Thursday, December 25, 2008


I have been writing in one way or another for quite some time. Like many other things, I never thought that I was very good at it. It usually takes someone to encourage and inspire you for you to continue on when you feel that way and I had just that kind of person in my life. His name is Larry Libby.

I first met Larry in my church years ago. We always seemed to end up in a men's Bible study together. I can't say that I recall the first time that we met but I remember thinking of him as a quiet thoughtful type of man. Those studies seemed to progress into a sort of accountability type of group where guys could not only encourage one another but could also challenge one another. Guys have a much harder time of opening up and you really have to get to know one another pretty well in order to find someone that you can really trust before you are willing to slice open those more secret parts of you. Over the years, Libs became one of those few....those very few that I have ever felt that way with. A man's inner circle is an extremely elite group and I was proud to have Larry in mine for quite a few years.

I knew early on that Larry worked for a book company but was not aware of his job within it for quite some time. I remember being kind of shocked when I first found out that he was an editor but then realizing that it really fit the kind of person that he was. One who thought things out before he said them and then attempted to use the right words to get his point across. At the time that I found out, I was being asked to write a monthly blurb for our church newsletter on Men's ministry and I asked Larry if he would be willing to assist me in that endeavour. He willingly agreed and I was aware just how much impact that had on my small articles. Larry would encourage, teach, and adjust my words giving them new life and meaning. He told me that I had good thoughts but just needed to mold them into words where the reader might be able to more hear them when they read.

For years, Larry and I went from one group to another. A couple of them we shared in leadership and got to know some great men friends. In between, we often met at the diner or other venues to just talk. Larry was a very easy man to talk with.

Larry inspired me in other ways also. I would watch from my perch in the balcony at our church at his small family and watched them as the kids grew. He and his wife always seemed to have a loving control of his kids while I felt that I struggled in that department. I recall especially his daughter, Melissa. Now, he knew her faults but I could see none in her. She seemed to border on perfection to me.

Larry found out that I had earlier on in my life been in a few plays and encouraged me to rekindle that talent and I ended up being in a few plays, some of them with him. Those were times in my life that I truly enjoyed. If he saw a place where I could do better, he would always inspire using the right words that would never put down but lift up encouraging me to change the character in ways that would better get the personality out.

I then stood with him through the hardest part of his life as his wife, Laura, contracted cancer and eventually passed away. I remember his happiness when the doctors thought that they had gotten all of the cancer and then the fear when her blood counts did not come out as they should. I visited her once in the hospital and brought her a heart. That heart had a meaning to me as she was the heart and sole of my close friend.

I and others attempted to stay close to him and walk with him as he struggled with a pain that I knew that he felt that he might never get beyond. Having his kids around him were crucial in those times also. But, it seemed that it wasn't that much further on that they were out of school and starting off on their lives and I still remember Larry telling me just how quiet the house was. He said that the cat walking across the carpet became a deafening sound. I encouraged him to listen to music instead of the silence. I felt good trying to give back to my brother with that encouragement as music is such a large part of my life.

Larry and I shared another love in life and that was walking. After his loss, a few of us would get together every weekend and walk one of the various buttes in the area. Larry enjoyed finding new buttes to walk and we even ended up driving once to one out past Paulina just to say that we walked it.

We then came to a part of our lives where they began to go separate ways for various reasons. I became so focused on the task of saving Jake's and he had his changes going on in his life and we just kind of lost touch. We would see each other from time to time and I really relished those visits.

One guy, Ken Mays, stayed walking with him and they would walk the butte twice a week. I tried to be diligent with that but became a part time partner there.

I remember when Larry met a new woman in his life. It was something that he thought would never happen. He eventually married that same woman and ended up moving out of the area and what ties that we had were severed. I tried to keep up with what was going on with him but I knew that he had a new life and he needed to break free and live it.

I ran into Larry last night at the Christmas eve service. When I saw him, my daughters wanted to leave but knowing me patiently waited while I went over to great my old friend. It was so great to see him. He had such a glow about him and I could see how happy he is with his new beautiful wife. I could have talked all night but I knew that he had others to see also and I knew my daughters were still waiting but I did let him know that I was still writing and gave him directions to my blog.

A man has very few true inspirations in his life and I am happy to say that this man was one of my greatest. Libs, if you read this, I wish you all the happiness in the world and hope that in one way or another, we still stay in touch.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sex Education 101

Have you noticed the ads on TV for Male enhancement? There is one about happy Bob. Happy Bob is happy because he is taking their product and is now enhanced. And...all the women around Bob are happy too. Bob becomes a Santa and all of the women line up to sit on his lap.

Well, now there is an ad for Women products too. The product is made by the Trojan company and is a vibrator that fits on the end of your finger. I can see the ad running on women's channels but:

Judy and I were watching the Travel Channel last night with Jayden. The show was on different Christmas type things all over the nation. The women's ad came on. I sat up and said, "oh, oh, oh!". Judy, with the speed of a cat, grabbed the remote and quickly changed the channel to the Science channel and a show on weird bugs.

"What was that?", asked Jay. "What?", I asked back. "Why did you change channels?", he asked. I had to think fast. "Well....would you rather see a show on weird bugs or a show on Christmas?", I countered. "Weird bugs.", he said. "Well, that is why we are watching it.". Jay accepted the answer and we watched the bugs.

I feel sorry for all of you young parents who are trying to bring up your children innocently these days. Just how do you explain what the world has placed in front of them. I remember when it was my turn to tell Casey about the birds and the bees. We had been informed that his middle school class was to have a sex video. We could decide whether to let him watch or not. Since he might be teased for not being able to go, we decided to let him and I felt we needed the talk first. As we drove to school, I fumbled through trying to tell him where he came from, how, and why. He remained quite silent and so I wasn't sure if he was even listening. Finally, about half way to school, he said, "Hey Dad, I know all about that kind of stuff. Do you think we could talk about something else. Maybe sports or something.". "Sure", I said relieved, "What about those Blazers? Did you see that game last night?......

I was discussing this with a couple of our employees this morning and one told me of her kindergarten child who came home from school the other day. They had someone come into the class and teach them sex education without even telling the parents. "Hey Mom, I know what a penis and vagina are.", He announced, "And I know all about puberty. Wow, I can't wait!".

Now, I know I am older but I am not a prude. And I feel that there is a time and a place and it should be up to the parent...not the school or the TV channel.

I guess the song never losses it's meaning. "The times, they are a changing.". In the mean time, we need to remain quick with our remotes and fast on our feet with our explanations.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A tip about the minimum wage law

Ten years ago, the people of Oregon voted in a new minimum wage law that was indexed to the cost of living. I said back then that it was an dangerous law and this year, the damage seems to be greater than ever.

I recall the day after the law was passed. As I walked into the diner, the cashier was extremely happy. I asked her what was making her so happy and she said, "The minimum wage law was passed. I get a raise!".

" I hate to burst your bubble.", I told her, "but where you usually get a raise, this year the business will not be able to because they have to give a huge raise to all of the servers. ". She had a shocked look on her face as I talked to her and she began to realize that instead of getting a raise, the raise was being given to the servers as there was no way to raise menu prices high enough to compensate for a indexed raise across the board.

Back then, we paid cashiers a couple of dollars over minimum. Now, they are lucky to get a dollar over and if you looked at the percentage difference, it would be even more contrasting. Even dishwashers were paid much higher than minimum and now start at minimum and only get slightly higher at best. The same goes with cooks who were double the minimum and now are lucky if they get 50% higher.

The minimum wage law actually hurts people working in sit down restaurants unless they are the servers. And the sad thing about that is that the servers are the highest paid employees.

For instance, a normal light percentage on tips is over 10%. What I mean by that is most people will pay $1 to $10 and if it goes above that, they usually go up to $2. Now there are others who don't tip but they are few and far between. So, if a server serves 10 customers in an hour (which is not that much), they will be making an additional $10 per hour. If they serve 20, then it goes to $20.

On January 1st, those servers will be receiving a 45 cent per hour raise or nearly 6%. Now, I really like all of my servers but there are people in the back of the house that deserve this raise even more and will probably not see a raise until around after the first quarter when we can better assess the damage that the first raise has given.

Back when this first started, an average restaurant looked to keep it's payroll to around 1/3 of it's sales. Now, it is fast encroaching 1/2. If you add that with a standard 1/3 cost of food, you will get 1/6 left for the restaurant to pay all of it's other expenses with including insurance, licenses, utilities, advertising, etc. Now, please don't take that as a complaint. I know what I was getting myself into when I took this business. It is just a fact of doing it.

The decisions are fairly simple. We must either raise prices (and we must be careful how much) or cut back on staff and service.

This will not affect fast foods or drive in type restaurants, only the ones where you sit down and are served.

With restaurants hurting all around, I wonder how much this will affect the ones who have been weakened by the hurting economy.

