All Over The Board

I usually start the week looking for something that tugs after me and requires me to make my opinion known on the subject. I wanted to go so many different directions this week, that I decided it would be best to write a few mini-blogs within the framework of the mothership.

MAKING IT COUNT–In the course of writing 991 previous blogs, the theme of not taking one day for granted has come up before, but this week just slapped me in the face. I’m glad to be reminded because I plan to soak every bit of this life up while I can, but dang, I got the point. Can we lay low for a while?

  • Naya Rivera  My wife & I made it through the whole series of “Glee” when it was on the air. Naya was the edgy character, the rebel with spunk, the rival for Lea Michele’s character. A couple of seasons in, we heard of cast squabbles and eventually, she left the show for a while, only to come back. I didn’t know her from Adam, but from all reports, the last moments of her life were spent rescuing her son from drowning before she went under. It was an act that spoke volumes about her. And they were just going for a swim.
  • The Bothell Police Officer who found himself on patrol Monday night, having to pull over a vehicle which turned into a gunfight and resulting in losing his life. It’s the first loss of life in that department in 25 years and not only is the department, but the entire community is rocked. In the days ahead, we’ll hear of his circumstances and how he had the rest of his life ahead of him.

It takes training, but slowing down enough to realize what’s going on around you will definitely help you experience so much more than just trying to get to the next thing. Enjoy it all while you’ve got it.

WEAR THE DAMN MASK–The arrogance, the “I know better” attitude of the millions of mental midgets around the United States of America has me at a loss. What do you need to know? There’s a virus, it can kill you and while it may not kill you, it could use you as a conduit to kill someone you love. How this “Wearing a mask violates my rights” concept ever started is beyond me. But rather than go on about it, how about a couple of visuals.

First off, if we had only been better about masks and self-isolation from the beginning, I can only imagine how much better off we would be.

And as for having to wear a mask, you really should put your common sense to the test.

GET UP EARLY AND SEE THE COMET  In case you didn’t know, there’s a comet that is only visible right before sunrise and only through this weekend. It’s called the Neowise comet and if you think, “Oh, I’ll just catch it next time,” well, that will be in 6,000 years. I’m afraid the only people around for it the next time will be Keith Richards and Betty White.

Of course, if you don’t want to get up at 4am just to see a comet, you can always Photoshop one in, right?

OK, there you go. As I said, not a lot to say about any one thing, but things to say about a couple of subjects. And blog #992 is in the books. Thanks for the read.

Tim Hunter

 

Yes, You Can Be A Psychic, Too!

I always knew I could be a psychic.

See, there I go again.

In fact, the future is really easy to predict if you simply observe reality.

To be honest, it didn’t really take a psychic to predict that cases of coronavirus would skyrocket if we just went outside and continued doing what we did before the pandemic, since it was “all a hoax”. Or, “It’s not that bad.” Or, “It’s the disease that kills old people.”

Do you have the right to not wear a mask in public?  Absolutely. I believe our Founding Fathers included that in the fine print of the Bill of Rights.

You have the right to not wear a seatbelt and odds are, you’ll be fine. Well, unless you get into an accident. Then you’ll hear the words, ‘Told you so’ as you fly through the windshield past the person who buckled up.

Does your freedom include being able to walk out into a hurricane or tornado?  You bet. A sound-minded person probably wouldn’t do that, but you’re all about personal freedoms, aren’t you, pal?  You need to be able to prove that you’re in control of your life and that people who have dedicated their entire lives studying diseases and epidemics–well, they’re just plain wrong and don’t know what they’re talking about. And, better yet, you’ve got the president on your side.

Several weeks ago, I predicted the cases of coronavirus would skyrocket and I was right. I take no pleasure in that and actually, wish I had been wrong. I also seriously hope the University of Washington scientists are wrong when they say 200,000 Americans will have died from coronavirus by November. However, with the current explosion of cases, it’s entirely possibly we will go beyond that.

But let’s get off “Virus Talk” and make some bold, psychic predictions. Right now, you have a fairly empty downtown Seattle, as thousands of workers have been instructed to work from home. Companies are now realizing that can be done, without hurting their efficiency, and it’s becoming obvious that you no longer need to occupy a bunch of expensive real estate downtown. Now, the easy prediction would be that there will be a crash in the commercial real estate market. And what makes that prediction a sure bet is that our incredibly wise Seattle city council decided to pass what they call a “Jumpstart Tax”, which they insist only affects the really wealthy businesses downtown. (hint–it rhymes with Schmazon) The council claims this will generate $200-million, which they say they need to fix the city’s problems, mostly homelessness.

