ClASS of ’58 – episode 2.15.19

BOOK WORTHY TALES, Gifted People I've known, Humor, reunions

What is this blog about?

Don;t know if this facade is still there.

This blog is about staying in touch. I spent my senior year in Seattle Prep and my freshman year at Seattle U before moving on to U Dub where I slowly lost track of most of you characters. Many years of running construction projects, and later construction firms, took me all over the United States and into several countries without spending much time back in Seattle.

UW Library & Commons

I enjoyed my work and the extensive travel, but I regretted a lifetime of not having hobnobbed with my fellow Prepsters, friends, and family. Late at night, I often wondered, What would it have been like if I had chosen to stay closer to home as my family and many friends did? Would I have been as happy as I am now? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s the price I paid for my career choice.

Why am I telling you this? Simple because I wrote a few blogs after the reunion that addressed the time we shared at the reunion, as well as adventures we shared together during our Prep and SU days. Many of you graciously responded to those blogs in an encouraging manner which leads me to believe you actually read them since about half of you guys responded with multiple e-mails, asking that I continue to “keep us in the loop.”

The reunion at Chateau Ste Michelle

I’m not sure what that means. I could mean several things like you’re interested in more Prep stories, or you’re interested in keeping up with the activities, health, and whereabouts of our brother Prepsters. Perhaps you’re sitting around the house with nothing better to do, waiting for Ponderosa to come on. Sorry, it’s been off the air since 2002 and Little Joe is dead, or God bless you, you’re actually interested in my tales of times past. In any event, I’m pleased you haven’t responded with, “That’s enough already. Stop, please stop! Well, I’m here to tell you, I’m no “one trick pony,” but I’m having to reach deeper and deeper into my aging physic to come up with new Prep material that won’t get any of us thrown in jail. Give me a break, guys. That was sixty years ago. Do you remember what you had for breakfast? I don’t.

Perhaps you have a story or a photo you want to share with us about what you’ve been up to, or whatever strikes you of our mutual interest. Send me whatever you have, and I’ll fluff it up, make your story come alive, and make you look like Hemingway himself.

Come on, man. You’re Prepsters, you got to have a million adventures, funny stories, jokes, and awesome photos you have been dying to share with us, your Prep brothers. Charlie Ralls called me this evening, and we talked, told each other lies, and laughed for an hour. Dan Regis emailed me recounting the long weekend he, Pat Bader and I spent shipwrecked in the San Juan’s. Sid Flor and Dinndorf reminded me about a few funny houseboat stories, including taking on water during a keg party. Sean Malone sent me an interesting story about a UFO he encountered as a youth and wrote about in the Vashon Loop Newspaper. Pat Bader recounted how much fun he had at the reunion and filled me in on what he’s up to. Joe Thibodeau and I discovered we had a mutual friend, Judge Harry Allen Follman. Joe was a superior court judge in Snohomish County and Harry was a superior court judge for Skagit County at the same time and knew each other. Maffeo and I shared several e-mails, not sure what that was about, but fun to connect. My apologies to Maffeo and Dinndorf, I just realized that Jerry was right, our ’39 Plymouth Coups were, in fact, ’49s.

You too can contribute. Dig out and send me whatever you have. You have my e-mail, If you can’t find my address or phone number on Dinndorf’s roster, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you. I can’t publish it here, I’m one of The Donalds’s double agents, and I’m in hiding from Hillary’s and Nancy Pelosi’s lynch mobs. I don’t share private, personal comments I receive. So, Sid, Guido, and Bryan rest easy, you’re safe. I only write about stuff that is of general interest to my readers, not the authorities.

If you’re wondering, Why is this guy offering to do this? Is he some kind of nut job trying to recapture his youth or gain fame and fortune at our expense?  

“No. that ship has sailed, I have no interest in reliving my youth, and I’ve experienced my fifteen minutes of fame, thank you. The answer is that several of you have encouraged me to continue to provide this blog as a venue for the class of “58 to simply stay in touch. After all, many of us shared a remarkable bond of comradery albeit driven by our efforts to nimbly avoid dealing with Mr. Brands acidic barbs, Mr. Nelson’s bullying, as well as to avoid unwarranted trips to the boiler room with Fr. Weisenberg, as well as avoiding the wrath of Coach Goodman when on the warpath.

After guzzling beer with an un-named Prepster recently, I went home, thought it over, and decided that with a little help from my friends we could, and should, give a shot to continuing the Class of ’58 Blogs. So, you folks need to get off your asses and send me some worthy fuel to feed the hungry panther.

your Prepster brother,

Jake Winston

ps: I bypassed my editor with this blog. the grammar errors on on me.

SEATTLE PREP CLASS OF ’58 – episode 2.1.19

adventure, food & drink, Humor, reunions, Travel

Columbia River Brewing Co.



During the cocktail hour at the Prep Reunion, I had several brief encounters with Mr. Meet and Greet, F. Michael Fischer, but we never had an opportunity to have a real conversation. In fact, I spent more time with Linda Lowe than I did him. I’m not complaining, Linda was a lot better looking than Fischer. As Pat Bader and I were leaving, Mike stopped me and asked if we could get together the next time I was in Portland. I enthusiastically agreed.

When my son Ryan’s family was with us in Hawaii for Thanksgiving, he asked if I would help him put a new concrete foundation under his one-hundred-year-old garage in NE Portland. It sounded like a challenging proposition and I’m always up for that despite being seventy-eight, so I happily signed on for the project. Somehow I forgot about it, until he called me in mid-December asking, “When are you coming, Dad? We need to get started on the garage.”
I scratched my head and responded, “I’ll talk to Elizabeth and let you know.”
Elizabeth and I tossed around a half dozen options for a departure date. It was a busy time of year. Christmas, New Years, Rose Bowl, parties, dentist and doctor appointments, work commitments, etc. The process reminded me of a favorite saying Elizabeth’s Dutch father taught me years ago. It goes like this: “Make a plan, talk with the wife. Change your plan, talk to the wife. Abandon the plan, talk to yourself.”

Just before Christmas, we settled on a January 16th departure. Elizabeth booked passage on Hawaiian Air Flight 26, from Honolulu direct to Portland. I was excited to make this trip. Not only was it an opportunity to be with family after the holiday rush, but it was also a chance to meet up with F. Michael Fischer. I fired off an e-mail to Mike and invited him to lunch. After I pressed ‘send’, I leaned back in my chair, sipped my beer and thought about the trip.

Larry McHugh & Steve Windell

The Seattle Prep 60th Class Reunion had a grip on me in a way that I really didn’t understand. It brought me back to an idyllic world that I had left so many years ago with no anticipation of ever returning. If Pat Bader, Mike Fischer, Jim Bradley, and Dan Regis hadn’t urged me to attend, I would not have gone. But I did go, and now I am dealing with the challenging aftermath of that decision.

The aftermath was that I wanted to communicate in some meaningful manner with my long abandoned brother Prepsters who had graciously received me back into the fold at the reunion. I realized that there was no other large group of individuals in my life that I felt this way about. Certainly not Rotary, Church, work, or the kids Boy Scout troop. I had made plenty of good friends and trusted associates in my life over the years, but they lacked the unique bond and sense of comradery that I had with these greying Prepsters back in the day.

It was a pivotal moment in our lives. A special time of naivety, trust, puppy love, fearlessness and simple joy that preceded growing up. I was hoping that by renewing my friendship with F. Michael. Fischer, who seems to know everybody, we could together reestablish some level of relationship with some of you proud Prepsters. Perhaps through occasional small informal get-togethers, e-mails or even the old fashion way, just call each other. And so I was looking forward to exploring that concept. To the dozen of you who have already taken that first step, and reached out to me, I thank you.


