots of folks were afraid in letting their kids roam around at night.  I remember the articles and I remember how scared people were.  Mom was frightened by the murders weren’t you mom?”  Mom looked at me, “Oh my yes, the Wayne-Chapman murders, boy do I sure remember them, wow, wowwie wow wow!”

“Oh, yeah, yeah I, I, I remember now, huh,” Donnie replied, he looked at mom and then back at me shaking his head.  He flinched a bit and looked at me once again.  He seemed agitated.  He seemed to be wrestling with his thoughts, flipping through his mind, sifting through his files inside his brain checking through unturned folders in what he knew about the murders.

“My mind is a bit groggy; a bit foggy, a bit frazzled, a bit discombobulated mind you, it was a long time ago!”  He fidgeted around a bit, put his hands in his pocket and fumbled around, pulling bits of tissues from his pocket and wiping his nose.  “The Wayne-Chapman murders happened back around 1962, my mind is groggy and I’m trying to remember all the details Grant, it’s hard to recall the entire story, it was such a long time ago.  They were a young couple, went to Lincoln High, lived in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood, or somewhere near Sylvan if I remember, they were dating back in high school, they were sweethearts, Wayne was the boy, Chapman was the girl.”  He looked out the window and then looked at me, and then at mom, he started shaking a bit.  “They were gruesome murders, why geez, they were stabbed, mutilated, raped!”  I sat there and looked at him, I let him go on yappin’.  “They were out on a date, cruisin’ in his dad’s Ford, or Chevy, ah hell I can’t remember what kind of car it was, story goes they went down to S.W. Broadway and cruised like most teenagers back then.”  He looked at me, “Can, can you buy me a drink Grant, heh, huh?”  I looked at Donnie; he had a nice smile and looked at me with sympathetic eyes as almost as though he hadn’t had a drink in a few years, he reminded me of a puppy that hadn’t been fed.  I waved at the bartender and ordered Donnie a fireball, his favorite drink.  He smiled at the drink and swizzled his swizzle stick and licked the cinnamon from the edge of the glass.  He grinned at me and sang a little tune.  “Doddlie Doddlie Doodlie Doo.”  My mom laughed.

The bartender came around and looked at mom, “Can I get you something else to drink honey?”  My mom laughed, “Maybe a small draft if you don’t mind.”  Within an instant the bartender brought back mom a beer.  She started to watch her football game.  She looked at me, “I don’t think that Kapernack kid has it anymore.”  I always thought my mother should have married a football coach.  She loved her football.

Donnie went on and on in telling me what he knew the best he could recollect.  I knew that once I got Donnie Snell rolling on about a story that there was no stopping him from tellin’ a tale or two.  “Yep, they went cruisin’ on S.W. Broadway one Friday night and it seems that the Chapman girl got into yappin’ with a couple of boys in one of the cars that pulled up beside them that night.  They were screamin’ and a hollerin’, seems the boys went to Lincoln High School and knew the young couple, maybe had grown up with them?  Guess they drag raced a bit, cruisin’ in their hot cars.  Donnie paused a bit as he sipped his drink.

“Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman exchanged words with those boys in the other car, got to cussin’ and a hollerin’ at each other.  One of the boys in the car that night was a kid named Jimmy Smith, and the other kid was a kid by the name of, oh what was his name, ah, Dan Carlson if I remember.”  Donnie took another sip from his drink and looked at me.  “Thanks for the drink Grant, sure tastes good.”  I nodded at him, he continued on with his recollection of what happened.

“Well, it seems as those boys racing around in the car that night told Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman about a kegger party up on N.W. 53rd, off of N.W. Cornell Road.  It was a secluded spot, in the thick of the cold dark forest.”  Donnie looked around and kept telling his story, he started shaking a bit.  “Wayne and Chapman went up to the kegger that night, I think they followed those boys in their car if I recollect right, they parked up there, they were hootin’ and a hollerin’, they partied well into the night, well, matter of fact they partied into the early morning.  The kids that had gathered at the keggar that night started to leave around one or two in the morning.”  Donnie scratched his head, stuck his jaw out, trying to look tough, looked around the room, and thought a bit, there was a pause.

“Hey Donnie, don’t forget you owe me a beer!”  It was Mark Tatter hollerin’ from across the bar.  He sat there with his big belly hangin’ over his pants.  He wiped his face and snarled at Donnie.  I looked at Mark and looked at my mother, she was staring at Mark, I slightly tapped her ankle with my foot, “Don’t stare,” I whispered.

Donnie looked at me, “The next morning the authorities found the young Wayne boy in his dad’s car.  He’d been stabbed several times, his head was crushed in.  Blood was everywhere, his body was badly cut, his body was found face down on the ground, and it was hard in identifying him.”  My mother made a face and then looked at me.  He continued, “The front window was smashed and a bullet hole was found in the front window.  The cops showed up along with news reporters, cameramen, the county medical examiner and curious locals along with detectives showed up.  People that lived in the neighborhood had seen the flashing red lights and sirens of the cop cars racing up N.W. Cornell.  They made their way up to the crime scene hoping to catch a peek at what had happened.”  I cringed in hearing the story, Donnie had done a good job in refreshing my memory with remembering about the famous murders.  The famous Wayne-Chapman murders.

“My mind is a little groggy like I told you with the story Grant, I’m, I’m, and I’m trying to remember.”  He rubbed his forehead and flinched a bit.  A pained look came across his face.  He looked up at me.  He licked his lips and pulled at his right ear.  His eyes were big an’ round, “They found the Chapman girl about a month later, she had been raped, and her body was disfigured, and stabbed, left for dead off of Highway 26, found lying in the mud.”  He looked at me.  He paused for a few seconds, “It was a terrible murder, I hate talkin’ about it Grant!”  I looked outside as leaves flashed by in the wind as it began to rain.  The wind picked up as a businessman walked by and grabbed his hat before it flew off his head.  My mom giggled.

“They arrested the two boys, the two kids that told the couple about the party, the Jimmy Smith, and the Dan Carlson kid, they arrested them back in 1969 or so, they didn’t arrest them for nearly seven years after the murders if you can believe that!  They only served a small amount of time, one was in prison for about a year and the other for a few years later and then released.”  He fidgeted a bit.  “The authorities didn’t have enough evidence, they released the kids, story goes the police misplaced files and medical records, or something like that, not enough proof and couldn’t pin anything on them kids.”

I looked at him a bit, he slunk down in his chair and looked at his drink, then stared at mom.  He continued his story, “Back in 1962, matter of fact the next day after the murders they arrested a guy by the name of Charlie, Cha, Charles, what was his name?  Oh yeah, they arrested a guy by the name of Charles W. Charles for the murders.  He escaped within a day or so.  Nobody knows how he got away.  He showed up in California around 1970.  He was being tried for a murder in California when they found him, a murder similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He died in the 1970’s.  I don’t think they ever really found out for sure who killed those kids.  I remember hearing stories and reading articles in the Oregonian and in the Journal newspapers.”  He looked at me, “My, my heads groggy Grant I can’t really remember all the details as I said.”

I patted Donnie on his shoulder, ‘You did fine Donnie, just fine.”

Mark Tatter got up from his chair and walked out one of the side doors to have a smoke, he past some gas as he walked by.  The big back door at the Nobby slammed shut with a loud thud.

I looked at Donnie and shook his hand, “Thanks Donnie, you helped me remember the story; I knew you probably knew about this murder.  After all it happened here in the neighborhood.  Pretty amazing that you can remember all this stuff, you’re invaluable, thanks Donnie!”  I looked at mom, she looked at me and said, “Isn’t it about time that we should be going?” she smiled and thanked Donnie.  Before we left Donnie asked my mother for her address.  I was curious as to why he’d ask for her address.  “I want to send you a Christmas gift Mrs. Keltner if that’s O.K.?  I like you and you’ve always been kind to me.  Would you mind?”  I looked at my mother as she wrote down her address on a piece of paper; it was a Radio Cab scratch pad.  She wrote her address down and handed the paper to Donnie.  “Your mother is so kind Grant; I want to send her a Whitman Sampler.”  We got up and walked out on N.W. 23rd and Lovejoy for a while and watched as the locals drifted by, the traffic rushed through the night, it was getting late in the evening, glowing orange and purple neon illuminated the night, I needed to get back home.  I thanked Donnie and waved to mom as she got in her car.  I smiled at Donnie, he looked at me and raised his voice, “Oh, oh, oh good seeing you Grant, I’m glad I could help you out!”  He crossed the street and waved again as he walked back home that night, he glanced at me a couple times as he headed north down N.W. 23rd.  It was dark and cold.