In my mind, the legislature can correct this problem with a simple tip credit. I am not advocating taking money away from them but simply freezing the wage where it is at and thus causing the ability for restaurateurs to give the raises where they are better needed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Mist

Now, I am far from a movie critic but I have my ideas of a good movie and this is not my idea of a good movie.

I bought this movie from Blockbuster south. They are having a closeout on some of their movies marking them down to five for ten dollars. So, I looked through their display and found my five. Most of them were PG or PG13 but this particular movie caught my eye. Based on a Stephen King novel, I kind of enjoy a good scary movie from time to time. I don't particularly like the gore but the scare. Stephen King liked Alfred Hitchcock and got allot of inspiration from him.

I watched the movie last night for the first....and last time. Trinity agreed that it was a one time watch. If you haven't watched it and want to without any give aways, you might not want to read anymore of this post.

The movie is based upon a large group of people who are trapped in a local grocery store when an evil fog moves into the town. They know the mist is evil when a man runs into the store with blood on him telling how a friend had been taken by something in the mist. One man runs from the store to his car only to be swallowed up by the mist and all you hear are screams. This is what initially keeps the people where they are.

Some of them began to realize the gravity of the situation when a young bus boy is attacked and killed by something in the fog through the loading dock doors. While the people in the store attempt to blockade themselves in the front with bags of dog food, the various factions in the store began to develop. There are the obvious good guys, the military people who remain silent and to themselves, the incredibly outrageous radical (so called) Christian woman who claims that it is punishment for our sins, and the originals 'good guy' man's neighbor who happens to be black and doesn't believe that their is a problem.

This leads me to the first disturbing part of the movie. The black lawyer neighbor talks all of the other blacks in the store along with a small amount of other races to leave the store with him. He claims that 'his people' are not going to be mocked by them. Why in the world the race card is needed in this picture is beyond me. The lawyer leads his people into the mist and obvious doom. I scratched my head wondering what value that part added to the mix and what underlying bias was being revealed by the producers.

They then cut to a shot of the local religious fanatic praying in the bathroom. The 'good woman' in the movie comes into the room to use it disturbing the fanatic who becomes quite angry. The woman tries to befriend the fanatic and the fanatic quickly tells her that she does not need her as a friend because she has God. The fanatic then spews out all sorts of foul language and attacks the woman verbally. I cringed as I could see what direction the producers were taking this one.

A love affair begins to bloom between two of the people who had grown up together but that is quickly snuffed out when the girl is killed violently with the first real attack on the store by what looks like flying scorpions. Now, what are they trying to say here? I know, I am probably trying to tear the movie apart to much but the biases seemed so obvious to me.

As the attacks continue, the fanatic gains more and more weak minds to her side gaining a huge advantage in numbers in the store. The good guys see what is coming especially when the fanatic calls for a sacrifice of the lone left soldier in the store since it is revealed that the mist is a portal to other worlds that the government had carelessly opened up in the local military base. They kill and sacrifice the young man. The fanatic then claims that as is written in the Bible, God is appeased for the time being.

The small group began to plot their escape. They place food in a check out to be grabbed as they run out the door. The plan is to try and get to the good guys car and attempt to drive to safety. The plan is thwarted by the fanatic who then calls for the sacrifice of the child.

I turned to Trin and said, "I think I have had enough.". "Maybe it will get better.", she returned. Knowing of all of King's good vs evil type novels, good always seems to come out in the end so I agreed and kept watching.

One of the good guys kills the fanatic with two shots from his gun. While the others are stunned, they make their escape. Five people survive and end up in the car. They drive off slowly past the sea of faces looking at them from the store. Somber music plays as they drive off.

The five are an older man and woman, the good woman, the good man, and his son. You began to wonder if they will be starting off together once they find safety. They drive by the good guys house only to witness that his wife is dead.

They drive and drive encountering one huge creature along the way and all sorts of weird sounds. "Why is no one trying to listen to the radio?", I asked out loud. They drove until they ran out of gas. Sitting their in the car in the dark shrouded by the mist, they try and figure out what to do next. The good guy looks at the woman and then to his gun. He checks the bullets and finds their are only four. I jumped up and screamed, "No, this can't be!". But it was. I kicked the chair in anger and frustration as four shots were fired. The man in obvious agony (he had just killed four friends, one of them being his own son) tries in vain to get the gun to fire once more while in his mouth. He then steps out of the car and begins to scream for one of the creatures to take him too. While he screams, you began to hear another sound and through the mist behind him comes an army tank followed by trucks full of civilians as the mist begins to lift and the creatures are exterminated by the military. The man drops to his knees in agony as the screen fades to black.

After the movie, I got on the computer and looked up what others had thought of the movie and found that most either really loved it or really hated it. To me, it was open and shut. I enjoy movies but for the most part, I want to feel good after watching one. I don't know how anyone can feel good about the way this one ended and any mind that comes up with this type of ending has problems; serious problems. Let's see, maybe he is an unhappy man who hates his wife, dislikes all blacks and other minorities, can't deal with relationships, has problems with Christians, and has suicidal thoughts. Oh yeah and he doesn't trust the military either.

Or maybe he just thinks that it is good art. I don't know, but I do know that I am glad that I only paid a couple of bucks for it.

Monday, December 1, 2008


A couple of times a week, we are honored to have the old Doctors from the area stop in and have a cup of coffee and swap stories with each other. I am sure they can tell some pretty good stories of older times. I am sure that surgery, as in other things, doesn't always go as planned and would have to be improvised.

The very first day that I went back and said 'hi', I ran into one who had worked on me once. Dr. Goldsmith did a surgery on me when I was around 12. When I noticed him, I told him so. "Hey, I found a survivor!", he joked. Dr. Ford asked around when it happened and after telling him, he told me that he might have been the one who put me under. Wow, both of them in one room.

Their numbers vary from week to week but I always enjoy stopping by their table. The last two years, they have chipped in and helped us out for thanksgiving. Being "Old Bend" themselves, they understand what we are attempting to do.

A while back, when I stopped in at their table, I noticed a new one sitting down wearing a ball cap. He looked up at me and said, "Hey, are your Ron Hicks' son?". I looked down and their sat Bud Rose. Now for the old timers, they will remember him all the way back to Brandis Thriftway Drugs downtown. He then moved out to the new Bend Memorial Clinic when it moved out to the building that it is now at. He set up Rose Pharmacy there. The pharmacy has since moved to another location down the road.

Bud was old school Bend. He knew his customers and cared for them more than the money that they put in his till. That is a concept that has been lost to many businesses. Maybe we should be teaching that in our college classes as it seems to be somewhat of a lost concept.

You see, people like Bud taught me quite allot about how a business should be ran. I felt good to be able to share that with him a couple of weeks ago. I told him of a time back in the early 80's when I had just came back to town and was in a very tight financial spot. I ended up in the hospital for a few days and afterward had stopped to see my family doctor, Dr. Robinson. When I came out and went into Bud's pharmacy, I told him that I could not afford the drugs that were prescribed. Bud just looked at me with a smile and said, "No problem, I know your family and they are good people. Pay me what you can.". That really stuck with me through the years.

Bud and I talked of those old days and how Dr. Robinson would get together prescriptions for the people in Gilchrist and bring them to him. They would then take the prescriptions to the bus depot so that the people who needed them would have them that night. Now back then, their were no credit cards, only promises.

Later, at Bend Memorial, the docs would call out the prescriptions to the pharmacy and Bud or his son would have them waiting for them as they left. Now, that was service. I am sure that all the new insurance deals with pharmacies in grocery stores and such have hurt that business and helped to make it more impersonal.

I really enjoyed that conversation but what I enjoyed even more was the opportunity to validate part of Bud's legacy to him. You never know how that one good deed will come back or better yet, spread out to others. I guess it is kind of the pay it forward effect.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Logger

This one hits even closer to home. I need to give you a little background to make it clearer.

In 1924, my great grandfather, Harry Day, traded his spread in Washington for another in Lapine. He brought his family with him taking five days to make the journey in a car, truck, and a wagon pulled by a team of horses. He and my grandmother, Ruby, had five children and she was pregnant with a sixth. They also had three children from their deceased oldest child (my grandmother, Margaret) of which one was my father, Ronald Hicks.

My grandfather built his ranch (which still stands) from the timbers of the abandoned electric substation of Pringle Falls.

His eldest son, Jim, met and married a daughter of another local rancher, Opal Swayze. Jim was originally a logger until he and Opal took over their parents old ranch which is located past the end of Day road after the road takes it's ninety degree turn. Jim and Opal Day had four daughters and a son. Two of their daughters Esther and Hazel married two brothers, Bill and Bob Newton. Bill Newton was the logger.