A week after we booked the flight, Harry Jay Follman, my long-time friend, and construction partner, called and invited Elizabeth and me to meet, and hang out with him in LA. His wife, Sharil, and fourteen of his dearest friends, who happened to be an extraordinarily gifted group of pot smoking, beer guzzling, aging Northwest musicians, including Rollie G. Storbakken and my friend, Brother John.

Jay had rented a high-end Hollywood Hills home for the week leading up to the Rose Bowl, and as a long time Husky season ticket holder, he had scored eighteen tickets to the big game. The prospect of partying with these guys got me excited.

A few days later, as I was contemplating how best to present this opportunity of a lifetime to Elizabeth, which would take the place of the Portland trip, the phone rang again. It was our twenty-year-old grandson, CJ, who wanted to spend a week or two welcoming in the New Year with Grandpa and Grandma before school started. I thought, this superseded the Rose Bowl.


CJ was a good kid determined to earn enough money to return to college in Oregon this spring. His head was screwed on straight, and he had a great sense of humor. He was a hard worker, and intent on becoming a biologist. He lived with us last year while working as a baker at Safeway and attending community college. He’ll never forget last summer’s adventure where he worked as a greenhorn aboard Harry Jay Follman’s gill-netter, the Erica Lynn, during the Bristol Bay salmon run, followed by a six-month construction job in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It is important to us that he succeeds and it pleased us as we watched him do so.

CJ showed up at Honolulu International Airport the day after Christmas with a tattered, dripping wet, duct taped cardboard box filled with gifts. Among the treasures were two big, angry, Dungeness crab and a dozen live Olympia oysters. I asked, “How on earth did you get this passed the Agriculture inspectors? They are scared crapless that foreign species will alter the aquaculture of the Hawaiian waters.”

CJ chuckled and said, “I argued for over an hour with the Ag. inspectors, and almost missed my plane. Finally, in exasperation, I blurted out, ‘Have you guys not met my Grandpa, Jake Winston? These two crabs haven’t got a chance of surviving long enough to pollute anything. He will have them in a pot of boiling water before the front door slams shut. The oysters? Grandpa has an Acme Oyster Shucker, and there will be nothing left but empty shells by the time the crab is cooked and cleaned. The inspectors looked at each other, laughed, and waved me on.’

‘.

As we sat around the kitchen table watching the crabs boil and unwrapping gifts, CJ sheepishly announced that he had visited the Grotto in Portland. It’s a sixty-two-acre Catholic sanctuary dedicated to our Sorrowful Mother. He reached into his pocket, pulled out two religious metals he had purchased there, and gave them to us. Mine was a St. Peregrine metal, the patron saint of cancer patients. When Elizabeth got up and hugged him, and he returned the hug, I realized how close we had grown. I was looking forward to spending time with him, crabbing, fishing, boating and hanging out, but that was on hold until he had made the rounds visiting friends, exploring his old familiar haunts, and loading up on Hawaiian poke, malasadas, custard, and mochi.


A friend dropped us off at the Honolulu airport Wednesday, the sixteenth. We were a little nervous about airport delays due to Federal Government shutdown, but it was an unusually smooth and efficient passage through TSA. We boarded a brand new Airbus A330 and took our seats in the back of this awesome plane. It had Wi-Fi, a plug-in for my electronics charger cable, and a cool device that positioned my iPad on the seat back in front of me, allowing me to easily type a response to my editor’s incessant comments on my forthcoming book, The Raising Of The Ruth Ellen.

It was a warm eighty-five degrees when we left Honolulu. In contrast, it was thirty-eight degrees when I stepped onto the curb at Portland International in my thin Aloha shirt. The bitter cold and rain squashed my plans for family side trips, bike rides, picnics and crabbing on the coast. In fact, the cold was debilitating for this happy, Hawaii Kahuna, forcing me to focus on the foundation work and indoor family activities.

I’m freezing!

When the foundation work was underway, I decided to venture out into the cold, hit a few restaurants, and attending the train show at the Expo Hall with my son and grandson as I waited for F. Michael Fischer to respond to my e-mail invitation.

Model steam engine at the train show. I had to own it.

My first luncheon was with my grandson and Elizabeth at the Hawthorn Fish House, my go-to place for a seafood lunch. Fried oysters and catfish, oh so good. The next day, burgers with the family at the new ‘Super Deluxe Burger’ a spin-off of “Big Little Burger”

A few days later, my son, Ryan, treated Elizabeth and me to lunch at MOTHER’S, a high-end bistro in the Embassy Suites Hotel downtown, close to his work. When I walked into the gorgeous Victorian lobby, I realized that when I was with Baugh Construction in the ’90’s we remodeled and upgraded this old Portland landmark.

This afternoon it was jammed with yuppies and business folks. I even spotted a couple of high-end hookers at the bar who abruptly left with a couple of local brutes as I sipped my clam chowder. I got food poisoning on Pastini’s spaghetti and meatballs on Thursday. Dinner at Salty’s on the river by the Airport with my son Mike and his wife rounded out our restaurant hopping. Harry Jay Follman’s long-standing offer to come down and take me to the eclectic, 1930’s Mary’s Club in the Pearl District fizzled out once more.



When the foundation work was started, and I still hadn’t heard from the Man, I called F. Michael Fischer and gave him a bad time about not returning my e-mail invitation for lunch.

New garage foundation

Michael, who lives in Vancouver, WA, apologized, profusely. He mumbled some lame excuse and agree to round up Linda Lowe Dunn, who lives in Beaverton, OR and meet Elizabeth and me at the Columbia River Brewing Co in Portland’s Hollywood district. This post-reunion coming together of old friends just had to happen.

We had so much to say, and so little time to share our lives and thoughts at the reunion. I realized that if I let this opportunity to kibitz with the Fish get away from me, time would erode the likelihood of ever reuniting with my Prepsters brothers. So, when Mike and Linda greeted me with big grins and hugs, I was moved by their welcome, and hopeful it would bring me and my brother’s closer together. We all grinned from ear to ear as we settled into the cozy wooden booth in the nearly deserted pub. Linda asked, ”Where is your wife?”

“She’ll be along shortly. She was shopping with my daughter-in-law, Michele this morning.”

Michael delicately asked, “What happened to your nose, you’re bleeding? Were you drunk this morning and cut yourself shaving?”

That got a big laugh, and we delved into reminiscing about the Class of ’58 reunion. As the conversation petered out, I asked, “What became of Tom Coughlin?”
“He got a law degree and had a successful practice here. Several years ago, he left his practice and opened a hardware store on one of the islands, maybe Vashon where Sean Malone hangs out. He had a heart attack and passed away about five years ago.”

I asked, “did you see Dinndorf’s e-mail picturing his ’39 Plymouth? He wrote that he seldom took it to school because of the cost of the driving in on the ferry. Maybe that wasn’t the only problem. Check out this photo I found on the net the other day. Pretty funny, huh?”

During a pause in the conversation, I politely asked, “Michael, have you read my book, or even purchased it?”

I could tell by the embarrassed look on his face that he hadn’t, so I persisted in giving him a bad time. He responded by grinning and giving me the finger. We laughed, and he poked me saying, “You’re not the only big shot author to come out of our class, Mr. Smart Ass. Dave Boulanger wrote an engrossing book about his life with his father. Bryan Saario also wrote at least two books and is working on a third. Sean Malone writes for the Vashon Loop newspaper and produced a cool documentary called, Alone And The Sea. Steve Windell has a book coming out containing dozens of black and white photographs of the Oregon Coast. I think Larry McHugh also has a book in the works.”

