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Summertime Blues

This is Officer Lee Groinman.

Yeah that’s right, I’m the one with the Summertime Blues. As it turns out, I get the graveyard shift, all summer long!  You know, ya’ get home at 8:30 in the mornin’ and what ya’ gonna do? I’ve mowed the lawn three times, three times this WEEK! Just for fun the ol’ John Deere mower has got this special exhaust system, yeah he kinda’ sounds like a cross between a Harley and a Dodge Cummins diesel, and for laughs I’ve got this Husky flag posted on his trailer hitch just to entertain my coug neighbors. Hey, for their added pleasure I let my two Malamutes, Eli and Elsie follow me around the property when mowing. We mow along the coug’s fence three or four times, Eli lifts his leg three or four times...I’ve heard that if you go around that coug fence seven times, then lay on a big ol’ blast of my Kenworth Air-Horns, that the crimson fence, just may fall down...

Somehow, even with all of that, it just won’t scratch my summer itch.

I’m dying here folks...

So as guys like us do every mornin’, we log on to the Dawgman message boards for our Dawg fix, maybe a new commit, maybe some good news on a SAT score, an unexpected 300 pound walk-on with 4.8 speed perhaps?

Nah, we get served up yet another poll, take your pick, the shade of the color purple on the uniforms, season ticket sales, or TW’s coaching skills and or some other Tyrade...

Oh my aching itch....

As I walk past the Purple and Gold trimmed, but still green, John Deere mower, I come across the answer. There it is, the Big V, the V twin, the two cylinder two-wheeler torque monster, my candy red (not crimson) bike, yup, the one with the drag bars....

It’s time to ride...

So I call up a coug buddy of mine, Jerry. Jerry has some time on his hands, as with many cougs, Jerry finds hisself out of a job from time to time, and this is one of those times....

We met up at the old Naches Tavern up by Greenwood, the gateway to Chinook pass. We planned a great ride around Chinook pass and down along highway 410, into the area along the Naches and American rivers, some of the best darn motorcycle roads in the country if ya’ ask Groinman...

We got more than we bargained for....

I’m waiting outside the Naches Tav, sittin’ on my bike in the shade, as it’s one of the hottest days of the year, even up here in the hills it’s a bit on the warm side of things. Jerry pulls up on his bike, salutes my helmet and shuts down his machine. Now Jerry’s bike is not as large as mine, but he makes up for it in other areas...

“My, what large bags you have there Jerry...Why don’t you just put a set of wheels on those things and call yourself a trike!”

Yup, Jerry has some of the largest saddlebags I’ve ever seen. They just might come in handy someday...

Well after trading some obligatory insults we decided to get on with it and head up over the mountain. The bikes fired up and we headed out towards the highway, what a great lookin’ day! A couple of Harley Babes rode by just before we hit the road. They made sure to avoid eye contact at all costs...

What is it about Harley Babes and their size? Is there some magic formula to seal the deal? Say, the weight of the bike times the width of the rider’s butt, divided by two?

Thank God that he makes exceptions to some magic formulas...

We decided to top off our tanks, to give us some space from the Harley Babes...

Now with nothing else to distract us, it was NOW time to ride. By the time I hit third gear, my troubles and worries about everything Husky began to fade. My bike seemed to never run so good, the tires seemed to bond with the road, the bike, the road, everything seemed to be in synch, like a perfectly thrown Jake Locker pass to Marcel Reece. The road opened up like a well-blocked trap play. NO TRAFFIC!

We stopped on the top of the pass to admire the view. It seemed to be even warmer up here. The heat from Eastern Washington was funneling up thru the canyons like heat thru a furnace and its duct work. I noticed that even Jerry’s saddlebags were sweating...

We continued down the road into the Eastern slopes of the Cascades, every mile became warmer. Jerry, being an Eastern Warshington kid, knew of a fishin’ hole just off of a forest service road, on the American river.

That’s right, we brought our poles, we pulled over, found a place to park and hiked about 100 feet to the river and the fishin’ hole.

Now on every trip I take, I always seem to forget something useful, this time it’s my camera, for what I was about to see was spectacular beyond belief. The river came around a bend with reddish colored cliffs on both sides. The sky up here was a dark blue, the water was crystal clear, you could see to the bottom of the fishin’ hole. There was about ten feet of white sand along the river here, it seemed almost like a beach in Hawaii, and it’s as hot as a fox in a forest fire.

Along that white sand were some flat rocks. Heat waves were simmerin’ off those flat rocks like fog off a stage at a concert. On top of those flat rocks were the Harley Babes! They were danglin’ their purple painted toenails down into the cool blue water. They had rolled up their pant legs to knee level and were singin’ some strange song.