Now, I know the council members are all busy people and maybe they just forgot about how much is already being spent on homelessness in the area. As in $54 million by the city, $195 million in King County and some estimates say as much as $1 billion in the region. We’re talking EVERY YEAR! And with every passing year and all that spending, it continues to get worse.  Dare to go downtown and you’ll find a non-stop collection of people living on the sidewalks, the freeway off-ramps or any other place they choose, not because of need, but because of choice. Resources are available, but most turn them down to continue living their lives battling drug addiction or mental health issues.

So, back to the Jumpstart Tax. My prediction is that the tax will live up to its name and Jumpstart businesses to seriously think about relocating. If I owned a company and had to choose between staying in Seattle with empty offices and a $7-million tax hit or relocating to another one of the many wonderful and welcoming cities in the area, I get out of Dodge using that $7-million I would have spent in taxes to pay for moving expenses. Most likely, I’d be able to negotiate a better lease (probably with free parking) in another city, and I can put that $7-million annual hit to my bottom line. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.

If your logic is that “Oh, Amazon can afford that”, they already donate to charity without involving our extremely inefficient government. They estimate that Amazon contributed $2-billion from 2009-2017 and just this year, Mr. Bezos has pledged $2-billion a year towards the fight on homelessness in multiple cities. They even opened a homeless shelter in one of their newer buildings downtown. Amazon is actually doing something about the problem and so to reward them, you hit them with a tax? Sound thinking.

So when the last major business leaves Seattle and it becomes the biggest ghost town in the U.S., maybe, just maybe, Seattle voters will finally get fed up enough to make a change at city hall, and get the Emerald City back on track.

In all honesty, that’s more of a hope than a prediction. Frankly, I’ve had some serious doubts lately about the future of my once-favorite big city.

But you knew that. See how easy it is to be a psychic?

Tim Hunter

Another Streak Snapped

2020 continues to taint its reputation with each new day. Cirque du Soleil has now filed for bankruptcy and has let go of its 3500 employees. This week, as we braced ourselves for another new month and what terror it might introduce, we said goodbye to a comedy legend, Carl Reiner.

Just today, I got word that the Sears store where I held my very first paying job, is heading for the history books.

There I was, the newly-elected senior class president as I headed into the summer before my final year of high school. Somehow, I was invited to be a member of the Sears Teen Fashion Board. Those who know me well are breaking out into hysterics, so I’ll give you a moment to regroup. Yeah, I’ve never been known as a fashion plate, unless you include bad fashion.

What that meant was that yours truly actually modeled clothes at the mall when Sears was rolling out the new fall fashions. They had my picture up in the store, wearing those Sears clothes. They also offered up the chance for me to put in 10-15 hours or so each week as an employee. I was what they called, a “floater”, meaning wherever they needed extra help, that’s where I would be assigned. The challenging part of that role was showing up to work and then finding out where I was headed. I’d put on my shirt and tie, arrive at the store and some days, find myself out in the garden shop loading bags of steer manure into trunks of cars.

But as if all that history and transition wasn’t enough, this is also the week that, for the first time in years, I won’t be standing along Main Street in Bothell on the 4th of July, doing the play-by-play of the annual Freedom Festival Parade. I’m not exactly sure when that tradition began, but I’ve got to think it’s been most of the the last 18 years. I seem to remember starting it when I was still waking people up at KLSY, and that concluded in 2003.

Celebrating our country’s birthday brings up so many memories, as the celebration has evolved for me over the years. Back in the day, I remember the family piling into the car, kids in our PJ’s, and driving down to find a spot on the beach so we could watch the fireworks there. Back in South Dakota visiting relatives one summer, I remember marveling at how my young cousins were allowed to run around and light off firecrackers.

Of course, in Torrance, they only sold the “Safe & Sane” variety of fireworks which, at that time, was pretty mild compared to today’s version. There was Smokey Joe, who’s picture appeared on the bottom of the box. You’d poke the hole in his mouth and insert his “cigar” which amazingly smoked! There were smoke bombs, the occasional pinwheels and fountains. Lots and lots of fountains. Oh, and Picolo Pete’s, which we discovered as we got older, if you clamped down on the first ‘e’ in Pete, it would whistle for a while then explode.

