Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Monday, May 10, 2021

A Fifth Part of my little Saga


More in Goldendale………

Another kid I spent time with was Paul Nehmi (I think that was the spelling).  He was rich, by my standards, because his father was the manager of the local Penny’s store (as in, J. C. Penny), and he lived some blocks away in a modern house.  Not only did they have indoor plumbing, but his mother cooked on an electric stove!  One interesting side note about Goldendale comes to mind:  Basketball was big stuff in this little town, with a population of around 2500.  The coach at the high school was worshipped, and his program encompassed the entire town, with the P. E. coaches at the elementary and the middle school, working hard to bring the younger guys along, so as to get them ready for the big kid’s game.  All games were broadcast on the radio, and it was a given that Goldendale would go to State each year.  At that time, schools at that level of competition, like B (?) went to their State Tournament in Tacoma every year.  The bigger schools of course had their state tournament in Seattle.

Later, when I was a senior in Tacoma, I skipped school and attended some of the games at UPS’ (University of Puget Sound) Field house, and saw some of the guys I had attended grade school with, now in the big show.  By that time the former coach from Goldendale had ‘made good,’ and had become coach of the basketball team at UPS – Coach Bud Wilkerson, or Wilkinson.

We stayed in that small town, in the same rented house until the night Mike graduated high school (I had just finished 7th grade).  I recall that Mike had been awarded a medal (sponsored by Bausch, as in Bausch and Lomb, I believe, for outstanding Science achievements).  But there was no time to even congratulate him on his achievements, as we were all herded aboard a Greyhound Bus that very evening, and ended up back in Tacoma (of course, I didn’t know at that time that we had lived in Tacoma before), this time at my paternal grandfather’s home (for some reason he was never grandpa or grandfather, but instead, he was called Granddad by all; no, it is not likely that this had something to do with that most excellent Bourbon, Old Granddad, because that is good stuff, and I don’t think he could afford the good stuff anymore than the old man could).  We stayed with him and his second wife (Margaret) for that summer, and then moved to a rental house just before school started that fall.  It was while we lived here (N. Division Ave., is all I recall; just two doors from Frisko Freeze, the best burgers and shakes anywhere) that we got our first television.  Naturally, it was a used one, with a big wooden cabinet, and a very tiny screen. Remind me sometime to tell you about what we watched on TV in those days, and, now that I think of it, at the same time I can write about what I remember from the radio in those years before we had TV, and our first record player, and first records.

 We actually stayed in that rental all through my 8th grade, and most of my 9th, then moved to yet another rental, in another part of town.  Now that I think of it, however, there are a couple of things about this house that come up in my memory.   This house was actually sort of special, in that it had some unique features in – of all places – the bathroom.  The countertop was stainless steel, and the bathroom was overly large, with a separate stall for the toilet.  The story was that this had been a house of ill repute (how appropriate) and a busy ‘entertainment’ center during the years of prohibition.  Maybe that is why that upstairs bathroom was so fancy.

There was something else about that bathroom that was special.  Now, what was that?  Oh, yeah, this was the bathroom where the old man passed out while on the toilet.  Keep in mind that most of my younger years feature this memory of a mean, mean drunk.  The mean drunk who, when in his cups, and at his ‘best,’ would look at you with serious mayhem, if not murder, in his eyes, just for coming within eyesight of him.  He would also mutter incomprehensible drunkenly slurred things to himself while ‘at his best,’ as it were.  And, basically, you knew better than to get within easy reach of him.  Then, of course, when he was on a real tear, and was beating up on the old lady (who never did learn to leave well enough alone), you would try to plead, grab an arm, or somehow get him to stop (and, her, too, because she was usually just about as drunk as he was by this time).  He never did until he passed out, and peace descended upon whatever shack we were living in at the time.

