The Museum Piece
The clerk at Massey's Grocery Store looked down on my curly haired head.
Like most five year old boys, I wasn't tall enough to see anything but the
front of the counter, but I could see the shiny dime he was holding out to
me. I took it, and knew exactly what to do. When I went shopping with my
mother and baby brother I had often seen adults go to a mysterious machine
on the wall and put coins into it. From a slot in the bottom they retrieved
some unknown prize and went on their way.
I rushed over and pushed a chair up to the wall. I climbed up and put my
dime into a slot—on a stamp machine.
Fortunately my mother retrieved the gift by hitting the coin return button
and guided me to the front of the store. There she put me on Sandy, a coin
operated rocking horse. She placed my dime in the slot and I took my first
of many rides on the fiberglass steed.
Even when I outgrew kid rides there was something special about seeing that
weathered horse and remembering my first ride, a gift from a kindly checkout
clerk. When Massey’s closed their doors and Sandy disappeared it was as if
one small anchor of my childhood broke its chain and vanished into the
Decades later the Massey's Grocery building passed through a life as a
local family fun center and was finally remodeled into the Auburn Justice
Center. Even though it was no longer the grocery store of my childhood it
was good to see the structure and its distinctive fin-like marquee still in
use. It was an Auburn icon and a reminder of my childhood.
But decades after Massey's and Sandy vanished I was visiting the White
River Valley Museum with my wife. As I was browsing the exhibits I pointed
out pictures of Northern Pacific railroad workers from the first half of the
twentieth century. Although I couldn’t spot my Great-Grandfather, who was an
engineer in that era, I did locate the bag of one conductor whom I knew had
worked with him.
Then in a nearby exhibit I spotted a familiar fiberglass shape. It was a
battered, dime operated, electric horse, much like my favorite steed that
stood in front of Massey’s Grocery for so many years. When I looked at the
plaque I was shocked to see that it was Sandy—the very same Sandy that I had
first ridden as a five year old boy.
A lasting memory of my Auburn childhood still
lives, but now as a silent museum piece
Farmers Market exercise:
write an ode
to a vegetable
but not the
of this poem
leafy heads in
need of a trim
to satisfy my
tulips cup the
rows on rows
but not in
the vegetable I
at all the
Two Days To Remember in
This story is about a sad day, June 18, 1997, when
we lost beloved wife, Lura, and mother of our six children. The happy day
was about September 10th, 1999, when I decided to go for a hike
with several dedicated Auburn Senior Activity Center (ASAC) hikers along
with bus driver/activities director Radine. I had crawled into a shell of
self pity and a lack of self worth during the 2 year interim. This change
in personality was something new for this optimistic, positive thinking
and relatively happy person. It became time to take a hike and get my
life back together.
My first hike with ASAC on or about September 10th,
1999, to Packwood, Washington, turned my life around. I met many
first-class fellow senior citizens who showed me the way to follow a
worthwhile program that changed my life at age 75.
These folks were all about having fun, sharing ache
and pain stories in their lives, making friends, living the good life as
older Americans and welcoming a newbie like myself with open arms. I soon
learned that hugs are a normal form of greeting among the senior hikers.
I hate to brag, but some of the senior ladies now rate me as one of the
top huggers at the Auburn Senior Center. The men there disagree, of
course, but then who cares about what the men think?
Many life-changing events over the past thirteen
years of ASAC membership and trail hiking have left me with many wonderful
memories: the beauty of nature and Mount Rainier as seen from the
close-up hiking trails; an occasional deer doe with her fawn(s) strolling
leisurely past the hikers; the marmots on the Paradise trails giving
trespassers a shrill warning whistle when we near their homes among the
rocks; the Multnomah and Silver Falls of Oregon; the camaraderie of our
over-night hikers and the fun of sharing group housing over my past
thirteen years—(Leavenworth I is my all-time favorite hike for laughs when
four veteran hikers got lost on the Lake Valhalla trail near Stevens pass,
finding themselves on the wrong trail and headed for either Canada or
Mexico instead of the downward trail to the trailhead—they later returned
safely as we all shared many hysterical laughs as we told and re-told the
many funny things that happened); the exercise fitness program at ASAC;
two special ladies who have inspired me to be the best that I can be in
the fields of music, hiking, fitness, fun, being positive about life, etc.
A new life begins when we formally retire at age 65
or whenever. It becomes time to begin to enjoy the fun of senior living.
Life can be a blast—not a beginning of the end but rather the end of the
beginning phase of our lives. Eliminate all stressful problems.
Get involved in fun stuff. Bring happiness to
others. We are all but a grain of sand
in the desert eons of eternity. Make your lives more
worthwhile in giving back energies that have eluded you over younger
Life can be more beautiful than ever. You d’man,
you d,woman. Give senior life a happy shot in the arm. Earth is a
beautiful planet, a beautiful life as an American, and as Louie Armstrong
would say—“It’s a beautiful world”.