I somehow felt like George Clooney in the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’ Jerry started crawlin’ thru the river, he’s chasing some frog while screamin’ “Petey is that YOU!”

“Now climb out of that there river there Delmar, er Jerry! This is no way to act in the presence of these here ladies...”

The Harley Babes seem to be amused. They just may have seen the movie...Ya’ think?

By Dawg, one of them Harley Babes sure looks like Cassie Gaines. Cassie was one of the girl backup singers for Lynyrd Skynyrd. She didn’t survive the tragic plane crash back on that nasty October night in ’77. Dang, I had the biggest crush on Cassie Gaines back in the day...Yeah Cassie was one of the lady backup singers, they called themselfs  “The Honkettes.” Oh Cassie, I’m so sorry...

“Say Everett, er Lee, I’ve got a little surprise for you. Why don’t you go up and take a look in my saddlebags?”

Knowing that Delmar, er Jerry is from Eastern Washington, the last darn thing I’m gonna do is stick my hand down his saddlebag, might be a rattlersnake sittin’ down there or something... No Sir, I’m getting me a stick, a long stick...Well much to my surprise, Jerry brought refreshments, some of those new fangled containers where when they get cold enough they turn blue. Jerry had stuffed his bags with ice, this ‘splains why they were sweating back there on the pass...

Now this turns out to be a fantabulous invention. Why with every fish we caught, we exchanged a fish for one of them containers in the saddlebag! I caught four fish and hadn’t even fallen off the old hollow log yet....

Well we sure enjoyed our stay back at Jerry’s old fishin’ hole. We did however change its name to “Delmar’s Hole.” But alas it was time to leave. We fired up the bikes and headed on down the hill. After some time we found ourselfs on the Old Naches Highway, a wondrous piece of biker road which takes you into the old town of Naches, which of course has the old “Van’s Tavern”.

I wonder if it could be. Van’s Tavern had been run by a gal named Ruthie ever since her husband had died back in 1939. I used to deliver beverages to Ruthie back in my formative years. She would have to be nearing 100 years old by now, she was 93 the last time I saw her. Could she still be alive?

These are the mysteries that keep a guy like Groinman going. I had to investigate...

We park our large bikes up front near the entrance to “Van’s”. The named had changed to “Van’s 1885 Saloon”. Not a good sign. We enter into the rustic old place. Not a good crowd. Against the South wall were seven guitars and a banjo, next to the banjo was a rattlersnake hide, not a good thing. Towards the back of the bar just next to the women’s head sits this white with gold trim turn of the century Baldwin piano, interesting. We found a couple of seats next to the cash register, not a good thing....

The jukebox was blarin’ the old Lynyrd Skynyrd tune “T for Texas”, I decided to go check it out, might just select some “Free Bird” or something.

“Give me a T for Texas, Give me a T for Tennessee...” Steve Gaines was playing that long funky guitar intro, damn that butt-awful night in ’77, Steve was Cassie Gaines brother, he died too.

“Woman made a fool out of me...”

I looked back towards the door and was a BIT miffed to see my helmet being tossed around like a Beach ball at a Stones concert. Now this was my special helmet, the one I picked up at a yard sale, paid three bucks for it, now this helmet has got this one large horn sticking up on the top of it which gives it a Unicorn-like look. Just for fun I added a beaver pelt to the back of the darn thing, which reminds some of a Daniel Boone type hat. Then I stenciled in the UW insignia to the sides.

Now, ya’ just don’t mess with Groinman’s helmet, paid three bucks for it.

“You’re not from around here are ya’ mister!!” Yelled the barkeep-bouncer. This was about to get ugly...

I spun and grabbed the banjo off the wall, the crowd gasped. The rattlersnake hide quivered...”No I ain’t from AROUND HERE!  WHERE YOU FROM!!” I yelled at the barkeep.

“Texas, can’t you tell you jack-arse! Now put down that BANJO! It’s a World War One Army Banjo! Picked it up at a yard sale!!”

The jukebox continued with its Skynyrd thread, this time playing “Gimme Three Steps” (give me three steps towards the door, won’t come back no more).

The silence was deafening as they say...seems I had a bargaining chip with this here banjo.

“Now just you put that banjo down Mister! Those strings are the originals!”

“I’ll make ya’ a deal there Texas, I’ll trade ya’ this here banjo for that there helmet, and I’ll throw in a few Texas jokes for free.”

The crowd roared, seems they love tellin’ Texas jokes to the barkeep.

“Ya see, ya’ just don’t mess with Groinman’s helmet....”