However, what I remember most about the 4th was going to the fireworks stand and having dad say that phrase he would utter every year, “I don’t know why we just don’t light a $20 bill on fire.”

Years later, I called him up on the phone and asked him to say it again, one more time, for old times’ sake. Today, I’d like to share it with you.

 

While raising kids in Bothell, we lived in a fun neighborhood that developed the tradition of making a run to Boom City, circling the lawn chairs and then explosives that could win a war roar into the sky for a couple of hours. From those days, I recall the time my son wanted to light one of the mortars, which he did….but it fell over and started shooting into the crowd. People scrambled, dashing behind whatever they could find and luckily, no one was hurt. But it’s one of those scenes I can see in my mind like it was yesterday.

While our night-time 4th of July celebrations these days are pretty much relegated to the TV and watching the fireworks displays there, at 11am on Independence Day, my place is along Main Street, as the Kiddie Parade kicked things off, followed by the Freedom Festival Grand Parade. It’s pretty much the parade where if you live in Bothell, you’re either in or at the parade. People put out their lawn chairs to reserve their spots along the parade route up to a week before it happens.

Over the years, I’ve had a flurry of co-hosts, but for the past couple of years, Bothell Kenmore Chamber buddy Mike Rue has joined me for the play-by-play and we’ve had a blast. Since we will be silenced this year, I thought I’d dig out last year’s parade so you can get a taste of what the broadcast is like.

                                                                                         Freedom Festival 2019

Yes, the on-going nightmare that is 2020 has snapped my streak, but I’m planning to start a new one next year. Or the year after that. Whenever we can gather together again. These days, we just don’t know.

Enjoy your 4th and all the freedom that comes with it.

Tim Hunter

Sitting in History

So, last weekend, we took advantage of some friends’ offer to go east of the mountains and enjoy a socially distant visit to their Moses Lake cabin. This manufactured home with a massive deck right on the west shore of the Lake was an extremely welcome getaway.

By the way, for the record, Moses never visited Moses Lake. I had a friend ask if we got any new commandments when we were there, and I said, “No, but we could probably use a few.”

Anyway, back to this final weekend of spring burst of summer, with 90-degrees waiting for us. Their massive deck was the perfect spot to sit apart from each other and get caught up. At one point, our friend Ed suggested I try one of the wooden lounge chairs at the far end of their deck. It was something one of his sons tracked down last year. In fact, there were a set of two–faded teak wood deck chairs, as if on a cruise ship.

In fact, they were. There were two metal plaques on the chairs. One that let you know these were meant for first class.

Finally, I’ve made it!

The other plaque told me which ship it came from–the S.S. Bremen.

The S.S. Bremen was a luxury cruise ship made in a German shipyard that sailed the seas in the days before World War II.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about her:

SS Bremen was a German-built ocean liner constructed for the Norddeutscher Lloyd line (NDL) to work the transatlantic sea route. Bremen was notable for her bulbous bow construction, high-speed engines, and low, streamlined profile. At the time of her construction, she and her sister ship Europa were the two most advanced high-speed steam turbine ocean liners of their day. The German pair sparked an international competition in the building of large, fast, luxurious ocean liners that were national symbols and points of prestige during the pre-war years of the 1930s.

But as the clouds of war began to form, the ships were taken out of the cruise service and in fact, were actually used to put German soldiers in place for an invasion of England that never happened.

As World War II raged on, the need for munitions mean they would be more valuable torn apart for their metal. How these chairs survived over 90 years was a testament to the quality of their construction.

As I sat there relaxing, I pictured myself in the First Class section in the days when it was a luxury cruise ship, relaxing, enjoying the view and waiting for the server to bring me a cold beverage, which never happened.

I did spend the bulk of my deck time in one of those chairs, taking myself on mental vacations for as long as the quiet would last. Then, when the others at the other end of the deck started talking, I’d yell out, “Hey, you people in coach, keep it down.”

I’m not sure what came over me, but I simply fell in love with those chairs. How fortunate that their son was able to find these out there, somewhere and if they could talk, oh, what stories they would be able to tell.

For a while, I was sitting in history.

The weekend ended. I bid farewell to these chairs who continue to enjoy the view of Moses Lake. One day, when chairs are able to talk, we’ll have to get back together again so I can hear all of their stories.

I’ll bet they have some good ones.

