Class of ’58 – episode 3.1.19 – Turtle Bay

adventure, autobiography, FOOD

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 the palatial entrance road to the La`ie Mormon temple which I built several years ago.

The highlight of that project was having lunch with the Prophet and his wife after the groundbreaking. I can’t go on without making a couple of comments here. While waiting, I overheard one of the Samoan spectators tell her friend, “My husband, Fetu, and I saw him and his wife at the Pancake House this morning having breakfast. Boy, 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.

Several minutes later, 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 individually that we were not to 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 sceme struck me as a little odd.

Today as we approached the resort, which was 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 snared, “Of course, do we look like the Beverly Hillbillies?” I then ordered 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. 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, putting on my surfing duds and slipped out the door without waking Elizabeth. She would understand 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, it was about figuring out what my next book would be about. However, I wasn’t about to pass up 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 it 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 out of the wind in the lee of the point to accommodate what I came out here to do.

When I recognized a surfer paddling out from the beach, I took a break. 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 into. I was pleased with what I came up with and turned to considering a possible title. As I thought about it, 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.

I was excited to return to the room, roust Elizabeth out of bed, buy her breakfast, and tell her my vision for “A Cup of Joe.” But before I paddled in, I silently slipped up behind Sonny, who was getting ready to catch a wave, grabbed the back of his board with both hands and with all my strength flipped the astonished Sonny into the bay and quickly retreated.

STEVE WINDELL’S AMAZING ADVENTURE

JAKE’S COMMENTS:

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.

a 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 struggled to leave the family behind and strike out on our own, then thrust you again into the early eighties when we as parents struggled, not always successfully, to grow 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 was metaphysical or something strange, However, It’s merely a reference to Alexnder the Great’s determination to removing an impediment, a knot of rope, that stopped his army from storming a city’s walls, and doesn’t play a role in the story. I think he mentioned that he’s considering a title change and a second edition.

WHAT’S UP

I’ve heard from several of you characters recently, and I thank you for that. The highlights of those encounters are as follows:

  • Dinndorf, Bradley and another fellow 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, Canadian soulmate, Elizabeth, especially since her sister is arriving the day before for a week’s visit. Sorry, boys, but enjoy 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 a story about his determined Finnish father’s life, 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 a remarkable intnsity.

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. 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 logger suspenders he was wearing at the reunion made sense. I too slipped in and out of the logging and wood products business and admired him for being his own man and being 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 for. 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 which I think are like ‘Made in Washington’ boutiques. We’re planning on getting together this summer with the one-time Deputy Mayor of Tacoma.

Bill offhandedly mentioned that his time spent in Peru was clearly rewarding and he continues to enjoy corresponding with many of those he met and lived with. The editor’s attempt to enhance his experience with a frivolous comment [about savages, etc.] was misleading.

Paul Maffeo is happy with his purchase of a near-new Infinity Q50 SUV shortly after some idiot totaled his Landrover two weeks after the reunion. Paul is trying to bait me to create a story from one sentence he sent me about Firnstahl’s graduation party on Whidbey Island in 1958. I’m thinking about it. Something I didn’t know about him, although he contends that we shared the same barstool, he was an Army Intelligence Officer and served in Korea.

Robert Lewis continues to struggle with the loss of his beloved wife of fifty-three-years, Gloria, two years ago. Please say a prayer for both of them.

I didn’t realize it, but Larry McHugh and Pat Bader have been close friends since fourth grade at St. Catherine’s.

Dave Waltier e-mailed me that not only did his five kids graduate from Blanchet, they knew my brother, Fr. Gordie, well. His 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. fifteen years ago He and Mena met and befriended a young lady who had just graduated from Prep. they continue the Seattle Prep brotherhood in Chicago. Small world, Huh?

Mike Garvey e-mailed me that 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. If you have an interest in mathematics and eighty bucks, enjoy.

Charlie Ralls and I reminisced over the phone for an hour about our Prep days and subsequent lives. I was a hoot, He’s got a hell of a memory. Sorry Dindorf, we both thought the reunion food sucked, but 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 before I broke ranks at 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.

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 frustrate ex-seminarian and fish out of the 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.

