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November 14th 0700hrs...

Posted to Tribute to Ken Kesey

...The old Sandoz place sits like a seagull on Coxcomb Hill. Big, and white. Nesting there amongst the 100 plus foot tall firs,and spruces that are taking an ass kicking from the storm. Its wild, and windy, but the house just sits there. The rain,and wind just come with the country here, nothing new for a big, old solid house in Astoria. Sandoz was the big cheese for Columbia River Packers, which became Bumble Bee Seafoods. He needed a house, and those shipwrights from the company built him a beauty. Solid, and square, double planked as tight as the minesweepers they were building down the hill at the company yard. In 1940, wood was cheap, and the best was used to build this layout,yeah. Higher on the hill, than most of the houses in town, it overlooks the mouth of the Columbia. Just sits there, like some big shouldered white dog looking downriver, just watching the storm. Old man Sandoz checked out years ago,but his wife stayed on there til she folded up, too. Then Buck Evinrude come along, liked the place, and bought it off the Sandoz kids. He hauled all his shit in there, and its a pretty squared away scene. Buck owns some big outfit that does something with fish guts, or makes fertilizer out of baby whales, for all I know. He does pretty good at it, too, I guess. Travels a lot, got a big old Harley,nice guy. He came and got me out of the county jail about a year ago. Said I could stay here. Look after the place and grounds while he's on the road. Hes' always on the go, it seems. "Just don't start sellin' dope outta here,and don't let any of those goofy broads you like hang around." "They're nuthin' but trouble, them, and that dope,OK?" Well, I couldn't disagree with him on that one,no sir........ It's seven o'clock in the morning, the rain was just coming in sideways. I'm standing in the kitchen,lookin'out the window. Shit, it must be blowing a steady forty, gusting more, I'll bet. Jesus, this is going to be some trip over the hill. Eugene is a good two hundred miles from here, two hundred stormy Oregon November miles away...... Cupping my cocoa, I can't stop thinking about that night back in Pendleton in '77. It sure wasn't stormy in Eastern Oregon that night, hell no. After all, it was Round-Up, and its always nice for Round-Up,everybody knows that. And crowded, its always crowded, they know that, too..... The bar at the Temple Hotel was rockin', jam packed with folks. Somehow, The Chief and I get a table, right in the middle of the room. Oh yeah, its still got a lot of empty glasses, and soggy napkins, and ashtrays on it, but we just shove these aside as we sit down. Eventualy, the woman workin' the tables comes and takes our order. Kens' orders a drink, gin, or vodka maybe. I ask for my usual bottle of Lucky Lager. Thats what I drank back then, I stayed away from the hard stuff. Not that I'm pious, or anything I just plain can't handle the shit. The waitress didn't pay us much attention, as we kind'a shouted our order to her. It was loud in there, after all. On the stage there was some kind of jive ass country band,twanging out the country music you'd hear on jukeboxes in Eastern Oregon towns back then. Nobody in the place gave a shit about the band,no body dancing, or anything. The real music I heard was just the sound of all those people in there,ya'know. Everybody talkin' and laughin' at once. A lot of men, a lot of women, and a lot of booze. There was some life going on in that joint,yeah. I was high enough to hunt ducks with a rake, after all, I notice stuff like that when I'm stoned on weed. After a bit the woman brings us our drinks,and says,"four and a half,please",being as nice as she considering theres another fifty people hollerin' at her for another round. Keseys' already got his wallet out, and flips that sucker open. Its' as limp and floppy as a dead squirrel, but its just stuffed with bills,big ones, and I mean stuffed. He hands her a fifty, and she counts it back to him,trying to hurry. Shes' got a lot of people waiting, and its early in the evening. She hurrys off,she didn't want to waste any time shooting the crap with us. We probably didn't look like much to her, and it was Saturday night, after all. Round-Up Saturday night. While she was counting back Kesey's change, I'm starting dig whats going on here. I'm sitting at a table in a crowded bar with Ken Kesey, and I'm the only person besides him that knows who he is. He just smoked me out, and now hes' bought me a beer. He lifts his glass to my beer, and says,"Let'er Buck, Jim." "Yeah,Let'er Buck, Ken, and Happy Birthday, too"........jf