As a child, my father called him Willy. I remember him to be a strong tough man. I was kind of afraid of him. I remember that they had a house off the first part of Boyd Acres Road and I remember visiting the family there and playing out back with Bill Jr and Dorthy. If I remember right, they had some of those wooden irrigation sloughs bringing the water to needed parts of their spread.

Bill was a logger for Brooks Scanlon and he was a good one. He was well respected by his fellow workers. One of them, Baldy Franklin, remembers nick naming him "Fig". I talked with Baldy just this morning and he informed me that he got to have lunch with old Fig a while back. He was glad to have had that time especially after he read about it in the paper.

Bill was one of those unfortunate ones who lost his job when the mill closed down and was later on in his working life and found it hard to find work that could sustain him and his family. But he never complained about it.

Now, Bill was a tough guy but underneath that toughness was one of the biggest and tenderest hearts that I have ever known. A sad story or some ones trial would easily bring tears to his eyes. I recall the first time I noticed it. I was shocked and probably stared too long. From that day on, I had a different perspective of him.

Bill and Esther would often come in t0 the diner and had for many years. I would see them many times on Saturday mornings.

When we moved, Bill was one of the guys who brought his truck and trailer and helped us with that daunting task. As a matter of fact, that was the kind of thing that Bill did the best, help. I remember him bringing in wood for widows and helping out with various projects in our church. Bill was always the one who just worked never needing to be up front or acknowledged. I grew to really appreciate him for that. I wonder now if I ever told him so.

One time, I needed a couple of trees fell behind my house. I was afraid to fall them as I figured I would end up sending them the wrong direction. Now, Bill could make just about any tree fall what ever way he wanted it to. He looked around and told me that he was going to fall it towards the house. "Is there enough room?", I asked. "Yup" was all he said. Judy was sitting out back behind the house with our three kids. She looked up and saw the tree coming her way and quickly yelled at the kids to come inside. She thought it was coming down on top of the house. The top of the tree ended up three to four feet from my storage shed. "Ya see", he said, "Plenty of room.".

After we made our move over to the new location, Bill and Esther ate out even more often. I knew that part of that was to help support us and I was so grateful.

When I first found out that his cancer was unstoppable they met with their family in the back room. I did not know what to say or how to act. I remember being out in my office and my daughter coming back to get me. "What do I say?", I asked her. "Just say Hi", she said.

As the cancer took him fast, I would see the marked difference every time he came in. But he always smiled or attempted to. I remember Esther saying that she was so thankful to have her daughters help. "He took care of me for so many years.", she said, "Now, I have to learn to take care of myself.".

The service was very good. They showed a video of pictures of his life. There was a music bed behind the pictures and I did real well until the song playing was "God be with you". God be with you till we meet again......till we meet at Jesus's feet......God be with you till we meet again. I held my own daughters hand as the sadness rose inside my chest. On the other side of me were my parents. Across the isle sat Tom Day. His son, Tom Jr and I crossed paths as we went to great the others father. Tom Day and Ronald Hicks, the last two remaining members of the original Harry Day family.

I will miss you, Bill and am so thankful to have had your presence in my life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

As I walked through the isle at Fred Meyers this morning to get socks for Judy and I this morning, I stood and waited as two shoppers stood in the middle of the isle sorting out their stuff. They couldn't stand to the side or even attempt to get out of any ones way. I waited patiently but it brought back memories of a previous early morning trip or two when i used to get up real early on this busy shopping day.

This is the first story:


Shopping is usually not the most enjoyable thing for most men including myself, particularly on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s the day that socks go on sale at half price at one of our local department stores. I’ve drawn the duty on this the past few years because it is easy for me to pick them up on my way to work.

This past year, I decided to be at the door when they opened up so I looked up the time on their ad but I looked at the time for Portland stores rather than Bend. So.....I arrived at the store just before what I thought was the 6:30 opening. One other fellow had the same idea and when the store didn’t open on time. We tapped on the door, drawing the attention of the manager who was busy straightening displays at the front of the store. We showed him the time on our ad at which he smiled and pointed at the sign right in front of us that read: OPEN 7AM. With a shrug of our shoulders and an embarrassed “sorry”, we settled down for another 1/2 hour wait. As we waited, the front of the store got very crowded with other early morning bargain hunters. I looked around and found that we had quickly become the minority. 95% of the people around us were women.

We had positioned ourselves well though, right in front of the door that seemed the obvious to be opened first. Two other doors were there and the crowd gathered around our door and the middle door with no one on the far hardly used door. 7AM finally came and we prepared our selves for the battle that was ahead. My strategy was simple. The women's section first because that seemed to be the place that most would go. I would beat the rush, have my socks and be gone to the men’s section before anyone, then to the registers and out of there. I was cool and confident of victory in my battle plan.

Then the first setback arrived. That same manager came walking out and with a twinkle in his eye and that same smile he walked right by us with a little wink as we caught his eye. “No, Please don’t!”, we pleaded. But that sadistic smile walked right by us and to the middle door. With a twist of his keys, he unloaded the onslaught of primarily Women shoppers and then with a teasing twist and then turn away, he went to the unused doors and opened them first! By this time the mass of people had turned into a stampede through the two opened doors with us still standing there in shock at the turn of events.

The manager made his way over to our door and slowly opened the door allowing us to advance also. “Have a great time and thanks for shopping with us.” He quipped as we sprinted by him. With the speed and the grace of a gazelle, I leaped into action, grabbing up a basket, bounding down the aisle, and into the Women’s department where 90% of all of the mass at the door had already arrived at. “No problem,” I thought, merely a small setback. Because I was prepared. The night before when I had first set up my plan, I had scouted out both sections and knew exactly where to go. The socks that I had picked out for my wife and daughters were in a basket right at the corner of an aisle. These socks were perfect, with colors that would match any outfit. After all, isn’t that what is important to the feminine gender, that they match.

I knew that I was right when I saw the women around the basket. They must be at least four deep in spots. But my arm was long and I knew exactly what I wanted. Carefully, I reached through the mix of arms and grabbed. “Great, three packages in one grab. Doggone I’m good.” With that I retreated and off to the Men’s section that I knew would not be as crowded. Arriving there, I was pleased with my self to see just how right that I was. I quickly grabbed my package of socks and then headed to where my son’s socks would be. I had spent the longest time scouting this out. You see, My son is one of a kind and he only wears the most outlandish socks. His favorite, Argyle. I had scouted out the argyle section and knew exactly the one’s that I wanted.

Then I notice something that I hadn’t seen the night before. Someone had placed two rows of boxes full of socks just off to the left and I could see in the back boxes were argyles that looked to be similar in color to the one’s that I wanted. I leaped across the boxes and began to dig. To my delight, they were exactly the same socks and Eureka, they were one third of the price. As I piled high my basket, I couldn’t believe my new found fortune. As I watched others take the same socks off the racks, I felt like throwing my head back and laughing sadistically at my brilliant coup.

I filled my basket as full as I could. It didn’t matter if a few fell out as I made my retreat, because I had made one heck of a find. I stood up and prepared to jump back over the boxes when I notice that the way that I had came was now blocked with women who also were diving into the discount boxes. Arms waving and socks flying, they were intent on one thing, getting a bargain. “Excuse me.” I announced. “May I please come through.” No one notice me so I tried to persuade them this time louder. “Pardon me!” I yelled. I could see that I was going no where, none of them were even looking up.

I frantically looked around, claustrophobia beginning to set in setting off my sweat glands and flushing my face. I spied a line of tables off to my right that extended into the mass of shoppers. I couldn’t make out what was at the end but was willing to take the chance. I dove under the table and began crawling the length of them. My panic increased along with my pulse as I crawled between the legs of the last table. “What if there are people at the other end. What would they think of me coming up around their knees. Would they think me a pervert trying to look up someone’s dress.” Suddenly, this didn’t seem to be such a good idea. I blasted out the end of the last table to find to my surprise a aisle that was almost vacant. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I wondered if that was how they felt back in the war when they tunneled out of a prison camp and ended up sheltered in the adjacent forest.

With a victorious swagger, I made my way to the check out stands and eventual freedom. My heart began to sink as I spied the long lines of shoppers who had beaten me to the final destination. Now, I’m one of those guys that looks for the check out that is just about to open and to my good fortune, I found one. As I made my way to it, I was beaten by two people. A lady with a smaller basket than mine and a man with nothing (he probably just wanted directions). As the lady checked out, I heard a female voice behind me say, “Excuse me.”. Turning around, I found a lady with two overflowing shopping carts. “Excuse me.” She again said, “Could I get through to my husband.”.

Defeated again, I shrunk off to the side as she brought her carts past and began piling her bargains on the counter. “Oh well” I thought, “At least I’m almost out.” Halfway through her second basket a mistake was found. “Will the PIC from HI please contact 313?” I could only hope that was a call for help. I placed my basket on the ground, sat on it and began to wait for my turn. I must have dosed off as finger tapped me on the shoulder. “Are you going to check out?”, the lady asked, obviously annoyed by my catnap. I quickly placed my basket on the counter and filled out my check.