Well, let me tell you, when he passed out on the toilet, and wound up laying on the floor, with his pants at half mast, and with the slobber running down his chin, a lot of the fear dissipated.  I only wish somebody had a camera, and that we could have preserved that image for posterity.  Of course, today, such a thing would be a no brainer, ‘cause every frickin’ kid has a cell phone with a camera built right in, and that sucker would have been all over you tube and facebook, and the internet within minutes.  I guess that’s one nice thing about progress.  No, I did not own a cell phone at the time I wrote this (and, if I still had kids at home, the only way they would have one would be if they went to work to earn the money to buy their own damn phone, and to pay the damn bill, too)!  Well, that was one of the fonder memories of that house.  But, you know, the fun has to end sometime, so…

            We moved again before my sophomore year of high school, requiring me to attend a school different from where most of my friends were.  Actually, there were two moves.  First, south of down town, and the huge gulley that runs through the middle of Tacoma, kind of east to west, to a small place a block off Pacific Avenue (maybe on Wright St.).  We only stayed here a few months, and I seem to remember we had to ride the city buses to and from school, up until the end of my 9th grade.  This place was memorable mostly for its proximity to King’s Roller Rink, where I learned to roller skate, and where Dennis and I (and, likely David and maybe, Pat) had some good times.  Then, before my sophomore year began, we moved again, way north, to North Verde Street.  We pronounced it as ‘vurd,’ because we did not know that this is the Spanish word for the color green, pronounced as vair-day (accent on the ver).  After the end of that school year, we moved yet again, to the first (and only) house that my parents ever tried to buy, located at 625 North Cushman Avenue.


 Above is that house as it looks today – pretty much what it looked like all those years ago.  (recent photo courtesy of Richard T. Oxley, a guy I went to Junior High and High School with, all those years ago.  He spent a number of nights in the basement of this place).

I was in heaven, but that’s another story.  We stayed in that really special (for me) place all through my junior year, up until the last month of my high school, while I attended one of the most special high schools anywhere (which is yet another story, but look it up on the ‘net; it was featured in the 1999 movie, 10 Things I Hate About You), Stadium High School.  Meanwhile, Pat and Dennis both graduated from that school one and two years ahead of me.  We’ll pick this up again, when Part VI gets done…………


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Part IV, in which we will move yet again (surprise)……


My little saga continues.

It was while we lived in Goldendale that Mike had a huge paper route (really bigger than his resources could handle) for a time, and so did Dennis (a more modest enterprise, one that could be walked).  I used to help Dennis with his route, and one year, for having signed up a certain number of new subscriptions, he managed to accumulate enough points that he and I both got to go on a chartered Greyhound bus, all the way down the river to Portland, Oregon (the newspaper in question was probably the Portland Oregonian, but it might well have been the Oregon Journal).  In Portland, we were taken to Jantzen Beach, a large amusement park, known far and wide.  We spent the day and had a great time.  Dennis also managed to buy himself a bicycle at the local Western Auto.  Speaking of Western Auto, this was truly an American original.  Every town of any size had a Western Auto.  These stores sold everything for the car, from batteries to tires, and all parts, plus most things for the home.  They carried hardware, great bikes (and everything you needed for your bike; Western Flyer was their brand), their own line of radios, TV’s, appliances, and parts for appliances.  These were just a few brands carried by Western Auto:  "Tough One" Batteries, "Wizard" Tools, "TrueTone" electronics, and "Citation" appliances, and “Revelation” firearms, (and I think, also sporting goods, like footballs, basketballs, and the like).

Also, in downtown Goldendale, on Main Street, very close to Western Auto, was the local ‘five and dime,’ or dime store, like a Woolworths.  I guess these stores were sort of a high class Dollar store, if you can believe that.  I mean, obviously, if they sold mostly stuff that only cost a nickel or a dime, that price range might well suggest junk.  Yes, they had a lot of Japanese junk, all right.  (It must be understood that literally everything from Japan, in the fifties, was very poor quality, and that meant both workmanship as well as raw materials).  But, everything was displayed more openly, and instead of racks and hooks, and shelves to shop from, there were these big, open flat-topped bins, with everything reachable, and touchable, and easy to get hold of – oops!  Can’t end a sentence with a preposition, now can we?  Let’s say, easy to reach, instead.

