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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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...”
looked back towards the door and was a
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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,
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!
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
Yup, I guess it really was just the
breeze, as the music was dying down.
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
DO YOU HEAR ME!!
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...