The brisk November air felt good as I stepped outside and drove to my workplace. Arriving, I called my wife to inform her of my victory and good fortune. After telling her of our son’s socks, she asked about hers. “You’ll love them.” I explained proudly, “Every color under the sun, something for every outfit.”. The silence on the line made my heart sink as I realized that I must have made a mistake. “Sweetheart.”, She said “I asked for white only.”

I guess I’d better work on my listening skills.


Wow, what a day! The fun can best be shown by the video from KTVZ. We are the second part of the video starting when you see the musicians playing.

Although the day started for me around nine or so, it started for Jake's much earlier when Jim and his daughter, Paula showed up to start preparing the kitchen. I immediately began working on the mapping of the customer reservations. Big Richard showed up and took over the phone responsibilities while I worked. Judy showed up and then my buddy, Frank and we began the transformation of the front area to prepare for the start at noon. I felt bad for Judy as she was just starting to get over a cold and I knew that she was still not feeling that great and I am sure that she would have much better enjoyed a day of rest but I understood why she was there as it is probably our most important and impacting day of the year.

Soon, some of the volunteers showed up and began to jump in and help also. I had a few of our employees who had volunteered show others how to serve and where to work. Around eleven, a couple of customers showed up and told me that they had reservations for eleven. One was a sweet lady who was by herself. I found her reservation for noon but invited her in since the food was nearly ready to go. She sat in the corner and ate while we finished our preparations. A few of the volunteers stopped by her table and talked with her along the way.

The other customer was not quite so easy. She demanded to know why she had been told eleven when her reservations on my sheet was for three. I asked her when she had called and she said the day before and gave me the name of the cashier who had taken her reservation. Realizing that she probably did not know what the event was all about, I began to explain it to her. I even told her that before she came in, she needed to realize that all of the people serving her today were volunteers and that the service that she would receive would be not the normal because of that. This did not impress her and she asked if that particular cashier was there. I was glad to tell her no and I did not lie as he had not arrived yet. He and his brother who used to work for us were due in any time as they were donating their time also. I told her that I could find her a place at noon but she might want to rethink of whether she wanted to come in or not. She said that she wanted to so I left her waiting in the front entrance.

Around 11:30, Jim Crowley (the Chaplain from the police dept and a friend) showed up and we all gathered in the main floor while he blessed the event with a prayer. Judy told me later that that was the one of the more impacting times of the day. I really appreciated Jim taking the time from his busy day to start ours off on the right foot.

Soon the customers began showing up and the first wave of deliveries went out the door. Al from Exquisite Hardwood Floors handled the deliveries along with his brother and his boys and ended up not charging any of the recipients and paying for them when he finished up for the day.

During the first hour, a man from KOHD stuck his head in the door and asked if he could video. He said that he was looking for busy businesses of the day. I told him that this was not a normal day and explained what was happening to him. He said that he needed to talk to his producer first and I told him that was fine and he was welcome. A few minutes later, I saw a camera on the floor and thought it was him. Then I recognized the camera man was from KTVZ. That was only because this particular cameraman, Clemens, had showed up at other times and I have noticed his hard work behind the scenes and admired it. I am not sure whether KOHD saw him show up or whether they decided that this was not newsworthy but they never came back in. I later watched their news thinking they had shot and I had missed it and saw that the busy business segment of their show went to the liquor store.

Clemens seemed to be enjoying his work as much as our volunteers were of theirs and he was able to capture some of the more fun times of the event in the segment from the first part of this writing. I ducked home to set up recording of the news and then dove back into the fray. My job was to be everywhere, checking on people; both help and customers and helping out where ever I was needed.

As was last year, the handshakes, thanks, hugs, and kisses were overwhelming from happy seniors who were enjoying themselves. I received only one complaint myself and that was of that original customer who I had talked to at the beginning. She made it a point to let me know that I needed to train my staff better on taking down the reservations. She informed me that he had also told her that it was all you can eat. I asked her if she was full and if I could get her something else. She said that their was more than enough but the cashier had been misleading in more ways than one. I stopped, looked at her and began trying to tell her of this same young man. I apologized for the misunderstanding but let her know that it was his first day back after a few months and that he was working only a couple of days after having his wisdom teeth taken out. All that and being thrown into a busy day where he had to handle the register and the last minute reservations. I felt the need to defend him but it seem to mean nothing to her so I just let it go and wished her a good day.

The entertainment this year was awesome starting off with the Taelour project, the Singing Sosas, James (our newest addition), and Mike who brought a friend. Each one brought a different perspective with them The Singing Sosas have been with us since the first year and the Taelour project is our band who plays here three times each summer in our parking lot. James brought a new twist this year. He encouraged the seniors to sing along with him and a few times the entire floor was singing to his music. I finally had to ask James to finish up as the customers did not want to leave and the next hour was waiting patiently in the lobby to be seated.

Midway through the day, many of our crew volunteers had to leave but before they left, they taught others how to do their jobs and so the transition went well. Although the last two hours this year seemed to be the most stressful much because of the numbers of the people. We began running out of various food including stuffing and particular pies during the last hour as the event began to wind down.

Barb, a cashier who used to work for us and now works in a Library in Eugene came in for the day and ran our register for us. I was happy for this as I knew that that area would be one that I did not have to worry about. Many of the customers commented that it was good to see her again also. She had also contolled all of the tips. Over $500 in tips were recieved and will be turned over to Salvation Army to help someone in need this Christmas season.

After all had been served, tired volunteers finally got to sit down and enjoy the food that they had been serving. I recall being so exhausted that I really did not feel like eating but knew that I needed to.

My grandson, Jayden, who had been greeting and seating people along with my daughter, Carrie and our friend, Vivian asked me if I would watch a movie with him that night. They had rented ''Get Smart" the night before and he wanted to show it to me. You grandpas out their know what I mean when I say that it doesn't matter how tired you are, you are never too tired to do something with your grandchildren. And besides, I was so proud of him for the way he handled himself that day. So many seniors had commented on how polite he had been when seating them. He even grinned to show me the three dollars that had been given to him.

One by one, the volunteers all left and we finished up the final clean up. I took one last look through the place, locked up and set the alarm.

Jay and I drove to his house to retrieve the video and I was so tired that I was having a hard time concentrating on the game that he had set up for us to do along the way. Jay loves to do memory type games involving things that are of interest to him at the time. Usually, it is about some sort of sports. Tonight it was college football and we began to go back and forth with games between various colleges.

Arriving at the house with the video, I quickly checked the news and found the entertaining segment. I called Frank up and he came over to see it also. Frank, Jay, and I went up to the TV room and watched Jay's movie. I enjoyed Jays giggles as much as what I watched on the screen. Their were a couple of parts that I knew that we needed to discuss later, however.

The movie over, Frank left and Jay readied himself for bed. I sat on the side of the bed and told him how proud I was of how the seniors had really enjoyed him and how polite he had been. He seemed to have a hard time as he often does with that kind of praise. He is such a great kid and always seems to strive to do his best in those kinds of situations.

I then pulled myself off to my bed and dropped to sleep immediately. I awoke two hours later. Judy was not next to me so I figured that I must have been snoring. I found her sleeping with Jay so then I was sure of it.

I lay awake and then began to realize that I have not prepared for Black Friday. I don't have enough waitresses, dishwashers, or bussers. I was so busy preparing for Thanksgiving that I overlooked this busy day. I guess I will have to get up early and start making some phone calls.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Video

Evidently, my link to the video was too hidden so here is another link to it.

Judy Rocks Me

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Judy's Birthday

The morning started off like a normal Saturday morning. I was in to work a little early to help out where I could as the Culver Football team was due in for breakfast (they won, by the way) and I was happy that Judy was going to be working today, covering for one of the girls as I was wondering how I was going to get her in otherwise for the big surprise that I had laid out for her in the early afternoon.

I told a few people that it was her birthday during the morning rush and when they asked what I was doing for it, I said, "Well, I put her to work on the floor.". Not wanting a huge crowd when I pulled off the surprise, I only told a chosen few who I thought might want to be there.

Midway through the morning with the excuse of a bank run, Trin and I ducked down to Safeway and picked up a dozen roses. I had the cashier, Chris, stash them behind his chair with instructions of when to hand them to me.

Around 12:30, my buddy Frank Patka showed up. His being there was as much support for me as it was another guitar back up. You see, Frank and I have pulled off a few of these kinds of things before and although I had already dedicated myself to doing this, I felt better having him around.