“And ya’ don’t mess with TEXAS!!”

Well the trade was made, thankfully. I was gonna’ play the dueling banjo tune from “Deliverance” but I only knew the first seven notes...

So introductions were made and soon the barkeep Mark was talking up Texas football. He’s got Longhorn stuff all over the North wall.

“So you’re a Husky fan” Says Mark, “You guys suck!”

“Now just you wait a minute there Mark. The Dawgs are kicking butt this YEAR!” Again the crowd roars...”We’re gonna’ SHOCK the football WORLD! Lee Curso will be tongue-tied...”

”Yup, we’ve got the biggest offensive line in the country! A veteran and stout defensive line, linebackers to die for, one of the largest and fastest receivers to ever to play the game, a big, strong and fast quarterback named Jake, graduated from Nazareth High School I do believe, yeah that’s right, he’s “Jake of Nazareth”. We got huge fullbacks with speed, a tailback who runs under 4.4, kickers, good punters, a stable of tight ends, hell we got it all this year MIKE!!”

“You sound like a complete homer Lee.”

“Now let me tell you THIS about PAUL HOMER! 250 pounds of speed and muscle coming right down your throat! Third and two is no longer a passing down, it’s time to move the chains BABY!!”

“And what about your secondary LEE!!”

Well there’s that...

So it turns out that Ruthie has passed on, it was just this past January, just short of her 100th birthday and “Van’s” had been sold to these clowns. “So I hear you used to deliver product here, that right Lee?” “That’s right Mike, why that was back in my formative years. Funny thing is, is that we always had a faxed order from here, never signed, just an order. Ruthie never called, wouldn’t talk to a salesman, just that darn fax.”

“That is funny Lee, Ruthie didn’t have a fax. We still don’t. I suppose your gonna tell me that your order was perfect every time?”

“Hell no, wrong every time! Hard to even read that order, terrible, hard to read scratchy hand writing, couldn’t get it right to save our life. She’d bitch like hell. But I remember the order always came to fifty bucks and change, she’d always say “Bet me the fifty?”

At that time the door to the cooler behind the bar flew open and hit Mark in the back of the head. “Damn you Ruthie!!”

It was one of those nights that a high-falootin’ type might call sir-real or surreal or some darn thing, anyway it was one of those nights when you’re just out-of-sorts a bit, maybe kinda’ discomboobulated. So I decided to take a little walk thru the streets of Naches just to get some air and clear my head. Time seemed irrelevant, as I lost all track. I heard someone kick an empty can. A sage brush blew across Main street. Four cats ran across an alley and climbed a tree. The moon was high above Mt. Clemens, while somewhere in the distance a fence gate was swinging in the breeze on its worn and rusty hinges. I could hear that fence squeak plain as day.

“Syracuse is gonna’ lose, gonna’ lose, gonna’ lose.”

Was it the fence in the breeze or was it Ruthie in the breeze? Doesn’t really matter. I’m just gonna’ “Bet me the fifty.”

It was time to leave. I headed back to Van’s. Had to take care of my tab. I could hear the bar from a block away. The door to Van’s seemed to be makin’ time in the breeze to the tunes, a beer bottle flew out the door and landed in the back of a ’63 Chev’ pickup.

As I entered Van’s, the late Ronnie Van Zant was bellowing out on the jukebox “Ahhhh Billy Powell on piano.” Billy Powell was layin’ down some of that tasty Southern Honky Tonk, while some horse’s patunia was back there on the old turn of the century Baldwin playin’ “air-piano!” Holey Crapes! On further inspection, this ol’ pony-tailed guy with a straw hat and sunglasses was playin’ right along with Billy Powell!

Duelin’ pianoes!!

Now if that don’t beat all...

So once again the jukebox was playing some Skynyrd. This time, “Call Me The Breeze.” I keep rollin’ down the road. Mark hands me my tab.

“FIFTY BUCKS!! For two pops!” “That’s for you and your friends back there Lee! We got real good pizza here, did I forget to tell ya’? And that’s fifty bucks plus the change...”

I look to back of the bar, why there’s Jerry with the Harley Babes!! The ones with the purple painted toenails!

Yup, I guess it really was just the breeze, as the music was dying down.

“Mr. Breeze.”

Good night Mr. Ronnie Van Zant...

It was really time to go, time to get rollin’ down the road. Now if I could just find my dang helmet...

You see, ya’ just don’t mess with GROINMAN’S HELMET!!



Groinman’s tip of the week: Dawgs cover the spread. Bet me the fifty...

Got real good pizza at Van’s, try Ruthie’s Supreme, some would say it’s just to die for...

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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