This Has Been A Tough One

Each week, I try to take on a different topic in this little corner of the Internet, to share an experience, a perspective, a funny story, whatever.

There were lots of directions I could have gone this week. Saying farewell to the Northlake Tavern in the U-District, a special occasion destination back when I lived just up the hill at Terry Hall at the University of Washington. It first opened back in 1954, but now, after all these years, it’s going to be sold to someone who is going to change it into the newest location of a local chain, Mario’s Pizzas. The amazing part of this story is that the owner and I used to work together in the kitchens at the dorm at Terry Hall.  He was one of a trio of brothers, who had come to the U.S. to attend school at the U.W.. Never in my wildest imagination did I think Abdoullah would graduate and then take over the Northlake Tavern and that legendary pizza. I’ve already reached out to him and said I’m going to do everything I can to get in and see him this month before he closes so he can focus on a health issue.

That tends to happen to us around our age. Man, those U-Dub dorm days seem so long ago….

Or, I could have gone in the direction of the Seahawks after that draining need-a-couple-of-miracles Sunday and the fact we’re actually going to the playoffs. I had an idea for another topic–how there are really two of each of us. The person our friends and acquaintances see us as, and the person we know when we’re by ourselves. I promise, that’s going to be a definite future blog.

But instead, I’ve been haunted by the topic of my last writing and the passing of local radio show host, Dori Monson. To keep new readers up to speed, Dori was a home-grown boy who eventually became the most listened-to radio show in the Seattle area. Every weekday, from noon-3pm, he’d confirm to some that there was someone out there who actually thought like they did; others, he would drive crazy, but yet, they’d continue to listen.

Then, while using up vacation time during the holidays, his heart decided to give out on him at the very young age of 61. (and, as I like to say, getting younger every day)

Over the past week, knowing darn well he was no longer with us, I would still react to a story I heard or read with the feeling, “Oh, I’ve gotta email that to Dori!”

Then I remembered.

One friend let me know she a sorority sister to Dori’s wife. I never knew that.

Another friend grew up across the street from Dori in Ballard and when we started talking about him, she recalled the things they did together as neighbor kids. A version of “Work Ups”, a baseball-type game you’d play in the streets with whoever was available; they rode their bikes together around those “mean streets of Ballard” as he liked to say; they played “Batman”, with Dori insisting that he was the only one who could be the Caped Crusader.

Both, stories I would have passed along to Dori via email and then, he would take the time to respond and thank me for sending.

What bothers me so much about Dori’s passing is the suddenness. Living his radio dream, having a family and friends he loved, all that success and then just having it all just yanked out from under him.

He, like myself, was also quite the workaholic.  If it were a contest, he would win, because after getting a taste of six hours of sleep a night, I’ve come to really like it. But for me, still, most workdays are 12 hours long and the ones that aren’t are longer. Yet, when that 5pm mark arrives, I’ve trained myself to shut down and whatever needs to be done can just be added to tomorrow’s workfest.

One of my long-held beliefs is that there is no way I’ll be able to get everything done that I want to do during my time here, so I constantly feel this sense of urgency to get things done.  I don’t want to leave a bunch of un-finished projects behind. So, if I think of something–a new project, an aspiration, a bucket-list item–I’ll put it on the master list and make sure I eventually take that on.

Even in my retirement years, I’m envisioning finally getting back to those screenplays I wrote, polishing them up and submitting them to some folks I’ve met over the years. I want to put my life story down in writing, not for the world, but for my kids, grandkids and those beyond, so they know what all went on during my time here.

In a way, I believe Dori also knew his time here was limited. His radio shows were all archived, with KIRO playing “The Best of Dori” to fill his time slot until they decide on an heir apparent. To his credit, Dori like to push himself beyond his comfort zone, to try new things, regardless of the results. I remember when he put his one-man show together and I really wanted to go catch one of those productions, but I just couldn’t work that into the calendar.  Fortunately, someone smartly videotaped the last show he did down in Federal Way.

This may be more Dori than you’d be interested in, but he did a nice job of getting up in a theater in front of a bunch of fans and telling stories about his life.  This is from 2019, so coming up on four years ago and before the “great pandemic”, so I’m glad he got it in when he did. You’ll notice he occasionally needs to rest his knee that was starting to go out on him.

I was fortunate enough to have had my path cross his, if only in a minor way, but it had a lasting effect on me and how I do things.

Dori would always get uncomfortable when it came to saying good things about him, but sir, you taught me a lot–about broadcasting, about keeping family important regardless of what happens with your career, and the ultimate reminder that our amount of time he is not guaranteed.

Thank you.

This has been a tough one.

Tim Hunter

PS Fellow KLSY-kateer and cartoonist Frank Shiers did this touching cartoon. He was lucky enough to work at KIRO for a while and with Dori.

 

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