Since we were both a little fuzzy about the Prep days and it was three years before Linda came on the scene, we moved on to our Seattle University days together. Mike said, “What the hell were we doing in ROTC? We weren’t officer material, Hell we weren’t even fit to be foot shoilders.”

I responded, “We didn’t have a choice, Knucklehead. It was during Vietnam, and a required college course, which got us a deferment. Do you remember the time the ROTC Colonel caught me waxing my ’39 Plymouth while on duty during the ROTC troop review and parade at the old stadium a few blocks east of campus? He ripped me a new butthole in class the next morning in front of everybody. I wanted to crawl under my desk.”

I do remember that most of us were ambivalent about ROTC, but Mick and Jerry Flynn were gung-ho. Mick was a career Army officer and Dinndorf is still serving in the Marine Corps Reserves as a LtCol.”

We had a few laughs about the many raunchy houseboat parties we threw on my Lake Union, primitive, floating home where Pat Bader, BJ Michaelson, Stan Strikers, John Dynes, and few other Prep and SU guys moved in and out of, over the three years that I rented it. Mike pointed out, “Although the neighborhood was a little sketchy, and the toilet and sink emptied directly into the lake, the fact there was usually a batch of green beer brewing in the bathtub and a twenty-one-foot sailboat tied up at the back door available for a pleasant afternoon cruise with a couple of SU girls made it attractive.

We were just warming up to one another when a pushy, elderly waitress with dangling earrings and long blue fingernails interrupted and demanded that we order lunch. I thought, Is she pissed that we’re drinking sodas instead of the eight-dollar house brews? What’s the rush? There are only a few customers in the place and it’s noon already. Mike hemmed and hawed, scratched his nose, and ordered a brisket sandwich with baked beans. Linda ordered vegetable soup and toast.

Just then, Elizabeth, my wife burst through the door with Michele, my daughter-in-law. We introduced everybody as the fuming waitress crossed her arms and impatiently waited for the greeting festivities to get over with. Michele left for home, and we all settled back into the booth. The waitress snarled, “Alright now, what do you two want? When it was obvious we didn’t know what we wanted, she barked, “Order the Ruben and baked beans, you can share it.” Elizabeth gave me a puzzled look. As I glanced at Mike, she jotted something on her pad, turned on her heels and returned to the kitchen. I said, “What the hell was that?”

Elizabeth asked Mike, “Do you remember the night you and Eileen and young Michael were living in a house in the hood by SU ? Joe left me in the car that dark night as he stopped by to see you about something. Apparently, you guys got into the beer and forgot about me for nearly an hour. When somebody knocked on the car window, I was scared to death until I recognize it was you. Boy, was I glad to see you. You and Jake ended the evening crooning “A wild Irish rose to Eileen and me.

Linda told us she and MaryJo Shepard were roommates in her freshman year at the SU. Elizabeth lit up and said, “They were our house guests a few months ago. Mary-Jo married BJ after graduation. He ended up owning three pharmacies in the Seattle area. We had a good laugh about the time BJ got pissed off, moved out of the houseboat, and tossed a dead cat into the attic on his way out. The stink was driving us crazy until we finally found it.

I asked Linda if she remembered the Houseboat parties. She said not so much, but she vaguely remembered attending at least one party with Paul Maffeo. Linda asked, “What became of Stan Strickers? He was a tall kid with a happy-go-lucky attitude. I liked him.” I commented, “He attended SU and lived on the houseboat for a short time. Sometimes he accompanied Pat, Janet, and me up to Canada to hang out with Elizabeth. The last time I saw him, he was dating Elizabeth’s cousin, Janet, who was Pat Bader’s sister. I haven’t seen him since ’63.”

Mike asked about Johnny Dynes whom he hadn’t seen since he and Carolyn divorced. Mike was surprised when I told him, “Johnny was in the Seminary with Pat Bader and I. His nickname was Johnny Be Good until he got tossed out mid-way through his college freshman year for a really dumb stunt he pulled. They still talk and write about that incident, and now refer to him as “Dynamite Dynes.” The last time I saw him he’d fallen on hard times and Carolyn was working through a serious illness”

The waitress broke up our conversations as she delivered lunch. She slapped a plate of two shriveled up ribs and a cup of chili beans before Mike instead of the brisket sandwich and baked beans he ordered. Miss Sunshine shoved a bowl of soup across the table to Linda, startling her. Linda asked if it was vegetable soup because it looked like tomato soup, when the waitress said yes, she accepted it but after two bites, settled for the toast. Mike politely said he would keep his. Elizabeth and I accepted whatever it was she put before us and kept our mouths shut.

Kailua Beach

Linda told us that she lived down the street from us in Hawaii back in the day. That was a surprise and got the girls comparing notes. Elizabeth and Linda seemed to have a lot in common, church, gardening sports, and social assistance. Once they got to talking, there was no stopping them. Mike and I feigned interest in their conversation for several minutes and then returned to reminiscing. We laughed as we retold some hilarious stories about Seattle U adventures with Paul Maffeo, Dan Regis, Pat Bader, and others.

When there was a pause in the banter, Michael got serious and spoke about his thirty-two years managing the Vancouver Sears store. He loved it and it was rewarding to him in so many ways. He is a people person and a smart guy. His personality was perfect for the position, and he would probably still be there if the big shots at the main office didn’t make some bad decisions and offer attractive early retirement packages to their key employees. Michael took the deal and moved on.

I asked, “How’s your son, young Michael, doing? I haven’t seen him in a very long time.”
Mike’s face lit up and he fondly replied, “Michael has worked most of his life. He’s a hard worker and his employers like him. He’s no young chicken, he’s in his late ’50’s, and just recently retired.” I think he said from his job at the convention, or Exposition Hall.
I glanced at my watch, it was 1:05 and we were expecting company at the house at 1:00. I said, “We have to get going, Mike, but before we do, I need to ask who is the mother hen that coordinats the formal and informal coming togethers and group activities of the class of ’58, and stuff like that? I’d like to talk to him.”
“Nobody really. Dinndorf put together the 60th reunion. I don’t remember who led the previous ones. As far as I know, there is nothing planned any time soon. However, I’m thinking about getting the local guys together for an informal lunch this April. Why don’t you come over? A few of us have hosted these lunches every couple of years in the past. About a dozen Prepsters usually show up. You know what? I’ve seen some of the comments from the guys on your blogs that were e-mail copied to the class. They seemed to enjoy reading your blogs, and they have encouraged you to keep them in the loop. If you would be willing to continue that, it would at least be something that we could all enjoy together and share comments on a common, convenient electronic platform we’re all familiar with.
I thought about what he said and I understood that by virtue of my long absence, I had abdicated my position as a full-share class of ’58 Prepsters. To fully return to the fold, this Prodigal Son needed to re-earn his wings in a humble, subtle manner. I realized that I could possibly do that with a monthly or bi-monthly blog tailored to the time we shared at Prep. And so, I decided to consider that move. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
As we walked out of the restaurant, I told Mike, “Follow me over to the house and I’ll give you an autographed copy of Jake The Prodigal Son.”