A SUMMER CRUISE

adventure, FOOD, Sea Story, Travel

A SUMMER CRUISE

As I finished my third year at the University of Washington, I landed a great summer job at an exclusive adult summer camp and fishing resort in the San Juan Islands. I was the cook on the Thelma Rose, the resort’s classic vintage yacht. They offered six-day cruises to their well-heeled guests aboard this eight-stateroom vessel. Mid-way through our third cruise, Max Dumas, one of the guests, became a problem for both the crew and the seven other guests. This wealthy, middle-aged man was an unpleasant, arrogant ass, who delighted in belittling and bullying the other guests, ordering the crew around and complaining about everything, including my food. One evening, when we were anchored up off Roach Harbor, Max missed the five o’clock cocktail hour on the fantail and didn’t answer the seven o’clock dinner bell either. Everyone seemed happy to be rid of him, as they dined on Dungeness crab cocktails, Caesar salads, and freshly caught Lingcod. Halfway through dinner service, Max burst into the Captain’s mess. He was very drunk and argumentative. He took his seat, knocked over the crab cocktail, spilled his wine on the man to his left and picked a fight with a diner who asked him to, “Be quiet and behave like a gentleman!” Max was incensed by that remark and threw his wine glass at him. The skipper had enough of Max Dumas. He whispered to me, “Help me get him out of here.” As we manhandled him down the stairs, he kicked me, screamed obscenities at the guests, and grabbed a bottle of scotch off the sidebar. As we locked him in his stateroom, he threatened to kill both the skipper and myself.

About ten that night, I finished cleaning up the galley and made my way forward towards my berth. Just then, Max kicked open his stateroom door and stumbled out into the narrow passageway, brandishing a 357 Magnum. I was scared crap-less and stepped into the head, locked the door, and hoped he didn’t recognize me. I realized what a stupid move that was, trapping myself in this tiny room behind a flimsy wooden door. I was terrified when Max stopped and rattled the doorknob, I held my breath until I heard and felt a fleshy thud against the door, and it became very quiet. I waited a few minutes, hearing nothing, I forced the door open a few inches and discovered Max was passed out on the floor and sprawled up against the door, blocking my exit. I froze when I heard a groan and a string of curses; he was awake and back on his feet. Fortunately, he must have forgotten about me in his drunken stupor, I could hear him moving away, towards the stern.

When I was sure he left the cabin, I quietly made my way up to the captain’s mess and peered through the window to see what he was doing. Max was standing high up on the stern bench watching a school of a dozen killer whales that were playing harmlessly off our stern. I heard three shots, followed by a soulful animal moan and furious thrashing in the water. The gunshots woke up everybody on the boat, and lights were coming on all around the bay. I watched as the remaining school of whales, circled, dove and darted in and out around the mortally wounded female until she died. Then, they came together and plunged deep below the waves. I knew these animals were smart, fearless killers, and we had not seen the end of them. Max seemed oblivious to what was going on as he swayed back and forth waiting for another clean shot. Suddenly, the eleven remaining angry whales rose from the depths of the sea as one, striking the hull of the Thelma Rose with a premeditated jolt that sent Max, their enemy, flying overboard into their world.

The skipper flipped on the searchlights, and we raced out onto the fantail and searched the dark waters for him. We spotted Max thrashing about in the blood-tainted water near the dead whale. As the skipper tossed him a lifeline, the school shot out of the water, leaping six feet in the air and pummeled Max.

shutterstock_ocraAlthough I was horrified, I couldn’t turn away from this fascinating display of animal vengeance and retribution. I watched them toy with Max as he screamed in pain and terror. A bite here, a bite there, then they dragged him under the water and tossed him in the air, as he gasped for breath. When the big male sunk his teeth deep into his adversary’s chest and shook him like a rag doll, I turned away and said a prayer for Max Dumas.