Tim Hunter

Thuffering Thuckatash!

Every day I wake up and just can’t wait to see how the world is going to unravel just a little bit more than the day before.

Oh, we’ve got some serious issues and problems to deal with. Systemic hatred that should have been long gone, a killer virus that people insist isn’t that bad, etc. You know what’s going on.

But then, the other day, it was announced that when HBO Max revives the Looney Tunes cartoon franchise, Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd will no longer carry guns.

Can I tell you how relieved I am that this long-time threat has finally been removed and we can all walk the streets of Toontown without fear. Now, before you judge me as a “Second Amendment or Die” type of person (because people feel the need to instantly decide what other people are thinking these days), I’m not. I support the right to own guns for protection, for sport, for shooting practice–that’s what the forefathers had in mind. They did not imagine automatic weapons that can mow people down as a fundamental right. And when your laws don’t prevent mentally unbalanced people from owning these kinds of weapons, yes, you have a problem.

But this was meant to be light-hearted, so let’s get back to the original premise. I think if you’re going to take the cartoon weapons away from Elmer and Sam, you need to empty out all of those Warner Brothers cartoons so that it’s safe for young kids to look up from their single-shooter video games to watch a non-threatening cartoon.

I mean, after all, video games have never had a role in the mass shootings that have increased over the years. All this time, these dastardly deeds were carried out because no one could agree if it was Duck Season or Wabbit Season.

So, we’ve taken the guns away from those two characters. Let’s keep going:

We need to immediately confiscate Marvin the Martian‘s Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. I get tired of his constant threats of blowing up the earth so he’ll have a better view.

Where do you begin with Wile E. Coyote? I mean, you could take away his anvil (after all, when anvils are outlawed, only outlaws and blacksmiths will have anvils). A better plan would to put him on a banned list so he could never shop again at Acme Products. Besides, Wile E., I think you could probably get a better price on Amazon.

Obviously, we need to remove the teeth of the Tasmanian Devil. Then, his biggest threat would be covering you with his slobber.

I’m going to assume that Pepe LePew is no longer acceptable with the ban on police using teargas and other harmful chemicals.

As for Sylvester the Cat, with our new, kinder, more gentler attitude towards the world, instead of constantly chasing after Tweety, maybe he should be required to go after Tweets and we can land him some kind of communications job at the White House.

And while we have no photographic proof, I’m fairly certain its just a matter of time before we see Foghorn Leghorn standing next to a confederate flag.

Oh, there are more Looney Tunes characters that have been brain-washing the youth of America. But if we right the above-mentioned wrongs, it’ll be a giant step forward to doing something.

What? I don’t exactly know.

Thufferin’ thuckatash.

Tim Hunter

 

Do You Need A Timeout?

Oh, I’m not saying you misbehaved and need to be punished. Then again, there are thousands of people that fit that category right now and probably why you went there.

No, I’m talking about the exhaustion that comes from the daily insanity of our leaders, the unrest, the rioting, the looting, the cabin-fever created by being good and staying home for several months. I’m suggesting that, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, I’d like to recommend an escape back to the 1960s.

I know, you’re thinking, “Wait a minute! The 1960’s? With all that went down in that decade? Are you kidding me?” OK, true, that was 10 years of serious unrest from civil rights marches to anti-war protests, assassinations, a doomed conflict in Viet Nam and so much more. But there was something about the decade that, if you were around you were lucky to experience it.

Two words: The Beatles.

 

I’ve written about them before, but while searching through Hulu the other day for something new, I came across Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.”  I remember when that came out back in 2016 and how I read that it was a must-see. I felt it was long overdue, so, my wife and I started to watch it and became mesmerized. These days, so many of our memories are cleaned up, sanitized snapshots of the things we’d like to remember fondly. But, as you get longer, those snapshots start to fade. When it comes to the Fab Four, that was simply a phenomenon I will never forget.

Just like future generations will be curious about what it was like to live through a pandemic (after all, they only happen every hundreds years or so), it’s hard to convey just how much impact The Beatles had on music and our culture. They didn’t just influence music, they town ownership of the music industry and continued to evolve it as long as they were together. In watching Ron Howard’s film, I was transported back to the days when everyone on the earth knew the names John, Paul, George and Ringo (in that order) and that a Sunday night Ed Sullivan appearance meant you HAD to be in front of the TV to see them live, because all of your friends would be talking about it the next day.

