Friday, June 09, 2006
Dave Klein - New Friends
I've been rich, I've been poor, rich is better. - Anon
Operating an 80 pound jackhammer on that hot, hot day in June, 1967, doing street maintenance work for the Gas Company did have one positive effect - the developing dust-covered thirst that would soon be washed away by a number of swallows of the ice cold beer that would be waiting for me at the Blue Moon Tavern on N.E. 45th in the U District. One of Lifes' small pleasures.
Later, sitting at the Moon, dusty but no longer thirsty, I noticed the arrival of a man, best described as athletic and LARGE and, unfortunately, extremely uncoordinated. Of course, he headed my way and sat next to me. No problem. Bear in mind the average '60's Blue Moon customer was more hippie=like rather than a street crew worker. Somehow, this gentleman pulled out a Racing Form from his pocket and started asking me about the racehorses while stuttering and repeating words. Each question took several minutes to understand and even longer for my response and explanation. Tedious comes to mind but, hey, where else was I going in the next half hour?
About ten minutes into our discussion, I suddenly realized my new friend had A. Quit stuttering, B. Stopped his body movements and C. Become extremely coherent. He asked me if I had noted that and I agreed. Here's where it gets good. Turns out this guy also worked in Construction, operated a D-7 Cat Tractor, and liked to go into hippie taverns, put on his act get someone to start making fun of him and then mop up the floor with them. I stared at him for about ten seconds and asked him why he sat next to me. His response was I looked like the best challenge at that time but he appreciated how I treated him and decided I was his friend. An interesting individual who played Fullback in one of the smaller colleges (St Marys'?) in Central California and extremely intelligent, except for his hippie hang-up. We eventually visited the Century Tav later on where he called a Hippie Moses and that was about the time I decided to call it a night. Better than jail or Harborview. I wonder if he ever made Longacres the next day?
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Paulson's Pool Hall and Den of Iniquity- Klein & Linville
Paulson's was next door to the Den Burien Theater. One time a Paulsons' customer, on his Fat Boy Harley-Davidson, or lookalike, slipped the clutch and went full-speed into the front wall of the movie theater (He had probably lost a few bucks on the pool table) almost causing a traumatic amputation of one of his hands. I think, after that, most of the girls received instructions from their fathers to take the long way into the movie house and send their dates in first. This was a lot more exciting than sitting at home watching that brand new black & white TV set with all the snow and distortion on it.
Paulson was a crusty old war veteran who never cracked a grin and had a very severe limp from a war wound. We don't remember if he sold beer but we were too young then to buy it anyway, at least not legally. We had to get it somewhere else. He didn't put up with much rowdy behavior and a lot of it went on in there. He was always kicking somebody out for misbehaving but we loved jerking him to the point of almost getting kicked out before we'd back off. One afternnoon Gary Bushaw was playing one of the penny pinball machines and one of the regulars (identity forgotten) kept distracting Mr B. even going as far as tilting the machine. Gary gave him a final warning and the jerk put his hands in the front pockets of his Levis and said "Make Me." Next thing you know, Gary's fists resembled a chain saw blade going into some old growth cedar....."Out!", screams Paulson. Gary made it back though, before the guys face healed up from the cuts and bruises. Another time, Jean Van Sickle and another guy were arm wrestling on one of the pinball machines when they broke through the glass with a sickening cruncharoo. Glass all over the place. "Dammit, I want you two outa here and don't come back!" yells 'you-guessed-it'. Van Sickle was wearing a suede coat which was of zero help in preventing a large shard of glass from slicing a long cut into his arm above the elbow. Now the blood's flowing all over the broken glass. It took a couple days to clean that one up.
Another time, one of our varsity football players, Mike Crown, was standing outside talking to a couple of his buddies when one of Paulson's regulars walked out the door and flicked his cigarette onto Mike's car coat, (Jeez, remember car coats?) and, when it landed on the pavement, Mike says, "Hey, put that out when you get a chance." You would have had to have the I. Q. of a Mallard to mouth off to Mike. But the guy says, "You want it out, you put it out." The next scene has Mike, sitting on the guy's chest with a vice grip on both ears, bouncing his head off the pavement like he's dribbling a basketball. Out limps Paulson and these guys all get kicked out of the parking lot! The folks over in line at the Den Burien next door got a better show than they probably saw in the theater.
One day Gary Olson walked up to the counter to a fresh cup of coffee and asks " Who's coffee?" Paulson said, "Kenny Kuxhouse". Olson started pouring sugar and cream into the cup until it was overflowing all over the counter. Soon, Kuxhouse, in a logger's Pendleton shirt and big enough to eat hay, appears from the men's room to enjoy his coffee. Olson, being smarter than the average bear, couldn't dig out enough change from his tight jeans pocket for a fresh cup fast enough, (as well as clean up the mess on the counter before Paulson spotted it).