Later that night, when I got home, I did a quick Google search about the Billy Wayne-Mary Beth Chapman murders, I found several articles about the murders, many of the articles went into detail and remarkably Donnie’s recollection about what happened that eerie night was almost spot on, almost identical to what Donnie had told me.  It amazed me on how he could remember all of the details that night.

The murders were covered in all the local newspapers back then; it reminded me of a pulp fiction murder mystery in away.  A well know journalist had written a story about the murders a few years later and included it in one of his books.  I found lots of information on the internet about the murders that had been written.

According to the articles in the Oregonian and Journal newspaper it seems like the Wayne-Chapman kids were indeed young high school sweethearts, they lived in the West Hills, up near Raleigh Hills and the Garden Home area, a small community located just southwest of Forest Park, not more than three or four miles from the murder scene.  They had dated for a while and were out on a hoot that night, cruising around in the young Wayne’s fathers 1949 Ford Coupe.  They attended Lincoln High School.  According to a good friend that was interviewed, Wayne was a bit of a tough in school, a bit of a troublemaker and actually was known to carry a handgun from time to time, some kids said he kept it in the glove compartment of his dad’s car.  Nobody knew for sure.

The reports went into detail in mentioning that the Mary Beth Chapman girl was a bit of a rough neck.  Known to be loud.  I guess she was a bit of a rebel she was, seems as though she got around a bit, and it seems as though she got into a bit of a skirmish with some of the boys in that other car that was cruising along with them on that fall night.

According to the notes the police took, Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson told the young sweethearts about a party up on N.W. 53rd, told them of a remote place called Inspiration Point, a dark secluded area that local students that attended Lincoln High School back then would frequent from time to time.  The kids usually met there on a Friday night, would build a fire, have a cold keg of beer tucked in back of one of the trunks of the their

cars, twenty, thirty maybe forty people would gather at the keggers.  They would park their cars along side of the rocky, dirty beat up road located up off of N.W. Cornell, they’d gather and party in the cold, wet, dark forest.

Hoot owls would perch in one of the firs, critters would roam around; maybe a couple of deer would appear through the site.  The kids drank, and smoked, laughed, necked, and caused mischief, maybe smash a few bottles and holler.  They’d stand around the big fire and tell stories.  Their shadows would cast long shadows out on the hillside that overlooked them.  The local cops knew about the parties, occasionally they busted the parties up and would follow the kid’s home.

Well, seems the young couple showed up at Inspiration Point that night and that indeed they drank and partied through the night.  The next morning the Wayne kid was found stabbed twenty two times, poor kid, blood was everywhere and part of his head was caved in from a harsh blow, the Chapman girl was nowhere to be found.  About a month later a few kids found her body off Highway 26, up near the Sylvan area.  She had been stabbed, raped, her dress was ripped apart, and the newspapers reported the finding.

According to reports the police opened a file with the case, the medical examiner showed up, detectives, newspaper reporters arrived along with local residences, a few hikers that were walking by the Wayne boy’s car that early fall morning stopped in to take a look as an ambulance carried off the body of the young boy.  The police started to round up kids from the party from the night before, names were taken, and they slowly sifted through evidence, questioned people.

The police reports noted a well-known tough in the neighborhood was at the crime scene early that morning, the night after the murders.  The police gathered him in, he was arrested, matter of fact he was arrested the day after the murders, seemed the local authorities arrested a man by the name of Charles W. Charles, he was thrown in the Multnomah County Jail, after being arrested for about a day or so he escaped, and disappeared.  Seems as though Charles W. Charles was linked to a couple murders going back to Wisconsin and in Montana in the late 1950’s, and according to the records the murders back east were very similar to the ones committed that night of the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He did indeed escape from the County Jail; he drifted off in the night and never was seen around Oregon again.

Years later the police finally arrested the two boys that were cruising in the car that night down on S.W. Broadway, the ones telling the couple about the party, they arrested them about seven years after the murder.  The case dragged on and on.  The Smith kid served about a year in jail, the Carlson kid served about three years.  They were finally released due to lack of evidence, back in 1970 or 1971.  The police and local authorities never knew for sure who committed the murders that night.  It’s been a mystery to this day.  Almost fifty years after the fact.

I kept reading the reports and scanning through the headlines in the Oregonian and Journal archives, trying to find anything that could help me in finding out anything else that might shed light on this mysterious murder, it seems like the police lost valuable clues during the case, that there was a smear done on the Chapman girl, they lost some of the evidence, seems as though certain things disappeared.  The boys were thrown in jail almost seven years after the murders then released, and what about Charles W. Charles and his involvement, how did he escape the very next day after being arrested?

In reading through more of the news stories, it seems that this Charles W. Charles had been know in the area; was known to drink and have a few buddies that got caught stealin’ in the neighborhood.  I guess they used Charles spot for a drop off for their loot every once in a while, according to the authorities he had indeed been a suspect to murders in Wisconsin and in Montana and had drifted west to Portland, hoping to try and find a new life in Oregon.

He was at the murder scene the next morning, witnesses noted him, he was seen up on N.W. 53rd. he was seen walking around early in the morning, staring at the dead body lying by the car, and as I had mentioned police arrested him and he was locked up in the Multnomah County Jail.  The next day he escaped, vanished in thin air, nobody could figure how he escaped, he was found ten years later, in California, and he was arrested for a murder similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  A local reporter questioned Charles W. Charles about the murders, he never confessed to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He died in California’s death row.

So what actually did happen to Wayne and Chapman that night I thought to myself?  I kept going through the articles as I have mentioned, studied the evidence, and finally came up with a couple scenarios or hunches as to what may have happened the night of the Wayne-Chapman murders.  I began to write into the early morning.  I wanted to write a story about this famous local murder mystery.  I knew Donnie could help me if I ran into any issues with the story, he was a river of knowledge with the story.  How lucky I thought to myself.

I’d like to note, If you didn’t grow up in Portland, Oregon you wouldn’t have known that back in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s S.W. Broadway was “THE” place to be if you had a car and especially if you were in high school.  It was the most popular spot to mingle if you were out of a Friday night.  It was known for its cruisin’ and drag racin’ from time to time, especially on Friday or Saturday nights.  Rows upon rows of cars would cruise Broadway, people would yell and scream, laugh and holler well into the night.

I did my research; I started to compare notes and added up information.  I scribbled on napkins, I started to compile things together, I stayed up late at night and tried to imagine and surmise as to what could have had happened that gruesome night.  I thought about the Wayne and Chapman kids and their involvement, I started to piece together a few scenarios as to what may had happened that tragic night.  I thought it was odd that Charles W. Charles had been arrested the day after the murder of Billy Wayne.  How did he escape a day later, what about the Smith, and Carlson kids, the two boys that had told the young couple about the party?  Why were they arrested almost seven years later and then released?  As far as I could tell there were a few questions that needed to be answered to this puzzling case.  I sat up nights imaging what could have had happened that horrific night.

Well, after doing my research I decided to write a few scenarios down as to what may have happened that night.  The following sketched out story has to do with the first scenario in what I believe may have happened that cold, frightful night, the following story is based on facts with the possible involvement and arrests with Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson, the two boys that told the young couple about the party that Friday night.

Friday October 20, 1962.  Scenario #1 Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson.

It was a cool crisp night that night, wet and damp, thick mud lined the streets, leaves were changing colors, and darkness had covered the landscape of the West Hills.  If you walked outside you were sure to get wet feet.  Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman had talked at school that afternoon, met in the cafeteria at lunch, had planned on a date later that night.  They were young and in love.  They were both juniors at Lincoln High school.

