TURTLE BAY RESORT, HAWAII
GOOD MORNING BROTHER PREPSTERS
Two weeks ago, Elizabeth and I spent a couple of days up at an iconic luxury resort on the North Shore. It was one of our two go-to places for a quick getaway from the days we are supposed to be enjoying our golden years. Golden years my butt, it’s more like the gear-jamming years of our youth, except with grey hair and a different set of pressures.
After a busy morning, we left home about noon and headed up the Kam, (Kamehameha Highway) to Turtle Bay. Elizabeth insisted we stop for a fish taco at North Shore Taco. I favored a leisurely cruise up to the La`ie Mormon temple to enjoy the palatial entrance and road which I built several years ago.
I can’t go on without making a couple of comments here. The highlight of that project was meeting the Prophet and his wife at the groundbreaking ceremony. While waiting for the Prophet to arrive, I overheard one of the Samoan spectators tell her friend, “My husband, Fetu, and I saw the Prophet and his wife at the Pancake House this morning having breakfast. The two of them look frail, but they sure like pancakes.” I had trouble visualizing the Prophet, the earthly leader of the Mormon Church, scarfing down pancakes in a sleazy fast food restaurant. It made me smile.
It wasn’t long before a pair of police motorcycles, with sirens blaring, escorted the Prophet’s entourage of four black SUV’s, two ambulances, and a long black limousine up to our tent. The SUVs disgorged a half dozen ferousous, heat-packing, Samoan bodyguards, who split into three groups, one to stand guard, one to help the ninety-three-year-old Propet and his wife up to the ceremony site, and the third to caution each one of us local dignataries that we were not to look at, touch or speak to the Prophet, hand him a note, or engage him in way. Although I’d never met a Prophet before, the whole scene struck me as a little odd.
We approached the resort, a favorite of the rich and famous, I egotistically took on the affectations of those I was about to mingle with. When I exited our SUV, The valet asked, “Do you want valet parking? It’s twenty-bucks.” I snobbishly snarled, “Of course, do we look like the Beverly Hillbillies?” I gruffly instructed the bellhop to unload and send my things up to our room and be quick about it. (I had a six-pack of cold Bud in my backpack.)
When Elizabeth caught wind of what was going on, She said, “Jake, please. Young man, leave the bags on the curb, we will take care of them ourselves. Jake, you park the car and come back here and help me with the bags.”
So much for my grand entrance.
I was up with the sun the following morning,and slipped out the door without waking Elizabeth. She would know I was on the water. I stopped to enjoy a double espresso and pastry at the coffee bar while surveying the action at the neighboring surf spots. I rented a board from the hotel’s beach boy and went out to close-by Kuilima Point.
I waded into the seventy-eight-degree water, paddled out to the point and joined a dozen early bird surfers. This morning wasn’t about surfing, but about figuring out what the subject of my next book would be. However, It wasn’t going to deter me from catching any decent waves.
Within five minutes, I spotted an easy four-footer coming around the point right for us. I spun my board around and waited for just the right moment to start paddling my brains out to match the speed of the oncoming wave. The face of the wave picked me up, crested and broke to the right. I rode it on my belly for a few moments before popping to my feet and riding fifty-yards to the rocky shoals, where I dumped. A young surfer dude paddled past me on the way back out and shouted, “Nice ride, old man.”
I followed him back out and tucked myself in the lee of the point to accomplish what I went out to do.
I caught sight of a surfer buddy paddling out from the beach and waved. We had surfed together occasionally over the years and sometimes shared a beer afterward at one of the North Shore watering holes. He was a local guy in his late-forties, named Sonny something. Everybody seemed to know him. As we both raced to get in position for a hot wave, he grinned a toothy grin, gave the front of my board a mighty shove, pushing me out of position and took the wave from me. I gave him the finger and ducked back out of the wind to continue my deliberations.
I was a little pissed at my burly, uncouth friend, but then I realized I’d met a lot of folks way more bizarre than Sonny, and this rudeness was child’s play. That’s when it came to me, my next book would not be a novel. it would be a collection of short stories about nothing serious. Instead, it would present simple entertaining, short stories about some of the more remarkable, funny encounters I’ve stumbled upon. I was pleased with what I came up with and turned to considering a possible title. A remark made by a close friend whom I often had morning coffee with, came to the forefront. He said, “Jake, you have a million great stories, why don’t you write about them. You could call it ‘A Cup Of Joe.'” I thought, Not bad. It’s catchy and has a nice warm, comfortable ambivalence about it, not unlike a cup of Joe.
