NIKE AND MR. BOWERMAN


I hadn’t gone far, not quite two miles, with not even a good sweat in the cool, foggy morning air. I was high, running easily, playing my usual mind game of imagining the cheering crowds at the imaginary finish line, me breaking the tape and then flopping down on the wet grass to celebrate the usual morning run. For several years we had run around the Lake chasing the resident geese out of the way and dodging dogs and people. Dr. Advice was beside me as usual, playing the role of the race announcer and critiquing my unusual running style, when suddenly without warning I found myself on the ground writhing in pain. The culprit was a board sticking up a bare half inch and my moving toe had connected with it. As it turned out, it was the finish of that race and all others to come when an x-ray showed a broken tendon in my right foot. The prognosis was not good. The loose half of the tendon had windowshaded up my leg never to be seen again.

runners 2

Early in the 1960’s a friend called me one morning about 6 a.m. and asked if I wanted to go for a run. Unaccustomed as I was to even being awake at 6 a.m. and not knowing anyone who ran in public unless going to a fire, I foolishly said OK. What began as a slow jog alongside the side of the road for the two of us, began a daily habit which soon had us switched to the high school track at 5:30 and included several other men and women. We all felt so superior and healthy.

All this time unbeknownst to us, Bill Bowerman, the great track and field coach at the University of Oregon, was working on an idea to make better running shoes for his runners. In 1970 he famously used his wife’s waffle iron to stamp the rubber sole of a running shoe which then became the iconic look of running shoes today. Together with Phil Knight, a business man in Oregon and graduate of the University of Oregon. they began the company known as Nike. My daughter then working in the sports department at the University of Washington sent me one of the first Nike shoes.

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It has been eight years since my accident, and I still miss those early morning runs while waiting for the world to wake up. Today I use a cane which amuses me sometimes because when my friend and I were very young we decided that if we ever grew old we would carry a really classy cane with a silver handle to discourage all intruders. My cane is not classy and there have been no intruders that a Jack Russell couldn’t discourage, but it works. One of my grandsons promised me he would pick me up one in London someday, but he never did. I found a shop in Nottinghill which had some lovely canes, but I didn’t need one then so I moved on.

I have discovered that if you can no longer manage things the way you would like, you can make adjustments. Sort of like that old saw about one door opening etc. My walker with its storage basket/seat is perfect for carrying things room to room, or stashing tools when gardening and purchases at the store. I can recommend one to everyone. My daughter was quite impressed when I used it to bring dishes to the table.

I began feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t go for a walk, so we bought a wheelchair. The first day we used it to walk around “our” Lake, the wind came up and Dr. Advice caught a cold and was in bed for four days! The chair stayed vacant in the garage for a month or so as a catch-all storage, but it’s there when needed. I met a nice lady at the store where we bought it who had purchased the same model for her husband, but when she took him out for a spin the first time, it tipped over and out he went. No idea if she ever got the hang of it. I guess I was lucky that I didn’t tip over.

The whole point of life is making the best of it. I’m glad I danced, rode horses, climbed mountains and ran. It’s time to move over and let the rabble run past.

NOTABLE & QUOTABLE


P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O’Rourke, writing about the World Cup for the dailybeast.com, July 13

“Soccer is not likely to become a sport that American life revolves around like the Super Bowl, or March Madness when all business activity ceases while employees devote full time to filling in brackets only to lose the pool to the executive assistant who picks colleges according to which school colors she likes best. Or the World Series where you can take a snack break during the windup for every pitch.

For us Laz-Y-Boy League All-Stars in our 50’s and 60’s (a key sports fan demographic), soccer will always be a thing that was introduced at schools, YMCA’s, and rec centers when America was having its JFK physical fitness fit.

Soccer was intended to be safe, free from the worrisome “over-competitiveness” of Little League and Pop Warner, and playable by any kid no matter what a fat little jerk he was. That is, soccer was intended to be no fun, like a 50 mile hike.