Billy Wayne went home right after school, he had a few pimples on his young face, and he raced home matter of fact and got his best duds on.  He fussed with his tie, looked for a clean shirt, gobbled his dinner down in a few minutes, and franticly paced in his bedroom looking at his watch until it was close time to pick up his sweetheart.  He wasn’t that well liked in school, he had caused trouble and was known to get into a scuffle or two from time to time, so was his girlfriend.

“Hey dad I’m going to borrow the car tonight if you don’t mind!  It’s Friday and I wanted to take Mary Beth out on a date if that’s O.K.?”  The young boy grabbed a handgun he hid in his dresser drawer, loaded it with some bullets, tucked it in his coat and whisked off, slammed the front door, hopped in his dad’s car.  He rolled down the window of the driver side window and shouted to his father, “Don’t worry dad I’ll be home by midnight!”

Buddy Holly and the Crickets blared on the car radio as he sped off in the night.  He had snuck a few beers, they rolled on the floor of the car, as Billy swirled around corners leading to his high school sweetheart’s house.  Within a few minutes he pulled up to a nice older Tudor home located up off of S.W. Montgomery road, it was an upper class neighborhood, and the lawns were well manicured.  He pulled up in the Ford, combed his hair and, stumbled a few times and then rushed to ring the front door bell.

When he rang the doorbell the Chapman families Golden Labrador started to bark, a few voices from behind the door could vaguely be heard.  Mary Beth answered the door.  “Hey there Billy, watcha’ know?”  Billy laughed and gave her a kiss on her cheek.

“I know you and I have a hot date.  Let’s skedaddle out of here!”  He grabbed her hand, Mrs. Chapman waved and yelled to them as they ran to his father’s car.  “Don’t be late Mary Beth, don’t forget you have to help me in the morning!”

They piled in the car, turned up the radio as KISN radio, one of the local radio stations in Portland played a tune.  Billy looked around and pulled out a couple of the beers he had hidden underneath the front seat.  They laughed and giggled as they headed downtown.  Somebody lit a cigarette and fumbled for a lighter.

“Where do you want to go honey?”  Mary Beth smiled and rolled her window down as she guzzled on the cold beer.  “Let’s go downtown!  Let’s cruise Broadway sugar, yeah!”  She looked at Billy.  “I adore you Billy.”  They looked at each other and laughed.  Billy proceeded to head down S.W. Vista then turned to S.W. Salmon and headed east to S.W. Broadway.  Within a few minutes, they were on one of the busiest street corners in Portland.  There were hundreds of roadsters cruising the busy street that night.  Kids out on a Friday night, yelling, conversing, revving up their engines as people waved and gawked at the spectacle.  They turned right off of S.W. Salmon and headed south on S.W. Broadway.  Cars surrounded them on the one-way street, soon a shiny blue 1958 Buick with two boys in it rolled down their window and started up a conversation with the couple.  Seems they had known each other from Lincoln High School.

“Hey there freckle face strawberry Mary Beth what’s going on?”  Billy Wayne glared at them and barked back, “She’s with me turds!  Let her be!”  The boys got startled and started to laugh, revved up their engine and started to follow them along the jammed street.  At the south end of S.W. Broadway they turned left and started to go north down S.W. 7th.  They yelled back and forth, traded jabs with remarks, honked their horns, tried to act tough, but deep down a bit scared in not knowing what might happen that night.  Mary Beth looked at them and stuck her tongue out at the boys; the boys in the car were Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson, they attended Lincoln High School, they were out looking for action that Friday night.  They knew of the Wayne and Chapman kids, knew them from going to Lincoln High.  They cruised S.W. Broadway, finally Steve Carlson looked at the young couple, “Hey you numbskulls were heading to a party tonight, were heading up to Forest Park, up off of N.W. 53rd!”  Mary Beth looked at Billy, “O.K!  Will see you there!  Will follow you!”

The boys headed north and got out of the crowded downtown streets, the young couple followed them.  They turned up S.W. Burnside, wound through N.W. Portland, headed up N.W. Lovejoy, and then up through N.W. Cornell road.  They went through the two dark tunnels along the curvy road, the dark forest made it hard to see, they sped past McLeay Park, headed west up N.W. Cornell until they got to the intersection of N.W. 53rd, they climbed the hills, followed the two boys that had told them about the party.  They followed them until they reached Inspiration Point.  There were cars parked along the road, the boys pulled their car off to an old dirt side road, they turned off the engine, and turned off their lights, Billy parked his father’s car just a few yards away.  They were a bit giddy from the beer, off in the woods you could see a fire with twenty, or so people gathered around.  You could hear the wood crackle as the fire got more intense as they walked closer to the gathering.  From where the parked cars were was a trail, leading up to the group of teenagers, it wound through the forest for about one hundred yards or so.

“Come on!” squealed Mary Beth, she grabbed her sweetheart’s hand.  They headed down the trail.

“Hey, you two made it to the party!” screamed Dan Carlson, he was standing next to the fire with a couple kids on each side of him.  Dan and his friend Jim were drinking a couple of cold beers; you could tell they had a bit too much to drink that night.  They were smoking and laughing, telling jokes and guzzling their beers.  The crowd glowed in the orange light, the fire made strange odd shadows in the night.

“Here, here have a beer!” yelled Jim.  He tossed the couple a couple of beers.  They drank well into the night.  Kids were running around, yellin’ and chasing each other.  Music from one of the cars parked close by blared music in the night.  After a while the crowd started to thin out.  Some kids screamed and raced off in their cars.  Soon there were just the four kids left at the gathering that night, the Wayne kid, the Chapman girl, and the Smith and Carlson boys.  It strangely went quiet that night, the wind blew through the trees.  They started going back to their cars at the end of the night.  It was dark and kind of creepy somehow.

They took the trail going back to the car, the two boys closely followed the young couple, they followed them up to where the couple had parked their car, and they talked amongst themselves as they got back to the cars.  They looked at each other.  “Wha, where are you two going?” asked Dan as he moved his hand inside one of his coat pockets.  They got closer to the young couples car, Jim stood by Dan’s side as the young couple started to climb in their car, once they got into the car the Smith and Carlson kids all of a sudden attacked the kids while they had their backs turned, they beat them both senselessly, it went on for a few minutes They struggled and wrestled in the mud.  They screamed but nobody heard them.  The wind continued to blow in the trees.  Mary Beth tried to run but fell, Jim Carlson jumped on top of her.  Billy Wayne reached over and opened his glove compartment as the scuffle continued, he reached for his gun, he fired a shot, was hit hard in the head with a rock Jim Smith had picked up off the ground.  He started to stab the Wayne kid, he stabbed him several times, and Billy screamed, nobody heard him, he died in the driver seat of his car.  The Chapman girl was raped and beaten, they dragged her off and took her to the car the two boys had parked close bye.  They sped off in the night, they headed up N.W. Thompson road, down into an old farm off of N.W. Skyline.  They continued to rape the young girl and then stabbed her, they took the life out of her, they stood over the poor girl, and then they took her body up off of Highway 26, dumped it in a ravine, and pretended nothing happened.  They went home that night.

Early the next morning a passerby had noticed the car that Billy Wayne had been driving and went up to look inside, they found the Wayne boy lying face down, blood was everywhere, and the front window of the car was shattered by a bullet.  The passerby ran home and called the authorities as quickly as he could.  A crowd gathered.  Soon the radios and television stations spread the news.

The police called in suspects, questioned the two boys the next morning, and actually arrested a suspect by the name of Charles W. Charles, a known drifter that lived in N.W. Portland.  Seems as though Mr. Charles lived off N.W. Vaughn and N.W. 29th, down near the Industrial area, near Guilds Lake.  He had a small beaten up apartment, had moved from back east within the last year or so, seems that he had been questioned about two murders very similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders a few years back, the police had known about him.  A day or so after he was arrested he escaped, he vanished into thin air, never was seen around Portland again.  Ten years later, back in around 1970, authorities in Northern California had arrested Charles W. Charles, arrested him for murdering a young couple.  Reporters interviewed him and asked if he had killed the Wayne-Chapman kids, denied killing the couple up until his death

So, the police’s top suspect escapes and the two boys are arrested seven year later, the Smith and Carlson boys, one is released within a year or so later the other kids is released three years later, lack of evidence the police said.  The two boys drift out of town and nobody is ever heard from again.  How odd I thought to myself.