THE REUNION – Episode II

autobiography, food & drink, October12 2018, reunions, Travel

I arrived in Seattle about three o’clock, and was late for my get-together with brother Ethan, but wanted to take this opportunity to check out some of my old haunts on the way to his home. I hadn’t re-visited the places that had defined several important events in my life. It seemed now was the time to do it. It was important to me to revisit these places since I had written about them from memory in my book, “The Prodigal Son,” and I was curious if I got it right.

I left I-5 and slipped through the Mercer Street corridor headed for Magnolia, I couldn’t believe how Amazon’s coming to town impacted the sleepy Lake Union neighborhood of my youth. It was awful.

LAKE UNIOM copy 2

Lake Union 2018

J

Houseboat 1960

Jake’s houseboat on Lake Union, 1960

Looking north towards where my 1960’s twenty-five-dollar-a-month rented houseboat was moored, all I saw was million dollar floating homes and expensive yachts. It was a far cry from the days these dilapidated, tiny homes were inhabited by college students and hippies, and the toilets and sinks emptied directly into the lake.

Space needle

When I approached the Seattle Center, I spotted the Space Needle looming over me. I remembered  when I was working for NWC in 1968, and they had something to do with building the Space Needle. I got a call from the Needle’s restaurant manager, “Help, the restaurant deck stopped turning this morning. You have to fix it. We are booked for tonight, and it has to be turning by five. I sent a couple of millwrights over with instructions to fix it, and have it done by five. The Restaurant did open on time and the next day I asked my guys, ”What was the problem?”“That whole restaurant is on a turntable driven by a little one-quarter horsepower electric motor and gearbox. The motor failed, and we replaced it.”

As I passed Izzy’s Bar across the street from the Seattle Center, I thought of the many nights we used to spend at this high-toned beer joint which was built for the Seattle World’s Fair crowd. It was no longer there.

I dropped down onto Elliot Ave and pulled into the parking lot of what used to be the old XXX Barrel restaurant. Doc’s buddy, Bill Ruff, owned it, and they had the best barbecue beef sandwich on the planet. I remembered doing the design and drawings to remodel it into a Hawaii themed restaurant and cocktail lounge. I was a twenty-year-old, starving architecture student at UW, and needed the money. I designed it and oversaw the construction for five-hundred-dollars. They named it the “Tiki Hut.” Ziggy used to be a part-time bartender there. Today it’s a sleazy looking Chinese joint.

37th. JPG

Mom, Monica, Auntie Patsy & Grama

I turned onto the Garfield St. Bridge, where I spotted Pete’s old house on the bluff. He was my childhood best friend. I drove through an unremarkable Magnolia Village and turned onto 37th street, where I stopped for a moment to look over our family’s first house. We lived there while Doc was away fighting the war and a few years after he returned. It hadn’t changed much since this old photo was taken in the late ’40s.

I drove up the hill and turned onto West Viewmont Way, and stopped in front of the Winston family’s second home, which Doc bought in 1950. It was a large ranch style house overlooking Puget Sound. I always thought it was a status thing for him, after all, he was a doctor. I hated doing the yard work and cleaning the pool. I marveled at how, as a teenager, I was able to back his car out of the garage, and up the steep driveway at night without Doc hearing the car, and catching me. Actually, he did so once, but that’s an unhappy story for another day.

23 ft houseJPGI drove north to the house that I designed, and Doc built on a narrow, abandoned City alleyway off of W. Viewmont, and a few blocks from Ethan’s home. It was selected as the Seattle Time’s “House of the Month” in 1964. Doc bought me an old ’57 Chevy Bel Air for my troubles. It was the best car I ever owned.

My short detour and tour confirmed that my memory had served me well, and I got it right in the book. It also caused me to realize that the easy, un-crowded lifestyle of my youth was over. I knew I couldn’t handle Seattle’s traffic on a daily basis. Great place to visit, but I don’t want to live here.

***

gordie croppedcopyEthan and his dog, Sara met me at the door of his 1940’s, tiny Cape Cod home. It looked out-of-place surrounded and dwarfed by the two and three-story, multi-million-dollar, modern homes, which had replaced all the other original houses in the neighborhood. Jim Bradley lived a few doors down. He motioned for me to sit in his favorite spot on the ratty, torn, duct-taped, ancient sofa next to Sara. Ethan has never embraced materialism, and it’s my guess the sofa will be with him until the end.

Ethan's modelIt seemed like there were model ships everywhere. It was his hobby, requiring a steady hand, precision, and patience. He was good at it, I never could have done that, but if you have the plans, I can build you a refinery.

I was anxious to spend a couple of quality hours with him. Although we hadn’t seen much of each other over the years, Since we reunited, I have come to rely on his sage advice, focused perspective and well thought out responses to issues dear to me about God, life, death, family, and even writing and publishing.

Hey Father! cropWe cut to the chase, and I brought up the subject of his book,  “Hey Father!”, which did well, and went into a second printing. I asked him. “Why was your book so successful?” He responded, “I told my stories from my heart with love. I spoke simply to what occurred and how we accepted it. It wasn’t about me; it was about my students and their journeys. I merely transcribed what happened, and commented on it. We didn’t do any marketing. I believe my book sales were based on a word of mouth networking among the many folks I had encountered at Blanchet High.

front-copy-2(1)

I told him my first book, “Jake The Prodigal Son” initially sold well, and got dozens of great reviews. However, when sales dropped off dramatically, several months later I guess I was a little paranoid, and disappointed. I was considering abandoning writing, and not finishing my second book, “The Raising of the Ruth Ellen,” which was in the final editing stages.

I thought perhaps I needed to move on to something more rewarding, but first I needed to hear an unbiased, knowledgeable, opinion from my brother, and fellow author, before making that decision.

Fr. Ethan told me, “Jake,  your book is a good one. It is an incredibly, interesting story,  well told and hard to put down. You definitely have  a talent for writing, and every blog you send me is better than the last one. Yes, I certainly encourage you to keep writing.”

I gratefully accepted his opinion,  and concluded that since “Jake The Prodigal Son” was a decent, if not excellent book. The decline in sales was a marketing issue, not a writing one. My confidence returned and I was fired up to publishing ‘The Raising of the Ruth Ellen.”

I asked, “Would you write a second book?”

“I don’t think so. It’s a big undertaking and a time sink. To be honest, my motive to write ‘Hey Father!’ arose from a desire to have my name on a literary work in the Library of Congress. Don’t ask me why.  I have thought about writing another book from time to time. If I did so, it would be centered on the many unusual happenings during marriages I have performed. It would be a funny, thoughtful and sometimes adventurous series of short stories.”

Ethan knew I had just dodged another bullet last month when I survived my fifth cancer in seven years. This time it was liver cancer. Although I seldom spoke of it, he quietly asked if I remembered him telling me about a passage of the Talmud which goes like this, “Each child is sent into this world by God with a unique message to deliver, a song, a personal act of love to bestow…”

“Yes, I do. In fact, I often use it when I’m teaching RCIA, (Catholic Religion for adults.) or talking with my grandkids.”

“Well, Jake. We don’t know what your message is, or when it will be delivered. However, I would suggest that God has gone to a lot of trouble to keep you on this earth, so your message must be pretty important. Just  relax, have faith, and keep doing whatever it is that you are doing.”

Changing the subject, I asked, “Do you have any regrets for selling your boat?”

“No. I’m still drawn to the water. I guess I always will be, but now I’m content to go out occasionally with friends, I always enjoy our annual cruise to the Tides in Gig Harbor.”