The amazing thing about Ron Howard’s film is that it includes never-before-seen footage of them in concert, as if you were there. Before I go any further, here’s the trailer for the film.

To see them all so young, to watch them grow up in front of your eyes, from those fresh-faced lads from Liverpool, to the beard hippy-esque rooftop performers, it was simply amazing. For a  couple of hours, I was reminded of a very influential stretch of my childhood, as I looked back on the 60’s from my personal decade of the 60’s. Like I said, it’s hard to convey some of the things that I’ve lived through in my lifetime. That stretch of time, from their arrival in 1964 to their breakup in 1970, all occurred during my ages of 9 through 15.

As we grow older, its not unusual to fantasize about what it would be like to have grown up at a different time. For me, that would be a big, fat “No, thank you.” Each generation has their pro’s and con’s (and whatever this generation calls itself, you’ve getting a glut of cons), but I wouldn’t trade anything for being alive when music was redefined forever by The Beatles.

Watching it happen all over again was a wonderful timeout.

OK, now back to reality.

Tim Hunter

You Know What I Can’t Wait For?

Whatever it is, this isn’t it.

Oh, I’ll be fine. I’ve got my attitude locked into survival mode. I’m viewing this bump in my life as just a tiny chunk of the bigger picture. With so much negative energy filling our world, you can see how its wearing on people. Just remember, it will pass.

It’ll be interesting to see how we look back on the year 2020, say, 10 years from now. Go with that example and think about what you remember regarding 2010. We were recovering from the worst economic downturn we had experienced in our lives. (not knowing there was a doozy in the near future)  It was the year of the iPhone 4 and the brand-new iPad arrived. Justin Bieber ruled the music world just two years after being discovered on YouTube. 2010 was prime time for the Tea Party. Doesn’t that seem like forever ago? And it was only 10 years.

That’s what I’m excited to see. How we look back at this completely insane year and just pick out a handful of things we’ll add any significance to.

It’s my hope that the George Floyd incident propels our way of life into a less-divided society. When the anger turns into action that actually improves our world–that’s what I’m talking about. Right now, peaceful protests are being used as a hall pass for violence. With all this destruction, nothing will change and opposite sides will just dig in.

As a comedy writer, this has been an extremely challenging time.  Oh, whoa is me. We’ve had ’em before. The Space Shuttle disaster, 9-11 and those other major stories that just took over the news and became all you heard about. We’ve gone from how many people have died from a virus to the number of fatalities and loss from nights of vandalism. Yet, every morning the alarm clock goes off at 5am (yeah, I’m sleeping in these days) and I once again scour the Internet for things that inspire jokes. Lately, it just ain’t easy.

Oh, I’ve managed to sneak in a couple of them, like:

  •  I’m talking to you, looters. It may be a small victory, but I hope whatever you took during your looting turns out to be the wrong size.
  • You know, if Jack Bauer were to walk in the door and this all turned out to be a season of “24”, then this would all make sense.

  • Congrats to the astronauts who left Earth last weekend. Good timing!

  • This is the most rioting in our country that’s ever occurred at one time without involving an NBA Championship.

  • I’m now realizing why the beginning of the pandemic was so hard on me. For weeks, I thought they were saying, “Wash your face and don’t touch your hands.”

I keep taking swings because it’s worth the risk of ticking off someone who probably doesn’t have a sense of humor, as I hope to reach people who like to laugh. My country cousin over on Classic Country, KXA, Stitch Mitchell, did a listener poll on his station’s Facebook page the other day. He asked the simple question, “When we get to Phase 2, will you be comfortable going back to restaurants?” and after a few comments, politics broke out and he had to take the poll down. That’s sad.

I was chatting with my almost 92-year-old mother the other night about all the rioting and such going on, and she was in disbelief on how people could be that way. “How do you raise kids like that?” I wish I had an answer, Ma.

But a man being killed on video by police didn’t start this. Nor did a man jogging down the street and being shot by an angry father and son. Or a teenager wearing a hoody being killed by a vigilante. One after another, a living human being lost their life for only one reason–they were black. The sad truth is that these stories are not new, not rare and not going away.

Add in the fact that African Americans are dying of the coronavirus at three times the rate of white people, and you have a race that is under assault. In the year 2020.

All you can do for now is to do right in your own world. Love the people around you. Enjoy each day for the gift it is. Pray or, if you don’t pray, focus all the positive energy you can generate towards justice, peace and better days ahead.