So, with this first scenario the two boys are to blame, they’re the ones that people thought murdered the young couple, most folks that heard or knew about the case believed the boys were the ones that committed the crimes.  Since bits and pieces of evidence did not add up or were found missing, nobody knew for sure what had exactly did happen that night.  They shut the book on the case and people within time forgot about the murders.

Friday October 20th, 1962.  Scenario #2 Charles W. Charles.

With the second scenario I came up with the following side to the tale as to what could have happened that frightful night.  This second scenario points out Charles W. Charles in being the main suspect with the murders.

So the young couple drive through the west hills and get to the kegger that night, they follow the two boys who told them about the party, the Smith and Carlson kids.  They party well in the night.  Unfortunately, the young couple does not know that their being watched that night, yep they were being watched by Charles W. Charles.  Hiding in the bushes he was, hiding behind a few trees, or boulders, after all he only lived a few blocks away from the crime scene, the kids never knew that he used this spot to observe and possibly kill his next victims.  Seems that he hid through Forest Park from time to time, it seems he watched people and possibly plotted out his next murders.  He quietly waits for the party to end that night.  He was clever and hid behind large rocks and shrubs, tip toeing, slithering around, the unsuspecting kids never knew he was there.  He was carrying a knife with him that night, he was soon going to kill the Wayne and Chapman kids.

Well Charles W. Charles watches the young couple deep into the night, had actually seen the couple a few times before while walking through the neighborhood in N.W. Portland.  He didn’t like the Wayne kid too much, thought he was a punk, figured him in always being a smart mouth and never giving anybody any respect.  As for the Chapman girl, he knew of her, he just thought she was a dumb kid that should keep her mouth shut and mind her own business.

So Mr. Charles watches those kids in the dark that night and as the party starts to thin out he slowly walks to their car.  He grabs his knife that he kept in his pocket, he slowly sneaks up behind them and hits the Wayne kid in the head with a rock and proceeds to fight with him, a shot is fired, the bullet glances and hits Charles W. Charles in the arm.  He kills the boy, stabs him several times, runs after the Chapman girl and rapes her, beats her and drags her to his car.  He continues to rape her into the night, he mercilessly kills her and dumps her remains down off a gully off of Highway 26, near the Sylvan overpass.

He drives home, cleans up his car and the next morning decides to walk up to the crime scene and see what the police are doing with the dead body he left behind the night before.  He laughs to himself.  The police note his presence at the crime scene, seems as though he was one of the first at the crime scene that morning, he was found poking around and finally the police decide to arrest him right there on the spot.

One of the local officers on the crime scene goes up to Charles and talks with him, “Ah, ah hey buddy, I saw you here, ah, ah what brings you up here?”  Charles becomes agitated and looks at the cop. “I was curious, heard the news on the radio earlier this morning.”  Within a few minutes, two cops have put handcuffs on him and are reading him his rights.  A squad car pulls up and they put him in the back seat, people watch as he’s taken away.  He screams and yells at the cops as he’s hauled off.

They take him to Multnomah County Jail.  He keeps arguing with the police, argues over his involvement with the murders.  “You guys don’t have anything on me, what’s the charge?”  They take mug shots of him, while their moving him to a more secure jail cell located downstairs in the basement of the County Jail.  He notices a door left open down the hall way and he escapes into thin air.  It baffles the police, he escapes and isn’t heard of again up until his arrest in Northern California ten years later, arrested for a murder very similar to the murders that took place in Portland with the Wayne- Chapman murders.  When reporters interview Charles in California he denies his involvement with the Wayne- Chapman deaths, the case is closed.  The murders remain a mystery to this day.

So I took notes and tried to surmise as to what may have happened that night.  After a while I came up with a few scenarios with what may have unfolded that night with the murders.  I scribbled down ideas and antidotes as to what may have happened that night.  I sat down and wrote a story as to what may have happened.  I actually went up to Inspiration Point and walked around the site where the Wayne kid was found in his dad’s car.  It felt eerie in away.  The trees surrounded me, the wind blew, and it got dark quick.

So I came up with these two scenarios, seemed to make the most sense as to who may have been involved with the murders that night.  It took a lot of hard work, I spent several months researching the facts and taking my notes.  I thought I might have a good story.  After a while I had gathered quite a bit of information.  I started to write page after page with the murders.  I found old photographs with the couple, photographs from newspapers articles.  I continued to write down my notes.

It was a Saturday night and I decided to head to the Nobby and have a beer.  It was near the end of November or so, I remember it being cold and remembered how fall had set in quickly, I took some of my notes with me that night and tried to find a seat.  I was hoping Donnie Snell would be at the bar, I thought I’d go over some of my findings with him and discuss the murders, I thought he might be able to add to the story I had written, I knew he’d be interested.

I walked in the door and I was in luck, Donnie was sitting in one of the tables in the back of the bar, sitting by himself with his favorite drink, a fireball.  I noticed him as I sat down.  He got up waved and started to walk over.

“Ha, hello, Grant!” exclaimed Donnie.  “Can, can, can I sit down next to you?”  I looked at him and nodded my head yes.

“Wha, wha, what you got there Grant?”  I shuffled through my notes and glanced over at him.  “Oh Donnie these are my notes with the Wayne-Chapman murders.  Don’t you remember when we talked about the murders about a month ago?  My mom was with me that night?  You remembered quite a bit of information with the events that took place; you helped me get started in writing a story about them.”  He blinked at me and rolled up his golf cap in his hands.  He looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet.

He gave me a hard look and stared a bit.  “Don’t, Grant, well, don’t you think, well Grant don’t you think you ought to just leave what happened in the past with those murders?  The police did their work, they couldn’t catch nobody, whoever killed those kids probably left Portland a long time ago,” He stared at me as I looked at him.  The strangest feeling came over me, a feeling as though Donnie knew something much more about the murders than I had suspected.

He glared at me, looked roughly at me, cleared his throat, and looked outside at a passerby.  He tapped his fingers on the table.  “I think your pissin’ in the wind, and if I were you I might just forget about your nutty story.”  I felt uncomfortable as he talked, he looked mean and worn out, I had never seen his bad side.  I could tell he had been drinking and was upset with me.

He tried to change the subject.  “Grant I wanted to send your mother a Christmas gift, last time she was here she gave me her address.”  I looked at him and thought it strange that he mentioned this, I tried to remember my mom giving him her address, then I remembered, that’s right he asked mom for her address last time I took her to the Nobby, the night Donnie told me about the murders, I remember now.  She wrote her address down and handed it to him while we were watchin’ that Niner football game that night, that’s right.

I looked at Donnie.  “Yes Donnie, mom still lives at the address she gave you.”  He looked at me and smiled.  “I want to send her a Whitman Sampler for Christmas; she’s such a kind lady.”  I smiled at him as he calmed down a bit.  He chuckled to himself.  I was fearful for some reason, I didn’t know why, he had made me feel strangely uncomfortable that night.  “Yes Donnie I moved back to her home a few months ago to help her, she’s had a few falls, and she can’t do certain things like she use too.  I moved back to help her, I’m sure you can send her those chocolates, she’ll love them.”  He nodded at me and wrestled around in his pockets and smiled at me.

Donnie looked outside and then glanced at me quickly, “Well, Gra, Gra, Grant, I have to go!  Again Grant I’d forget your crazy goose chase with the murders, who cares, that happened over fifty years ago, leave it in the past, be a good boy and let it be, that’s what I’d do.”  He bumped into a customer on his way out and turned around and looked at me.  “I’d leave what happened that night alone if I was you,” He walked quickly and headed out the door and drifted north down N. W. 23rd.

