Friday, October 15, 2010

HardHats, Frustrated Cats, and Packrats

And I'm a poet and I know it, my toes show it, they're Longfellows. (silly rhyme from childhood)

I'm indulging myself in a bit of nostalgia and sadness today.  I was cleaning out the carport (or getting started on it anyway -- now that the upright freezer is gone there's a lot more room for 'stuff' but I don't want to store totally useless 'stuff' either).

The first tote I cracked open held my father's old backpack and hardhats from when he worked for the US Forest Service (United States Department of Agriculture).

I remember seeing him wear the hardhats when I was growing up; they were standard gear for fighting fire on the Fort Rock district of the Deschutes National Forest.  That was my dad's favorite job in all the years he worked; he planned to retire from that job but life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. (John Lennon--Beautiful Boy)

The United States Forest Service makes you quit fighting fires at a certain age (55 I think it is). My dad wasn't quite there in terms of age but he'd only been 'allowed' to fight 2 or 3 fires the last full summer he worked on the Fort Rock District. When you can't do what you love, going to work every day becomes nothing but drudgery.

My dad also knew that he wasn't going to advance any further from where he was at the time he left that job, and his boss had just retired.  His replacement didn't much like my dad, and my dad returned the feeling in spades. (I didn't inherit my attitude problem from any stranger!!)

About this time my dad met the woman who later became my stepmother.  She owned a well-known restaurant in Bend, Oregon -- the Pine Tavern.

Mind you, this is a restaurant with a full service bar, NOT a tavern.  It has been open for 74 years and has a 200 or 300 year old Ponderosa pine tree growing through the ceiling in the garden room

They got married, my dad resigned from the Forest Service, and went to work at the Pine Tavern.

All of this information is a lead up to my next find.

The packrats in the title refer to both my stepmother and my father, as the next box I worked on was full of Pine Tavern memorabilia.

I found numerous menus (two of which are signed by Oregon's iconoclastic governor *Tom McCall*), photographs, post cards, and clippings of their weekly ads from the local newspaper (the Bend Bulletin). Some of the menus and clippings are over 40 years old.

What made this whole experience very nostalgic for me is that I knew many of the people featured in the photographs and clippings. My cat Max (male silver tabby) and I lived with my father in the apartment over the restaurant one summer while I was in college. I ate most of my meals during that summer in the garden room and dining room at the Pine Tavern.

I knew most of the cooks and waitstaff by name, and they knew me too.

They made fun of me for my addiction to 'diet coke floats' ("what a waste of good ice cream" was a favorite line) and were amused that I changed clothes 2-3 times a day (IMHO that was just typical late adolescent/early adulthood behavior).

They also comforted me as well as teased me when I had my worst hangover of all time -- I don't get hangovers often but when I do they are killers. My father and stepmother were recovering alcoholics so I didn't even admit to them that I was hungover!

I remember the large plate glass window in the living room of the apartment.

There were huge crows hanging out all the time outside this window, and one of them did more than just hang out.  He would fly right at the window and turn only at the last possible minute--right before he would crash headfirst into the window- solely to torment my cat who was sitting on the windowsill.

My dad and I would hear these half meows half growls from the windowsill, look at each other, laugh our heads off and say "that damn bird is at it again."  You could almost hear the bird laughing too.

One of the employees of the Pine Tavern called the cops one night when a friend and I were throwing rotten eggs out of the window (a different window) of the apartment (nobody ever ratted me out, the cops never came up to the apartment, and yes indeed we were both drunk as skunks at the time!)

The Pine Tavern was sold many years ago as my stepmothers health began to decline. 

She passed away in 2003, my dad passed away in 2007, and the cat is also long gone.  So of course I'm sad but I do have some great memories of my stepmother, my dad, the cat, and the restaurant (I loved the prime rib they sold)

Packrats rock even if they do make me sad sometimes

Besides, since the hardhat only says ROLEY on it I can keep it until I pass away and then somebody can be really really confused about why I have this hardhat!! ROFLMAO!!

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