He started to tell me one of his corny old jokes, which he’s so fond of repeating. I told him. “Save it for Athena’s dinner party Saturday night. Oh, by the way,  if you’re finally ready for some new material, I had a couple of good jokes I could let you have. We laughed; he looked at his watch, and said, “I have to go I have an event to attend. I’ll see you Saturday.

***

THE METROPOLITAN GRILL

THE EVE BEFORE

As Ethan and I left the house, he said, “It’s rush hour. So, stay off of Interstate-5. Take Elliot Ave to the Alaska Way Viaduct and follow it out of downtown to highway 509, and  Burien. There would be much less traffic.” In the back of my mind, I remembered being with Ethan the  year before when he got horribly lost taking that same route, and we ended up at the White Center garbage transfer station.

I was making good time down Elliot Ave, and I was glad I listened to Ethan. I turned onto Western Ave, and lined up in the right lane to enter the Viaduct, which was about a mile south. A block up Western Ave, I slammed on my brakes when I encountered total  gridlock. I was frustrated by the traffic jam, and ticking clock not because of the stress of crawling through traffic, but because I had an unspoken agenda, which had eluded me for the past three days. That being, enjoying a takeout plate of Ivar’s fish and chips.  It had been on my bucket list for over two years.  Tight schedules, and commitments had blocked me from doing so at the Ivar’s Fish Bars in the airport, in Edmonds and twice again in Burien. Today I planned to reach the Burien Ivar’s before five, sample enough fish and chowder to satisfy my craving and memories, but not spoil my dinner.

ViaductI looked at my watch; it was already after five, and I was going nowhere. I reluctantly set aside my quest for fish and chips to another day and tried to figure out how to get out of the traffic mess. I remembered when I was a teamster driving a truck in Seattle during college, I knew my way around pretty well, particularly the waterfront. I made the first right turn and followed the Alaska Way truck route south. I zipped alone for a half mile, before encountering a detour which took me off Alaska Way and shunted me under the Viaduct, directly into another gridlock that included the backup for Ferry loading traffic.

Ivar's copyThirty-minutes later, Alaska Way was still on my right as I crept along the detour. Suddenly, I spotted the flagship of Ivar’s empire and legacy, “Ivar’s Acres of Clams.” It was seeming within reach, a mere few yards away; but alas, I could only gawk at it, and inhale the delicious fragrance of its fishy goodness as I crawled slowly by. There was no way to get there without abandoning my vehicle in the middle of the road and making a run for it; which I did consider before moaning, “Oh! the irony of it all!.” It nearly broke my heart. I never spoke of my disappointment to my hosts.

***

I arrived at Alisha’s after six. The seventeen miles from Ethan’s to Alisha’s should have taken forty-five minutes, not over two-hours. IMG_6393Gary and Alisha could see I was frazzled and suspected it was the traffic. Alisha said, “You poor dear, let me fix you a drink. Gary is preparing some pupus that will make you droll.” I took my place at the table out on the deck, sipped a Bud Light, chased with a glass of Merlot. I gazed out across Puget Sound at Vashon Island and tried to erase my drive through hell, as my hosts scurried about the kitchen. I needed to relax and let the beer dissolve my tensions and simmering road rage. I gradually morphed back into my happy-go-lucky self, prepared to behave like a brother, and pleasant house guest. Gary and Athena soon joined me, and placed two large trays of delicious Italian bruschette, and a bottle of wine on the table. We talked and laughed until the wine and pupus were gone, and the sun dropped below the Olympic mountain range.

***

crab nye beach cropWhen we entered the dining room, and I saw the platter of beautiful, Dungeness crab, which Gary had bought at the local Vietnamese market, then cooked, cleaned and chilled for dinner. I was glad I never stopped at Ivar’s. I think I ate most of the crab by myself, but I still had room for my share of warm French bread, and lettuce wedges drenched in Mom’s homemade thousand-island dressing recipe.

***

While we were having coffee in the living room, Alisha said, “We have a surprise for you tomorrow, Jake.”

“What would that be?”

IMG_6405“You remember the Metropolitan Grill, don’t you?”

“Of course. It is arguably the gold standard of old-school, elegant, wood-paneled, Seattle restaurants, and it has always been one of my favorites. I haven’t been there in twenty-five years. Why do you ask?”

“Gary has another commitment so, you and I are having lunch there tomorrow at noon.”

The thought of a power lunch with my kid sister, at one of the five-star watering holes of the movers and shakers of Seattle’s business world excited me, and rekindled old memories.

***

THE METROPOLITAN GRILL

When I awoke the next morning, I asked myself what was I getting so excited about. It was just lunch in a nice restaurant. Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I understood what today’s lunch meant to me. My kid sister, a successful stockbroker, had made her mark in the rough and tumble, “Man’s World”, of Seattle’s exclusive financial community. She had earned her place at the table of Seattle’s elite, although she seldom spoke of it. This would be our silent testimony and toast to her achievement.

***

IMG_6400Alisha and I parked at her upscale office building at Fourth and Marion and walked down the two steep blocks to the Metropolitan Grill on Second. The Maître-D seated us in one of the prized cozy booths in the nearly full, front dining room. I glanced into the long narrow, busy bar, noting that it was also crowded, as it should be on a Friday afternoon.

A waiter in tuxedo appeared out of nowhere, presented us with menus and took our drink order. When he returned, Alisha ordered the Friday lunch special, which was one-half of  a French dip sandwich and a green salad. I followed suit, but I added a cup of seafood chowder and a side of barbecue sauce.

IMG_6407 (1)The Metropolitan has its own unique energy, and the luxurious decor and attentive staff always made me feel special. I was proud to share that comforting feeling with Alisha today. We talked about Mom and how she taught every one of us that we were special, and instilled the drive to succeed in whatever we chose to do in life in us. I glanced up and thought perhaps she was looking down on us as we dined and talked. I told Alisha, “I think Mom is proud of us today.” We discussed some of the private events and feeling we held close to our hearts. Nothing heavy, but subjects like religious beliefs, which could be awkward if discussed around the family dinner table.

IMG_6408The soup was exquisite, that’s always a sign that there is an excellent chef in the kitchen. When they brought the entrée, I was surprised by the amount of thinly sliced prime rib that filled and overflowed the French roll. It was enough for two sandwiches. We ate and talked for almost two hours,

After espresso and Italian ice cream, I paid the check. As we were leaving, Alisha encountered a couple of girls she worked with. They seemed excited to meet her big brother. One of them was from Hilo on the Big Island. We chatted about Hawaii, our lunches, and why I was there. following a friendly farewell, we were off for our next adventure.

***

Alisha said, “Let’s walk down to the Pike Place Market. It’s only a few blocks from here. Remember how you always talked about the tiny donut shop that Mom used to take you to when you were little? Well, it’s still there. We’ll buy some donuts. There’s also a unique English crumpets store and a lovely flower shop close by. We’ll get some crumpets for breakfast, and flowers for tomorrow’s dinner table.”

“Sure. It sounds like fun.”

Six blocks, or a half mile later,  I stopped, “ I’m not going one step further. You go on, leave me here, I’m through.”

“No, it’s just up ahead; can’t you see the sign?”

“There is no sign, Alisha. I googled it. The market is another half-mile from here. I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but I’m not walking nearly two miles to get a donut. Sorry.”

limebikeJPGWe looked at each other sheepishly  and didn’t know what to say, or do next. Then, I noticed there were a few motorized “Limebikes” for rent in a rack on the curb. I said, “Let’s rent a couple of these bikes and finish our journey. It will be fun.”

“Sure.”