Goldendale’s Main Street, in addition to the theater, featured a small supermarket, locally owned, the newspaper office (the Goldendale Sentinel, a weekly publication), 

a barber shop, a Dentist Office (Ol’ Doc somebody or other - West?), upstairs above some other business), the local creamery, a couple of restaurants (The Simcoe Café and Mac’s Café), various shops, J. C. Penny, and a Safeway.  I think there was also OK Tire and Rubber company (part of a chain that sold new tires, and ‘recaps,’ which were just that: old tires, whose rubber had worn down, but whose walls were still in decent shape, so new rubber was molded onto them; they typically cost a fraction of what a new tire cost, but the rubber was likely to come rolling off at speed, especially in hot weather).  Needless to say, the old man bought a lot of recaps.

I also got the opportunity to play Little League baseball, and our team traveled to places like White Salmon, maybe Lyle, and other towns down along the Columbia River.  The Old Man liked to fish, and while it was usually Dennis who went with him, I do recall going fishing a time or two.  This was strictly stream fishing using night crawlers for bait.  We kids had the job of getting the huge worms, and this was actually very easy to do.  Just go out into the front or side yard with a shovel.  Push it down into the usually moist earth, and lean it one way or the other, and look at the exposed earth.  Inevitably, you would see one or more worms moving (this was best done at night; don’t ask me why) by the light of a flashlight.  You just grabbed as many as you could, and put them into an old coffee can.  Fishing always required an early morning start, and it really did not take all that long to get a good number of good sized trout.  Occasionally, we went for Steelhead.  The myth (story I seem to recall hearing from the Old Man) was that a trout was the young version of a Salmon, and the Steelhead was the in-between version.  Supposedly, those trout that could make it from creek to river were able to grow into Steelhead, and then, if the Steelhead could make it down river, to the ocean, and then return, you had a Salmon (hey, that’s what somebody told me, and I’ve never forgotten it, nor have I ever researched it to verify it this is for real).

Actually, there was an incident involving fishing and a barbed wire fence that might be worth recounting.  On one particularly auspicious (? For lack of a better word) occasion, Dennis and Garun (I don’t know how to put the phonetics into the pronunciation of his name, as uttered by Bernie, his helpmeet, especially when in her cups - Oh, God, now I’m going to get side tracked big time, trying to sort this mess out – OK, time out:

Bernie, which is short for Bernice, my mother’s name, mistakenly thought – for many, many years – that the way to help and to try to control the old man’s drinking, was to drink with him, trying, as it were, to keep pace with him.  This was, of course, a hopeless task which she set for herself, as no one in their right mind would want to keep up with him.  Although - in a deliberate aside - in later years, keeping up with him became relatively easy, since his tolerance for alcohol decreased with the years, and he’d be smashed long before he could see the bottom of the bottle of his cheap booze of choice. So, she’d get mushmouthed drunk even quicker than he did, so that his name, when pronounced by her (she always called him Garland instead of the ‘Al’ that he preferred) in this condition, sounded something like, “garn,” as in, darn, but pronounced with a serious deep south accent, which, of course, she did not possess.  So, now, we’re talking about Gaaarrun, but say the last syllable very fast, so as to kind of pass over the ‘u’ – thusly, “I’ma…..I’ma……..I’ma gonna tel’ you sumpin’, Garn, you ‘bout drunk!”

OK, now that we’ve dealt with that important little matter, back to the fishing trip with Dennis and Garn……..

In order to get to the part of whatever stream they were seeking to plant their hooks in, Garn and Dennis had to get past a barbed wire fence.  Usually, this means, one person holds a top strand up, while the person crossing/passing through, pushes a lower strand down, so as to create a space big enough for the average person to get through.  Now, I wasn’t there, and Dennis may not have been the most reliable of sources here (mostly because to the end of his life, he could not tell this story with a straight face and a serious amount of giggling), but my understanding of the event is that somehow the lower strand was either not pushed down far enough, or it snapped up at the wrong moment in time, like when the old man was halfway though.  Somehow, one or more of those nasty barbs reached right on out and/or up, and snagged the old man’s jewel sack (um, uh, scrotum?), viciously tearing said sack (pun intended, Mike), causing profuse, one might even say, perfuse, or one whole hell of a lot of bleeding from said sack.  The fishing trip was thus cut short, not to mention other certain other well placed hewing or trimming, and they returned home post haste.  The old man subsequently, like right away, went to the doctor, where he underwent an emergency “re-sackification,” as it were, thus closing that particular gap.  OK, back to the narrative………..