*** THE END ***

Anthony Bourdain

FOOD, INSPIRATION, SUICIDE & GOD, Travel

Anthony Bourdain is dead! An inspirational comment

A. Bourdainshutterstock_I was deeply moved when I learned that Anthony Bourdain had left this earth by his own hand on June 8, 2018. I didn’t want to think about it, but I couldn’t push it away, it kept coming back. I asked several close friends, “What do you think about Anthony Bourdain’s death?” They responded with, “What a terrible, selfish thing to do.” “What an ass, he left a twelve-year-old daughter and a significant-other behind to deal with that mess.” “Why? He had everything?” “He’s a coward. I hope he goes straight to hell, good riddance!”. I didn’t want to hear any of that crap. So, when another friend quietly said, “Don’t judge him, until you have walked in his shoes.” That comment intrigued me and I thought, perhaps my friend was right, I need to think this through.

A few days later I was at my dermatologist’s office for a four-hour appointment to remove a small skin cancer. The two surgeries took about a half-hour. I spent the rest of my visit in the waiting room with a dozen other elderly Haole (Hawaiian for foreigner) patients sitting around trying to politely ignore the white gauze patches on each other’s faces. When my thoughts inevitably turned to Mr. Bourdain, I bit the bullet and reluctantly decided to examine my reaction to his death.

Although we had never met, I knew a lot about him from reading his books and watching many of his TV episodes. The two things that shaped my admiration for Anthony Bourdain was his book, “Kitchen Confidential,” a sometimes, hilarious expose of the New York restaurant business. The second was a stunning episode of his “No Reservations” show, filmed in Beirut, Lebanon in 2006 during the Israel-Lebanon war. It was an incredible feat of journalism. As the camera captured the hysteria of bombs falling on Beirut, the show morphed into a tense, real-time war documentary. A fearless, steel-nerved side of Anthony Bourdain emerged, took charge and captured you, as you witnessed his escape to a U.S. Warship. The show won an Emmy.

I admired him, not only for being a world-class, traveler and storyteller, but for his shameless acceptance and portrayal of himself as a working alcoholic and druggie. There were no excuses or explanations forthcoming for his behavior. He lived his life as a fearless free spirit who did what he wanted to do and did so with unmitigated gusto. He wasn’t any boy scout, but then, he wasn’t a devil either. He was Anthony Bourdain living large. He was a cocky, funny, insightful, sometimes foul-mouthed, sometimes outspoken, man of the world and its kitchens. He spoke and wrote what he thought, there were no filters with Anthony. Sure, his comments about the outrageous people and situations he encountered in his life were sometimes unflattering, but he thought that was funny stuff and delivered it as such. Some of the recipients of his barbs characterized him as a mean, angry cynic. I didn’t buy that, Anthony always told it like it was, he let the chips fall where they may, and allowed the truth to entertain.

I recognized glimpses of myself in the way he saw the world, lived his life, spoke, and wrote. I somehow knew that I too had a jillion, entertaining stories to tell and if Anthony Bourdain could shoot from the hip and be successful, so could I. I didn’t need to go to finishing school and re-invent myself as a polished, articulate novelist, I just needed to get my stories out there and I too would do well. Stories filled with humor, enthusiasm, odd characters, and insight. That was the gift that he left me.

Enough of my grousing about dear, dead Anthony, He’s now deader than yesterday’s fried chicken, and will soon be forgotten by all but the few of us whose lives he touched. This story isn’t about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about me and my perspective about suicide. Up until today, I didn’t even want to think about why these folks did what they did. Anthony’s death changed that because I cared about him, and what would become of him in the after-life?

My first encounter with a suicide occurred when I was about twelve. I overheard my parents whispering about my auntie who overdosed and left the world at a young age. My father indicated she was a cowardly, shameful, embarrassment to the family. In 1984, A good friend, and talented physician, Dr. Fredricks, blew his brains out on the beach a block from my office after his morning hospital rounds. In 1994, my friend Jack Temple, who lived next door to Kurt Cobain on the shores of Lake Washington, called and said that young Kurt Cobain committed suicide in his home next door.

lanikaiI was surprised to hear that funny man, Robin Williams, took his own life in 2014. I remembered occasionally seeing him enjoying his morning coffee and reading the newspaper outside of Kailua’s Kalapawai Market. Robin’s Hawaii home was in the exclusive Lanakai neighborhood, just down the street.