I thought about what Donnie had said, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he got so upset at me in writing a story about the murders.  I shuffled through my notes, stayed about a half hour and decided to walk back to my car, which I parked a few blocks away.  As I walked to my car in the dark that night I noticed footsteps, I glanced over my back three or four times as I made my way to down to my car.  At one point I swore I saw somebody run into the bushes, I thought to myself and got to my car, I unlocked the door and got in.  I sat there awhile seeing if anybody was following me.  I drove home and soon went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and went to work, in those days I was working for a local newspaper called the Northwest Examiner Newspaper, I was a photographer for the paper and wrote a few articles from time to time, covering local stories.  I had an assignment working on a new condo development taking shape off N.W. Thurman that day.  I called my editor and he paved the way for me being able to take a few photos at the construction site of the new development.  Around 4:00 P.M.  I got to the site and there were a few sharp dressed businessmen with hard hats on.  I introduced myself to them, took a few photographs of them holding shovels, walked the site, took a few more photos, jotted down some information, and then thanked them and left.

I arrived home around 6:00 P.M. Mom was standing by the door way, crying, I looked at her, she was visibly upset, I was worried, “What happened mom, what is it?”  She was beside herself, I held her as she cried.  “Oh Grant I went shopping this afternoon, wasn’t gone for more than a couple of hours, I get back and walked into the apartment and there’s a man in the dining room, he looked at me and ran out on the patio and around the bushes on the side of the house.  He dropped a knife!”  She trembled as I held her in my arms.

“Don’t be afraid mom,” I tried to reassure her.  “Did you call the police?”  She caught her breath and looked up at me, “I called them just before you got here.  I tried calling you, but you didn’t pick your phone up.”  I looked at my phone; sure enough there was a message from my mom on my phone.  Within a few minutes, the Portland Police Department showed up.  They sat down with mom and took notes.  “Will have a squad car keep a look out on your place the next couple of days,” noted the sergeant in charge.  My mother nodded her head.  “Good thing your son lives with you.  You might want to keep an eye out and give us a call if you notice anything suspicious.”  They looked around the apartment, took notes, and soon left.

I stayed up most of the night that night, watched over mom, made sure she got to sleep O.K. and went back to writing the story and checking the photos with my shoot that day.  I started to think about the intruder that stopped in on my mother that night.  Why would anybody want to break in?  He must have been watching the place whoever it was.  What did he want from my mother?  I slowly drifted off to sleep that night.

Next morning mom was in the kitchen making eggs, the television was on, “Mom, are you O.K?”  I replied.  She looked up at me, “I feel so much safer with you here.  I don’t know what he wanted, I guess I scared him off and he got startled and skedaddled.”  She laughed and went on cooking her eggs.

A week or so passed by, I turned in my photos with the condo developer story to my editor, Christmas was soon approaching, there were decorations strewn about, this told me Christmas wasn’t too far behind.  Mom decorated the house and we settled in for the holidays.

A few days before Christmas I decided to float by the 23rd Market, it’s located in the middle of the block, between N.W. Lovejoy and N.W. Marshall, located close to the Nobby.  I liked grabbing a sandwich, bag of chips and maybe a soft drink when I stopped in to the old market.  I walked up to the counter and gave my order.  I ordered a roast beef on whole wheat, cream cheese, with lettuce and tomatoes.  Nick was the store manager; he waited on me and took my order.  He was Greek and I enjoyed talking soccer with him.  “Thanks Grant here’s your sandwich, I think Barcelona will win on Saturday.”  He laughed and handed me my change.  It was around midnight, the streets were quiet, a dark rainy night, my car was parked around the block, down off of N.W. Marshall.  Christmas decorations were hung about on the old homes, bright Christmas lights twinkled bright.  As I was walking along I thought I heard somebody following me, I thought I heard footsteps, I thought to myself “Was I being followed again?”  There were a few sounds and then it went silent.  I turned to glance, nobody was around, and I got to my car and started it up.  Was my mind playing tricks on me I thought to myself?  I pulled out and drove back home that night, I felt uneasy as I headed home, I felt like I was being watched.  I soon got home, mom was up, and I told her about being followed.

“What, what’s going on Grant?  Why are we being watched?  What was that man doing around here?  I’m frightened.”  She looked out a window to check and see if anyone was around.  She went to bed and I stayed up to watch the local news.

Christmas soon rolled around and I was busy with a few photo assignments that I was working on and I continued with my notes with the Wayne-Chapman murders, they preoccupied my time.  I had just gotten off work and decided to stop in on the Nobby that night.  I felt uneasy, Donnie was there he looked at me and he quickly got up and left, not saying a word.  He ignored me, I thought it was odd, he just looked off and tried to avoid me.  I had a beer and left about a half hour later.  I thought about how strange it was in seeing Donnie act as though he didn’t know me, as if he had never met me before.  It was a Friday night and it was dark out, not many people on the streets.  I had parked my car a few blocks away, around the corner and off of N.W. Marshall as I usually did.  Donnie lived off of N.W. 23rd, at the cross section of N.W. 23rd and Quimby.

A few minutes later, as I was walking towards my car somebody popped out of the bushes a few twenty yards or so behind me, it startled me and I glanced back, I could hear footsteps, I really couldn’t make out the figure.  Soon, before I got to my car I could feel a gun barrel pressed abruptly against the middle of my back.  Whoever was holding the gun jammed it in my back as hard as they could.

“Get in the car!”  It was Donnie Larson, he shoved and pushed me in the car, and he jumped in next to me in the passenger seat.  He looked around in making sure nobody was following us.  I didn’t have time to react.  He held his gun in his hand.  “You wouldn’t leave things alone would you, you just wouldn’t leave things alone?”  He was mad and annoyed, I could tell he was drinking, I was surprised, Donnie wore a black leather jacket and some worn jeans, wore some old gloves and in his right hand was a revolver, I could see a knife tucked inside his jeans.

“Start your car up, were going to take a little drive, up to Forest Park, up to Inspiration Point.”  I started the car up and drove three or four blocks, drove up to the corner of N.W. 25th and Thurman.  I was scared; I could tell Donnie was upset.  “We want to head up towards Leif Erickson road, it’s up near the end of Thurman, keep driving dick weed.”  I looked at him, he was pointing the gun, and shaking a bit, he slurred words a few times.  Outside it was cold and the rain poured down on the windshield, the wipers moved back and forth, as car headlights casted long abstract shadows inside my car, we headed up Thurman.  I was afraid, didn’t know what to do, I kept driving, I glanced in the rear view mirror in hoping someone saw us as we got in the car.

“You just couldn’t stop with the Wayne- Chapman murders could you?  Could you!?”  I looked at Donnie, I looked surprised.  “Why, ah why Donnie I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  He leaned towards me and quickly hit me in the head, he slapped me upside the head with his gun, it knocked me to one side, and I grabbed my face and looked at him painfully.

“Donnie, wha, what’s going on, what are you talking about?”  He sat, and flinched at me and waved his gun around in my face.  He was mad, he was beside himself as I drove.

“You, you started to poke around,” he started to twitch, “Those kids deserved to die!  They use to make fun of me, they called me names, they use to think they were so frickin’ smart!  Well they aren’t too smart now are they?”  He came up close to me and started to scream, he spit on me as he yelled.  “I use to follow ‘em, I use to watch ‘em, I’d go to Forest Park and watch them from the woods when they had their fancy high falooten’ parties.  They never invited me!”  I looked at him.  It suddenly dawned on me that Donnie had killed those kids that night.  I started to panic, what was I going to do!  I started to think.

He looked at me, “I took care of them kids, and yep I took care of them good that night.  I showed them, I killed ‘em both, I stabbed them, I killed them!  I had fun with the girl!”  He looked at me.  “Those cops, ha!”  They thought the boys in the car or that Charles W. Charles character had killed ‘em, but no, it was me who done it!”  I flinched a bit.  I sat driving my car trying to find the right words to say as Donnie pointed his gun at me.

