Saturday, September 02, 2006


Linus in the Moose Traps

The famous 'Moose Traps'. Where did that name come from? [1] There were no moose in the area, an occasional deer, maybe, but usually, nothing larger than a rabbit if you didn't count peoples' dogs. And, let's not forget, moose were probably not susceptible to being caught in traps like mice or other rodents. [2]. That's the beauty of it; what a cool name for about a ten-acre vacant tract of thick, six-foot high Scotch broom with, criss-crossing dirt trails winding through it just barely wide enough for a car to pass through. The trail was very rough in a smooth sort of way, (“traps”), full of huge moguls [3] which emulated a roller coaster if you went over them fast enough. That's probably where speed bumps were invented. Of course, the object of the game was to get all four wheels off the ground simultaneously so the trick was, keep the pedal to the metal in low gear and go for it! My '40 Chev, ( later sold to Gordy Ringoen $85. He complained at the reunion that he only got twenty for it), didn't land as nice as some of the later machinery I operated and when it landed, every body knew it. How it held together through this abuse, I'll never figure out, but you can bet your next social security check I didn't tell Gordy about it during our negotiations.

The location of this unintentional amusement park was out south of Five Corners a mile or so around S. 200th St. just east of 1st Ave. S. I don't remember it as being well known among most of us but this was great entertainment for those of us who weren't out with a hot one making out at Miller's Beach or some such intimate spot. This was almost as much fun as a date but, for me, much easier to attain. Naturally, we had usually worked our way through most of a case of Oly by the time we got there and, no doubt, had an extra in the trunk. You can imagine the fun when we'd get into the new case after riding through the 'traps' for an hour. Beer foam every where. Laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. We always took my car because nobody wanted to scratch their nice cars up on the Scotch broom or, worse yet, take out a chunk of their transmission case or oil pan on a rough landing. I always figured my car was junk anyway so let's have some fun! As I would be sleeping my hangover off the next morning, my dad would come in and shake me out of bed to tell me my car was full of Oly cans, cigarette butts and smelled like a French whore house. (I always wondered what a French whore house would smell like. Nice, I imagined.) Mother would have oatmeal ready and I was to get my lazy carcass out of bed, eat breakfast, and clean up my car. (C'mon. Dad, it's only six in the morning. Cut me some slack here. I didn't get home till 2:30. I've never eaten oatmeal since!)

One night, there were six of us in the car. I remember Rudy, Dick Trisler, Ruthie Quinill, Frank Day and another girl I don't remember. Frank was in the middle, next to me, and we hit a mogul just right. As we're flying through the air, (very momentarily, of course), I spotted headlights coming toward us from the right on a crossing trail. My quick reflexes launched into action as I jammed full pressure to the brake pedal. Being airborne, not a hell of a lot happened. [editor: a valuable lesson in Ken’s later endeavors]. As we landed in a crab with wheels locked, the car lurched into the Scotch broom and Frank flew up into the dome light. The lens offered little protection as Frank's skull was badly cut on the bulb socket. Luckily, the approaching car flew by in front of us like a white tornado and as we were counting our blessings, Frank was bleeding all over every thing and every one. I reached in the glove compartment for a flashlight but when I turned it on, every body screamed, "Turn it off!!" No one wanted to look at all the blood but I knew we had to stop it. Not knowing what to do, I got into the trunk and grabbed the handiest piece of absorbent material I could find which happened to be one of the sanitary socks from my baseball uniform and quickly wrapped it around Frank's head so tight he was about to faint. Frank kept saying, "Hey, Linus, is there any more of that Oly back there?" [4]. Obviously, bleeding to death was not a serious consideration here. I think the driver of the other car was Larry Buerstatte with a bunch of those White Center hoodlums but I'll have to check that out with him the next time I see him.

There's been a lot of water over the bridge since then but it’s sad that some entrepreneur turned that tract into some boring yuppie neighborhood. I seem to remember wondering where in the hell I was going to find a new lens cover for my dome light.

[1] traps n. volcanic outflow, from the Swedish trappe "stairs", from its appearance. Commonly flood basalt, e.g. the Deccan Traps of India or the Moose Traps of SeaTac

[2] In the game “There’s a Moose in the House” the moose trap card is akin to trump.

[3] mogul n. A small hard mound or bump on a ski slope. [Probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse mūgi , heap. A mugi would normally be the vehicle of choice in a trappe.

[4] Linus was me (Ken Linville). The guy in 'Peanuts' with the security blanket. Frank, Dick, and Ruthie still call me that. I was in charge of the Oly 'cause it was my car.

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