Happy Birthday, America!

You’re looking good, at 243! Actually, they say that 243 is the new 220.

Oh, you’re not perfect. Then again, who is? I, for one, am going to use July 4th as a reminder of what a great country I live in. One that was founded on freedom and that allows and encourages us to complain about you the other 364 days of the year.

These days, the 4th of July means going back up to my adopted hometown of Bothell, where I get to do the play-by-play of the city’s Freedom Festival Parade for the city cable TV channel. Then, we head over to Mike & Annette’s house for the traditional after-party. Before dark, we’ll be home to protect the home from errant bottle rockets and attempt to calm the pets.

That’s how I celebrate these days. I’d like to take you back with me to my earlier celebrations.

I remember those days of growing up on 226th street and the anticipation of going to the fireworks stand with my family to pick out this year’s assortment. Would we go to one of the much advertised Red Devil fireworks stands, or that new brand, Black Panther?

The kids, bouncing around like we’d eaten a box of sugar cubes, would point at the giant assortment, knowing that dad would pay that much. Most years we did the $14.99 family fun pack, but it seems to me there were at least a couple of years where we went big and got the $19.99 value pack.

Each assortment came in a box wrapped in cellophane that had to be ripped off so you could see and handle all the contents. There were those fountains that you’d light and then watch as a shower of sparks would burst out for 10-seconds or so. Those had to be saved for the night of the 4th for the full effect.

There was the Log Cabin, a cardboard box made out to look like a log cabin that you’d light and smoke would come out the chimney for a few seconds. Wow.

Of course, each box came with at least one Piccolo Pete. A firework that basically whistled loudly for 12.57-seconds and….that was it. Over the years, as we got older, we learned that if you clamped down on the second P, it would whistle for a while and then explode. We were such rebels.

Pinwheels eventually made their way into the packs. There were smokeballs that you’d light and watch them smoke for a few seconds. Oh, and those snakes. You’d light a match, hold it on that little black tablet and ash snakes would pour out of them along with the delightful smell of sulfur.

And of course, there were sparklers. Another treat reserved just for the night time celebration, out on our driveway, where dad made sure that a bucket of water was standing by for us to toss our burned ones into. We were very neat celebrants.

In California, sunsets are pretty consistent throughout the year. So, we’d do the family fireworks in the driveway around 7 or whenever we’d convince our parents it was dark enough. Then, we’d all pile in the car and drive over to some hill in Redondo Beach to watch their big fireworks celebration over the ocean.

I’ve opened up this little time capsule as a reminder that on the 4th of July, you can immerse yourself in all the good of the holiday and go a little red, white and blue.  There are some who would argue that there’s no way they could celebrate because of everything going on—-the threats of nuclear war, racial inequality, people being locked up for the color of their skin, GMO’s, Global Warming, whales washing up on the beaches, etc.  That’s true, if you want to surround yourself with all that’s wrong in the world.

Thankfully, my parents chose not to do that back in the 1960s. Our home wasn’t filled with the daily news diet of everything that’s wrong and believe me, we had plenty surrounding us. Assassinations, war protests, race riots, a war raging on in Southeast Asia and so on.

It’s good to be aware of your surroundings and taking steps to make this a better place, but to make your day-to-day existence all about the problems of the world–that’s going to make for a long and miserable life.

And you only get one.

My advice–go to one of those remaining “Safe and Sane” fireworks stands and buy a box of snakes. Sit down on the curb and light a few of them. Watch as they amazingly come to life and then, blow away with the wind. For a brief moment, you’ll be a kid again and happy to be alive on another 4th of July.

Oh and one more thing. One of our family traditions growing up was going to the fireworks stand, getting that assortment pack, climbing back into the car and hearing dad say that phrase he’d say every year. Decades later, I would call him up on the phone and ask him to repeat those words on my radio show.

To hear my dad’s famous phrase, click here.

Happy birthday, America.

Tim Hunter

Dude–You’re ‘The Dude!’

Things happen in our lives and I’m pretty convinced, all for some kind of reason. It doesn’t have to be a great one, but like a jigsaw puzzle with a billion pieces, that little snippet of time plays some part in the story we are creating on this earth.

I’m trying to dig deep and flush out those stories that really had no significance in my life, but that I would like to preserve for posterity or if nothing else, for just a fun flashback when I confined to a rocking chair at a retirement home staffed by former Playboy Bunnies.

Here’s one such story.

Back in the early 1980’s, I had been hired by KOMO AM-1000 to be the morning show producer for Larry Nelson. Larry was the on-air superstar, I was the guy in the background doing things to make him sound better.