Richard Taelour, who brings us the bands three times a year and who plays at many local clubs came back to the office so that he and Frank could tune up their guitars. We attempted a practise run which was going well till the knock on the door. Trin told us we needed to move fast as Judy was on her way back. So, I just said, "Let's do this.", and off we went around the building.

As we walked in the front door and took our place on the side, I took notice that we were around two thirds full and I was thankful that was all as I did not want this distraction to hurt business. I was equally thankful that no one showed up for the next three minutes as we were blocking the entrance.

Judy was stuck. She was right in the middle of the room with no where to go. The look on her face was one of a deer caught up in headlights. I could see a sort of panic in her eyes as they teared up and I hoped that I was doing the right thing. I remember the conversation with all of the kids; she was either going to love it or hate it. But now there was no turning back.

As the guitars started playing she knew the song well. It was her favorite and had even asked me once if I would sing it with the band at the end of the summer cruise in. I had agreed to that night if she asked them to but she was too chicken to do so and I did not. But, what she didn't realize was that I had taken the words and changed them to her life. The song, "Wagon Wheel" had just been changed to "Judy Rocks Me".

As I sang, I was watching her and my first inclination was the husbandly instinct to attempt to protect her from the embarrassment. But I knew that what we were doing was right and so I just kept on singing and watching the tears in her eyes. I was told that some of the crowd started clapping to the tune but I was zoned and did not notice.

As my last words were sung and we wound down the song, I walked across the floor and gave her a big kiss and then I did hear the claps and cheers. We blew into "Happy Birthday" and I snuck over to Chris who gave me the flowers that I in turn delivered with another kiss. I then could see that we indeed had done the right thing. Judy was happy.

I lingered on the floor watching Judy get her congratulations from the crowd. Two ladies walked over and told me that I had just made their day. One of them yelled out, "You're my hero!" as I ducked back into the waitress station wanting all the attention directed towards her. I watched from my vantage point as she talked to various people with that big smile on her face that told me more than any thing else could.

We all had lunch together and then Judy, Trin, and I drove downtown where Carrie was taking pictures of various people to earn money for Christmas. While we watched, Jay told me of a candy store that he wanted to show me. Trin, Jay, and I walked over to the new candy store as Judy stayed behind watching Carrie's last shoot.

The new store was packed. We walked in and noticed that they sold Gelato. The store was so packed that we really couldn't get around very well and Judy and Carrie joined us as we looked over the Gelato case. They were all in metal containers so I asked if someone was in the back making them as they sold more. They told me that they had it brought in so I figured that they must have transferred it into the metal containers to make it look more fresh. I tried to pay the girl who scooped it up but she said that I had to pay the cashier. I walked over to the cashier and waited while a woman in front of me bought a small sack full of various candy. Her bill came to over sixty seven dollars. I then realized that the line was going out the front door. Unfortunately, there was now a huge line behind me also. I was very happy to find out that their were two cashiers there and one started taking my line while the other concentrated on the other line. As we walked back to the car, we openly discussed the new store and whether or not it could make it just a block and a half from the most popular candy and ice cream store in town. The last store of its kind was less than a block away and did not make it. I wish them well as I do all new endeavours.

The kids all met back at the house and we later went out for Chinese and ended up watching Indiana Jones. It was my fifth time watching it and I actually snuck off to check the Beaver and Blazer games during the middle of it.

After Carrie and Jay left, I felt drained so I gave Judy a good night kiss while her and Trin lay on the couch watching one of Trin's favorite shows. So, as usual, when I go off to sleep early, I awake early. But satisfied. Satisfied that Judy's birthday had gone off well and that she was happy.

If you end up reading this Babe as you sometimes do. Happy Birthday Sweetheart.......I Love You.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Old Memories

The logger passed away yesterday. And this one is even more close to me. He was married to my dad's cousin. I will write more of him after his service next week but laying in bed this morning, thinking of him has brought back waves of memories of my early childhood. More than I seem to be able to process or more than my mind wants to catalog. Especially in these wee early hours. So, I thought if I wrote a couple of them down, maybe my mind would allow me to just rest and get some needed sleep.

My earliest memory was being in the living room of our small house. I don't know where my two older brothers were at the time. I am the third son in the family and have three sisters who came after me. The small living room was warm and my mother was ironing and folding clothes while humming a tune (I think it was Hawaiian, she still loves them to this day) and I was watching a scary show on TV. The show was of some people who had gone back in time and were encountering dinosaurs. I remember cowering behind some furniture and peaking out at the scary scene that was unfolding in front of me on the small black and white screen. The people had fallen into a hole that they discovered was the footprint of a large Tyrannosaurus Rex. I recall my mom laughing at me and telling me that it was not real. But there it was right in front of me, as real as it could be.

Being the third of three often times meant just one thing. You were last. One of the greatest feelings that I remember of my childhood was when I would get the very rare new clothes and the feel of those new garments on my skin. Because of it's rarity, it felt so good.

Often times, on Saturday, we would take the big trip to the big city of......Bend. My brothers and I would pile into the back seat of the car. Now, once again, being the third meant I was in the middle. I would sit in the middle of that back seat between my two older brothers. I complained that I wanted to just once sit by the window so that I could see out but was told that I would just have to wait and so, there I would sit, not able to see out the window, only the small bit of front windshield in front of me. Actually, this position in the back seat and the beginning of the trip where I would peer out in front as if I could make the long voyage quicker has left me with a deja vue to this day of the first corner out of Gilchrist and the long road that goes somewhat down hill and is so long that end seems to come to a point.

I remember sitting between those two older bodies and trying to find a flat place to put my feet. You see, being in the back in the middle meant that you had to rest your feet on the bulge that goes from the engine to the back wheels that houses the drive shaft. The bulge was two small to place my feet together on and so they would constantly slip down the side. I would sit there thinking how great it would be to be able to see out the side window, or to have a rest to put my elbow on, or a flat surface to place my feet.

Our trips to Bend were often to handle some sort of business such as a medical appointment or such and since we didn't have much money, my mom would try and find things to keep all of us kids occupied while my father was in some office or getting his hair cut. I recall once waiting outside the barber on Oregon Ave. My mom had bought some ping pong balls from the 88 cent store. She would have one of us place the ball on the sidewalk and then we would wait for some one to walk by and see what they would do with it. I remember them being overlooked, or being kicked, or picked up like a small prize, and one man even just stepped on it and kept on walking. I didn't like that guy. Now you know what we did to pass the time away in the sleepy town of Bend on a Saturday afternoon.

As we would leave to go home, we would stop by Callahans for our last stop. Dad would gas up the car while Mom would go inside and buy bread, bologna, and soda and us kids would hit the small playground off to the side. As we drove off, Mom would make us sandwiches of just Bologna and bread. To this day, this is how I like my bologna.

For a rarity, Dad would stop by where now is Sunriver. Us kids had skates that you could attach to your shoes. Dad would allow us to skate on the old cement slabs from the old base that had been there. I wonder who's expensive fancy home is now sitting on that ground where I once skated.

Before getting back to Gilchrist, we would sometimes visit a relative in Lapine. You see, while my last name is Hicks, I am also a Day. My grandmother was one of the Day girls. She died from complications of the birth of my Father and his twin Brother. My grandfather could not deal with that and left the then three boys with the grandparents who settled on what is now Day road. The old ranch house that my great grandfather built from the timbers of the old Pringle falls electric substation still stands, now a nursery off to the left about half way down the road. I will try and write more about that in other times as I seem to be rambling from one thing to the next.

Getting back to my memories, I recall having a very vivid imagination. I could easily be a cowboy from the old west, or a soldier fighting the Germans, or an explorer of worlds of which I think I liked the best.

I remember once looking into a small old fridge that we had out on the back porch. I crawled into the bottom of the fridge exploring the small cave that was where the bottom shelves used to be. For some reason, the door swung shut behind me and I found my self trapped inside the cave with no way of getting out. I kicked the door but it would not budge. In a panic, I screamed out, hoping to have someone hear me and save me from this shallow grave. I kicked and screamed to what seemed to be deaf ears. Fortunately, my Mom came by about this time, I believe she was taking laundry out to the line. She could hear my faint cries and opened up the fridge. I leaped into her arms thankful for the save while she laughed and then scolded me of my lack of thought of what might happen.

Another time, I was on a hunt in the deep dark jungle. The bugs there were horrible and I was killing them around my camp. A rolled up phone book was my bug swatter and the flies in my bedroom were the annoying bugs. I spied one of the pesty varmints and swung squishing it on the window. But my swing and the size of my bat were too much for the pane and glass sprayed out unto the driveway beyond quickly bring me back to reality. Quickly placing the book back where it belonged I plunged under neath one of the beds in fear of what might happen when my Father was to arrive soon. Although upset, he could see that I had punished my self pretty bad already and my punishment was to help him tape up the window awaiting its repair. I am sure that I had other things to help pay for it but of that I don't recall.

