Dick Tracy Rides Again

Dick Tracy Rides Again

By the time I hit the first grade, our family had moved one street over to Maple. In fact, it was the first home that my folks actually purchased (for all of $5800).


Our next door neighbor was Dutch Holter, the sheriff. So we were expected to be on our good behavior.


But no problem there. Our favorite spot to play in this neighborhood was the alley that began beside our house, and ran the length of the block.  We never saw him back there.


This alley could have been right out of the Our Gang comedies.  Tall wooden fences lined both sides of the dirt road, wide enough for only one vehicle at a time, usually the dump truck.  In places you couldn’t see the fences for all of the lilac blossoms overflowing from all the properties behind them.  Their aroma spread far and wide.


We would play in the back yard at one of the homes along the alley.  I don’t remember if there was a gate or a hole in the fence that granted us access, I only know that we never entered through the house on that property.  The kids there invited us in to play in the dirt with Tonka trucks etc. Come time to leave, we used whatever the mode of egress was, tiptoed warily around the abandoned refrigerator (we had been scared with stories about kids getting trapped inside them), and either headed for home, or stopped by our other favorite play site…


One of the neighbors had an old 1920-30s car set up on blocks.  We liked to take turns at the wheel on the front bench seat, while those in back fired pretend guns through the window.  It had suicide doors that we would pop out of as we came to a pretend screeching halt and fend off the bad guys with blazing tommy guns.


Dick Tracy rides again. And the sheriff never knew we were giving him a helping hand.


A Critic is Born

Critic is born

About the time I was in kindergarten, my family lived on Elm Street in Colville.


I don’t remember very much about the house but I do recall quite well the woodshed behind the house, for the reason which I will recount later. Maybe my mind draws a blank on the house because we spent a lot of time next door in the neighbor’s yard. They had a creek that ran through their yard and a large sand box nearby, premiere attractions for kids ages five and under.


Play would inevitably veer from the sand box to the creek. As you can guess, someone fell in.  It wasn’t me or my brother, but rather my baby sister who tumbled head first into the water. Our mom just happened to see her predicament and rushed by us gawking boys and rescued her. I guess we were just galvanized into inaction by inexperience, not knowing what to do.


And I almost lost out on gaining some experience and education, if you will, that fall when I started school.


The kindergarten was just a couple blocks down the street – a very short walk – and an even shorter flight.  I had no problems with school until I was made to take part in the performance of a poem or song accompanied by hand motions. I felt ridiculous and thought the whole thing rather silly. In short I didn’t want to participate anymore. So the minute the teacher’s attention was elsewhere, I exited out the front of the building, circled around to the alley in back and made my way via the alleys to that woodshed behind our house.


I slipped into the shed and shut the door behind me. I held up there until my folks discovered me.  By that time I had come down with pneumonia, and spent the next week in bed.


My mom tells me that I showed more interest in school after that. I guess I missed being with my classmates.


This may explain why I enjoy writing scripts for others to perform, and am just too self conscious to perform myself.


Lucky Lager and the Tiger Road

Some summer days I would accompany my father as he worked for my grandfather. My mom would put a sack lunch together for me, always a peanut butter and jam sandwich wrapped up in wax paper. I wouldn’t eat anything else. (Thank God for the genius of George Washington Carver).
I would climb up onto the bench seat in the cab of the box truck and we were off to make beer deliveries.
My grandfather’s distributorship took in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, everything except the Colville Indian Reservation, which the Lucky Lager distributor in Spokane jealously guarded.
We climbed the Tiger Road up out of Colville, the name whispered to me of adventure, even danger.  It was named for the town it passed through, the town of Tiger, a spot in the road with a single store.
We passed through the mountains and down to the Pend Oreille river. From there we headed north to Ione and Metaline Falls, both communities centered on silver and lead mines. When we saw the tall smokestack of the smelter  we knew we were closing in on the latter place.
Metaline Falls was pretty much the end of the line. And that is perhaps the reason that Kevin Costner made his film The Postman there, (an apocalyptic story released in 1997, and set in the future time of – 2013).
Some days we would head south along the Pend Oreille and service the taverns in the county seat, Newport, then make the rounds of the lake resorts as we returned to Colville.
Places like Loon Lake and Lost Lake and Deer Lake beckoned.
My favorite, at least for the name, was Jump Off Joe Lake. We rolled into that resort one day about noon.  I followed my dad into the cool of the closed tavern where he made his delivery. That done, we returned to the truck and sat and ate our lunch. I remember the scent of pine trees in the summer heat. My dad had bought me something to drink with my meal (no, not a beer) an Orange Nehi. And as a treat he added some bubblegum that to my surprise came with some Three Stooges trading cards.
From there it was
Home again
Home again
Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.

Atop Lucky Lager

atop Lucky Lager

Back when we lived in Colville, I can remember times we spent at my grand parents.  They had a nice two story home on Third between Wynne and Washington streets. The home in which my mother’s family had owned since her teen years.
Two large weeping willow trees stood to the side of the front yard. We loved to run and grab a handful of hanging willow branches and swing out into space over the next door property, a la Tarzan swinging through the jungle.  However, we did not keep going from vine to vine like him, but rather swung backwards, completing the pendulum motion.
My grandfather was a large man and not a little intimidating. He owned a shop that set on that adjoining lot. He had been a mechanic with a specialty in automobile radiators. But now it was a beer distributorship for Lucky Lager, which he owned and operated.
One time I was in the warehouse area and for some reason all alone. Probably not a good idea for a three something. For someone of my then size it was like walking in canyons with high plateaus on every side. Cases of beer were piled six high on pallets. Somehow I climbed to the top of one of these islands. I think I utilized the flaps that could be punched in for the handholds on each individual case, as my footholds.
Of course, you can guess what happened once I got up there. A whole case precipitated from the top onto the concrete floor below. The sound of breaking glass startled me and a pool of beer spread out from the bottom of the case, bringing the aroma of hops with it and a sense of doom.
I broke out in tears.  This probably saved me as no apocalyptic spanking followed. I was examined for any hurts and sent out to the tune of mop and broom being applied to the mess.
My first experience of mercy.