“Donnie, are you saying that you killed the Wayne-Chapman kids that night?”  He looked at me and made a strange face, “YES!  It was me that killed those kids you dumb bastard!  You never suspected me did you?”  He looked at me and tried to roll down his window.  “I was friends with Charles W. Charles!”  He looked proud while telling me his story.  “I met him one dark night while hanging out at Crackerjacks Bar, I was walking up on N.W. Thurman, he took me and showed me his place, he took me to his apartment, he’d buy me beer and play music and talk into the night, he introduced me to a couple gals he knew.  He showed me his guns and knives.  We had a fine time, he told me of how he killed a few people back east, told me how he escaped and drifted down the Columbia River to Portland, how he changed his name, that nobody knew where he was or what he did.”  Donnie looked at his gun and then looked at me.  ”You see the cops never figured that it was me that could have done a thing like that.  Guess I fooled them!  Ha!  I was sixteen when I killed them kids.”  He laughed for a few minutes, “They thought it was those boys or maybe Charles W. Charles.  Why, when those cops arrested Charles the very next day after they found the Wayne boy, why I heard they arrested Charles.  So I went down to the County Jail and I helped Charles escape the night after he was arrested.  I snuck down and I went through an old washroom and got inside the jail, why he was standing there waiting for the guards to throw him in a  more secure cell, I waved to him and he went slidin’ out a side door when he saw me, he waved and thanked me and ran off into the night.”  I looked at him, “Well I figured if Charles W. Charles escaped then there wouldn’t be anyway the cops could have figured it was me that killed those kids, ha, ha it was perfect!  Dumb bastards!  It weren’t the boys, that’s for sure!”  He started to laugh.

I sat there and looked at Donnie as I drove up towards the Thurman Bridge.  So it was Donnie that had killed the young couple that night, it had been fifty years since that terrible night.  He had gone fifty years in nobody suspecting that it was him.  “You want to keep driving up to where Thurman ends, stop at the parking area there near the drinking fountain, were going to take a walk up to Inspiration Point.”  He laughed and pulled a stocking cap over the top of his head.  “Those kids use to pick on me at school, call me names, and make fun of me.  Well they ain’t making fun of me no more are they?”  He looked at me and laughed, he went on with his mad laugh.  I sat there startled.  I didn’t know what to do, my head hurt, I had a welt on the side of my head where he had smacked me.

We crossed over the Thurman Bridge and got up to Willamette Heights, We kept driving up past N.W. Gordon and then came to the dead end on N.W. Thurman.  “Now get your sorry ass out of the car and toss me them keys to your car!”  I reached for the keys, pulled them out of the ignition, and tossed them to him.  He caught the keys and put them in his pant pocket.  He smiled at me.  He was becoming louder and more agitated.  I got out of my car, nobody was parked around the area.  We headed up toward the fountain and he stuck his gun in my back, “Now keep walking!”  We walked a ways, headed towards Cherry Trail, which would eventually take us up to Inspiration Point.

As we were walking I continued to talk to him.  “Why, why Donnie, why would you kill those kids?”  He stuck the gun in my back as we headed up Leif Erickson in the dark, the trail was only a few feet away.  “They made fun of me, in school they made fun of me all the time, they were mean, they teased me.”  He became more annoyed.  We kept walking in the dark, the wind picked up and an’ old dog started barking off in the distance.

“Stop, stop here Grant!”  I came to an abrupt halt.  We had come to the Cherry Lane Trail, eventually it would take us to Inspiration Point, we started hiking up a hill, the trail wound through the dark covered hills, off in the distance you could hear the sounds of box cars banging down in the Industrial area.  “I’m going to kill you Grant, yep I’m going to kill you you dumb bastard!  You know too much, you now know that I killed those kids!”  Suddenly I panicked, I turned quickly and grabbed for the gun that he was holding in his left hand, I raised his arm in the air and he fired off a shot.  We wrestled a bit and I knocked the gun out of his hand, it fell to the ground, I could not see where the gun fell, it was too dark.  I knocked him down and started to run down the muddy dark trail, back toward my parked car, Donnie fired a shot and I could hear the bullet wiz by my head, it bounced off of rock and I could hear it deflect and hit something else.  I ran back to the car, I had forgotten about the car keys, damn now what?

I started to run down N.W. Thurman.  I turned and watched as Donnie started up my car and started to race down Thurman after me.  I weaved in an out of cars parked along the street, I kept heading down towards the Thurman Bridge.  Donnie was quickly heading towards me, he side swiped a few cars and fired off another shot, I weaved back and forth, and I continued to run down N.W. Thurman, down toward the bridge.  It seemed like I ran forever, I remember feeling tired, and he kept chasing me.  Donnie yelled as he kept coming towards me in my car, swerving, he was mad, out of his mind, the front lights glared out brightly in the windy night, he was about a half block away from me and fired another shot as I approached the old bridge.

Just then the 6:30 P.M. Tri-Met #20 bus was heading up N.W. Thurman that night, I could see the lights as it approached the east side of the bridge, the bus was shortly going to pass over the bridge and head my way.  I had to do something as I thought to myself; I hid in some bushes and waited for the bus.  I stopped near the west end of the bridge, Donnie spotted me and started to head straight for me in my car, the bus crept closer and closer, he drove my car right towards me almost as though he was going to run over me, I could see his face through the front window, he was screaming.

Suddenly, without really thinking, I jumped in front of the bus.  The driver was startled and his passengers yelled, the driver of the bus slammed on his breaks and quickly swerved to the left and plowed right into my car.  It was a horrific impact, the bus veered to the left, the bus bumped my car, pushing my car, and Donnie up over the guard rail of the Thurman Bridge, my car flipped over the bridge, and I could hear Donnie scream as I watched in horror.

The car exploded and went flying to the ground below landing in a fiery heap.  Donnie burned inside the car, the bus came to a halt as I stood in disbelief.  People screamed and hurried about.  I ran over to the side of the bridge and looked down towards Balch Creek.  I watched as my car burned down below.  People on the bus continued to scream, the bus driver ran out and looked at me.  Soon there was a small crowd.  Donnie laid motionless as people started to gather.  The police arrived and soon I was taken down town for questioning.  I told them of Donnie, the murders, of how he confessed.  They had a hard time in believing the tail.

The police were in disbelief.  Donnie was the murderer all right, a neglected kid that was made fun of most of his life, poor kid had had enough and decided one night to kill the young couple.  He decided to help one of the suspects escape into the night, it was a perfect murder, up until I brought back old memories one night while sitting with Donnie at the Nobby.

I told the police how I had been writing a story about the murders, how Donnie helped me with facts and that since I got a little to close in finding out who had committed the murders that Donnie decided he was going to put an end to me.  The police came around to believing me finally, they went back to his apartment and found old newspaper clippings he had saved through the years, articles telling about the murders.  They found his knives and bullets, he was the one that murdered those two kids alright.  The police put an end to the case.

So Donnie had been there that night, watched those kids and followed the couple back to their car and then committed the murders, He helped Charles W. Charles escape and for nearly fifty years lived a pretty quiet life.  They took Donnie off to the morgue, he died of a crushed skull, and broken back and he burned to death in my car.  It took me a long time to get over what happened that night, poor soul.  Newspapers wrote about what happened that night, they went into detail.  Everywhere I went people wanted to ask me about the murders.  I suppose in time the stories will be forgotten.  For the most part the case was closed.  I have trouble sleeping at night at times, thinking about the murders, and thinking about Donnie.

As a kid, my father would tell me tall stories while lying up late at night in my bed.  He would tell stories about the west, tales of cowboys, cowgirls and assorted folklore and foibles.  The following short little yarn is from a bedtime story that my father used to tell me when I couldn’t sleep at night.  It always seemed to work in helping me get a good snooze.  I hope you enjoy it.