Between the two of us, we had trouble pulling up the Limebike app. When we got it, we  couldn’t remember our Apple passwords to unlock and activate the bikes. After about twenty-minutes of fumbling, I said, “Forget it. I’m going back to the Met. Meet me in the bar on your way back from the market.”

pedocabJust then, a pedicab pulled up next to us. We jumped in, and the young driver pedaled furiously up and down Seattle’s hills and deposited us at the Pike Place Market. We haggled over the fare on the way. He wanted forty dollars, round trip, I offered thirty. We settled on thirty dollars plus a tip. The haggling was kind of fun. The young man kept a close eye on us as he waited in front of the market, while we darted in and out of the shops. He wasn’t going to let us stiff him. When he delivered us, huffing and puffing back to Athena’s office, I asked, “How much?

“Thirty bucks, plus a tip.”

“How about a three-buck tip?”

“Come on, Mister!”

“Will you take our picture?”

“I’d be happy to.”

I gave him my iPhone, he took three photos, and I handed him forty bucks. It was worth every penny.

***

Stay tuned for Episode III:

It includes: The Class of 1958, The Winston Sibling Reunion, and Ivar’s Salmon House.

Seattle Prep Class of ’58 Reunion – Episode III

food & drink, reunions, September 21, 2018

I called Pat Bader early in the day and arranged to pick him up at four-thirty, in Kent which was, more or less, on my way to the Reunion at the Chateau Saint Michelle Winery in Woodinville. I hadn’t been in the valley since college, and nothing looked familiar. I was detoured, and lost three times before I found his home. Pat’s wife, Dee, whom I met in Midland Michigan in about 1968, hugged me and we visited for a few minutes before heading out. She warned us, “They are expecting lots of detours and a massive backup starting tonight around Kent, because of highway construction You guys need to be prepared for some major delays.”

***

As we drove down the hill, I told Pat, “You are my navigator. Your number one job is to get us to the Reunion, back to your house and then plot a course on my iPhone that will skirt the Kent detours and heavy traffic on my journey back to Burien.

I had my doubts regarding the wisdom of that assignment after we missed the Woodinville turnoff, then missed the entrance to the winery and circled around several residential neighborhoods before landing in the winery parking lot.

***

Jerry Dinndorf, the guy who tirelessly put this thing together, greeted us when we entered the cavernous wine tasting room, nearly an hour late. I scanned the room looking for a familiar face or two without finding one. There were nearly one-hundred guests there, mostly gathered in groups of three or four, sipping wine and chatting.

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Roche Harbor

As Jerry nudged us over to the signup table, we spoke briefly about the construction business in the Northwest and how Roche Harbor was a lot nicer back in the day when it wasn’t so popular. Jerry’s wife and another pleasant lady, neither of whom I remembered, said hello, then happily registered and name tagged us.

Pat, Mr. Social Butterfly, pasted his name tag to his shirt and disappeared into the crowd. I wasn’t expecting that. I guess I unconsciously expected him to point out and identify these characters surrounding me whom I had little recollection of. As I backed away from the signup table, I suddenly felt totally out-of-place among this noisy crowd of silver-haired Prepsters. I knew they were my high school classmates, but I suspected they weren’t sure who I was, or why I was there. I felt like an interloper at a stranger’s wake.

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Jake fishing in Alaska’s Bering Sea

My survival instincts kicked in, and my eyes darted around the room until I found a safe haven. I quickly made my way over to a quiet corner and sat down with my back to the room. I’m a pretty tough old bird, a hard-nosed industrial contractor, and an Alaska commercial fisherman when time allows. So, I didn’t understand my girly, sophomoric reaction to the threat of possibly being rejected by those from my past, whom I respected.

I suspected my fear of being rebuffed flowed from my becoming an author late in life. I, like most authors, are paranoid about being rejected by our readers. It comes with the job.

I took a couple of deep breaths and allowed my Seattle Prep philosophy training to rise to the challenge. I recalled my Jesuit mentors drilling into us: Never give up the pursuit of a  worthwhile goal. Question what you see and hear, determine for yourself what’s real and what’s not. Get into your adversary’s head, discover what he’s thinking and why; then act upon that knowledge.

I realized that my brothers here, had spent four years at prep, and had been hanging out off and on for the last sixty years. They were just continuing their comfortable, long term friendships. I, on the other hand, spent less than a year at Prep, and then disappeared from their lives. Now, sixty years later, I want to be a part of their inner circles? I thought, What’s the matter with me? Get over it, I haven’t earned my stripes. They’re not ignoring me, they just have no idea  of who I am. If I want to make the evening a success, I need to take the lead, and re-introduce myself to my classmates, start a few conversations, and have some fun.

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Jake and Charlie Ralls

As I got up to join the party, a big guy approached me saying, “Hey Joe, it’s me, Charlie Ralls. I loved your book, JAKE THE PRODIGAL SON. Your story grabbed me, and I couldn’t put it down. The book paralleled my life in so many ways, I had to read it twice, and I’m about to read it for the third time.  Good job, Man.”

Boy, was I glad to see him. I was completely taken back and didn’t know what to say. We were in a couple of classes together at Prep. We weren’t close, but I admired his prowess as a Prep Panther football star. I couldn’t believe he remembered and approached me.  I wondered, How in the blazes did he find out about my book and what motivated him to buy it?

He asked me lots of questions about my life and we talked about his challenges growing up. We discussed the book for about twenty minutes. Charlies loved the opening sea story, my seminary antics, the chapters dealing with Seattle Prep, and the drama between my father and I over the years. He said, “I had no idea you were such a scoundrel when you were in the seminary.”

We laughed, and the conversation turned to some funny antics we both got into trouble for, back at Prep. He reminded me that I had saved his butt more than once in Latin class by slipping him some crib notes minutes before Mr. Brandt, the Jesuit Latin teacher, asked him to recite a passage from Caesar’s speech at the Forum. My unexpected encounter with Charlie Ralls, who we just called, “Ralls”, broke the ice. We often addressed each other by our last names.

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F. Michael Fischer

As we headed towards the bar together, my old buddy, Mike Fischer, appeared out of nowhere with a shit-eating grin upon his face and slapped me on the back. We joked for a few minutes until his girlfriend, Linda Lowe, distracted him. He moved on saying, “Let’s talk when things settle down.”

That did it. Jake Winston was back and ready to live large tonight.

 

 

Seattle Prep 2018 - 01

 

This reunion dinner was more than a social event to me. It was a lot more. It was a celebration of the accomplishments of an extraordinary group of Prepsters who had used their God-given talents to make a difference in the world. The class of ’58 delivered to the world: Judges, lawyers,  doctors, engineers, filmmakers, authors, teachers,  merchants, law enforcement and fire department leaders, financial gurus, Mafia Dons, military leaders, missionaries, builders, and even a high-level IRS auditor. We had traveled the world, sailed our yachts, fished the seven seas, climbed mountains and tended to the ill and homeless. Tonight, was a time for celebrating, laughing, hoisting our glasses and maybe even shedding a private tear for our brothers who were no longer with us.

As Ralls and I entered the dining room and found our separate pre-assigned tables, he poked me, “Let’s continue our conversation after dinner”. I agreed, and when I spotted Pat Bader three tables away, I grinned and gave him thumbs up. The happy-go-lucky Joe Douglas, AKA Jake Winston, was back.

Joe James & Duke 2I took my place at table #2, an embarrassing, eight-top table with only two couples and myself in attendance. The rest of the places were for no-shows, I guessed. Dave McCauley, Joe James, and their wives joined me there. These two guys, along with Pickering, Ralls, and Riggs, were the Prep Panther football heroes. Joe James remembered me, and said, “We had a hell of a good time together at Prep together, I’m glad I met you.”