MARCH’S FEATURED ARTICLE
STEVE WINDELL’S AMAZING ADVENTURE
I’m not Steve’s PR guy, but I got to tell ya this book is something special. The concept of traveling two-thousand-four-hundred-miles in a small, open boat with your teenage son through sometimes terrifying seas into the bowels of Alaska’s wild coast to reach the last standing major American Glacier is certainly intriguing, sometimes scary, and peppered with surprises. There are a lot of sea stories out there, but this one, in addition to the adventure storyline, adds several unexpected funny, heartwarming glimpses of native life as the relationship of Father and Son develops before your eyes.
I’m not going to steal the book’s thunder. Two comments and I’m through. First, Steve’s book will take you back to to the sixties when we, as teenagers, struggled to leave the family behind and strike out on our own. Then it will thrust you again into the early eighties when we, as parents, struggled to grow and balance our relationships with our teenage children which were often at odds with our demanding careers.
Second, the title,”Transcending the Gordian Knot,” put me off. Its connotation seemed metaphysical or something strange, However, it’s merely a reference to Alexnder the Great’s determination to remove an impediment, a knot of rope, which stopped his army from storming a city’s walls, It doesn’t play a role in the story. I think Steve mentioned he’s considering a title change and a second edition.
WHAT ARE THE BOYS UP TO?
I’ve heard from several of you characters recently, and I thank you for that. The highlights of these encounters are as follows:
Dinndorf, Bradley and Maffeo e-mailed me that Steve Windell is organizing a gala Class of ’58 luncheon at Anthony’s on Edmond’s revitalized waterfront, for March 7, 2019, and getting a lot of interest. They suggested that I come along if possible. I seldom miss a lunch invitation, but a five-thousand-mile ride to and from lunch would be tough to get passed my frugal, soulmate, especially since her sister is arriving the day before, for a week’s visit. Sorry boys, enjoy each other and hoist one for me.
Bryan Saario and I have been having fun sharing the trials and tribulations of writing. He’s preparing to re-release his book, SISUS, Which I believe is a story about his determined Finnish father’s life, including his WW II experiences, and how it shaped his young son, Bryan, during the old man’s later years. I haven’t read it, Bryan told me to hold off for the new and improved version. Bryan writes with remarkable intensity.
Steve Windell commented that I seemed to enjoy my disguise as Jake Winston. It’s not a disguise, Steve, It’s merely a deterrent to any authorities that are intent on tracking me down. It also keeps the mobs of my teenybopper admirers at bay. Most of my friends and acquaintances routinely interchange my pseudonym with my real name. It’s kind of a game that makes everybody chuckle knowingly.
Sean Malone dropped me a note that I found interesting. At Prep I remembered him as being a tough mug, football and all that. When I learned that his career included eight-years as a logger, the plaid shirt and hidden logger suspenders he was wearing at the reunion made sense. I too did some logging back in the day, and admired him for being his own man and proud of the image he portrayed.
I was even more surprised when he sent me a link to the Vashon Loop, the local newspaper he edits. Check it out, vashonloop.com. Go to issue February 7, 2019, columns, tales of the islands, UFO’s, which Sean wrote.
Bill Evans and I have been trading e-mails. He made my day when he told me that he now stocks my book, Jake he Prodigal Son, in his three stores, “Pacific Northwest Shop” I’m planning on getting together this summer with Bill, the one-time Deputy Mayor of Tacoma.
Bill offhandedly mentioned that his time spent in Peru and the many endearing folks he met and lived with continue to be a part of his life. He felt duty bound to point out the editorial comment [about savages, etc.] in the Prep Directory De Biographies was misleading.
Paul Maffeo is happy with his purchase of a near-new Infinity Q50 SUV shortly after some idiot totaled his Land Rover two weeks after the reunion. I’ve always enjoyed Paul, and he contends that we “shared the same barstool.” He may appear a little quirky from time to time, but don’t we all? Paul has a brilliant mind and a quick wit. I lost track of him during college and was surprised to learn he was an Army Intelligence Officer and served in Korea.
Robert Lewis continues to grieve for the loss of his beloved wife, Gloria, two years ago. They were together for fifty-three-years. Please say a prayer for both of them.
Paul tried to bait me to create a story from a one sentence description he sent me about Firnstahl’s graduation party on Whidbey Island in 1958. I wasn’t there, and I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but I said I would concock a story or sorts out of what he sent. So, here goes.
Three carloads of Prepsters arrived at the Firnstahl’s summer cabin on the shores of Mutiny Bay in June of ’58. They spent the day exploring the woods and beachcombing.