I was all of 25-years-young, with my post-college experience limited to three years of playing radio in Yakima, Washington. One of my assigned duties was to conduct interviews, take out some of the clips and then write up a script so it would sound as if Larry Nelson had talked with our special guest.

That meant that over the years, I got to meet authors, movie and TV stars, and formerly famous people trying to eek out a few more minutes in the spotlight. I could drop names, but I’ll save that for a future blog.

This time, I’d like to tell you about the dude named Jeff Dowd.

The Seattle International Film Festival was around 4-years-old and their promoter was a guy named Jeff Dowd. I remember when he showed up to record an interview, he was quite a bit overweight, and frankly, dressed like a slob. I mean, this was KOMO radio, and I had to wear slacks and a tuck-in shirt, so what gave him the right to just show up as if he was helping someone move?

No matter. For a couple of years, when it came time for the festival, Jeff would reach out, come in and we’d record tidbits about the hot movie that year or some of the special guests that were scheduled the show up.

Then, in 1984, as it happens in radio, KOMO threw me a surprise going away. The face I was going away was a complete surprise. Jeff became one of those folks I had got to know through the job, but I never saw him again.

In talking with him, I knew he had aspirations of going to Hollywood, where they made the movies, and getting involved with the industry. Apparently, he did, although I didn’t put the pieces together until many years later.

Jeff got to know the Coen Brothers while they were promoting their first film, Blood Simple. The next thing, he became the basis for one of their most popular characters, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from The Big Lebowski.

Yes, Jeff Dowd was the real-life “Dude.”

I don’t know what was going on in my life when “The Big Lebowski” came out, but I’ll be completely honest with you–I’ve never actually seen the whole movie. I need to do that one of these days. I’ve heard so much about it from friends that were fans, I almost feel like I’ve seen it.

But none the less, it’s based on the life of a guy that was one of the puzzle pieces of this yet unfinished story. And that makes one less piece to find among those that fell off the table.

I just thought I would share.

Oh, and here’s the link to the story that flushed out this memory. Best of luck, man. After all, you are, the Dude.

Tim Hunter

 

Saying Goodbye Again

Things come, things go.

While I’ve seen the likes of Newberry’s, Woolworth, Pay ‘n Pak, Frederick & Nelson and so many other businesses fade off into history, I understand that we live in changing times. But every time it happens, there’s still a bit of sadness to it.

Even things that stuck around but have evolved over the years, like going from The Bon Marche` to Macy’s, require an adjustment.

And as we hit mid-June and watch the grads head off into their unknown future and we excitedly leap from Spring to Summer, I’m being required to accept yet one more change in my life.

This is the final week of Steve’s Café in Bothell.

They will serve their last meal this coming Sunday, enjoy a Monday off (as that has been the only day Steve takes off for many years) and then on Tuesday, they’ll host an Open House and farewell gathering to anyone who wants to stop by and say goodbye, from 1-6pm.

For 22 years, Steve has gotten up at 4am most days to head in and serve his specialty–good old-fashioned, American diner food. He’s worked hard, along with his wife Marlene, who waited on tables. In later years, a server named Lori joined the team. What I loved so much when I stopped in for lunch was climbing in a booth and looking at those old black & white photos from Bothell’s days gone by.

Look towards the back of the restaurant and you’ll catch a glimpse of Steve, preparing whatever order Marlene or Lori brought back his way.

The word on the street is that his location will soon become a trendy whiskey bar.

For now, the smiles are still there, but it’s as if time is telling Steve to maybe take life a little easier. Last year for a while, the restaurant had a sign on the door letting customers know they had to close early on Wednesdays so Steve could get some medical treatments. He’s made a full recovery but maybe that adventure inspired him to fine-tune his life a little. He admitted when I was in last week that the 4am wakeups have gotten old. But while the café may disappear, Steve says he’d go stir crazy at home and wouldn’t mind getting a part-time job somewhere, doing something. Perhaps with the school district?

The countdown is on and Steve’s Café right there on Main Street in Bothell has less than a week to go. Stop by and wish Steve well, if you can. They serve breakfast all day, but may I recommend my usual–the Ruben Sandwich with his homemade potato chips.

Once again, it’s time to say goodbye. This time, it’s Steve’s turn.

Tim Hunter

Don’t Go Messin’ With My Papi!

The Boston Red Sox have always, somehow, worked their way into my life.

