Monday, May 28, 2007

Friday was the rare beautiful day in Seattle. Maybe I shouldn't use the term rare as there are many great days here but as 95 year old Chuck Morgan says, If you can't see Mt. Ranier it is raining. If you can see the mountain it will rain soon.

At the age of 77 I spent two hours walking with my septagenarian friends, David, Leon and George. Actually, George is an octagenerian.

We parked the car on the Seattle side of the Alki peninsula.

For anyone who has not experienced the view accross Elliot Bay to the city of Seattle, the sawtooth skyline of new skyscrapers superimposed over the old low rises going back to the Alaska gold rush era bookended by the Spaceneedle to the North and the cranes of the Duamish industrial area to the South and the neat white cruise ships resting at the docks at its feet should postpone their tour to Capri and save a sunny day for Seattle.

It takes us about an hour at a brisk pace to walk along the boardwalk alternately looking to the right to see the ferry boats making their way across the Puget Sound interspersed with the intermodal transport ships with stacks of steel boxes of things from China to be unloaded at the port and to the left to view the faces of the million dollar beachside condos with the billion dollar views.

Our imediate destination is a beach around the point past the lighthouse in a quiet residential area away from the joggers and inline skaters. We search the driftwood and George, the artist finds a piece that looks like a carving. We speculate as to its origin and then pitch it back into the bay. Walking back we stop at the Alki Cafe for lunch. Either they have a new cook or are avoiding transfats because the oil from my fish and chips lingers long in my mouth.

Wow! This is the long way to get to the subject of this entry. I was thinking of grandfather B.
In 1939 he sold his interest in B. Barer and Sons to his two boys.

He kept some of his old accounts and his garage which was a massive thing with large storage areas for wood and coal. There was a loft with a door that opened to the outside for storage of the fuel that was purchased by the ton rather that by the gallon before the infernal combustion engine put the horse out of business. The loft became a storage place for dried sheep skins and horse hair clippings and the walls alongside the parked Auburn sedan supported bags of the sheared winter coats of the valley's sheep. 28 West Chestnut. Just tell the phone operator to ring 3086.

Retirement gave Grandfather and Grandmother a chance to travel. The 1935 Auburn and later the 1941 Dodge pickup went up and down the Coast. Portland, Los Angeles, Murieta Hot Springs, California, were some of the destinations. Of cours, Phoenix home of brother, Ike, was
a frequent terminus.

As I walked along the shore of the Sound Friday, I thought of of Grandfather B. and his favorite relaxation.

Joe Mitchell had a lunch counter on the corner of 2nd and Main in Walla Walla next to Tallman's Drug. A sign in front proclaiming that it was the Home of the Wimpy hamburger. For you youngsters, Wimpy was a cartoon character who was always shown with an oversized hamburger in his hand and a very fat tummy.

In the rear of the diner were three tables crammed into a small space. One had a running piunochle game through all of the hours the cafe was open and maybe beyond. After Grandfather would do his early morning animal skin business or his fishing he would sit down to his favorite activity, the pinochle game.

He would sit for hours in the tiny room with about twelve to fifteen card players who as they played their assorted games puffed on cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

Grandfather, who had suffered from asthma for years died of lung cancer in his mid sixties.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Matt fit into the B. Barer & Sons scrap iron shlepping program quite well. Over six feet tall and with a barrel chest he was the epitome of the expression "strong back and weak brain.

When it came to tossing cast iron scrap motor blocks onto a truck he had no peer but when we began using a cable operated hoist he would consantly get tyhe cable fouled until we realized that either pulling a lever and releasing it used to much of his mental capacity or in absence of intelligence he could express himself by screwing things up.

During the enlightened 1960's the local prison offered the inmates the privilege of conjugal visits.
The administration brought in house trailers. Numbered residents with good behavior records were allowed to spend weekends with there wives.

This meant an influx of families of inmates into the community. As a sidelight this resulted in a vast increase in crime as the acorns did not fall far from the oaks.

One of the inmates whose family moved to Walla Walla couldn't let well enough alone and started a riot which resulted in a lockdown at the prison. The riot eventually broke down and Mean Max or whatever his name was lost privileges for a long time to come.

Mrs. Max's bed got cold and she invited our friend Matt to share it.

Matt was beaming one morning as he came to work bragging of his new conquest. He not only shared the information with us but sounded off in the bars of the demi- world of Walla Walla.

A few days later Matt did not show up for work. Weeks went by and no word of Matt.

Eventually, we got the answer. Matt was in a nursing home in Milton Freewater, Oregon. Apparently Mean Max did not look well on this interloper and had confederates on the "outside"
take Matt for a ride.

He was found in a gravel pit with bruises all over his body barely alive.

That was the last wer heard from Matt. Apparently he did have enough sense to grab the first bus out of the valley if he survived.