Somebody who was thinking ahead, I can’t image who that would be, had brought the fixing for burgers and dogs. That evening the boys sat on a half-circle of logs in front of a bonfire of epic proportions bullshiting, joking, talking story and roasting marsmellows. About ten o’clock the party moved inside and started an all-nighter poker game. As the game progressed an unending supply of beer, whiskey, and nuts was ferried in from the trunks of the cars.
About four a.m., the game petered out and the cabin went silent and dark.
At sunrise a few souls stirred, two guys got up, put on coffee. They sat silently at the cluttered table staring into space and chugging a cold Raineer out of a cooler. Suddenly, one kid said to the other, “Where’s Jack? He was sleeping over there in the corner when I crashed.” They jumped up, searchd the cabin, ran outside circled the property, and checked the beach. He was nowhere to be found.
They woke their buddies who sleeply joined the search. When someone suggest he may have been eaten by a bear, the search got serious and Firnstahl called the sheriff who responded and eventually located him asleep in one of the cars. When the cop roused him, a belligerent, very drunk, Jack took a swng at the cop, breaking his glasses and giving him a bloody nose. That misstep got Jack handcuffed, locked in the back of the patrol car, and about to be hauled off to the can. The officer entered the cabin, and sureyed the mess. With a look of disgust, he gathered the partygoers around him and asked, “Who’s cabin is this? Are any of you twenty-one? Firnstahl spoke for the group, apoligize and meekiy said. “This will never happen again, sir.” The officers said, “I know your old man, son. I’m going to forget what I saw here this morning, but somebody needs to make bail for your friend out there.
I didn’t realize it, but Larry McHugh and Pat Bader have been close friends since fourth grade at St. Catherine’s. I met Pat four years later.
Dave Waltier e-mailed me that not only did his five kids graduate from Blanchet, they knew an enjoyed my brother, Fr. Gordie, the chaplen. Dave’s son, Zack, is currently coaching Seattle Prep football.
Dave Boulanger sent me an e-mail to catch up on what he was doing these many past years. He settled into far away, Chicago after college where he taught at the prestigious University of Chicago, Illinois, (UCI), pursued fundraising and served in elective office. I was surprised when he mentioned that fifteen years ago He and Mena met and befriended, a young lady who they continue to see regularily in their neighborhood. She was a Seattle Prep Graduate. Small world, Huh?
Mike Garvey e-mailed they are expecting to see Dinndorf and his wife in April at their Scottsdale home.
Somebody told me that Jim Carrell, a mathematician, who lives in Vancouver BC, just published a new book, “Groups, Matrices, and Vector Spaces.” Congradulation on a huge accomplishment. If you Prepsters have an interest in mathematics and eighty bucks in your pocket, enjoy.
F. Michael Fischer finally sent me an e-mail two days ago. I was getting concerned that perhaps we had lost him. He uged me to continue the blogs since they seemed to be well recieved, at least by some, and they keep us all abreast of what each other were up to without having to pick up the phone.
Charlie Ralls and I reminisced over the phone for an hour about our Prep days and subsequent lives. It was a hoot, He’s got a hell of a memory. Sorry Dindorf, we both thought the reunion food sucked, but it’s not your fault. I complained to Rall that I paid seventy-six buck for a plate lunch. He exclaimed, seventy-six bucks? I cost us two-hundred-twenty-five dollars and my wife doesn’t drink.
I asked, “Did you and Kelly play football for the U?” They did, Ralls was a short-lived frat-rat at Alpha Delta, and I was at Psi Upsilon less than three months. I broke ranks at a house paddling lineup, pulled up my britches, punched out the paddler and tossed his paddle through the stained glass window. Charlie added that he and Kelly were friends since the sixth grade, and he was lookin forward to his visit in a few weeks.
We both commiserated over the fact that we entered Prep late, he as a sophomore, me as a senior. The downside to that was he got no respect until he was eligible to play football in his junior year and I felt shunned until my well-connected Holy Names girlfriend, Anne, broke the social ice for this frustrated ex-seminarian and fish out of water.
Ralls blurted out, “Hey, Jake. I don’t know if many of the guys have read your book, Jake The Prodigal Son, but they should, they’d get a lot out of it.
Oh, by the way, I just finished a book called, ‘The Boys in The Boat.” It’s about the UW crew, an eclectic collection of inexperienced, but driven students, loggers, ranchers and farmers, who set out to win Gold in Hitler’s ’36 Olympics. Listening to Charlie, it evident that he’s still a jock. albeit a little older, a little slower in the body, but not in spirit. God bless ya, my friend.