Salmon fishing along the Columbia River was reserved at that time to what we now call Native Americans, or Indians.  Not too far from Goldendale, just upriver from The Dalles, Oregon, were the Celilo Falls.  These falls were impressive enough just to look at, but the Indians had built some very rickety looking scaffolding all over the rocks, to afford themselves of relatively easy access to the waters. 


They went out onto that scaffolding when the Salmon were migrating up the river, and speared as many as they could.  Most of the salmon was then smoked on shore, and sold to tourists, and anyone else fortunate enough to be able to get some.  That was good eating.


Next must have been Goldendale and I don’t remember what job Dad did there but I began babysitting there and earning money for clothes and whatnot.  We kids enjoyed being there and school was pretty stable for that period of time.

 After having the chance to read what I had written to this point, Pat then sent me a email that added to this narrative:

 Wasn’t Goldendale just the best little town?  I remember the five and dime and buying crayons and fresh paper and even paper dolls at that time.  The Penney’s store was the old fashioned set up with drawers that stocked the bras and panties each in its size and drawer.  I had some girl friends that I enjoyed and remember always hitting the studing and the grades.  My babysitting really took off and I sat for two families over the time.  Mom told me (I was starting this at the age of 11) that I had to buy my own shampoo and girl stuff which would include feminine hygiene stuff because I couldn’t expect Dad to pay for same.  WHAT?  I was 11 years old for heaven’s sake!   

I remember getting a terrible throat infection one time, the very worst I ever had, and friends being allowed to come and say, “Hi”, through the window as I was in bed for some two weeks.  When I went back to school all thin and white the teachers took one look at me and sent me home for another week.  That was also the house where Dad got involved with the woman next door, a single parent with a girl she was raising, wasn’t it?  She was a drinker too I think.  But overall, we did experience small town America at its best for sure.  Thanks for the memories…..Love,  Pat

Mike worked after school in the local creamery (for those not familiar with this term, small towns used to have local businesses that processed dairy products.  These were called creameries, and they would produce local butter, ice cream, and sell fresh, whole milk) at one point.  He also got placed by the old man, I believe, on some local farm for a large part of at least one summer, hoisting hay bales on the back of a truck, and into a barn, and performing other seriously manual labor, for some extra money, most of which was undoubtedly confiscated by the old man. 

Meanwhile after reading what I have so far, Mike has provided some more memories:

 Drove wheat truck for Dutch Kelley in Roosevelt area (around age 16… lasted some 3-4 weeks) the next summer worked longer for…. ???? in the hay business, bailing hay and like you say, serious manual labor (damn bails weighed as much as I did). During school I worked at the “Reliance Creamery” whose products included butter, ice cream, and ICE. I recall providing ice to the same Indians for salmon fishing, poking the ice down to 100 or 50 lb. blocks and loading it in their cars. Cool, late model cars always dirty and trashed out on the inside. Ice cream was a farce… The owner purchased a mix “wholesale” and we merely “churned?” in a freezer type machine, dumped it into cardboard boxes (Reliance Brand) and it was sold in the grocery store you mentioned. The town did have two grocery stores… one being the Safeway and the other being this independent (actually, I think the owner was Thompson, the same dude that owned Reliance Creamery).

(Back to my narrative):  Yeah, that was another of his less lovable traits.  He’d require that we find work, and then take most of the money we earned.  I also remember Mike being involved with his best friend (Johnny Householder?) in experimenting with model rockets, a big time diversion for teen aged boys in the fifties.  They had some notable success, as I recall, too.  One kid I knew also had a rocket that was actually pretty impressive.  This was a clear blue plastic rocket ship that was filled with water.  Then, it was placed on its base, which had a hand pump affixed to it.  We would pump the hell out of that sucker, and then so much pressure was created that the rocket would fly very high up into the air.  I’d estimate today that it probably went up at least 20-30 feet.