I asked him, “What did you do for a living, and what do you do for kicks, Joe James?”

Vi-Queen copy

Barkley Sound B. C.

“I taught high school English for nearly fifty years. We’ve had a vacation place up in Kingston where we go out in the boat, fish, and go crabbing. We have even been to Barkley Sound a time or two. What have you been up to all these years?’

I replied, “We had a place on Eagle Harbor which we sold when we moved to Hawaii nineteen years ago. I miss the Northwest, and Barkley Sound, but I continue to fish and crab in Hawaii. We have a large species of crab know as Samoan crab or mud crab. It’s may be even better eating than Dungeness.

 

Windell

Steve Windell

I don’t think Dave McCauley remembered me, but the five of us chatted amicably before dinner and listened attentively to the master of ceremonies, Steve Windell.

Just before dinner, Jim Bradley approached the Diaz and solemnly acknowledged those Prepsters, who had left this world since the last reunion five years ago. I said a prayer for Tom Coughlin, my good friend from St. Margaret’s grade school and Prep.

We were now down to fifty-some alive and kicking classmates. I hadn’t seen Jim since college, and I wouldn’t have recognized him if he hadn’t been on the program. Like many of us, he was heavier and having a little trouble getting around.

Kelly Pickering took the podium and gave the dinner blessing. He was a tough S.O.B  in high school, and the last guy I would expect to be giving the invocation. However, he did a great job and made the point that we were spiritual beings on a human experience, not the other way around. I thought, Good job Kelly.

We marched off to load up our plates at the thirty-foot long buffet table. I cruised the table to see what my choices were, circled back, and selected a Filet Minion, sautéed asparagus and a green salad. I was more than a little disappointed for paying seventy-five bucks for a serve-yourself, limited-selection buffet. I guess I have been spoiled by the many Hawaiian luaus, pig roasts and first birthday parties I have attended. However, it did include complimentary wine.

After dinner, I scooted over to Jim Bradley’s table and pulled up a chair. He seemed happy that I had made the trip. He introduced me to Larry and Bobbie McHugh, and the four of us had fun exchanging Prep experiences. Bradley told me, “I retired, after a long career of running my business, Saxton Bradley. Marian and I recently sold our Magnolia home on 42nd street, which was down the street from your brother, Father Gordie’s house, and moved to Bellingham. I’m going to miss running into Father Gordie. He was someone special, nothing like his big brother.

McHugh

Larry McHugh

Larry was a financial guy, and Jim pointed out he was also an accomplished piano player. When there was a lull in the conversation, Larry said, “I’m reading your book, Jake The Prodigal Son. I’m half-way through it. and enjoying it. I love the photographs. That’s as far as I got. Is your pal in the book, called Parker, actually  Pat Bader?”

“Yes.”

“I thought so,”

Larry played for us as the event came to a close. “He’s good, darn good.”

I asked Bradley, “What became of my buddy, Jerry Firnstahl? I’ve been trying to track him down.”

“I heard Firnstahl was in a Jesuit seminary for a year or two sometime after prep. He dropped out of sight for years, re-appeared, and bought a farm somewhere around Arlington. I  heard that Jerry died in a horrible farm accident a couple of years ago.”

I responded, “Holy crap. Firnstahl, Brian Egan and I  were best friends back in the Prep and SU days.”

“I didn’t know that you knew Brian, but I grew up  with Firnstahl, Egan and his weird older brother, Ray. We hung out all through grade school and high school.”

“What are Brian and Ray up to these days?”

“Brian is living in Eastern Washington. He was a teacher, like his Mom, and Ray died young.”

“I always thought Ray was a little odd, but when he traded in his cherry ‘56 Chevy, Belair for a piece of crap, French Renault. I realized there was something seriously wrong with the guy. How did he die?”

“A serious case of orneriness.”

“Do you remember Firnstahl’s ‘39 Plymouth coupe?”

“Of course, it was a baby blue hot rod and a chick magnet.”

1939PlymouthP8coupe-b

’39 Plymouth coup

“I wanted a car like that so bad, and I did find another ’39 Plymouth coupe. It was a junkyard  beater with a blown engine. I bought it for twenty-five dollars, rebuilt it with a Dodge truck engine, and equipped it with moon hubcaps, a pair of glass packs, a set of  snap-on white walls, and  a thirty-nine dollar, ‘Earl Scheib’ paint job.”

Jim asked, “Is that the one you sold to Paul Maffeo?”

“Yes it was.”

“Wait a minute, Jake. I remember your daddy gave you a brand-new ’58 Ford when you were at Prep. What happened to that?”

I blew the automatic transmission drag racing on Magnolia Boulevard one night, and Daddy took the Fairlane away.”

We all laughed, I got up and announced I was going to mingle with my Prep brothers.

Meet and Greet Award IMG_1097 copy

Jerry Dinndorf & Mrs. Riggs?

The first table I hit had eight folks enjoying desert and coffee. I recognized Jerry Riggs sitting next to his wife Maureen, and introduced myself. He seemed to recognize my name, and then he grinned and said, “Joe, long time, no see. You live in Hawaii, right? You lucky dog. My sales territory years ago was the West Coast and Hawaii. I sold fasteners and other construction products over there out of my store in Mapunapuna.” Later that evening, I believe Jerry Dinndorf awarded Maureen a bottle of wine for something.

I introduced myself to Sean Malone, Bill Evans and their wives. We had a strange conversation about our hot rods back in the day. I think he said he had something to do with either Firnstahl’s ’39 coup or Maffeo’s hot rod.

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Jake’s ’50 Ford

He asked, “Do you remembered selling your ’50 Ford convertible, stick shift to our Seattle U classmate, Allen, who lost his right hand in an accident as a kid?”

“I do, but I felt bad about it. I tried to talk him out of it, but he just kept after me until I relented and sold it to him.

 

 

I tapped Kelly Pickering on his shoulder. When he turned around, I told him who I was and complimented him on saying grace before dinner, “I was impressed by your spiritual side. I just always thought of you as a tough football player.” He told me that grew up in a religious family and he had recently attended a three day ‘Spanish inspired retreat,’ and it changed his life. The wives around the table seemed to be delighted that I, and a few others, were making the effort to circulate and share a few words with the tables. They mostly wanted to know who I was, and where did I live.

A classmate at one of the tables, I’m not sure who, asked, “Were you with Pat Bader at St. Edward Seminary before you transferred into Prep?”

“Yes, that would be me.”

Did you know David Doyle? He was a good friend who left St. Martin’s Academy and entered the seminary about the same time you and Pat were there?”

david boyle copy“I didn’t know David when we were at the seminary. However, three years ago he contacted me though an internet site called “Classmates”. He was living on the Big Island and working at the Volcano National Park as a photographer. Elizabeth and I were living on Oahu.

He confided in me that he had been a heavy smoker, and developed a series of serious cancers, one of which was about to take him out. David wanted to spend some time with me, a fellow seminarian, before he left this world. We were both looking forward to getting together, but he passed away before we had a chance to do that.”

IMG_6424 copy .    IMG_6420 .     Lert-Rt Joe Thibodeau Bryan Saario Carl & Linda Jension Charley & Floran Ralls2018 - 26 copy

I felt a sense of brotherhood among those of us there. I realized that the bond we shared was indeed something extraordinary. For some of us, our minds and bodies were fading, but we were still Prepsters, and damn proud of it.