And most importantly, vote.

Then in the year 2030, when we look back a decade, we’ll just shake our heads in disbelief that our lives could ever have been this way.

I can’t wait.

Tim Hunter

 

Take my ID, Please!!

You really don’t want another me, do you?

I’m pretty sure if the question was put to a popular vote, it would be Johnson/Goldwater all over again, for those of you old enough to remember. For those who don’t, look it up. Or, just ask Siri.

One morning last week, my wife received an email notice from her employer that people were having their identities stolen and false unemployment claims were being made in their name,  The solution? Got to the state’s Employment Security Division (https://esd.wa.gov/—you’ll need this later) website and create an account.

What does that do?  Well, for those of us who aren’t filing for unemployment, it connects our name to our social security number, so cyber thieves in Nigeria can’t go in with our SS number, create an account and start stealing money from our state. And really, I’m going to have to write to that Prince in Nigeria and see if there’s something he can do about those guys. I’ve given him a lot of money.

So, I went to the site and found the form. This is what you click on to get there, down towards the bottom of the page.

I put in all the correct information on the form and clicked “Save.”  That’s when this mysterious red box showed up that notified “That social security number is already associated with another account.” What?

They gave me a phone number to call, which I did. But after waiting for a while, it gave me the option of keeping my place in line and they would call me. I chose that option. Four hours later, a rep from the state called me, kicked out the fraudulent me and gave me sole access to my social security number.

The reason I’d highly suggest you verify your number hasn’t been stolen–so far, our state has had HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS stolen using this method. Fortunately, in my case, the thief hadn’t begun siphoning off state dollars using my identify. If you want all the gory details, read this article in the Seattle Times.

So, wash your hands, wear a mask and check to make sure your identity hasn’t been stolen. All part of our wonderful new norm.

Oh, and that link again is https://esd.wa.gov/

There really should only be one of you.

Tim Hunter

The Norwegian Tradition Continues

Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood has long been a gathering place for Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians.  Through the 1800’s, people in Norway heard about this place called America and how this spot on the west coast felt similar to their homeland, while also full of opportunity.

To this day, lots of fishing fleets are based in Ballard. The TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” brought it into our living rooms. The area became known as, “Snoose Junction.” The biggest party of the year is always “Seafoodfest”, with three days of bands, crafts and lots of seafood.

But this year is different, as you know. Seafoodfest has been officially scrapped for this year, while other traditions are being postponed with a hope of rescheduling. But there’s only one 17th of May and this year, the annual Syttende Mai parade through downtown Ballard was canceled.

For us, we had turned the celebration into a two-day affair, grabbing a room at the Hotel Ballard and living there for a couple of days. There was a big luncheon at noon, followed by assorted happy hours and then, the 17th of May Parade that marched down 24th, and made a left on Market Street. For the past 7 years, I’ve had the honor of announcing the parade from the official grandstand.

Again, this year was different and the parade, the luncheon, the singing at Bergen Place, all canceled. That meant a 130-year-old tradition was at risk. I mean, c’mon, they even marched over a century ago during the Spanish Flu outbreak. Of course, that could have been what fueled that Second Wave we keep hearing about.

One day, I thought, “What if a few of us got together, maintaining our social distance, and put on a Syttende Mai parade of our own?”  I passed the idea along to a few members of the community and the next thing you know, we had a plan.

We had to walk a fine line because, in accordance with the Governor’s orders, there were to be no gatherings.  The official parade organizers wanted nothing to do with this, because they didn’t want to risk losing their official Seafair-sanctioned status. So, we kept it to a handful of people, who dressed up and, at the exact time the big parade would have stepped off, we began down the route in our cars, wearing masks and honking our horns.

But rather than telling you, why don’t I show you exactly what happened.

The streak remained intact. The tradition continued.

And if even for a couple of hours on that pandemic Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Syttende Mai lived on.

Skål.

Tim Hunter

Exporting a Few Memory Files

At the beginning of next month, I’ll be in the window where I need to sign up for Medicare. I was just cutting classes at Torrance High School to go down to the beach and now I’m doing “Senior Stuff.” OK, well I guess that was Senior Stuff back then, too.  I’d just like to give AARP the credit for being the first to point out that I was getting old, because they hit you with junk mail about joining AARP starting at age 50. It’s part of your turning-50 birthday package.

