Friday, February 15, 2008
Ken Linville - REMEMBERING DICK TRISLER
I'm going to claim the distinction of having known Dick longer than anyone else here today, except, of course, for some of my Angle Lake grade school classmates. Since I knew him early on, I'm just going to reflect a little about back when we were kids in McMickan Heights up on the hill from the new Bow Lake Airport (SeaTac now). Bobby Goldsboro wrote a song years ago called 'Childhood-1947' and that was the year I first met Dick Trisler. It's kind of a nostalgic piece. The lyrics mention flyin' kites, pillow fights, skippin' rocks, kickin' cans, marble sacks & jumpin' jacks; we did all that stuff and a lot more. Capt. Marvel flyin', Joe Palooka fightin', Owls that Hoo and Lash Larue & heroes gone asunder.
Dick had just moved up here from Oregon and his dad, Steve, was building a great big brick house up on S. 172nd St. They lived in the garage until they could move into the house and Dick and his brother Jerry grew up in that house and I spent a lot of time up there, too. Dick's mom, Marion, was one of the sweetest people I ever knew. She was so good to me; I wished sometimes that she was my mom. The house is still there; probably always will be. I lived down in the cheap seats on 33rd Ave and 172nd. The first time I laid eyes on Dick was when he walked into my 3rd grade class room at Angle Lake Grade School in the spring of 1947. We were nine. I didn't think much of it until recess when we got into our game of 'work-up'. Remember that version of softball? When the bell rang, all the guys would race out to home plate and the order in which you got to bat was determined by when you stepped on the plate yelling your number out after hearing the guy who'd arrived just before you did. Unfortunately, in those days, the girls didn't get to play so they had to jump rope or play hop-scotch. Some of the bolder ones would watch the boys play ball. I was usually 3rd because I could run faster than anyone else except for Larry and Jerry Holmes, the identical twins, but they were a year older than us. The first 3 guys got to bat and no. 4 pitched, 5 played 1st base and so on. You stayed at bat as long as you hit safely. The Holmes twins and I usually were batting most of the time 'cause no one else was very athletic. Rudy Kleingartner, my best buddy, usually stepped on the plate about 17th or thereabouts being exiled to the outfield for the duration of recess. This particular time a big, husky guy edged me out just before we got to the plate and got to be no. 3. That was Dick, of course, so now I had some new competition. As No. 4, I had to pitch and when Dick got up to bat, he hit the damn ball all the way to the other side of the school yard for a home run.
As it turned out, Dick and I became pretty good buddies and I finally had an ally to help me keep the twins from controlling the playground all the time. They were tough and they always stuck together. Larry and Jerry's gracious mother was our Cub Scout den mother and Dick and I were enthusiastic cub scouts but, when it came time for boy scouts, we kind of figured they were a bunch of sissies. By then we were pooling our nickels and dimes to buy cigarettes. With 4 or 5 of us sharing one cigarette, the ash would get up to an inch long and glowing red hot. We're lucky we didn't have 3rd degree burns in our throats. Dick took me fishing once down at Bow Lake, the 'bottomless' swamp down across from the new airport. After one cast, I had everybody's line all tangled up in mine. I guess I was a lot better at throwing a ball than a fishing line. Dick told me he'd never take me fishing again. He never did but I was still working on him when he had to go and throw in the towel.
I remember Dick as being very industrious. He got a paper route so he always had some spending money and when he was old enough, he worked in the grocery store on 170th St. for quite a while. When we were 16, he had enough money to buy a perfectly cherry 1946 Ford 4-door sedan, shiny black with dual pipes, cherry bomb mufflers, skirts, whitewalls and the whole nine yards. Fords were so cool 'cause you could rotate the column shift lever over to the left side of the steering column so low gear was back and up, second was down and forward and then high gear was straight up. This made it much easier to keep your right arm around a girl, if you were lucky enough to have one sitting next to you, and still be able to get a little second-gear rubber pulling away from a stop light. How cool! He kept his car clean & shiny and pretty much saved this classy chassis of his for dates so, when it was just us guys out looking for trouble, we usually had to take my old wreck of a '40 Chev. We started smoking cigarettes and drinking beer much earlier than we should have but we sure had a lot of fun. I was frequently in trouble when my dad found my car smelling like a tavern with Oly bottles and cigarette butts all over the floor. At least we didn't litter.
One day at football practice, Alf Hempstead, the head coach, came over to me. I thought he might give me an 'attaboy' for catching that last pass from Bahrenburg but that wasn't what was on his mind. He just said, "Hey, Linville, I understand you know these Trisler brothers pretty well, is that right?" By now, Dick probably weighed in at a little over 200 and Jerry, (class of '57) was around 230 and all of these pounds could be attributed to hard muscle. In those days that was pretty big. You didn’t mess with the Trisler boys. That’s partly why I hung around with them, I guess. I never had to worry about bullies when I was with them. When I told the coach I was pretty tight with them he said to me, "Why in the hell aren't they out here playing football? Get 'em out here! I want 'em at practice tomorrow afternoon!" Before I could answer, I think he was screaming at Bahrenburg for screwing up some play that they were running but I knew I had my marching orders. They were going to come out for the team anyway but I was happy to take the credit for getting them to play. I was deliriously happy for Dick the night he recovered that fumble and scored a touch down. That's quite a clever trick for a left guard. Bob Smither reminded us how long it took him to get that football 80 yards to the goal line. The whole team was doing plenty of blocking as Dick ambled down the field. Sprinting was definitely not his forte'. I had a great view of the whole play from my seat on the bench. It reminded me of one day at practice when Alf told Dick, "You know, Trisler, the only thing wrong with the way you run is that you stay in one place too damn long." I always remembered to use that one on my boys when they were growing up. We downed more than our share of beer later that night to celebrate Dick's TD.
I never had a better, more faithful friend than Dick Trisler. I'm so thankful for the time we got to spend together during the last 10 years since I retired. When he couldn't play golf any more, I recruited him as my golf cart chauffeur just to get him some fresh air and so we could spend some quality time together just hashing over the outrageous things we did as kids. We’d get to laughing so hard I couldn’t swing a golf club let alone hit the ball with any consistency. Through all his pain and sickness and suffering these past few years, I never once ever heard him utter a discouraging word or complaint.