I returned to Bradley’s table when I saw the wait staff serving dessert and coffee. For seventy-six dollars, I was damn sure I wasn’t going to miss out on the desert and coffee. Wait, there was coffee, but no decadent chocolate cake at my place. I looked around the room for a caring waiter to correct this unforgivable blunder, but they had all disappeared into that place where waiters go to avoid the beckoning of their charges. I guess it is a power thing. I sipped my coffee and glanced jealously at my table mates, who were enjoying their deserts and smiling about something I wasn’t privy to.

Bradley couldn’t stand it any longer. He grinned a conspiratorial grin to Larry and Bobbie, reached under the table and presented me with my dessert. We all got a laugh at that.

old bldg

Tuscany

Before I could dig in, Sid Flor, whom I believe was there with Caryl, stopped by our table to catch up on our news, and talk about his recent trip to Northern Italy. We had all been there at one time or another, and shared notes about our take on the best restaurants and places to stay. We often joked about Sid being the Godfather, but I was never sure if it was a joke or not. His mustache, frequent trips to the old country, his references to his suspicious friend Guido,  caused, me to wonder about who he really was.

 

san juan joe & patA few minutes later, Dan Regis, who was there with his wife, pulled up a chair. He regaled the table with a tale about Pat Bader, myself and him being shipwrecked in the San Juan Islands the summer of our freshman year at Seattle U.

Sid asked, “Do you remembered Jake’s houseboat party, the night of 1962 Columbus day storm? The wind tore the houseboat loose from its flimsy moorage. Only a few of the guests managed to escape, before the wind blew the houseboat with the rest of us aboard, out into Lake Union. Thank God the Harbor Patrol rescued us and towed us back to shore before we capsized.”

I spoke briefly to Mick Flynn and Joni. Mick said, “We will be on Oahu in January for a golf outing. Could we get together for lunch or dinner?”

“Of course, that would be fun. You have my number, call me.”

I hadn’t seen Mick since our Freshman year at Seattle U. I remember one afternoon when I was over at his parent’s house with Bradley, John Howell, his brother Jerry, and a couple of other guys. I don’t remember why we were there, or even why I remembered that event.

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Paul Maffeo

On my return from the men’s room I ran into Paul Maffeo, who was helping himself to a second cup of coffee. “I got to tell you, he looked like he was homeless, standing there in rumpled khakis, an open blue sweater and his shirt tail hanging out. I didn’t know what that look was all about.”

My kid sister, Terry, who is a senior stockbroker at UBS, told me over lunch at the Metropolitan Grill earlier today, “Paul Maffeo was, and still is one of the movers and shakers in Seattle’s financial world. I knew of him when he was a senior VP of both Piper Jaffe and UBS before he moved on.”

I remembered that he and his Seattle U girlfriend, were occasional guests at our houseboat parties. We laughed about the ‘39 Coup, and the houseboat. We reminisced for a few minutes and returned to our tables.

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Arco’s Prudhoe Bay Facility

Bryan Saario and I talked briefly about his adventures in Alaska as a boy, and his long-forgotten encounter with a brown bear. I told him, “Alaska is like a  powerful drug, It can hook you, and never let go. I too had spent  time in Alaska and been chased by a bear or two.”

I was involved in building three of the North Slope refineries in the eighties, including Arco’s massive facility at Prudhoe Bay. More recently I have been in and out of Dutch Harbor several times on construction projects.

 

SaarioBryan told me about the time he spent in Palestine on a medical mission, and that he believed the Palestinian People were getting a bad rap.He has authored two books, “Holy Land Conversations,” and “SISU,” and he is working on his third book. As he left, he handed me a copy of  “The Class of 1958 Directory De Biographies”. I thumbed through it and wondered, Why I wasn’t in it? I had sent in my biography in on time, but I thought, No big deal… At least, not until Steve Windell awarded a bottle of wine to Terry Kearns for having traveled the farthest to attend that night’s festivities. I thought, Terry and his wife came from Austin, Texas which is 1,500 miles from Seattle. I, on the other hand, flew 2,700 miles from Honolulu to be here tonight. But then who’s counting?

A few weeks after the reunion, Bryan e-mailed me saying he was “impressed by my authorship,” and set me a few pages of a draft he was currently writing to look over. I was moved by that gesture.

As the evening was ending, Duke McCauley took the floor and regaled us with Prep Panther Football stories and why you didn’t want to mess with Coach Goodman. He reminded us of the horrors of goofing off and having to accompany Father Weissenberg to the boiler room for a beating. I guess that wouldn’t happen today.

Larry McHugh and I tried to taunt F. Michael Fischer into leading the room in a chorus of “My Wild Irish Rose,” but he wanted nothing to do with it. I told him he was a chicken and Larry  pleaded with him, but nothing doing.

I hadn’t seen Pat Bader since we arrived at the reunion, but about 10:30 he found me and said, “This I pretty much over, let’s go.” We passed Ralls on our way out. He told me, “You need to keep  writing, and we needed to stay in touch via e-mail. When will your next book be available?”

ruth ellen

The Raising of the Ruth Ellen

“My next novel, The Raising of the Ruth Ellen, will be published early next year. When I was young and stupid, I raised this fifty-seven foot fishing vessel off the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. A close family friend, Blake Ryker, was lost at sea when the Ruth Ellen went down off of Cape Mendocino. The insurer wouldn’t pay the widow’s insurance claims without evidence of the deceased remains. It’s a sad, but great story.”

As we left the room, I waved and said, “See ya, my brother.”

***

We walked out to the parking lot with Terry Kearns and his wife. When he told us that he was still working for the state of Texas. I asked if he knew Ann Richards, the spunky Ex-Governor of Texas?

He chuckled and said, “I sure do. Remember the speech Ann gave at the Democratic National Convention in 1988. She became an instant celebrity when she referred to George W. Bush as, ‘Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.’”

We laughed, and I told him about the night I was in the Little Rock airport cocktail lounge, with a couple of associates, waiting for a plane back to Birmingham. A very tipsy, older woman entered the bar with a name tag on her lapel identifying her as “Arkansas Secretary of State”. We thought we would have some fun and asked her to join us for a drink. President Clinton was under fire at the time, for his tryst with Monica Lewinski. I asked, “Was there any truth to the insinuations that President Bubba was a philanderer when he was the  governor of Arkansas?”

She giggled, swallowed her martini and said, “Where ya’all from, Mars? Whenever Hillary was out of town, there was a steady stream of State Trooper’s cars delivering young women to the back door of the Governor’s mansion. That’s all I’m going to say about that, until one of you boys buy me another drink.”

***

On the way home, Pat and I discussed our evening’s adventure.  I admitted after my initial apprehension, I had loosened up and had a ball. I visited with most of our brothers, but there were a few whom I didn’t get a chance to talk to; like Phil Perry, Joe Thibodeau, Bill Evans, and Jim Carrol. I would have liked to have caught up with a couple of guys who didn’t show up. Mike Cahan; His brother married my cousin Kitty. I would have liked to visit with Gary Merlino. We were both in the construction business, and he was a distant neighbor of my sister who  spoke of his permitting issues with the city that occasionally made the paper.

The ride from Kent back to my sister’s home in Burien, was a nightmare. I should have been home by 11:15, however, I got caught up in the detour traffic, had trouble seeing the directional signs in the driving rain and glaring headlights. I can’t explain how, but I ended up in Tacoma, Federal Way, and God only knows where else before I found my way home at 12:30 am. exhausted from a memorable evening.

*** THE END ***