Now remember, I was born and raised a Dodgers fan. I mean, I came from a serious Dodgers family. On most nights at our home, the TV wasn’t on, and we would listen to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett tell us how Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy and Willie Davis and the rest of those L.A. Bums were doing. To this day, Sandy Koufax remains my all-time, most-revered baseball hero.

But, as I do, I digress.

While living most of my years in Dodger Blue and trying for four decades to embrace Mariners Teal, the boys from Boston insisted on being a part of my life.

I remember being at a party at the Columbia Athletic Club in Mill Creek and watching that famous “Buckner ball” incident (he, a former Dodger) and having Boston snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, which resulted in losing another World Series.

Years later, a recruiter for Boston University passed through the Northwest and captured the interest of my son, Tyson, who packed up and headed to Beantown. Because of that connection, I began following the Red Sox more closely. It was during his sophomore year that they finally broke the ‘Curse of Ruth’ and won a World Series. It was that team that I got to know really well, including Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and a guy nicknamed ‘Big Papi’, David Ortiz.

Snuck into Fenway a couple of times

On a business trip to Toronto in 2007, not long after I landed, I was whisked away to a Blue Jays home game, with great seats down behind home plate. No sooner had I sat down than Manny and Mr. Ortiz came out of the dugout and practically walked in front of me. I will never forget that moment.

As Pedro retired and headed to the broadcast booth and Manny’s faded off into the sunset, David Ortiz became the grand old man of the game and pretty much the soul of the Boston Red Sox. From the Dominican Republic, he took his adopted home town of Boston very seriously, and when the Boston Marathon bombing took place, it was Big Papi who address the crowd when it was decided we must continue what we’re doing or the terrorists win. Yes, he dropped an F-bomb during his passionate speech, but no one seemed to care. Well, except the TV censors.

Then the shocking news this week out of his home country that someone had tried to basically assassinate David Ortiz. Six people have been arrested, we’re hearing that they were paid $7,800 to take him out. Why? Who’s behind it? More to come, but a sad twist to his post-baseball life.

My David Ortiz Red Sox t-shirt now has even more special meaning. It sounds like he’ll recover and may I just suggest to him to spend a little more time up north where you are and will always be loved by fans.

Oh, and one other connection baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest share with David Ortiz–he started out his professional baseball career as a Seattle Mariner.

Back in 1996, the Seattle Mariners  had a loaded roster: Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez. They were trying to win a close wild-card race and believed they felt they could do better than third baseman Russ Davis. So, on August 29th, they sent a minor leaguer to the Minnesota Twins after the season in exchange for veteran Dave Hollins.

Which made Seattle the only team to ever trade David Ortiz. What did Minnesota do with him? Released him after the 2002 season. Then it was off to Boston and the rest is Red Sox history.

The nighly news is crammed full of disturbing stories, but this one really hit. Maybe this explains why I’ve just had this unsettled feeling all week. Bottom line–Don’t go messin’ with my Big Papi!

Get well, Mr. Ortiz.

Tim Hunter

 

I Wonder if That’s What Heaven Is Like

Ask someone their idea on what heaven is like, and I’m sure you’d get all kinds of answers. I imagine it’s a collection of all the good moments, all the positive things that emerged during one’s life story.

Put my mind to a pop quiz and I’m imagining that walk with my Grandma Hunter, holding her hand as we walked on the next block, which had some mean kids. They said something cocky, and my grandmother told us to just ignore them. I was probably around 7.

There’s George, the first family dog, who was so spunky and, looking back, probably the perfect dog who just wanted to be loved and run. I remember we took him over to “the fields” to let him run and he did. That was back when Torrance had vacant lots, which are long gone.

There was that gang of mine at Immanuel Lutheran Church’s school, which were my best buds for the first six grades. Then, the church suddenly closed the school and I found myself thrust into public schools, having to deal with being “the new kid.” Traumatic at the time, I harnessed the confrontations to bring out my comedy skills. It prevented at least a couple of beatings.

High School was beyond awesome. I hit my stride, was a basketball player, a senior president and A.S.B. vice-president, prom king, you name it. And, after a long uncertain stretch, I got to be the boyfriend of the girl next door. (OK, well, across the street)

College days were fun and one of these days, I’m going to make that a film script, but I left with a ton of great memories and classmates that I really enjoy seeing again. We pulled off a reunion last year, but there were still some people I really wanted to see that didn’t make it.

OK, back to the concept of heaven. I was lucky enough to work at an eastside radio station called KLSY. There were several KLSY’s—when I first started, the next phase, the phase after that and the Mix 92.5 phase.