Looking at the time, I think I should just break this right here. Hopefully, this sharing of my mind will allow it to now settle down and give me some respite, at least enough to get the needed rest for this coming day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just two old friends

Back in 1987, shortly after Jake's officially began being called diner, I was walking across the floor when a man stood up and introduced himself. His name was Bob Shotwell and he said, "I think it is about time that you and I met.". And so, began a friendship that today is still quite strong.

Right around the same time, I was looking to market Jake's better as it was now much larger than before and I had told Jake that we could no longer just rely on truck traffic to survive. Jake gave me a small marketing budget and one of his suggestions was to use radio. I remember trying to choose my station wisely and since we had taken a sort of western theme, I decided that KICE would be the best option for us. At the time, KICE was the premier country station in the Bend area and its large market included south towards Lapine of which I felt was very important in our marketing scheme.

I walked into KICE not knowing what to expect and asked for their morning show personality and was ushered off into a side room where two men were bent over a tape machine fixing it. It was there that I met my friend to this day, RL Garrigus.

In those two meetings, I met two of the most genuine, old school people that I have met in my entire life.

Bob was working for the Oregonian. He had brought in quite a few people to meet with him at Jake's and I soon found out that his favorite dish was one that had it's roots deep in Jake's, the Central Oregon Scramble. Originally called the Carl's special, it had been named after the main old cook from the former Jake's Restaurant who would make it special for anyone who wanted it. Carl was a character of his own and people loved his special including Bob. After having a hard time explaining the name to people, I decided to rename it. It was eggs scrambled up with various vegetables and cheese kind of like I have always made my omelets at home so I called it a scramble. I added Central Oregon to the beginning and so the dish was named as it is now on my menu. It later was added the title of "Bob Shotwell's favorite" which to still stands to this day.

Bob wrote the article on Jake's and myself that I felt was instrumental in the growth and popularity of Jake's within the state while also bringing in many local and state government officials when he would interview him. It was through him, that I met Senators, Congressmen, County Commissioners, the Sheriff, and even the governor's wife. I found that their were some of whom Bob was the only journalist that they trusted for an article in that when they said something was off the record, they knew that it would remain that way.

Bob's past was one that might easily make up a book or movie of it's own. In WWII, he was in the first wave at Omaha beach. I remember asking him about it and listening to his stories. When the movie, Saving Private Ryan came out, I watched in horror at the scene of the landing as it seemed to be almost a carbon copy of the scene that had been laid out to me by my friend of his own experience. Bob asked me if I felt he should go and see it and I said, "No, unless you want to relive it.". He did not and did not go to the movie. To this day, I am not sure it he ever saw it.

Bob's writing had also found other admirers and he had been twice nominated for the Pulitzer prize. I loved listening to his tales of old told to me in a non bigotry way. I grew to really admire the man.

And so did others in the area as in the early nineties, he became the first man in Deschutes County to have a day officially named after him. I was honored to be on the committee that set up the day. I remember well that committee was were I first got to know such people as the then Sheriff Darrel Davidson, County manager (who now has a building named after him) Mike Miers, and the head of our committee, the now deceased Dennis Maloney who was instrumental in the founding of such things as the Boys and Girls club. I remember Bob and I going together to his funeral.

Bob also was instrumental in the founding of the newspaper at COCC and began part time work on the radio for KICE where his paths crossed with my other friend RL. Bob would do some weekend work and other special shows that were aired on the station.

I was with Bob the day that the Oregonian let him go. They wanted new younger perspectives of the area. Talk about age discrimination. That one thing shook Bob down to his boots but he was not going to let it affect the way that he handled his life. He proudly walked on head high and wrote for many other magazines and news journals in the state and area.

He also ran for county commissioner. I was on his staff and watched him as he ran while just getting out of the hospital. As a matter of fact, as I remember, they took his official picture there while he was still in. I was with him at the court house when he was defeated in the primaries by Linda Swearingen. I saw again how he took the defeat with poise and grace.

When KICE dissolved, he looked for other work in the area and found himself at the new marketing tool business, Isky. The funny thing there was that he was placed in a room and in a chair right next to my very close friend, Frank Patka. Now, Frank and His personalities were both quite crazy and they soon had to separate the two so that all around them could better get their work done. Frank left and started Printer Resources while Bob continued on and later became an editor for Isky before they outsourced him into somewhat retirement.

I remember well in my worst of times. I was told that the sale of Jake's was imminent and that I could not tell anyone of it. After working a couple of days and listening to fellow employees talk of their future vacations and their recent big purchase, I dropped into a deep depression. It was Bob who drove to my house and informed me that the community knew of Jake's demise. He said, " I have just formed another committee and it is the "Lyle Hicks get on with his life committee. It consists of myself and Frank.", he said. That news and his friendship helped pull me up and give me the push needed to climb out of the abyss that I had plunged into.

Bob is in his eighties now, and is still working although part time. You will find him back on the radio down in Lapine on KITC working with the morning show.

RL was the news anchor and morning personality at the then KICE. I soon found him to be one of the few radio people that I had met who were genuine on and off of the air. His personality that you met on the street was the same as the one that you heard when you listened to him banter on air.

RL and his on air partner, Rick Evans were instrumental in getting the name of Jake's out to Central Oregon. I told him that I wanted advertising that was different that would stand out and not just be a thirty second read ad that someone might key out.

RL and Rick took that challenge and every month for a week, we would do something different and sometimes even wacky (like the time we ran a contest for Country rap or another time when we turned up the radio at Jake's and I did a floor show with a new dish while they walked me through the show on air). At the end of the week, I would take breakfast down to the station and insure that I would take a couple of cinnamon rolls for the rest of the crew. RL and Rick along with the other personalities that partnered with RL in the coming years would eat the breakfasts and talk about them on air. I would often try out my new dishes on them.

The idea worked tremendous and had so much impact that later, the radio station had to tone it down as other restaurant clients complained that they were personally endorsing Jake's.

Those were good times, when I enjoyed bantering on air with RL or just sitting around and talking about our lives and our kids. To this day, our kids are paramount in our conversations with each other.

I watched RL as he did so many things for the community that he loved. He was even the Easter bunny for the area. He would often be the voice at many fund raising events such as Easter Seals or the Great Drake Park Duck Race which I believe he still does.

For a while, after the demise of KICE, I lost touch with RL but only for a short time. He was soon back and a part of KSJJ where he is at to this day. It was RL who announced to the area on their morning show that Jake's might just be staying alive. That show was videoed and later used for the first part of the movie, "Jake's Truck Stop". That show also nearly stopped the sale of Jake's as the new owners were complained to by listeners but I feel was also instrumental in those same new owners giving me the chance of keeping the business alive.

In the early 2000's, I was asked again to be on a committee to honor a man with his own day. This time it was RL and Bob was the head of that committee. Once again, the county named the day officially, RL Garrigus Day. I remember how honored I felt to be on the committees of both days and I do believe that they are the only two men in Central Oregon to this day who have been honored in such a way.

Like Bob, to this day, RL and I have remained friends but for many reasons such as business and such don't see each other as much as we used to. The same goes for the relationship between Bob and RL.

So, it was a real treat recently when I was able to drive up to KSJJ with Bob to surprise RL. I watched and admired as the two hugged and we all stood around and reminisced of days of old. I am honored and extremely thankful for the friendship of these two great men.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Marine

Three days later and I said goodbye to another friend, Dave Pyka.

Dave was one of the Band of Brothers who meet at the diner on Mondays. At first, Dave thought that I had been a Marine like him. When I informed him that I was Navy, he said, "I'm sorry!".

Dave then asked me where my Navy cap was and I told him that I didn't have one but always intended to get one. Dave said, "Don't, I will buy you one.". I really thought he was joking but next week, there he was with a Navy cap waiting for me.

He asked me to try it on and it fit real well. Then he said, "Look up.". When I did, I noticed something under the bill. Taking it off, I found a Marine Corp sticker under the bill. "Now, every time you look up, you will see the Marines!", Dave announced laughing.

I placed the hat in my office so that I could wear it when the brothers came in for lunch and the sticker feel off and down on my desk. Somehow, it got lost or stuck on something else.

So, when I found out that Dave had passed on, I went down to the military store and walked up to the counter and asked for a Marine sticker. The man got me one down and I told him that I was going to put it under the bill of my cap. He looked up and said, "Is it a Navy cap?". I said yes and told him Dave's story. "I sold him that cap and sticker!", he announced, "That guy was quite a character.". "Yes, he was.", I agreed.

I have placed that sticker back under my bill where it belongs. It will always remain there even if I have to stitch it in.

And when I look up, I will always see a Marine and my friend, Dave Pyka.