Plus children didn’t know how to play it. And they still don’t. Every parent winces at the mention of soccer, recalling endless afternoons spent viewing Kid-Cluster-Kick, usually in shade-free places with nowhere to sit and mosquitoes. Twenty years after the phrase entered the American lexicon, “Soccer Mom” retains its power as hurtful speech.

The time between World Cups is too long. America is a “gratification nation” and we like ours immediate or, at least, annually. Soccer is similar to one of those Olympic sports that get us excited–400 meter hurdles, platform diving, pole vault, 200meter butterfly–then four years pass and we can’t remember which one we’re excited by.”

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Having spent some small time as a soccer, baseball, swimming and football grandma, I agree wholeheartedly with O’Rourke. Standing in the outfield with a T-ball player telling him to stop watching the birds inthe sky and watch the ball, or vigorously praising a small soccer player as he runs victoriously off the pitch, I know no more about the game than I did before they all played it, but I’m glad they did.

THESE BOOTS NOT MADE FOR WALKING


Dressed In Her Best
“Dressed In Her Best” oil painting by KSR

On a cold rainy day some years ago, we sat with our daughter in a charming small Mexican restaurant in Malibu, Ca. Malibu is notable for Pepperdine University and the Colony, which is a collection of homes on the expensive sand of the Pacific Ocean where many luminous or formerly luminous movie stars dwell. Sorry, but those who are star-struck or who merely wish to dip a quick toe in the ocean are prohibited.
They say that one of Johnny Carson’s prospective wives walked in front of his house a number of times until she was noticed. You see what persistence can bring?

On the particular day we were dining, my eyes were attracted to a pair of boots on a man who had just entered the restaurant. I did not look further than his legs which were bare. He was wearing a short raincoat over a pair of shorts even though it was raining. They were great boots and I remember that I had seen them on someone on TV awhile back. I guess I was staring at the boots, wondering how I could find a pair, when my daughter told me to stop staring; it was Larry Hagman!

It was the end of football season, and the USC-UCLA game was on the large TV in the back of the restaurant, so Dr. Advice went over to watch it. Our daughter assumed that he was on his way to talk to Larry Hagman and was horrified. “Oh no, he’s NOT going to talk to him is he?” Let it be known that though my husband is an energetic conversationalist, he would never be so crass as to purposely engage a local movie star in anything more than a nod of the head.

However, Mr. Hagman had chosen to watch the football game at the same time, and the two men had a grand conversation, mostly about their mutual love of fishing. His wife was also an artist and had painted fish scenes all over the plastic raincoat he had purchased at L.L.Bean. When he found that I was an artist, he came and insisted that we join him and his family and discuss my furnishing my husband with the same raincoat.

I found out that his very attractive boots were UGG boots which I had not heard of 15 years ago. The men traded good fishing spots, Dr. Advice sent him ajar of our fine smoked salmon, and we returned to our daughter and our lunch. Who said you shouldn’t speak to local celebrities?

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE


I guess this is where I’m supposed to fall in line and do what every other sports writer is doing. I’m supposed to swear I won’t ever write the words “Washington Redskins” anymore because it’s racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. Maybe it is.

I just don’t quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Montana. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.

“The whole issue is so silly to me,” says Bob Burns, my wife’s father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”

And I definitely don’t know how I’ll tell the athletes at Wellpinit (Wash.) High School–the student body is 91.2 percent Native American–that the “Redskins” name they wear proudly across their chests is insulting them. Because they have no idea.

“I’ve talked to our students, our parents and our community about this and nobody finds any offense at all in it,” says Tim Ames, the superintendent of Willpinit schools. “Redskins is an honorable name we wear with pride….In fact, I’d like to see somebody come up here and try to change it.”

Boy, you try to help some people….