Last week, a spontaneous reunion broke out, featuring phase 2 of that adventure.

Remember, I was there 19 years of my broadcasting career. A lot can happen in radio in a couple of years, let alone 19. The crew that assembled that afternoon at the Ram Restaurant at Northgate was a wonderful time capsule of that KLSY era. By this time, I had joined Bruce Murdock as part of the Morning Show, (First, the Breakfast Club, then Murdock & Hunter…eventually, Alice got her name in the show, “Murdock, Hunter & Alice) and that night, we had to drunk Facetime Bobby Irwin our program director and talk about old times.

You see each other and break out in smiles, ask how you’re currently doing and then, return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  It was pretty much 3 hours that seemed like 5-minutes. Of course, there were at least two toasts to the memory of the late Alice Porter. Oh, sure, those days were far from perfect and there were insane challenges that we all shared together. But now, we could laugh at those challenges and fondly remember all the good times that surrounded them.

The old adage, “If I knew then what I know now” is so true. Probably, the number one thing I would do differently is to slow things down, to savor that time, which, of course, is a reminder that we should be doing that right now.

Up in our brain, there’s a storage locker that we fill up with all the great moments of our life.  The positive, the good. I’m convinced that is what we’ll be surrounded with when all is said and done, and that makes the end of everyone’s story just a little easier to accept.

Last week little KLSY roundup was just another reminder of just how good my life has been and I say that with the utmost of appreciation. It doesn’t mean there weren’t some awful moments along the way, but those will have no place where I’m going.

Enjoy the moments going on in your life right now. Several of them are probably heading to your mental storage locker.

Tim Hunter

The Hidden Costs

My position on the homeless situation is so incredibly clear.

Let’s break them down into three categories: 1) The unfortunate, down on their luck, 2) The drug addicts and 3) Those battling mental health issues.

All three deserve our help. They are human beings, lost souls or people who just didn’t get the breaks that we did and weren’t trained how to handle the setbacks.

With the over $1-billion being spent every year in Seattle and King County, I can’t understand how the situation is getting worse, rather than better.

Those in category one, that’s a no-brainer.  Sometimes people need help, training, guidance, support, housing, etc. I think we’re all in agreement that helping them is a good idea.

However, somewhere in our extreme thinking, free-spirited minds (or at least by the people in charge) it has been decided that leaving people alone is the right thing to do. If someone wants to be a drug addict or roam the streets mentally challenged, that’s OK. Bring ’em a sandwich and we feel so much better about ourselves. Offer them help, only to be declined–well, at least we tried.

Not the kind of world I was raised in and not what we all deserve.

Right now in Seattle, this little chunk of paradise in the northwest is experiencing a huge blight of people sticking up tents and living whereever they choose. It’s trespassing. It’s loitering. It’s all kinds of things that we have laws against, yet we don’t enforce the laws. And when you don’t enforce the laws, word gets out to those who aren’t fans of the law.

So, you may saying to yourself, “Tim, why are you launching out at the homeless situation this week?”

Because it could have cost me my life this last weekend.

In the past, I had some drug-dependent loser wheel away my $350 pressure washer off my car port at 4am on a Sunday morning. I have the grainy footage to serve as a memory.

But this past weekend, we rented a U-Haul truck from the Ballard rental facility to move my step-daughter’s things. After loading up and relocating everything, we went to a gas station to fill up the truck. As the pump chugged away, there was a strong odor of gas. I looked under the truck and everything we had been pumping had just gone all over the ground. At least three gallons’ worth of gasoline. One spark, one idiot continuing to smoke while he fueled up and we would have been toast.

What happened?  I looked under the truck. The hose to the gas tank had been disconnected from the fueling tube. Upon returning it to U-Haul, the guy explained they had been having trouble with people coming to their lot at night and siphoning out gas. Someone decided to disconnect the hose so they could get to the gas, and then just left it.  We had driven around town in the truck with the tank disconnected, another way that something could really have gone wrong.

They loosened the clamp and disconnected the hose

The location of this U-Haul store was not far from several homeless gathering spots, some living in dilapidated RV’s.  We weren’t charged for the gas missing from the tank because apparently this happened before. It’s just one of the bi-products of the Seattle world gone mad.

We dodged the bullet. This time, we were lucky.

I hope that someday, Seattle’s leadership will wake up and do something to return our area to a place you can live without fear of stepping on a needle, having your property stolen or worse. It wasn’t always this way.