As I thought about these folks, it occurred to me they shared a few similar traits. They were all charismatic, brilliant, hard-working, energetic type “A” personalities. One of the common characteristics they shared was a high level of creativity. They could create something beautiful out of the mundane. Artistic ability was always one of the multiple talents common to each of them. Some were superstars or high-profile celebrities, others shunned notoriety. They used their God-given talents to amass fortunes which separated them from us ordinary folks and allows them complete freedom to do as they please with little or no boundaries. You would think it couldn’t be that tough to be a star. A life of hobnobbing with other celebrities, having tons of money and all kinds of folks clamoring to be your friend. Apparently, there is a dark side which often is an integral part of that lifestyle. Their world is not our world, and maybe that is the double edge sword that causes them to flail out for something which they can neither understand nor achieve.

IMG_0223Drugs and alcohol often fuel successful people’s dark sides. It starts with a harmless gulp of Jack Daniels behind the school, followed by their first puff of Pakalolo, (Marijuana). By the time they have risen to the apex of their careers, the subtle increase in drug and alcohol consumption has inevitably altered their brain’s circuitry. and they are no longer the same person. Mommy dearest is now a bitch.

The personal demons that have grasped control of their minds continue to twist and distort reality until it becomes an elusive seductress. Paranoia, unfounded fears, and intense anxiety erode their self-esteem and their lives become a lie. They descend deeper and deeper into an irreversible depression. When they realize the demos are there to stay, they know the future may be even more terrifying than the present. Their search for escape inevitably leads them to consider suicide, seemingly the only way out. Nothing else matters; lovers, family, friends; nothing.

A friend confided in me that he had once seriously considered suicide. He told me, “I was into whiskey, weed, and heroine pretty heavy. I had just lost my job and my longtime girlfriend. She told me she loved me, but I had to choose between her and the drugs. I knew I couldn’t stop the drugging and boozing. I was devastated. I loved her, and my life without her was a waste of breath. Knowing I couldn’t stop the drugging and drinking, I descended into a deep depression. I decided to get high, and off myself. I didn’t dwell on how this would impact my girlfriend, family, and friends. I didn’t care if it wrong, it was my life, and I was going to end it. I was done, it was over, and I was out of here. I passed out before going through with it. The next morning when I woke up, I forgot how pissed off I was.”

Many of these folks who choose suicide, do so in an altered state of mind. So, what becomes of their souls? Where do their souls go? Mary, the Mother of Jesus, emphatically told the Fatima children there is a Heaven, a purgatory, and a hell, and that’s where we go when we die. When I was growing up in the fifties, the church implied that those who choose suicide went to hell. Recently, they have changed their position, and subtlety suggest perhaps that is not necessarily so.

Recently, Pope Francis made this comment regarding suicide, “Some of the victims (of pedophile priests) have been driven to suicide. These deaths weigh on my heart, on my conscience and that of the whole Church. To their families, I offer my feelings of love and pain and humbly, I ask forgiveness.” Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed that God is a merciful God and as such, I’m sure mercy, love, and forgiveness will play a role in God’s reception of the tortured souls who take their own life.

A Catholic Paper printed an article recently about suicide, I paraphrase, “God understands the dark, hopeless place these tormented people inhabit. Some, He will welcome as a mother would welcome her newborn to her breast for the first time.”

I recently learned of a holy woman whom God gave the gift of being able to communicate with souls in purgatory. In regard to suicide, she once wrote, “When people ask me, ‘Are there any souls of those who committed suicide in purgatory?’ I respond, Yes, certainly, but not all of them are there.”

We all need to be mindful that God created us, and our lives belong to Him, not to us.  Therefore, it was clearly wrong for Anthony Bourdain to take his life, but it’s up to a merciful, all-knowing God to pass judgment on Anthony. We can only pray that God has a place in his house for a master storyteller.

This soliloquy brought a long overdue closure for me on this difficult subject, and I hope it will for those of you who have read it. In the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge?”

IMG_0222

 May God have mercy on your soul, Anthony Bourdain!

*** THE END ***

photo credits: Catholic Exchange, Jeannie Ewing

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