From Rick Reilly’s commentary for ESPN, Sept. 18
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As an aside to this quote, our good friend Emmett Oliver, a member of the Quinault tribe, was an outstanding footbal player throughout his high school and college days at Redlands University. Some years ago, when some people began to feel antsy about calling Native Americans “Indians” or referring to them as “Redskins”, I asked Emmett his feelings on the subject. He said he had always fell special when during his football days, people would refer to him as an “Indian”, because after all, he WAS an Indian.

Here at Stanford, the team was known for many years as the “Stanford Indians”, and the cheerleaders, the band, bumperstickers, and other items people used to show their team support, built upon the Indian motif.

Someone in their infinite wisdom, changed the name to the “Stanford Cardinal”. Not “Cardinals” the bird, but the color crimson red. The mascot is a tree. The tree parades around the field to rally the spirits of the crowd.

I’m sorry, but I think the whole thing is insulting to the California Redwood tree.

AN UNCOMMON MAN


What kind of friend wakes you up with a knock on the bedroom window at 4:30 in the morning telling you to “Get up! You’re going to miss the morning!” It had better be a good friend!

Tak Fudenna was a farmer, and as farmers get up early, he went several times a week to the home of his good friend Dr. Advice to share what he loved; the fresh morning air, the solitude of early morning, the beauty of a healthy field of cauliflower waiting to be harvested.

It became the habit of the two men to go to the “Alvarado Hilton” for a quick breakfast at Mary’s before “checking” the fields, and before the workday began for both. I don’t remember what the actual name of the “Hilton” was, but it was in the small town of Alvarado, and had once years ago been a small bank.

Like thousands of small farming communities throughout the country, Alvarado was a suburb of a larger nearby town which kept growing. While the rest of the town of Alvarado slumbered away for lack of business, the “Hilton” watched its few small businesses fold and buildings stand empty.

At some point in time the bank became a very casual eating place presided over by a woman who dished out hearty breakfasts to hungry farmers needing a big meal and a few cups of coffee to jump-start their day.

Tak was a practical joker, and one soon learned not to take his word that something was “not very hot”. After tasting it himself, he would offer a spoonful to Dr. Advice, who soon found out it was tabasco sauce straight out of the bottle! The Danes were never used to sprinkling tabasco on their pastry.

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The three Fudenna brothers were all second generation Japanese-Americans who had the largest cauliflower farm in Fremont. When WW2 broke out, all Japanese in America, by order of Executive Order 9066, were interned in military-type “relocation” camps throughout the country for the duration of the war. Tak and his mother were sent to Topaz Lake, Utah and their farms as well as most other Japanese-American farmers, were confiscated.

When he was eighteen, as did thousands of other boys in America, Tak received a draft notice saying he was now in the army as a member of the all Japanese-American 442 regiment, and was sent to North Africa. The battalion had the most casualties of any U.S. battalion and went on to fight in Italy where Tak received the bronze star.

When asked about his internment camp experience, he was fond of saying “When it’s over, it’s over. Just plow it under.

EXECUTIVE ORDER

In time, Tak married and raised a family of six children, whose three oldest boys became outstanding athletes in the local high school before going on to take over the family farms. Tak told them that someday there would be no more farms in Fremont, so the three sons went to Salinas and Yuma to farm lettuce and cauliflower.

The farmland that they held in Fremont has now been turned into apartments and small businesses.

Tak and his wife, Sachi, had never missed a game and were big supporters of the high school sports program. After all his boys graduated from school, Tak was musing what he could leave the school and the city to benefit the youth program. What he settled on was a football stadium, that would have a great track, lights, good bleachers, restrooms and food stands.

Together he and a group of his friends built the Tak Fudenna stadium at Washington High School but to be used by all the high schools in Fremont. When people found what he was planning, donations of material and manpower poured in to help this cheerful, loveable man achieve the legacy he left to our city.

Tak was killed in a road accident at the age of 51. He was truly a common, Uncommon man.