On a lighter side, Dave's great granddaughter, Rachele, was in my grandson, Jayden's pre school class years ago. It was right about the time that Cold Stone Creamery came to town and I took Jay over to get some ice cream. Jay got his and found us a seat. When I arrived with my ice cream, I found Rachele sitting next to Jay and watching him eat. Rachele's mom told her that it was time to go so Rachele said, "Good bye Jayden!" and kissed him on the cheek. Jay just sat there eating his ice cream. "Wow, who was that?", I asked him. Without looking up from his treat, he said, "My girlfriend.", and then kept on eating.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Boxer

I said goodbye to an old friend today.

The first time that I met Mike Dolan, he was having coffee with a bunch of guys from his neighborhood in the back room of the diner. I was wearing my Deschutes Rocks coat from the local boxing club that we support. Mike told me then that he used to box. As a matter of fact, he once boxed Jack Dempsey.

I came to really enjoy talking to Mike. I found him to be a very strong but very caring man. I didn't find out till later that he was the one that started the local Veterans day parade by walking down the middle of Wall St with a flag in his hand.

He fast became one of Judy's favorites with the chant of "Judy, Judy, Judy" when she would come into the room. The guys would all throw in a dollar into the tip bucket each week. Mike threw in two. One of the guys chided him for it and he said that it was his decision and non of the other guys business. Mike did things the way Mike felt that they should be done not necessarily the status quo.

I remember the last Veterans day parade that Mike was in. He was riding in his cart and before the parade stopped by to say Hi. I introduced him to my father who was riding in my car. Since they were both WWII Navy, they talked for quite a long time. Dad came away very impressed and with immediate admiration for Mike.

During Mike's sickness, Judy and I often wondered how he was doing but were always told that we should not bother Dottie (Mike's wife) as it was hard enough on her as it was.

When Mike passed away, we immediately got our heads together and Rabbine Harpell worked hard to get a banner made and the parade was officially called the Mike Dolan Commemorative Veterans Day Parade. The banner was awesome and when they showed it to me, I called over Judy to see. The tears welled in her eyes as she saw the banner with her old friend on it.

The funeral was today. Judy and I drove over and walked in to the graveyard service. Great words were said by Jack Sherman, Mike Ward, and Mike Dolan's two brothers. Then, Jack and seven other vets gave Mike a twenty one gun salute and then came the hardest part....Taps. I can't remember a funeral that drained me as much as this one.

Judy and I went back to the diner afterwards but neither of us felt up to working so we took the afternoon off. After supper, we talked again about the day, the funeral, and our old friend.

Goodbye Mike. Along with many others, we will miss you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holdem for Habitat Part 2

Well, It looks as though we are going to be able to keep playing after all. It will be just a little bit different, however.

The Dept of Justice has given their stamp of approval to the following changes:

We will be putting a donation box at the register for Habitat for Humanity. The box will be there at all times.

The game will now be a free game with the ability to give a donation to Habitat at the register. As a matter of fact, if you donate using a check, you can use that donation as a tax write off.

There will be no more prizes for individual games other than the qualification for the big tourney next October and the satisfaction that you were the winner. Frank has agreed to try and come up with winning certificates. We will still be keeping track of the points and who plays so we can award those qualifiers also.

The big event in October will be just as it is now, except the tourney will be ran under the umbrella of Habitat with Habitat awarding the prizes. We will have time to work that out better by next October.

That was a very interesting 24 hours trying to figure out how we could continue on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Holdem for Habitat

It seems that the break in has brought up other problems now.

I received a call from the Justice Department Charity investigation section today. The reports on the break in caused them to pick up the story on the Internet.

It seems that Texas Holdem has recently been included in their umbrella of Monte Carlo events and our event as they see it now might be illegal by Oregon law standards.

So, till we have figured this one out, I am shutting down the event. I might need a little help on this one since I cant see how I can start it back up with out the rubber stamp of the Justice Dept.

I feel real crummy about this one but I cant fault the investigator. He is just trying to do his job. Maybe one of our new state reps might want to try and adjust some of the laws.

No one received money in the tourney but the issue seems to be the paying to play. What discourages me is that you come up with an idea to help someone and some lawmaker makes a law that stops it.

I will try and keep you posted.

A boy, a boxer, a marine, a logger, and a truck driver

Quite a mix, huh? And what do they all have in common? Well, other than the last four being big strong guys, one thing....cancer.

I was going through my desk the other day and ran across an article from back in the early nineties on a small boy who was dying of cancer. We were collecting funds at the diner to try and help out the family.

I remember that young man just like it was yesterday. He had such a great spirit about him. He was always upbeat and happy. The only time I saw him down at all was when he was dealing with medication.

He would come in and the two of us would walk over to the truck stop store and play with some of the toys and just talk. I remember well a time when we were walking back down the hallway that lead between the truck stop and diner. He grabbed my sleeve and I stopped and bent over to listen to him. "Lyle, I would really like to race you down the hall.", he explained. I had to think real fast on this one. I knew that he was not in good health but I also knew something else. He did not have much time left.

I said OK and bolted down the hallway but the young lad was just to fast for his older friend and he beat me down to the end of the hall. The smile on his face was precious. The hug that I got was priceless. But...the "I love you" was unbelievable. It was one of those precious moments that will leave an imprint on my memory forever.

Fast forward to the present and the other four. All big guys and all great men. For one reason or another, all of them have impacted my life. And cancer is taking them all.

The Boxer died on Monday night, the Marine is in hospice, and the Logger and Truck Driver are struggling to hold on. Four men who did or don't know one another. Four families devastated by this disease that we don't seem to be able to control.

We spend ten times the amount on aids and yet cancer takes ten times the life. Aids is somewhat selective (blood born) while cancer is very random. What do we do about that? I am not sure. Other than to assist the various cancer funds and to encourage our leaders to change this wrong priority, I am just not sure.

I wonder where I am being lead on this issue. I have spread myself so thin but this one is hitting home. These four strong men and one precious little boy have grabbed a piece of my heart and we will just have to see where they take it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you

I just woke up and lay there thinking that this time last week, they were there working on breaking through my office door. I hear the wind outside howling and the rain on the window and am somewhat assured that they haven't come back. Bad guys are generally lazy and don't like going out in weather like this. You see, they can pick and choose.

I am incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the last week. So many people have taken both Judy and I aside and expressed that support and anger over what happened. Over $100 has been handed to us, entrusting us with their money to fill the gap in the loss for Habitat for Humanity. My insurance man tells me that since it was in my care, that at least part of it should be covered there also.

This last week has been one of our busiest in a while and last nights four full tables of Holdem for Habitat brought in over $200. I apologised to the players prior to the play and assured them that lack of security would not happen again. Many of them told me privately that wasn't needed and assured me of their trust. I appreciate that.

A friend of mine stopped me last week and explained, "You are a genius. You give away $2000 and get over $10,000 in free advertising.". My lack of a come back led him to laugh and tell me that he knew that I wished it would have been under different circumstances. I was actually pondering the last part of his statement, however as nearly every media outlet in town covered what happened with KTVZ going live during the evening news.

He was also right with his next statement. No matter how much media coverage and support from friends and community, I wish it never happened. But it did. And now, the time has gone past....and the phone has not rang....and I need to go back to sleep....and get back to business...and back to my life.

Thank you all so much.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Crazy Week

I hope that I don't have too many like this and I am sure that there are some of you who want to hear it straight from me so here goes:

Monday morning started early with Casey waking me up to let me know that he was leaving for Colorado. I drove to the diner to sit with him as he ate breakfast before leaving. He was anxious to get on the road so we walked out to his car and said our goodbyes. People say that goodbyes get easier the more you do them.......they lie.

I drove back to the house and as I walked in, I could feel the difference. As if the walls were telling me that they missed him also. It was an empty feeling. Judy and I didn't need to talk. We knew our grief was mutual. Later she mentioned to me that she felt a feeling in the house like it was suddenly missing something and I told her that I shared that feeling.

We went about the day and tried to keep busy and keep our minds off of things. Around noon, Casey called as we entered Walmart. He wasn't sure where he was. He had taken the directions from map quest and they had sent him off on another road after leaving Burns. "Oh my goodness", he said, "The sign says that I am in Nevada.". I went to the magazine section and got out a map book. He was just 70 miles or so north of Winemucca. So, I had him continue on and pick up Interstate 80 there. "Looks like you are turning this trip into an adventure.", I joked.

Later Trin and I picked up Jayden from school and stopped to pick up some pumpkins. Trin had decided that she and Jay were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I helped them set up on the deck outside the diner while I set up the room for the poker tourney that evening. I ended up going back and forth between them and the set up as they were having some trouble with the carving. The last pumpkin was a surprise for me as Trin attempted to carve "Jakes" in the side of it. They set them up in front of the register and brought me around for the surprise of three lit jack o lanterns.