I’m placing most of my hope in next year’s elections. It’s time to make a serious change.

Tim Hunter

 

There is a Now

I was gazing over to the side of my computer monitor the other day. It’s the place where I have photos of the people that are or were special in my life so that when I need a little reminder about what’s important, there they are.

Among the rag tag collection is the “In Loving Memory” thing they produced for my dad’s funeral.  There he is, smiling away, in a picture taken probably ten years before he passed. He was older, slowing down, but mentally, everything was still there.

As he approached the final days of his life, there was a lot of failures. The body was giving out, the hearing selective at best, the wit sneaking out every now and then, but dulled by 90-plus years on this earth. However, going back to that picture–it made me wonder, did I really thank him enough for all he did? To appreciate all those things he did to support his family–working overtime, slinging bananas down at the docks in Long Beach when the United Airlines  mechanics went on strike, managing the Little League team I played on.  Those Pinewood Derbies, the camping trips, the times we went fishing.
I think he knew. But with Father’s Day approaching, it causes me to wonder.

I know I did my best on the last night of his life when he laid there, unresponsive but breathing, as his life slipped away. I spent the night and talked his ear off, clinging to the knowledge I heard somewhere (and I don’t want to check into its validity because I might find out it’s not true) that the hearing is the last thing to go. That you can still reach the person by talking to him and saying what was on your mind. I tried to re-live my entire life that night, enough that when the morning came and he left, he was probably thinking, “Great! Peace and quiet at last!”

I don’t know much, but I have come to realize that one of our biggest personal downfalls is living in the future or the past, but not so much in the present. We hang on to unpleasant things that we experienced or live in fear of what might happen in the future. Oh, I’m still guilty to a degree, but I try to remind myself daily, whenever I feel overwhelmed, to just enjoy the now.

At this particular point, the only noise in my office is the keyboard tapping as I write this.  There’s no music, no TV in the background, the cat is sleeping (again), and later, I plan to wander out on to our deck and just breath in the air. The scent of cedars fills our backyard and can easily conjure up memories of those many family camping trips we took when I was a kid.

See, that’s the past, but a pleasant memory to savor like a vintage wine. It rolls around in the brain and then you put it away until a future moment. And that’s how easy it is to get distracted and leave the now.

Life is a collection of moments. You’re actually enjoying a few right now. Savor them. Cherish them. There millions and millions of people no longer on this earth who would do anything to experience just a few more.

And, at least for now, we’ve got all the moments we want.

The now.

Use only as directed.

Tim Hunter

Here We Go Again

I’m not Norwegian. But I married into it. And that’s OK.

As we approach another 17th of May (Norwegian Constitution Day), we’ll be doing the traditional stay in the Ballard Hotel for two nights, attending the big luncheon, stopping by the Leif Erikson Lodge, I will announce the parade while Victoria marches in it and so on.

It’s an all-out celebration of Norwegian heritage and good for them. But they are WAY more concerned about where their parts came from than I am. I’m a rag-tag collection of ethnicities from around the globe.  In fact, here’s what 23andme.com had to say about my make-up:

Yep, that’s what it takes to create your very own Tim Hunter. It was me before you knew that, it’s still me after you read that data. A lot of Northern European, with a splash of Eastern European that I surmise resulted from some relative’s wild weekend away.

Heritage is nice to know. Some people embrace it, while others like me say, “Eh, good to know.”

Who we are is the result of what we’ve been, our experiences, our influences. In other words, we have existed.

I look at my life’s journey and I’m extremely appreciative and happy for everything. Oh, that’s not to say there were pretty rough spots along the way, but everything resulted in my present being, in who I am today and all things considered, I’ll take it.

This summer, we’re heading to Scotland to visit the town where my dad was born, I look forward to feeling a closer connection to those roots. However, I will still be this Tim Hunter guy I’ve become.

And I’m really liking that.

Tim Hunter

 

Mother’s Day 2019

Everyone has one and this Sunday, we salute that special person we’ve come to know as mom.

Yes, dad was involved with bringing you into the world, but mom was seriously invested in the process. Remember, she probably had to give up smoking and drinking for 9 months, out of concern for the little monster she would be bringing into the world. That’s dedication.

In my case, I was the first one to come along, followed by two sisters. Dad was a mechanic out at United Airlines, while mom was a stay-at-home until the mid-1960s when women in the neighborhood began to start working outside the home.  First, she tried her hand at retail over at J.C. Penney’s and then, she worked for Home Savings, which eventually became Washington Mutual. Mom had a chance to become a manager, but opted not to, because it would have meant being sent to a God-forsaken branch somewhere around Los Angeles. She climbed the ranks to head teller and stayed there and in Torrance until she retired.