SUMMER MEANT BLACKBERRIES


blackberries 2 It had been a long time since I had picked Oregon blackberries. Getting tangled in the thorny bushes and scratches on your arms and avoiding hungry bees is part of the fun of trying to fill a pail with the biggest juiciest berries you can get at. It was early in the summer, but the weather was warm, and my mother and I had decided that a blackberry pie would taste pretty good with dinner if we could find enough.

In long-ago years, during the War, I had walked along these back roads alone, picking and eating and not realizing at the time what a gift Mother Nature had given us. In those days I knew all the hidden places berries could be found, but it had been a long time, and now on this return visit, I saw that my mother had discovered new places.

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As we crossed the highway to get to the pasture we passed Uncle Jean’s old barn which was still standing, though a good winter would probably bring it down. He kept two or three milk cows there, and when I came visiting, he would sometimes take me down to milk them. The old smell was still there, and it seemed as if I could hear them shuffling around waiting to be milked. I can still hear my uncle’s toothless French accent warning me “Darlin’ stay away from behind Bessie. She kicks.”
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The pasture was close to the Rogue River, and if you stood in just the right place you could see the river and part of the rock quarry which had been owned by my Dad’s cousin. I often swam in that cold river trying to outdo my two older boy cousins who always bested me in nearly everything. They challenged me to hop on water skis for the first time one day and were flabbergasted when I actually got up and rode all the way to the dam without falling. They bet me I couldn’t do it again, but since I now had nothing to prove I didn’t take their bet, and I never got on water skis again.

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I don’t remember how many berries we picked that day, or if there ever was a berry pie made that night, but sitting in that pasture with my mother, with an errant butterfly hopping a ride on a summer wildflower, and watching a mashed potato cloud passing overhead now and then, made me tell her, “You know, I feel as if I’ve come home again.”

McDONALD U.


McDonald's_Golden_Arches_svg For many years, Dr. Advice and I were avid competitors across a tennis net. He had a vicious lob, but a lousy backhand.

tennis

A fellow member of our tennis club and a frequent partner of my husband, owned all the McDonald’s restaurants in town, and when we first met, while the men were comparing old “school ties”, he said he had gone to “McDonald U.”

My puzzled sports-minded husband said he had never heard of it, and did they have a football team. Our friend laughed and said “No, dummy, that’s for McDonald’s hamburger restaurants!”

Later when he told us that he was the creator of the Quarter-Pounder hamburger, we laughed in disbelief. figuring that since it was such a well-known icon of the restaurant chain it had been there from the beginning. Our small-town provincial minds had trouble believing that someone we actually knew was responsible for this, and it was too much to accept.

However, hanging in the restaurant was a large framed picture of him holding one of these “culinary delights”, with an appropriate credit printed at the bottom, and later we watched a television special about the restaurant chain, and there—right on the screen in front of us, was proof that Al Bernardin was indeed the inventor of the famous “Quarter-Pounder hamburger”. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Now, I don’t know if you have ever sunk a tooth into one of these hamburgers, and I am not one to ever praise or discredit another’s product, and it is better to let you decide for yourself anyway.

My experience with hamburgers started when I was a small child, who went with my grandmother to visit the “Pike” in Long Beach, California. The “Pike” was an entertainment boardwalk in the 1930’s, though I never understood why it was called a “Boardwalk”, since the walkways were cement sidewalks.

The shop we went to was named “Wimpy’s”, which was a salute to a character in the Popeye comic strip. The hamburger was called a “Wimpy burger” obviously. The word “wimp” had not yet attained the definition it received later as a derogative term among the young people for a weak, ineffectual person.

In my recollection, the hamburger cost a nickel, but it could have been a dime. A fair price in those days for a meat patty between two bun halves. I’m sure the ice cream cone which always went with it did cost a nickel!

Dr. Advice and I do love a good hamburger, though today we have been known to frequently spend $8.95 for one. But today’s burger comes with fries, and sports a leaf or two of lettuce, a slice of tomato, a pickle slice, and cheese. Mayonnaise of course, and catsup on the side. The sloppier the better, and a glass of cold beer to wash it all down.