This little tale starts and curves, flows, and nestles along Johnson Creek, east of town, around Powel Butte, up over to a ranch on the west side of Mt. Scott, around and through to where the mountain touches the sky and the wind blows and whistles through the trees.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal lived up near the tall Doug firs that meandered up along the west ridge of the mountains on this particular noted location, sacred land overlooking the rolling creeks and streams that weave through the countryside.  Her spread faced out to the south, towards Clackamas County.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had freckles, wore western duds, sported a big ten-gallon cowgirl hat, wore a western shirt with glittering silver snap buttons, a sassy little blue jean skirt, and a pair of old brown cowboy boots that reached up to her knees.  She wore a blue bandana scarf around her neck.  Her hair was dark red, and she had cherry red lips.  She had a snow-white complexion and her eyes were bright blue and glistened like two car headlights beaming through fog in the cold Oregon night.

She had three brothers named Martin, Luke, and John.  They were noted for playing banjo, accordion, and harmonica.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had several horses (naturally), goats, chickens, buffalo, and a few roosters on her ranch.  She had an old International red tractor that she drove around the farm to do chores in and to haul hay and feed for her hungry livestock.  She drove a steam shovel and even had an old dump truck to do her grocery shopping.

Her cabin was made from the finest, oldest timber that grew on her land.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ helped cut and trim the fallen timber with a sixteen foot saw that was handed down from generation to generation.  They then took the logs and cured the timber to withstand the cold, harsh Oregon weather.  They took river rock from Johnson’s Creek and built the foundation for her cabin.  Her friends Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly helped her with the hardest of chores.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal was as big as a house and as tall as a young pine.  She liked to wrestle and roll in the mud with her cowgirl and cowboy friends.  She’d pick herself off the ground, take her cowboy hat, and brush herself off.  She came with the dust and left with the wind.  She had a pair of six shooters that hung above her fireplace.

Her parents taught her how to throw horseshoes when she was just a young kid.  One day, her Pa’ pounded two stakes in the ground about thirty yards apart under an old oak tree on the family spread.  He grabbed some old boards that he had in the garage for the backboard of the horseshoe pit and measured out a specific area for players to stand in.

When she was ten or so, her Ma’ bought her a pair of horseshoes for her birthday, small horseshoes that were made for a small Shetland pony.  They fit in her hands just right.

“You get one point for the closest horseshoe thrown to the stake, two points for a leaner, and three points for a ringer!” squawked her Pa’.

You could hear the clank of the horseshoes when they hit the stake as she practiced.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal learned to throw the horseshoes high up in the air.  She learned to throw the horseshoes just right, in the shape of an arc when she released them.  They would hit the ground with a thud, roll, and dart close to the stake.  Her friends loved to gather after school just to watch her toss the pieces of handcrafted iron.  They watched right up until she reached the score of twenty-one.

As she got older, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal got horseshoes that were bigger and heavier.  Once in.  While, she wrestled one of her horses to the ground, took a piece of rope, tied the scared animal’s legs together, and took off the horseshoes right then and there…right off the startled horse!  She took the new horseshoes and headed over to the horseshoe pit and practiced.  She wanted to be the best horseshoe thrower in the state.

She was painting her family’s old shed one day when her Ma’ came running around the corner of the cabin.  “Sal, Sal!  There’s going to be a state competition in tossin’ horseshoes!”  She looked surprised.  “Yippee!  Yippee!  Yahoo!” exclaimed her Pa.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal ran and grabbed her best pair of horseshoes.  “Pa’, can we pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease go to the state fair!  I can win the horseshoe contest!”

Her father rubbed his shin, squinted, scratched his head, spat on the ground, and looked at her.  “O.K. Sal, you can go but ya’ better practice.  You have about one month before the competition!”

“Yippee!  Yahoo!” shouted Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.

For the next few weeks she spent all of her spare time tossing horseshoes in her big backyard.  Her trusty dog Sam would run after them.  Once, he got in the way and was hit in the noggin’.  “Yowie!  Ouch!  Yahoo!” cried Sam.  He learned not to get too close to the horseshoe pit.

Sal practiced and practiced.  She practiced until the horseshoes got too heavy to throw and her hands turned red.  She practiced leaners and throwing ringers.  She would throw all kinds of tosses.  Her friends would watch in amazement as she refined her technique.

Finally the day had come.  They woke up early that day and ate a big plate of pancakes.  The state fair was held in Salem and Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal gathered all her family and friends, jumped in her dump truck, and proceeded to head down to Salem.  Her father grabbed his old cowboy hat and away they flew down the road.  Dogs and chickens chased after them.

Sal, Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly made sure she had all of her horseshoes.  She had some beautiful horseshoes, some of the rarest in the land, some made as far away as Pendleton.  She wore her finest clothes, a bright white cowboy hat with a long feather in it, a beautiful white scarf, a bright blue cowboy shirt with silver snaps, a red denim skirt, and white cowboy boots.  She painted her horseshoes red, white, and blue.

The truck wound down I-5 toward the state capital.  People waved as they saw Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal and all of her friends and family in the dump truck.  They soon arrived in Salem.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal jumped down off the truck followed by her friends.  Sam, her dog, barked as they ran up to the check in area for the competition.

The horseshoe pits were beautiful, well-manicured lawns.  Fresh chalk lined the official horseshoe area.  Red, white, and blue ruffled banners were lined all around the grandstands.  Bleachers were set up to hold close to ten thousand fans.  A large brass band was playing old favorite music.  The conductor had a big white beard, a big belly, and a tall hat on his head.

The stands were full.  Kids munched on cotton candy.  Balloons were dotted throughout the crowd.  Dogs barked and the concession stands were packed with people buying candy, lemonade, and corn dogs.

All the best horseshoe throwers in the state were there at the fair.  There was Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston, noted horseshoe thrower Ramblin’ Tamblin’ Bobbie Magee, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie, and a few other noted highly skilled throwers.

They were known to be the finest horseshoe throwers in the Pacific Northwest.  Most of the competitors for the horseshoe contest were found warming up in the official horseshoe pits.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal grabbed her horseshoes and began to practice.  Everybody stopped to watch her toss.  It was obvious that she was a natural at horseshoes.  Everybody clapped and screamed when she scored a ringer.

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Oregon State Fair woman’s horseshoe championships!” roared the announcer’s voice through the big speakers that were placed throughout the crowd.  Everybody cheered.  The competition would include the first round, second round, semifinal and final matches.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal would compete against one of the best horseshoe players in the tournament.  She would face Bouncin’ Trouncin’ Wilma Walker.

They dusted off their horseshoes and started play.  Wilma threw first and scored a ringer right off the bat.  Sal followed, throwing a leaner.  They continued to throw and rack up points.  The score was tied fifteen to fifteen going down the stretch.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal threw a ringer and finally pulled away and won her first hard fought match of the day.  All of her friends cheered.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ started to cry.  It was a fantastic match.

She cooled down and had a big tall glass of lemonade made by an old maid in the shade.  “Great job Slap Happy Sal!” exclaimed Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly.

The second round would follow, and Sal would now face Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston!  They started to throw their horseshoes one turn after another.  The excitement mounted and the crowd roared as each gal racked up points.  It was nip and tuck as the match dragged on, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal found enough gumption and vigor and threw a ringer to pull away and leave Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston in the dust.  She was exhausted by the end of the match.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ came over and flapped a towel to try to cool her off.

“Remember to throw your horseshoes so they land close to the stake!” yelled her Pa’.  She nodded her head and tried to stay calm.  She had now made it to the semi-finals and her next opponent would be Ramblin’ Tamblin’ Bobbie Magee, one of the most famous horseshoe throwers in the state.  Slap Happy Sal was the first to throw.

“Don’t forget to tie your shoe!” yelled Bobbie Magee just as Slap Happy Sal threw her first horseshoe.  Slap Happy Sal lost her concentration and committed a foot fault.  Sal gave Bobbie a mean look.  The match went back and forth.  It was a real battle of expert horseshoe masters.  Near the end, through sheer determination and will power, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal pulled away and won the match.  The crowd went wild.  Sal fell to the ground.  Her dog, Sam, licked her face.  The final would be played the next day.  Everybody was exhausted from the competition.

