Dale Says

February 21, 2012

Talking to Cathy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 3:58 pm

I visited Cathy Koch’s grave last week. It’s a ritual I allow myself two or three times a year when I go back to visit my mother. This time it was a cold, cloudy day and a sharp, icy wind blew from the west. The walk to the cemetary was quieting, and my shoes crunched the rocks on the road as I made my way.

The rows of headstones at the little cemetary in Chappell, Nebraska form a miniature skyline at the top of the hill. The arched entranceway is welcoming, although signs warn against littering or trespassing after 9:00 PM.

I walked up and down the neat rows of familiar names; people I grew up with — Peterson, Newcomb, Taylor, Kayton. I found some comfort in the continuity of it, but it is a little unsettling that life could go on without all of those mainstays.

Cathy’s headstone is in the second row, near the northern fence. It has been cared for, and the name, dates, and peace sign are easy to read.

Cathy Koch
1950 – 1970

That’s all it says, although the peace sign below the dates adds a lot for me.

Cathy was beautiful! She had dark piercing eyes, full lips, and long, straight black hair. She was the prettiest girl in our class, although not the most accepted, since she had joined us during our junior year when her parents moved to town. And there might have been a little jealousy from some of her classmates (especially the girls), because Cathy was so pretty, and because she made cheerleader.

Cathy dated Joe Bayne, one of my best friends, and I believe he loved her. He’s dead now, too, the victim of a hideous car accident a year after Cathy died.  Some people think Joe’s death was intentional, and that he fell apart after Cathy died.

Unlike many of her classmates, Cathy didn’t go to college. Textbooks and tests were never her thing, and she had no interest in the collegiate life. Instead, she moved to the mountains of Colorado and lived with a group of friends, trying to “find herself.”  Word was that she got strung out on drugs. I visited her once, and it was an unusual lifestyle; several people crammed into a tiny mountain cabin, with few modern conveniences and little structure. There were drugs in the cabin, although I don’t remember Cathy taking any hard-core drugs while I was there.

After I saw her, I went back to college and left her in her mountain hideaway. Sometime after that, Cathy visited her parents in Chappell, and during that visit something went horribly wrong. The way I heard it, her parents talked her into getting mental help (maybe for drugs?), and they loaded her things in their car to take her to see someone. Everyone was in the car when Cathy said she had forgotten something and ran back into the house. She grabbed her father’s shotgun, loaded it, and blew her head off.

As I stood in front of Cathy’s grave an overwhelming sense of loss came over me.  I thought of all the special occasions Cathy had missed – marriage, children, anniversaries, travel, Christmases, birthdays. She would have been a terrific wife and a wonderful mother. But she missed it all. It is so incredibly sad!

I told Cathy I was sorry, and I let my sadness flow down to the place where she is buried. I stood that way until the cold Nebraska wind started to make my fingers numb. Then I turned around and walked home.

I’ll probably do it again the next time I’m in Chappell. I don’t really know why I put myself through this, but afterwards I always feel something special. I’ve had another chance to talk to Cathy.

February 3, 2012

Hells Angels

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 11:58 am

Went for a hike yesterday in San Francisco. Our goal was to see the new buildings being put up at UCSF Mission Bay and to explore the Dogpatch area of town. It’s an interesting and upcoming part of the City.

A surprise in Dogpatch: We came across the SF headquarters of the Hells Angels! It’s at the end of Tennessee Street, in an otherwise normal-looking building. Plenty of signs indicating “Parking for Hells Angels only” and “Headquarters of Frisco Hells Angels.”

Some sources claim that the Hells Angels in San Francisco were originally organized in 1953 by Rocky Graves (interesting name!), a Hells Angel member from San Bernardino.  According to another account,the Hells Angels club was a successor to “P.O.B.O.B.” Motorcycle club,The “Frisco” Hells Angels were reorganized in 1955 with thirteen charter members; Frank Sadilek, who designed the original death’s head logo, served as President.

The full requirements to become a Hells Angel are the following: candidates must be a white male, have a valid driver’s license, have an American made working motorcycle and cannot be a child molester or have applied to become a police officer or prison guard.

If I can remember to buy a motorcycle, I would qualify!

January 23, 2012

U.S. Health Care

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 12:04 pm

I was witness to the workings of the U.S. health care industry last week, and it was a very positive experience. My 86-year-old mother had colon cancer and needed surgery to have a large, malignant tumor removed.

The surgery was successful, and after recovery she should be able to lead a pretty normal life.

I was impressed with the quality of the facilities, the surgeon and nurses, and everyone who cared for my mother at Methodist Hospital in Omaha. It was gratifying to watch the system work, and to see the tender care given to an elderly lady.

