The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Archive for February, 2015

The Place for Me

Colfax, Washington:

In the wee, pre-dawn hours the lights of Main Street shine on the wet pavement from last night’s storm, the twin rows of darkened brick buildings, and little else. After 5 blocks, one light shines from a window, and a cluster of pickups line up, parallel parked in front of a glowing sign.  Clusters of Pickups at this early hour in a small town like this can only mean one thing.
This is the place for me.
Breakfast smells float out the door to greet me as I open the door.  The old men stop for a moment to inspect the outsider, and shrug off the intrusion.  The stocky waiter slides a cup of coffee into the table where I’ll be sitting once I get my gear off.  The chill that surrounds me swirls, catches his attention, and he asks me where I’m going, what I’m doing out so early.  His voice is the voice of a man who’s been out there, someone who can tell a fake answer from a real one.
My name this morning is “bud”.  Not “Hon”, or “Sweetie”.  Just “Bud”.  It’s a welcome change from the truck stop waitresses jonesing  for a a bigger tip.  He speaks like a man who is serving you from his own personal grill, who won’t accept anything less than you leaving full, satisfied, and adequately caffeinated.
Jackson Brown comes on the radio, and in the back, he belts out the lyrics, drowning out the small-town blather of the old men.  It was to be only a short  stop, coffee and a quick basic breakfast, and as I suit up, he’s moved on to singing with REO Speedwagon.  It’s gonna stick with me for a few miles longer than the breakfast itself, I’m afraid.
The light of day is on the street outside now, and I’m itching for the wind.  But I hope places like this never disappear.  This – in between the miles of open farmland, mountains, plains, and River roads – this place where I take brief respite from the Open Road, this is the place for me.

Grown on Radio






I read this morning the news that Radio Shack has gone Bankrupt.

I guess no one really knows exactly what that will mean for their own personal favorite Radio Shack. But I recall mine. globe radio

It was 1970. Somewhere in the Inland Empire, my mom took me on my first Radio Shack visit. I don’t remember why we were there to begin with. And I don’t know what we bought – except for one thing: A bright red Panasonic “Globe” radio . And even though it was softball-sized, it came with a keychain.

Fast-forward a few months. It was summer of 1970. In the Secret World beneath the covers of my bed, I listened to my radio with the ear piece in so as not to alert my parents that I was still awake. I worked the tuning dial to get the best reception while the ball was out of bounds. I strained through the static, my heart stopping as Walt Frazier passed in, and Dave DeBusschere sank a shot from…I didn’t know where. I didn’t care where. I was crushed.

But the announcer wasn’t done, and neither was Jerry West. Words jumped out at me from the radio:
“three seconds”
“two seconds”
“one second”
I thought all was lost. Who had the ball? Where were they? Was anyone doing anything?

and then somehow, “West throws it up…” came through my ear-piece, and in that instant I thought “Maybe”. Maybe something could happen. If anyone could make “maybe” happen, it would be Jerry West.

And for an agonizing second, the announcer said nothing. The crowd noise continued as fervently as it had been. I wanted to know, I NEEDED to know.

In the end, it didn’t matter. Even though his shot tied the game and sent it to overtime, the Lakers failed to capitalize on the miraculous shot. But I didn’t get to hear about their loss until the next day, however, because my shout of triumph betrayed me, and the radio was confiscated for the night. Regardless, the excitement of that night etched in me a deep respect for the power that Radio Shack could bring me. There was magic in that store.

Until the advent of Youtube, I had never seen the shot, it only lived in video in my imagination. And until then, seeing that old, grainy film clip of all the other fans cheering, I believed that a little boy under the covers wishing with all his might was all that mattered.

Then again…maybe it did.