One friend that Dennis and I had was a kid down the street, and across the alley from us.  His father was the town barber, and they had a normal family.  What a contrast to our house.  They had a root cellar outside their back door that was no longer used for its original purpose (a root cellar was basically a room underground, with rock and cement for walls and covered with dirt.  Its purpose was to store perishables, like potatoes, apples, canned goods, and things like that, before refrigeration was common).  We played WWI in that thing, since it served as a bunker, and we could easily imagine the trenches of WWI, as depicted in the movies.  Also, Mike (or whatever the kid’s name was) had an old WWI steel helmet that we all took turns wearing.

You know what?  We gonna cut this puppy off right here, and pick it up again, still in Goldendale, but in Part V………

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Part Tres of my little Memoir


Part III of the Continuing Saga of the Dungans……


Ever go on a road trip with Garland?  Believe me, this is not something you really want to do, ever.  By the way, this just seemed like a good place to bring this up, right after talking about gas stations.  First of all, Garland smoked.  A lot.  Secondly, he was a pig, what we call in Spanish, un grosero, as in uncouth, ill mannered.  He had a bad habit of ‘hocking oysters,’ which means he would clear his throat very loudly (and grossly), working up a great big gob of (what was it we used to say?  Oh, yeah, “Great Big Gob of Green Greasy Gopher Guts”) this truly viscious and viscous phlegm.  Now, he always drove with his window open, and his left arm out the window.  Once he had this gift for the road ready (we, of course, sitting in the back seat knew this was coming, and were already preparing ourselves), he would first turn his head to his right, and shout, “Duck!”  This was our signal to do just that.  Then he would turn his head back all the way to his left, and send that mess of easily-mistaken-for-road-kill-if-it-ever-gets-to-the-road gooey, slimey phlegm hurtling out his window, most likely to splat on that side of the car (shudder).  Then, he would turn his head back to the right, and say, “Unduck!,” and we would.

Garland’s favorite beer (and, here he actually showed some class, if not taste) was Miller High Life, which of course only came in clear glass bottles.  I seem to recall that there was a deposit on empty beer bottles in those days (a nickel for empty milk bottles, three cents for soda pop bottles, and maybe a penny for beer bottles), but that made no difference to Garland.  As he drove, he drank (surprise).  As he emptied a bottle, his routine was to fling that bottle, not just simply out his window, but out his window, over the top of the car, aiming for the right side of the road, as far off the road as he could get it.  Wasn’t that considerate of him?  His other goal, of course, was for that glass bottle to shatter loud enough so that we could hear it as we drove (merrily? Very seldom) along.

OK, we left off with us living up in the Rattlesnake Hills, above Prosser.  I believe we stayed there in the Rattlesnake Hills long enough for me to get through second grade, and then moved to another ranch sometime in 3rd grade.  After getting this far, Mike remembered some more details, that he has graciously provided in order to set me straight:

 Minor exception regarding chickens and churning: First had chickens and eggs on the Rattlesnakes… same with churning butter. Used the butter churn (glass jar with the wooden paddles) and at mom’s direction, we kids took turns turning the crank… hour after hour…. Mom later learned that the cream should be close to room temperature before starting the churn… We had gone from the refrigerator to the churn and it was a tiring – long process. Speculation is that during our long effort, the cream had come up to room temperature and then did proceed to provide butter. 

Meanwhile, we had yet to move from the Rattlesnakes, down to the next place on our list.  This was to an area, way down close to the Columbia River, near a little wide spot in the road called Roosevelt.  This is where Mike, Pat, Dennis, and I all went to a three-room school for one school year.  There was a ferry across the river there, to Arlington, Oregon, which was the nearest place with such refinements as a restaurant.  That ferry was important, because the second year we were in this area, Mike had to ride that ferry across the Columbia River every day to attend school in Arlington, Oregon, because our little school only went so far, and the nearest high school (heck, maybe it was only the 7th grade; what do I know?) was across the river.  And, of course the proximity to Oregon was a big plus for the old man, ‘cause they didn’t tax booze, beer, and cigarettes as much as Washington did at that time.  And, I seem to recall no sales taxes.  After seeing the map whose link I shared, Mike has offered these memories of this place/time:

