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Posts Tagged ‘Youth’

One summer in the mid-sixties the Hippies had a rendezvous in Boulder, Colorado. Most of them hitchhiked through Himni on their way from California. There wasn’t a male in town who had hair over his ears so to us they were quite a site. Most folks just gawked, a few mothers kept their kids indoors, but life didn’t change all that much.

Butch Farley and his buddies rolled a few of them, or so we heard. They claimed to have even taken a load of Hippies into the back of Butch’s pickup truck ostensibly to convey them on towards Colorado. Instead they took them up on Pine Top and impolitely dropped them off in the middle of nowhere. Butch loved the reputation, but I don’t really know if he ever did half the stuff his minions bragged about.I was working at the local IGA that summer. My first town job. We had the usual crew; a few sweet old ladies in the bakery, a trio of young mothers running the check stands, a bunch of high school kids bagging groceries and stocking shelves. We had an ambitious out-of-towner for a manager who’s name was Lester Moore. A smooth ladies man in the meat department called Tuff. And we had a scrawney little manager wannabe running the produce department. His name was Mark Wilson, who was also from out of town.

Mark was always having problems. I think his ambition far outstripped his brains, but he was a nice kid and we all liked him. One day, for example, we called him to the front to help check groceries. He never came. We called again with the same results. When the rush was over; Les sent me over to the Pine Top Cafe’ to see if he was sitting in the coffee shop. Nope. We made a cursory search of the store with no results. We even called his house to see if he’d gone home for some reason. No luck, but his wife Leslie, hurried down to help with the search. They’d been married just a few months.I personally had checked the produce cooler a couple of times. The light switch was on the outside of the door. Both times the light was off. On my third trip around I looked in the cooler again, nothing. Just as the door was closing, though, I heard something and opened the door and turned on the light. A wall of lettuce boxes had collapsed and fallen on top of poor Mark. He’d been there under the pile in that cooler for over three hours. He was shivering uncontrollably and Leslie took him home for the rest of the day.



Another time we had a late night stocking project. Us kids went home at midnight and Les and Mark stayed behind. When we got to the store in the morning it was locked up. We rattled the door and Nellie from the bakery, who had been inside for hours making bread and doughnuts and stuff, let us in. It was dark up in the office so Sue Connor, the head checker made me go
up with her. There we found Les and Mark passed out after polishing off a bottle of Jack Daniels. As in the rest of Utah, a bottle Jack Daniels isn’t available in a grocery store and I had never even seen one. Mark had fallen asleep with his neck propped between two coke bottles in a 24 bottle crate. We let them sleep. When they finally came down about eleven, Mark couldn’t hold his head up and he stayed that way for about a week.One Friday morning we got this huge shipment of cantaloupes. Les was livid. We’d never sell that many in a million years. Desperate to prove him wrong before the cants spoiled, Mark put on his thinking cap. Where he got his stroke of genius we’ll never know.

Rarely, had the hippies actually stopped in the store, but on this particular day they were swarming the place. Oh, they bought the usual stuff and tried to look casual but it soon became apparent that it was cantaloupes they were after. Every sale included several! By Saturday night they were almost gone! We had nearly sold the entire stock in two days!

Now, in those days the most common advertising method in the grocery business was the painted sign. Poster paint on butcher paper was the medium. These were usually stapled on a wooden “A” frame out on the sidewalk for the passing traffic to see. It was two days before anyone in the store noticed what Mark had done. There on an ordinary “A” frame was this message. “NOTICE – IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DRYING THE RINDS OF OUR CATELOUPES AND SMOKING THEM – WE ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO SELL OUR MELLONS FOR ANY OTHER THAN THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE!”

Sometimes we get so desperate to find happiness, we’ll try anything.

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Lew Hopkins always rode a motorcycle. I knew nothing about them and am a little fearful of them even to this day, probably because of hanging around with Lew.

Lew lived up the Canyon on a nice little farm nestled against the Dry Fork of Omner Creek. The creek ran in the spring and early summer, but most of the year was just a strip of cobble rocks. His dad rarely got a third crop of hay because the water petered out. Funds were tight for the Hopkins’ and 12 miles to school didn’t help. Mostly Lew rode the bus. After his sophomore year though, he got a job at a Winslow’s Auto Parts and bought a Honda 350 to ride to school and work. Even then he didn’t have a lot of pocket change.

School lunch was 25 cents and often Lew would offer to do loony stunts for a quarter so he could eat with us. One time he said, “If I lay down in the middle of the crosswalk to the Seminary building and using my shoulder as a pivot, spin a full 360 in the road with all the girls watching, would that be worth a quarter?” “Sure.” Or, “If I jump off the folded up bleachers in the gym, onto the, six foot in diameter, push ball, would that be worth a quarter?” “Sure.”

Heck, now I’m going to have to tell you about that one. Lew was a big kid even then. The top of the bleachers had to be 12 feet off the floor. That’s a six foot drop to the ball. I feared the huge canvas covered ball might pop. Or what if he missed? He stood there calculating a moment and leapt. He did a seat drop and landed slightly forward of top dead center. He sank deep into the ball and then shot at a 90 degree angle out across the gym floor, where he gracefully slid to a stop against the bleachers on the other side of the gym. I gave him a dollar.

Often, after work on a Saturday, Lew would pick me up on his Honda and we’d head up the canyon for some exploring. One evening we were coming down the canyon and we spotted a doe running beside us on the opposite side of the fence that paralleled the road. Lew decided to race her. We’d nearly caught her when she decided to jump the fence and cross the road in front of us. She landed right on the front fender and was gone, as quick as that. We stopped and shook it off. Examining the bike we found deer fur jammed between the fender and the front shocks.

Early one summer Lew got word that his friend and hero Billy Wainwright had been killed in Viet Nam. They were neighbors and Billy had been the big brother Lew never had. Lew was devastated. After the funeral Billy’s mom took Lew aside. She assured him that Billy loved him. Then she explained that she wanted Lew to have Billy’s old 1938 Harley Davidson motorcycle. “Billy would have wanted it that way.” Lew was thrilled.

He worked on the old worn-out beast for a month. One afternoon I was up there helping him try to get it started. Nothing seemed to work. The Hopkins’ lane had a nice downhill slope to it. It ran along an alfalfa field to the bottom of the slope then made a hard right and went out to the main road. We decided to try to push start it. The Harley had a foot clutch on the left side and a hand shifter on the side of the fuel tank. Lew put it in second gear and depressed the clutch pedal. I started pushing him down the road. The first couple of clutch pops had no results. We still had some momentum though so we kept going. On the third attempt she fired up and the old hind wheel started churning. Lew was way too close to the corner though, and was forced to cross through the hay. Flames were shooting six feet out of the exhaust pipe and a 20 foot rooster tail of green alfalfa was spraying into the air. I laughed so hard I had to step into the bushes.

Now she was running, we had to go to town and show her off. We put our ball caps on backwards and headed down the canyon. There was no second seat so I had to sit on the back fender. We got down to the intersection of Himni Avenue and Main Street and stopped at the light. We were in the left turn lane. While we waited for the light to change Mitch Warner pulled up next to us in his rod. He rumbled the engine. Lew responded by wrapping up the Harley. Just then his foot slipped off the clutch and the bike pulled a wheelie, through the red light, right out into the intersection where it dumped me smack dab on top of the manhole cover in the middle of the street! Lew went on to careen over the curb where he finally got control in the parking lot of Hanley’s Department Store. Aside from a sore rear end and singed eyebrows I was no worse for wear, just a little smarter.

I rode home with Mitch.

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