I hadn't eaten well that day and wasn't feeling really great but got the poker tourney started on time. I was playing very well until I made a bad read and knocked myself out of the running. So, I spent the rest of the evening managing the chips and working on paperwork. With the tourney finished, I went out to my office and put the money in the drawer of my desk. I then went home and waited for Casey to call. He called around 11 to let me know that he was in Green River, Utah and should be in Denver on Tuesday around noon. Comfortable with his safety, I pulled myself into bed.

Around 2:45, the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and my heart sank. It was the security people. "The office alarms are going off", they said. I told them that I was on my way. I jumped into my pants, threw on a sweatshirt, and with my slippers on, grabbed my coat and hat on the way out. Trin and Judy both yelled to me to be careful.

I arrived at the diner just a minute after the police who were shining their lights in the back area. I unlocked the gate and they all went in with guns drawn. I didn't need to be told to get out of the way, I just did. I watched as they backed each other up and went into the rooms just like you would see on tv. No one was there and we looked through the door into my office. I could see that my desk had been broken into. I could see that the drawer where I kept my backup had been pry ed open. It is hard to describe the feelings that go on inside of you so I wont even try. The police asked me to stay out until the dogs got there to try and get some scent.

The dogs arrived and so did Judy and Trin. We were told that the dogs might come to us because of our scent so if they did, that we should just stand still. Instead, we climbed into the van so that we would not disturb the trail. The dogs headed out down the hill and we were able to go in. Trin had noticed a car sitting outside the liquor store with the engine running and an officer went up to check it out. He returned to inform us that it was just the Bulletin paper man.

I looked through my desk and found that our back up money was missing along with the bag of habitat money. The money from the night before was still there along with a few other important things that they had not gotten. I felt good about that but horrible about the other. I checked my records that I keep and realized that there was over a thousand dollars of Habitat money that was missing.

The dogs lost the scent and only a few footprints were found. The police left me with their cards and I attempted to reset the alarms but since the door in the office had been broken was not able to do so. I called Jim to see how far away he was and found him just driving in. So, we went home and attempted to get a little rest before starting up the new day.

I had a deposition on an accident that happened a few years ago where I had been involved in a six car wreck being the last car. The person two cars in front of me was suing for his damages. My damages were minor and I drove away. I still cant figure out how they can blame me for any of his but it is in the insurance and lawyers hands but the deposition certainly added to the stress level. I remember feeling very confident but when they started questioning me, my gut started to shake. With that behind me, I returned to the diner to begin working on repairing the damage from the break in.

KTVZ called and at first I refused their interview. As we spoke, however, I had a change of mind. The main money taken was charity money and that needed to be told. So, I agreed to their interview. They came by and talked to me and then to a couple of the players who happened to be there eating.

I picked up Jay from school and we talked about what had happened the night before. "Did they get anything?", he asked. I told him of what was taken and of the habitat money. Jay went silent and I knew that that information had hit him since he lives in a habitat home. "Those guys are turds!", he explained. "Yes, son, they are", I replied, "but they will be caught.".

Jack, our repairman, fixed both doors and made them close able for the night. He promised to return the next day to secure them even more. I worked till around 6 and then drove home, thanking the KTVZ crew who were set up in the parking lot. "My hope is that we can make a positive of all of this and see Habitat gain back ten fold.", I stated. But in the back of my mind, I could feel the stress building and longed to just go home.

Trin and I watched a movie after she got off work and I pulled my self off to bed feeling rather beat up.

At 3 AM, I awoke. I got to thinking of something that Trin had said that night before. She had said that I should drive down around the same time and see if that same car was parked in front of the liquor store. So, I decided to do so. I walked down the stairs and as I was going out the front door, my phone rang. It was Trin. I told her that I was just taking a drive to check out what she had asked but when I realized that no one was on the line, figured that she must have figured it out so I just hung up. I drove to the diner and around half way there, my phone rang. It was the police asking me where I was. I told them and they asked me to return to my house. I took the swing by the diner noticing that the paper boy was still there waiting for his papers. Sherlock Trin was not right on this one.

I arrived back at my house to find it surrounded by police. Trin had heard my footsteps. Her call to me was to ask if it was me. When I could not hear her and hung up the phone, she thought something had happened to me. She feared that someone had just broken into the house and called the police. The police asked her to check for my car and she could see that it was missing so that was how I was called. I apologised to the police and then went inside and talked with Trin for an hour or so. At the time, I was pretty mad but looking back now, I can see more clearly how she had pieced all of those things together and was worried for the safety of Judy and I. We both agreed that if it had not been for the happenings of the night before, this would not have happened. I took the liberty to remind her, however, that she had given me permission to tell her that I told her so when she watched that scary movie a few days back about people breaking into a home and killing the occupants. She was clearly not moved by that.

I struggled to get some more sleep before taking off again for another day of work. The diner was busier probably from the news reports and I spent the day between security, diner business, and other issues relating to the break in. Around noon, the cashier told me that he had a couple of dollar coins in his register. I bought them out as I always do and went out to the desk. It was then that I realized what else was missing. I have been collecting dollar coins for years now. I had hoped to do something for Jayden later on in life with least that was the plan. I had felt something else was missing and now realized what it was. I had a poker chip case that I kept the dollar coins in. I had collected two to three lines of them. Probably between two and three hundred of them. I got angry all over again and my stomach turned thinking of it.

I admit that the rest of the day was kind of ruined after that but I had to continue doing what I do. I took Trin off to the airport to return to Portland and upon returning wolfed down some dinner before going to the VFW hall for the last Veterans day parade meeting. I met a couple of friends as I walked in who told me they were sorry and asked if we had any leads. One of them told me to tell the police that if they caught the guys to just bring them down to the VFW hall and turn them over to them. My heart really wasn't there and I left as soon as I could afterwards.

I came home, cracked open a beer, and sat on the couch talking with Judy, when the phone rang again. It was after 8 and Ricci was calling from the diner. "There was a robbery at Safeway and the police have asked businesses in the area to secure themselves.", she stated. I grabbed my hat and Judy asked me to be safe as I went out the door. I called my buddy, Frank, who agreed to meet me at the diner and we arrived to a locked up building.

One car showed up shortly thereafter, and I opened the door for them explaining what was happening. They were passing through the area and were sent over by a local motel. I spent my time checking on diners and watching for more customers to let in before our closing time of 9. I asked the visitors how they liked their food and they said that they loved it, especially the spaghetti sauce. I chatted with them about their trip and they bought a whole Marion Berry pie to take to their relatives in Utah.

Frank and I helped the crew finish and locked the place up with Frank and I setting security before we left. Now wide awake, I winded down by watching some TV. As the evening got later, I felt worse so I took myself off to bed. I awoke early this morning with the stress of it all hitting me. I decided not to go to work today. I just need to recharge a little. I must admit that writing this is a little therapeutic and I do feel much better than I did. It is hard to explain the feeling. It is kind of like being angry, hurt, depressed, and pressured all at once. I just need to take my own advice a little. When someone is going through a hard time, I always give them a piece of sage advice. "This to shall pass."....and it will.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Elections part 2

The Lions club meets at our diner every Wednesday morning. So, for the past few weeks, various people striving to get votes to put them in office have been parading through. I can't blame them as you want to get as many people together at one time to help persuade them to vote for you.

What most of them don't realize, however, is that their are eight members of my crew that are on duty that morning that are voting also. And they show their true colors to them. I tend to hear about it later when I come to work. If they would just stop and recognise one of them, they would probably sway every vote. A simple, "Hi, I am ----- and I am running for ------ and I would sure like your vote would quickly garner them eight votes.

I asked them last Wednesday to give me the worst and the best and they were unison on this. The best was ____ ______. He was very polite to them. Saying "please" and "thank you". He also impressed the waitress when he told the Lions club that he would pick up his own tab. "This is what I do" was what I was told that he said.

The worst was _____ ______. They felt that she treated them like hired help or less respectful. Now, she could have been having a bad day. I am sure that she put on a good face for the Lions club members but this was the face that she evidently had for the crew.

Now, once again, I have no irons in the fire on this one. I am not sure of even their political affiliations. I am merely making an observation. And that is when one is running for public office they need to always be cognisant of one thing. They are always in the public eye. And that service employee, whether restaurant, motel, or whatever is a potential vote. And that one vote will often sway many votes. And could cause them the race.

I didn't ask for their opinion on all of the others and their are a couple of reasons for that. First, many of the others names were not remembered as only the best and the worst stuck in their mind. And more important, I am just merely trying to make a point.

I am not trying to sway voters on the issue and that is why I did not name names. If you want to know, email me or ask me in private and I will tell you, however.

And some of you may wonder why I am up so early again. Well, Casey is leaving again in a few hours. This time for Colorado. One of these times, his leaving will be more perminent and I know that. I had a good visit with him this time and my mind races with "Casey" thoughts. I will miss him.