But even though I’m crossing into that 65+ threshold, I’ve still got a lot going on. I’m multi-tasking more these days than I was in my 30s and 40s. My brain goes 100 mph because I like it that way and I fully expect, at some point, I’ll have to shut it off and just relax. But until then, I’m going to get my money’s worth out of it.

However, I know there are physical limitations. That gray matter upstairs can only store so much, so occasionally, I like to export a few memory files to this blog so I can let them go and free up the space for the new stuff that’s coming in daily. So, here I go again. Some deep dives of stories and tidbits that are currently buried in my brain, but are now being moved to the Internet for storage.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF A DODGER KIND

Back in the 1960s, I grew up in a baseball family. The Los Angeles Dodgers were our team and most nights, we didn’t sit in front of the TV, but rather listened to the radio as Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett called the play-by-play. On occasion, we’d get to venture out to Dodger Stadium, usually in the cheap seats, to witness a game live and in-person. I don’t remember how he got ’em, but one time my dad got his hands on some front-row seats along right field. As we’re sitting there, the guy next to us yelled out at Lou Johnson, the Dodger outfielder. The next thing you know, Lou came over and talked to the guy. He might have been 3 feet away, dangerously close by today’s social distancing standards. I sat there in awe, and listened to the conversation while staring at ‘Sweet Lou’. Being that close, it was then I noticed that part of his right ear was missing. Apparently, he had lost it in an auto accident years before. I understand that, these days, he’s still working with the Dodgers in community relations.

I’M LETTING THIS ONE GO, LAUREL

God bless you, Laurel Scherer, wherever you are. Back in the third grade or so, I attended Emmanuel Lutheran Church’s private grade school. The church we attended had a school, with probably no more than 25 students total, divided into two classrooms–grades 1-4 and 5-8.  The memories from those early years are gradually fading away, so I thought I better preserve as many of those stories as possible. I’ll start with Ricky Niemeyer, who I became friends with and then, one day, he just stopped coming to school. His mom arranged for him to come back for one more birthday celebration with his friends before losing his life to leukemia. Hard to believe with today’s medical treatments, but back then, leukemia was a death sentence.

At recess, we played on an asphalt parking lot because that was all they had. There were lots of dodge ball and kick ball games, using one of those red rubber balls. I should also mention Terry Smith, who went down in history as the first person ever to tell me a dirty joke. There was another kid named Paul. One time, I went over to his house to play and they served us hamburgers and this thing called mayonnaise. It was awesome!

But Laurel Scherer comes to mind for a couple of reasons. She wore braces which, back then, were a major commitment. I remember being good friends with her, although I probably damaged it that time I gave her a push to help avoiding being called “out” in hide ‘n seek and she went face-first into a flag pole, chipping her tooth. Wherever you are, Laurel, I’m sorry.

And one more Laurel story. I saw this happen and it just left an impression. I was standing in our play area, watching Laurel climb up the slide in her dress. Yes, back then, girls had to wear dresses to school. Well, she got to the top, sat down on the slide and began heading down. Only problem was, her dress caught on something at the top. All in one motion, she slide down the slide, leaving her dress at the top and the second her feet hit the ground, she made a beeline to the girls’ room.

OK, Laurel, that was it. Last time around for that story, at least, as told by me.

MRS. REES

Around the 4th grade, the classes at Emmanuel Lutheran Grade School were big enough that it warranted adding a classroom. It was then that an attractive, red-headed woman named Mrs. Reese took over the class I was in. I had never really known a redhead until then, outside of the little red-headed girl in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I wouldn’t say I had a schoolboy-crush on her, but I can still see her vividly. A couple of times, her husband came to visit the classroom and I thought, “What a lucky guy!” Then suddenly, she was gone. I don’t know where went, but I do know she was no longer at the school. I eventually heard that she had gone through a divorce and, as awful as they are these days, back in the 1960s it was considered something you just didn’t do, especially if you were a woman. I just remember wondering, ‘How could someone so nice get a divorce?’ As I experienced later in life, it happens.

Wow, I look at the class picture of that year and I can pluck out first names of a lot of those kids: Carolyn, Thomas, Kerry, Dillon, Tim, Laurel, and Andrew.  To the rest of my classmates, I’m sorry those memories have already gone to the dark side.

OK, enough for this round of memory purging. I’m letting these go and if I ever want to think about those people again, I’ll just come back here. Or, I’ll ask you, since they’ve now filled up some of your space.

Tim Hunter