 (4) 19. Ranch near Roosevelt… Think I found the exact on this one… about 15 miles W and one mile S… traced Old Hwy 8 and Sundale Rd [this was after looking at the aforementioned map] there is (was) [a] substantial orchard called “Sundale” not far down the road and I found a sharp turn in the road and recall the house located there where dad “finagled” [note:  finagled, as in “if you give me some gas, I’ll pay you………….sometime”………..NOT] some gasoline from the resident there… He (the neighbor) had one of the old glass top gasoline pumps where you elevated ten gallons to the top with a pump handle, the glass top was cylindrical in shape and graduated in one gallon increments, then a conventional hose handle affair to your fuel tank.

 As Patty recounts:

 After that we lived in another country setting and went to a three room school house that was remarkable.  We all had such a great time there.  Of course the house wasn’t much but I do remember churning butter and going down the road to an amazing apricot orchard where they were the size of peaches and the juice ran down our arms.

 As I further recall (following her prompting), at this ranch we had a large side yard that we kids turned into a great big riparian adventure land.  We had rivers running all over the place, fed by the garden hose.  There was a milk cow, that the older boys were responsible for milking (I was scared to death of that sucker, and she knew it).  Chickens, also, and I didn’t care for trying to take away their eggs, either.  I also remember making butter in a large glass churn, with wooden paddles.  And, there was a falling down shed, between the house and the barn and chicken house, with the remains of a (I think) 1935 Ford.  I want to say that this was a convertible, and it was mostly intact.  It would undoubtedly have made a great project car for someone with the time and money.  I played in that sucker many times.

From this place, I recall the big events were monthly trips to town, Goldendale, for the grocery shopping.  This always happened on a Saturday, and part of the adventure was that mom would take us all to the library, where we each got our own library card.  At some point, I went through a series of books for kids, that all had the same basic cover.  This was burnt orange in color, with black lettering, and these were biographies of famous Americans, going back to Ben Franklin and George Washington, to Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln (did you know he was born in a log cabin?), Ulysess S. Grant, Thomas Edison, and so forth.  We learned that everything American was good (and not just because we had saved the world twice), and everything that was not American was pretty much bad.

By the time I was in fourth grade, we were in a town again, and my father was working in another sawmill.  This is where my brother, Dennis, and I had some of our greatest times.

But, I also experienced one of my more traumatic school-related events here, as well.  Not long after we got here, in fourth grade, I don’t recall the teacher’s name, but one day she started in on a verbal rant, saying “John, how could you?  “You have lied, and you have done……..” - this horrible thing, and that horrible thing, and I just could not believe that she was talking about me.  It had to do with a paper we had written and handed in, and all I knew was she had one in her hand, and she was looking at me, and just ranting………I was terrified, mostly because I had no idea what she was talking about, and did not know what I could possibly have done, not to mention I had never had anyone talk to me in such a manner.  I was also scared totally out of my mind.  I didn’t know what else to do, so I bolted.  Jumped right up, and ran out of that room, out of that school, and all the way home to my mommy, crying my eyes out…….well, this was one of the few times that she ever got involved in our schooling.  My mother took me back to the school, and to the principal’s office where we learned that the teacher in question was not even talking to me or about me.  There was another John in that class (how could I know?  I was new), only he spelled his name Jon, and it was he that she was so upset about.  Maybe that is when I learned to not put much trust in teachers (forgive me, Blanca).

Other than that experience, Dennis and I both had pretty good times in Goldendale.  We had free run of the town of Goldendale, which was the county seat of Klickitat County, and had both the Klickitat River and the Klickitat Creek running along edges of town.  I remember a great big old tree just outside the back door, onto which somebody nailed some boards, to make like a ladder, so we could climb way up into its huge limbs.  And, the back yard had a large cleared area, obviously done for a garden, but we turned that into a huge play area for playing with all our cars and trucks.  We had roads, and gas stations, and all kinds of buildings and stuff.  I remember that the name brand, Structo, figured prominently in the toy trucks we played with (before Tonka got so big, Structo trucks were the tough trucks).  Old D cell batteries were the gas pumps at our gas station, blocks of wood served for buildings, a piece of wood was used to ‘grade’ our roads, and so on. 