The media is full of criticism of our health care system. But it is without a doubt the best in the world!

Thank you to everyone for saving my mother’s life!

January 16, 2012

Connections

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 12:52 pm

Over the years, I have found it comforting to have connections to the various periods of my life. These ties, which tend to be family members or friends, make the events that took place during the periods seem more real, and more significant.

My friend Mark, for example, provides a link to my high school years, and we periodically get together and discuss the sports, girls, and various escapades we somehow managed to live through. Likewise, my friend John provides a connection to my college years and to the time that followed school. And my mother is a linkage to my early years. That connection has been terrific the past decade or so, as she has been more open about sharing stories of my youth that she had previously shielded me from.

And my wife Patty is my tie to the past two decades, and we have photos, mementos, and stories to share about those years.

But there is one period of my life without a connection, and that causes a bit of a void in my life history. It’s the time in the early 1980s when I moved to California. It was an important chapter for me, filled with growth and adventure, and it would be nice to have a connection to it now.

It was a snowy March day in 1981 when I packed my Datsun hatchback and headed west from Denver to the golden state. Three days later, I drove across the Bay Bridge and into a new and exciting life. Worlds opened to me, including new friends, cultures, and places to explore. Settling in San Francisco required that I learn new neighborhoods, new foods, and new lifestyles, and my job demanded that I develop additional skills, take greater risks, and adjust to corporate politics on the big stage.

I was able to make those adjustments and survive, and I wound up enjoying the challenges and education.

But I no longer have connections to that period. I’m no longer in touch with friends made during those years, and my former work associates have long since gone their separate ways. And, as these things go, those years are becoming hazy and indistinct.

I vaguely remember that period for the many 49ers parties, especially the Superbowl celebrations. And I have some memories of work gatherings, including Friday evening happy hours, Christmas parties, and an occasional succesful project or promotion.

I remember training for and running two marathons (including one in blistering heat in Davis), and a “social” running club called the Hash House Harriers.

And I remember travel — to New York, Europe, and South America — and the excitement of seeing those fabulous parts of the world for the first time.

But even those memories are fading, some of the dates are uncertain, and a connection to that time would help firm them up.

I’ve considered some possibilities: I might be able to use Facebook to find and re-activate relationships from that time. Or, I could go back through the mementos I kept and re-connect the dots. Or, I even considered “friending” Jerry Brown, who was governor when I moved to California and is goverenor again now.

On the other hand, perhaps this article will suffice. The process of thinking back to that time and reviewing the sights I saw and things I did has brought back memories and helped crystalize my recollections of the friends and events of that period. Perhaps that will do, or at least it’s a good start. And, it’s another benefit of writing!

January 5, 2012

Sayings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 12:00 pm

I was watching “The Law and the Lady” last night with Greer Garson. At one point she quipped, “They just disappeared like beer at a policemen’s picnic,” which reminded me of some of the terrific sayings my mother-in-law used to come up with. One of her favorites was, “Bless his heart, he’s as homely as home-made soap.”

It made me think of sayings about the stage of life I find myself in. One of my favorites is from Washington Irving: “After a man passes sixty, his mischief is mainly in his head.”

Another appropriate one, from Robert Browning: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.”

But my favorite, from Abraham Lincoln:
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

January 3, 2012

View from 60: Iowa Caucus

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 12:06 pm

Today, the Iowa caucus will determine which of the Republican presidential candidates will surge into the lead, and which will drop out. It’s been a long and wild ride up to this point, with several of the candidates taking a lead and then exploding and falling back into the pack. There’s no clear leader, and the Republican party is widely divided.

The view from 60 is that none of the candidates seem capable of doing what I need done, which is to firm up an economy that has sagged for three years. With no income, I need my invested money to grow at least as fast as inflation, and I need to know that Medicare and social security will be available for me for the next 20 years.

I don’t trust the U.S. Congress to look out for my interests. They have demonstrated they are incapable of agreeing on anything important, and they have proven repeatedly that they are more interested in party dogma and getting re-elected than doing what is right for their country. So I rely on the Executive branch to bully or embarass them into doing what should be done.

So this year’s presidential election is crucial, and the Iowa caucus is an important first step in the process of electing a president.

Make a good decision good people of Iowa!

June 30, 2010

Rats!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dale @ 2:00 pm

The battle has begun to save our lemon tree from an invasion of rodents, who have stripped most of the bark and eaten half of the leaves. Thus far the score is 1-0.

I’ve installed aluminum flashing around the first three feet of the tree trunk, placed rat traps around the foot of the tree, and baited the traps with peanut butter.

So far, one rat has gone to the big dumpster in the sky, but the peanut butter has disappered from the other traps, so I need to find a way to bait the traps.

My wife is totally grossed out by this all!

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