Mom has threatened to write her life story down over the years and has a few notes jotted down. A few years back, I video-taped her telling about how she ended up in California. She was raised on a farm in South Dakota and the story I remember most happened when she graduated from 8th grade. She told us she remembers crying when her parents said that she couldn’t go to high school because they needed her to work on the farm. Eventually, she moved to the big city of Aberdeen and worked there until she was 18. When her roommate and best friend headed out to California, she went out to visit for her wedding. She was the maid of honor, and my dad, was the best man. That’s where they met which eventually resulted in me.

It’s so funny, but if you ask me to remember mom stories from growing up, I could bring up the fact she was a Cub Scout den mother or some nice memory, but what always comes to mind is sitting in back seat of our Ford Fairlane after being picked up at school and how she got pulled over just down from our house by a motorcycle cop for failing to use her blinker when she turned into our neighborhood.  She was mortified. I’ve often thought of writing to the governor to ask for clemency.

Oh and another story I remember. Mom was determined to graduate from high school, so she went back and got her G.E.D. from Torrance High School, the same high school me and my sisters graduated from.

I’ve always been a big fan of everyone getting their life stories written down for future generations to enjoy. I’d love to hear all those details about the big decisions they had to make or the setbacks along the way. It’s an assurance that we all somehow manage to pull through; that as much as we think we’ve got it either tougher or easier, we all go through our own versions of life.

Last weekend, my sister Debbie and my mom came up for a visit. It’s been years since she’s been up here and we were able to do one of those bucket list things for her–catching the Skagit Valley tulips in bloom. She was blown away.

Mom is 90 and turns 91 in August. We threw her a big party last year and, if you never saw it, I put together a fun video to salute her, which I’ll stick in here, in case you haven’t seen it.

 

 

So, as we approach another Mother’s Day, I have to express my gratitude to the powers that be that allow me to still chat with my mom on a daily basis. She’s in Torrance, but all three kids give her a call once a day, just to check in. In the meantime, she continues to enjoy life–gardening in her yard, hitting the Dollar Store for deals, reading her newspapers and continually trying to get caught up with all the shows on her DVR.

It’s a good life and knowing what all she had to go through in raising me, a well-deserved one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma!

Tim Hunter

Opening Day of Boating Season

 

Here it comes again–another notch in the spring belt, the Opening Day of Boating Season.

While the rest of the country goes bonkers over a horse race in Kentucky, we’re all about the 106th annual celebration of all things nautical in Seattle, when crowds line the Mortlake Cut next to the University of Washington to first watch a series of crew races, followed by the traditional parade of boats with all the yacht clubs from the area showing off their finest.

It’s free and for a lot of people, an annual tradition. Bring the lawn chairs and set up camp as you watch yachts, steamboats, vintage craft, sailboats and more float by to the cheers of the crowd.

We won’t make it this year, but I have to admit I have quite a few of these under my belt.

Back when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO radio in the early 1980s, KOMO was “your Husky station” and part of that honor included broadcasting the crew races. I remember the voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau and the Husky Crew Coach Dick Erickson, doing the play-by-play as the KOMO 4 helicopter flew overhead.

The day didn’t end there. KOMO’s Traffic Reporter Ted Garlatz invited everyone on his boat to go out on the water and hop from yacht club to yacht club. To be honest, I’m surprised we didn’t crash into anything along the way. Or, maybe we did and just kept going. Yes, alcohol was involved.

Years later, I went on a sentimental trip there was a previous father-in-law, who had been a coxswain for the UW back in the late 40s. He loved being back there again, as he had done his fair share of opening day regattas. I’m convince that he’s the guy yelling instructions at the rowers in the blown-up picture on the wall of the Northgate Ram Restaurant.

Then, when I first got together with Victoria, we were regularly invited guests aboard the Oberg’s boat for opening day.  First, going out with the rest of the yachts that were tied up and then, eventually, just partying from shore and walking over to catch the parade.

Yes, that first Saturday in May means a lot of things to lots of people. To some, it’s the Kentucky Derby, while others look forward to the annual free pancake breakfast at McLendon’s Hardware. No matter how you celebrate it, it’s a special day. This year, we won’t be going to the cut, but instead are heading up to catch the tulips that made it this far. Oh, and it’s my wife’s birthday.

As I said, it’s a very special day.

Tim Hunter