That night, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had trouble falling asleep.  She tossed and turned worrying about her championship match.  She knew she would be facing the reigning champion in the horseshoe state competition.  She would be matched against Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie!  People from all around feared Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie.  She was known for always trying to intimidate her competitors, she would growl, claw, scream, and yell just to win her matches.  She had the local radio and television personnel in her back pocket.  She paid them money under the table in turn for them saying favorable comments about her.  She drove a pink Cadillac.

That morning Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal’s mama came walking up to her while she was lying in her bed.  “Slap happy Sal, I want you to know no matter how the championship match turns out, that I…I…I…well, that I want you to know that I will always love you even if you lose and leave the family penniless.  I’ll still cherish the day you were born.”

“Gee, thanks Ma’” replied Slap Happy Sal.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s now the time for the Oregon State Fair championship horseshoe throwing contest!” yelled the official announcer.

“Yahoo!” yelled the crowd.  Kids let go of their balloons, dogs barked, and everyone was worked up into a wild frenzy.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal looked at Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie.  “Watch yam’ lookin’ at ya’ old nag!” barked Susie.

“Oh, I ain’t lookin’ at nothin’ except an old piece of poop!” replied Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.  As soon as Sal said those words, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie jumped at Slap happy Sal and the two gals started to wrestle right then and there.  They rolled back and forth, tether and fro.  They dragged each other all over the horseshoe pits.  They knocked over the carefully placed decorations and ran over a little old lady holding a fifteen-year-old cat.  They even rolled over the official scorekeeper and finally were broken apart by one of the local fire fighter brigades that were sitting in attendance that fine day.

“Now lookie’ here you two young wildcats…we will have none of your shenanigans at this here competition!  Now, either you act like gentrified ladies or we’ll stop this horseshoe event right here and now!” exclaimed the official Oregon State Fair horseshoe judge.

The crowd was at a fever pitch.  Local dignitaries were in attendance, including the owner of the local doughnut hut and the honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer.  The governor had a long handle bar mustache that decorated his bright red face.  He sat in the very important section at this fine event, centered right behind the grandstand, located just behind the backstop of the east horseshoe pit.

Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie threw the first horseshoe and naturally, she threw a ringer.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal threw her horseshoe and also threw a ringer.  They threw ringers, leaner’s, in betweeners; heck, they threw all kinds of shots.  They went back and forth and up and down the horseshoe pits.  Poor Slap Happy Sal’s Pa’ chewed his fingernails to the nubs.  It was a very exciting match.

Well, after about an hour it came down to the final few throws for each gal.  Slap Happy Sal had dirt and grime covered all over herself.  Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie looked like a truck had hit her.  The gals had played a great match.  It would go down in state history as one of the finest matches ever recorded.

Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie took aim, threw her horseshoe, and it landed right up against the stake at the east

end of the horseshoe pits.  She had a score of twenty.  She needed but one point to win the match.

Slap Happy Sal knew she was in trouble.  She had eighteen points and needed a ringer to win the match and it came down to her last toss.  She took a deep breath, smiled at her friends and family, and started to prepare to throw her horseshoe into the air.  Right then, at that very instant before she threw her horseshoe, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie pulled one of the oldest, meanest, low down, dirtiest tricks known to man.  She looked at Sal and stuck out her foot.  Sal slipped and lost her balance and threw her horseshoe with such might and velocity that it flew into the crowd, hitting the honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer right in the noggin’.  It bounced off his poor head, hit the ground in a thud, rolled, and came to rest right around the stake sticking out of the ground.

The crowd was at a gasp.  The governor fell to the ground, dropping his twenty-ounce microbrew and the crowd roared.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal jumped for joy.  Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie kicked the scorekeeper’s judge right in the shin.  Cisco, Sunny, Bo Didley, and Lead Belly put Slap Happy Sal on their shoulders and took her to the winner’s circle.  The band began to play old favorite tunes.  Her parents were so proud.  The honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer staggered to his feet and rubbed his sore head.  He had a lump the size of a large walnut.  He handed Slap Happy Sal a six-foot gold trophy, a big blue ribbon, and a check for $5,000 made out to the Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.

“It’s my pleasure, my fellow Oregonians, on this beautiful warm spring day in May, to award the first-place trophy to Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal!”  Everybody roared, had a fine time, cheered, screamed, and finally the crowd started to dwindle and made their way home.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal went down in history as being the finest horseshoe thrower in Oregon.

Usually, just about at this time in the story, I’d be fast asleep, tucked away, and warm under the covers of my bed.  My father would quietly walk back to his bedroom and turn off the hall light.  My father always had a great sense of humor and I figure he’s probably still telling stories to this day.

Link to the national horseshoe pitching website:


I can remember the night my mother’s cousin Meredith (nicknamed Cricket) died of cancer.  It’s a night that I’ll always look back on with sadness.  She died when she was nineteen, close to four years after being diagnosed with having the life-threatening disease.  It was 1966.  I was around eight years old when Meredith died.  She sounded like a cricket when she talked, that’s how she received the name Cricket.  My mother’s family took her passing very, very hard.  She was loved by the entire family and she’s still missed to this day.

At the age of fifteen, Meredith was diagnosed with cancer.  The outlook wasn’t very good; the doctors didn’t give her much of a chance to live.  She fought the disease with grace and dignity.  My mother was very close to her and enjoyed the time spent with her.  They shared recipes, talked about sewing.  As a child, Meredith was always kind to me.  She was genuine and caring; I loved her very much.

She was active growing up and popular, a very pretty girl.  She had blonde hair and she was close to her family.  She enjoyed sewing, baking and belonged to the local 4-H.  Her future was bright.

My grandmother was very close to all of her relatives.  Georgia was one of my grandmother’s cousin’s, she was very dear friends with my grandmother.  When Georgia was around thirty years old, she was diagnosed with having schizophrenia.  Back in the 1940’s and the 1950’s many doctors prescribed performing a lobotomy to cure the disease.  It had to have been a terrible experience for her when doctors performed the lobotomy on Georgia.  Meredith (Georgia’s daughter) was three years old at the time.  Georgia’s mother, Whitney watched over Meredith while Georgia was in the Washington state mental institution.

Georgia was such a happy woman at times.  She always liked me; I think I was one of her favorites.  She was different in a way, kind of distant and numb to certain things.  She talked to herself once in a while and the effects of the lobotomy could be noticed.  It was sad.  In the middle of conversations she would drift off thinking or wondering.  She was always in the care of her family.

I traveled with my mother and grandmother to visit Meredith, Georgia, and Whitney.  They lived in Vancouver off of Lincoln Street in a small home, close to my grandmother’s house.  I often saw them while attending family reunions.  She was always kind to me, waved my way, and wanted me to try her cakes and pies.

When Meredith was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors performed tests and prescribed medication for her.  It went in and out of remission.  In June when she was nineteen, a year after her high school graduation, she was back in the hospital.  Relatives flocked to be by her side.  My mother

rushed to meet my grandmother and other relatives at Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland.  I can remember when my mother went to visit her that night.  I went to bed thinking of her and hoping that she would be okay.  My mother got home late that night and went to bed and drifted off to sleep.

Around 3:25 a.m. Mom woke up.  She was cold; her body was colder than she could ever remember.  She was shivering and felt like she was freezing.  She got out of her bed and went into the living room to get warm.  She sat on the couch for about twenty minutes.  It was dark that night, darker than most.  You could hear the sounds of the boats cruising along the Willamette, crickets in a nearby field played a symphony of music.  She went back to bed and fell asleep.

The next morning mom went to work.  Around 7:30 a.m. my mother got a call from my grandmother.  “Shirley, Meredith died!” replied my grandmother.  My mother started to cry.

“Oh mama!”  My mother wept.  Meredith quickly passed early that morning.  I can remember watching her cry later that night.

My mother thought to herself.  “What time did Meredith die mama?” asked my mother.

“She died at 3:25 a.m.”  That was the same time my mother woke in the middle of the night.  All of the relatives were so sad over her death.  I think its eerie how she woke up out of her sleep that night, at the exact time that Meredith died.  Was Meredith telling my mother goodbye that night?

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

A close up of a logo

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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.