But, as entertaining as the side shows were, the main reason we frequented Paulson's was to play pool. Pool was cool! It was all in the angles so if you had some good spatial orientation and a well organized, 'metaphysical' overview of the ball patterns as they lay on the table, you were in like Flynn. All you had to do was send the cue ball toward the object ball so that when the two came into contact, their extended centerlines went through the pocket into which you were trying to deposit the latter. Some coordination helped, but, as in any endeavor such as this, the most important thing was to act like you really knew what you're doing, even if you didn't, and to exude extreme self-confidence at all times. No room for insecurities in the pool parlor. Always be chalking your cue tip when you're not shooting and act totally unconcerned if your opponent is burying you by running the table. Some coordination helped but a good duck'sass and a cigarette hanging out of your mouth were just as good. The name of the game was SMOOOOOTH! It was cool to talk about what kind of english you were going to put on the shot to position yourself for the next shot, convincing your opponent that there was very little chance that you'd blow the shot in progress. English was tricky 'cause you had to cue the ball off-center to get it spinning correctly for reverse, follow, right or left while still sending it on the right azimuth to make the shot. Masse's, kisses, combinations, hop-skips, keep it in the kitchen, both feet on the floor,etc. were all good terms to throw around. Owen Jackson was a master at this. We'd head over to Paulson's after baseball practice. As he'd strut around the table, chalking his cue, cigarette in his teeth, looking like Robert Mitchum, the opponents self-confidence would quickly melt away.
If we had seen any girls slipping through the front door of Paulson's, we'd have popped the cueball right off the table with a miscue. One & 15 balls in opposite sides, call the 8-ball. We preferred straight pool. As Klein cleared the table, Linville slowly started picking up the clue that the reason Klein always had a shot wasn't just by accident. His wallet was a little lighter by the time he caught on to some of the techniques. But Linville was a dead-eye dick on that spot shot into the corner from behind the scratch line. Klein and Linville usually won. (Some of our competition must have been busy wasting good practice time studying or doing their homework.) You could always tell when you had a fish by the way he bridged his cue stick.
Eventually, when Linville could finally afford it, he got a nice pool table, just about the time he lost interest in the game. That's life. Loser racks! Bottom left english, not top right! Rack 'em, snack 'em, and crack 'em.
Linville: Our glorious Webmaster Coop expressed his desire to me in an email the other day that he wanted to play pool back in those days but he wasn't any good at it. I told him all he needed was longer hair and some Marlboros.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Secret Crush - Karen of Troy
I had just seen the latest version of the movie, Helen of Troy. This production of the oft-told Homer classic starred Rosanna Podesta and I may have dropped a tear or two while watching this heart-tugging love story. I kept it well hidden, though. I sure as hell didn't want my buddies to see me tearing up in the movie. Why in the hell I went with the guys to begin with, I haven't a clue. Very poor judgment in those days! I should have been there with a date but I probably didn't have enough money to get her in. In truth, I was probably too shy to ask anyone and what would I do after we were in there anyway. I at least knew that you weren't there to watch the movie when you had a fair lass sitting beside you. Afterwards, in my very most secret thoughts, never to be revealed to anyone, I began to come to the conclusion that Helen couldn't hold a candle to the angelic Karen Jensen. Here was a face that could not only launch a thousand ships but, maybe even a million!
Karen was my secret 'Helen of Troy'. One day Rudy Kleingartner, (I had to spell his name for him until we were in the 8th grade), and I were doing about 60 per, heading west toward the high school on 154th St. behind Burien in Rudy's slick blue '48 Ford, (complements of his dad, of course). Rudy was offering me one of his Lucky Strikes (I was out of cigarettes as usual) and as I was taking one out of the pack and engaging the lighter , I caught, out of the corner of my eye, another car coming at us from the right, heading north on about 4th Ave SW. In those days there weren't even any stop signs on these roads. When you were a block out of Burien, you were out of town and in the sticks. The collision was imminent. With brakes locked, we collided, right front fender to left front fender of the other car. I had never been in an auto accident before but it was strangely gentle as the metal of both cars crunched as they began to absorb the shock. Thankfully no one was hurt but, who should pop out of the other car, much to my pleasure and chagrin, driving her daddy's Buick, but Karen Jensen? I had always wanted to run into her but not quite this way. Nobody was angry. We just shot the breeze until a cop showed up. I kept trying to think of a good opening to ask her for a date but, of course, none came to me. I think I did get the last word in as we were parting, after the official info had been exchanged, as I quipped, "Hope we run into each other again soon!" I don't think I even realized at the time, the pun, but she sure gave me a funny look. I think she may have gone with Ronnie Quinill for a while and Pete Johnson, too, but my memory isn't clear on that. I doubt she even knew I existed.