Fairly early on, we did have our one and only childhood fight, with someone other than each other.  I have no recollection of the cause, but there was a large family who lived just up the street from us – the Rileys.  One of those damn Rileys was another boy, about the same age as Dennis and I.  For some reason he did not like us, and while it was Dennis who took most of his verbal abuse, I somehow got involved.  So, he took us both on at once, and beat us both very quickly and easily.  That took a while to live down, and eventually I think we achieved some sort of truce, if not better, by becoming friends.

We rented the house on West Broadway from the ‘rich’ old widow, who lived right next door, in a more modern, well equipped house.  This was Mrs. Bridgefarmer, and she also rented rooms in her basement.  I recall one of the renters there was a Chinese man and his son.  The man was employed as a cook in one of the local restaurants for a short while.  This was my first contact with a non-white person.  Just a bit of culture shock was involved.

Out back of the house, and very close, was a separate building on the property that was likely old enough to have been a carriage house at one time, or a stable, but we called it the wood shed.  It was – as I recall – at least two rooms, quite old, with upainted, and seriously weathered wood.  The floor on one side was just dirt, with the accumulation of many years of wood chips, and shavings form wood being cut for burning in either the wood cook stove, or a wood stove for heat, all that we had in that house. That building was our Cavalry Fort and/or the Sheriff’s office for whenever we played Cowboys and Indians. 

Most Christmases were – to say the least – disappointing times.  Not much in the way of gifts for anyone, the Old Man usually was not home as evening came on (he was likely in a bar, pissing away his paycheck), so the anxiety level always grew.  The family tradition was to open gifts on Christmas Eve, and we had to wait for him to come home, all the time worried that when he did, he would be in a bad mood, and that was not good.  Too many Christmases were ruined by his lashing out at one and all (but, of course my mother took the brunt of his drunken anger), and what we had all too often was the classic scene of crying, frightened kids, and crying, bruised wife and mother.

However, on at least one Christmas, Santa did come through for me.  I desperately wanted a two-gun holster, with Mattel Fanner 50 pistols, ‘cause they looked like what Hopalong Cassidy wore.  (Here’s what a Google search turns up on these awesome ‘toys:’  And, I got them!  Even got some caps to shoot with them.  Wow, that was so cool.  At one point Dennis, I think, got a Red Ryder BB gun.  Or, Daisy.  And, on reflection, I think it was a pump action, instead of a lever cocking action, so that would likely make it the cheaper of the two types, I bet.  Here is a pic of a pump action type BB gun, similar to what I remember:

We (Dennis and I) also played all up and down the creek, swimming in pools in hot weather, playing cowboys and Indians, Army, whatever we saw in the movies on Saturday afternoons.  John Wayne was naturally everybody’s hero, but since he couldn’t possibly make enough movies to satisfy our need for him, we kids looked forward to Saturday matinees, when we got into the local theatre for only twenty cents.  We got a quarter to spend, so that left a nickel for (usually) lemon drops.  Those movies included coming attractions (we called them previews), a news reel (short), at least one cartoon, the feature movie, and then a second movie.  There may also have been an episode of one or more serial that everyone looked forward to.  And, just about every kid in town was at that one showing. 

We also played baseball with a friction-tape-wrapped ball, and a very old and weathered bat, in nearby pastures using cow patties for our bases.  One of our favorite places to play was near the city dump.  There were some large rocks overlooking the dump itself, and up in the rocks, we found what we thought were caves.  We’d go through the junk when no one was around, and find ‘treasures’ that we took up to our cave, and used to decorate, or furnish the cave.  I also loved to play in the wrecked cars that were parked on a back lot at the local Ford dealer (or, maybe it was the Chevrolet dealer).  That was the closest I ever expected to come to a newer car.  Dennis and I also became Boy Scouts in Goldendale, and attended the meetings in the basement of the Public Library, a dusty, cluttered area.

Sorry, but since this is again running long, we’ll take a little break here, and continue the report of the sojourn in Goldendale in Part IV…….