Friday, June 25, 2010

Sibling Assignment #131: Baugh/West Reunion in Orofino

I assigned this sibling assignment and it's simple. Over the 9th of July weekend, my sisters and I will join up with our mother and her sister and brother and a whole bunch of cousins for a reunion in Orofino, Idaho. I asked my sisters to respond to this question:
What are you looking forward to when we have our reunion in Orofino?
Silver Valley Girl looks forward to stories, here, and InlandEmpireGirl reflects on family and food, here.

Mom grew up in Orofino. Every summer, we vacationed in Orofino, usually in August, as I remember, and one summer, during the 1960 Bunker Hill strike, we lived in Orofino. I think Dad tended bar that summer for Norm Erbst for some summer income. Maybe he did other things, too. I don't know how many weeks we stayed that summer.

It was the summer Nipper had to be put down for biting Lindy Carr. If he did. It was after he'd been hit by a vehicle and had a gash in his side. I sat with Nipper in the afternoon in Grandma's back garage until Dad took him to the vet. I sprayed Bactine on his cut. I didn't want him to go to that vet.

When I was a kid, I could never quite figure out what made Orofino so different than Kellogg.

It was hotter than Kellogg.

But it was something else.

Now, I know.

It's fresh in Orofino. The air is clean and fresh, the Clearwater River runs clean. Grandma West's garden's soil was black and fertile and her flowers and bushes smelled good. Kellogg's air soured my senses. Orofino's sweetened them. We played hide and seek with the Stanley kids and when we ran to home base, our chests didn't burn.

I look forward to smelling Orofino again, to enjoying its freshness.

But, there's more.

This is harder to write. I hope to make sense.

So, please be patient.

Going to Orofino forces a reckoning upon me. I have to take account of my life and what I do and what I don't do, who I am and who I'm not.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to be different, different than many of Kellogg friends and different than my cousins who live in Orofino, or, sadly, in cousin John's case, who recently died in Orofino.

I don't know how to ride a motorcycle.

I have operated a four-wheeler once, up at Scott's place on The Rock near State Line.

I haven't shot any kind of firearm since I took the rifle safety course in junior high.

I tried running a chain saw once. Hal took it away from me out of fear that I would turn my thigh into ground beef.

Needless to say, I don't hunt.

I don't fish.

I hardly ever go camping.

When I think of all the things that mark so many North Idahoans as North Idahoans, I look at myself and think, I may as well be an English teacher at a community college in Eugene, Oregon.

I unravel metaphors, distinguish semi-colons from colons, repair comma splices, go to meetings where discussion centers around truncated outcomes, unit plans, essential functions, mission statements, and assessment of learning. Assessment of learning is summed up in this Venn diagram:
It makes me think of when Gulf Resources bought out the Bunker Hill Company and began taking measures to run things more efficiently and my dad quit his salaried job as a planner and then a foreman because he was under pressure to see that maintenance jobs were completed according to a spread sheet in line with efficiency forecasts. Being a foreman no longer meant working with other men. It meant reading efficiency formulas. It meant (somehow) enforcing them. It was the rule of the slide rule. He quit. He joined the bull gang, the lowest paying hourly job at the Zinc Plant. He became the labor equivalent of a ditch digger. He was never happier.

Going to Orofino and reuniting with my mother and aunt and uncle and siblings and nieces and cousins makes me step back because I am guaranteed a weekend of things being real.

No jargon. No empty phrases and made up words. No truncated outcomes or culture of evidence:

"Those pies are beautiful, Mary. You ready to ride the four-wheeler? You can give us all the Queen of the Clearwater County Fair wave!"

"Mark, could you get me another beer while yer up? Yeah, a Miller's fine...or a Busch...don't matter."

"Lura, did you get Derek's kid out there to shoot yet? Maybe you oughta take Billy, too!"

"Man, could you believe Cyndi on that Open the Vault machine! She hit five grannies with an eighty cent bet. What did that pay out? Two hundred bucks? How much was it Cyndi?"

"You still drivin' that crappy, Honda, Bill? Why don't you at least buy a car with A/C?"

"Sure miss John."

"I do love me some turkey on the BBQ."

"Everett, will you please say a word of grace?"

When the Baugh/West family gets together and things are real, when we eat, grieve, hug, drink, gamble, scramble on four-wheelers, shoot off a few rounds, laugh, tell stories, go up to Lila's, go up to Peck, run out of time, promise to do it again next year, it doesn't matter that I'm a little different, that I took a different path.

Still, I think about it, being different.

But once I hear some stories, have a couple of beers, chow down on some pot luck, and everyone gets their laugh on, it's not about being different or the same or any of that stuff.

It's about love.


Lura said...

Ahhh...The reunion hootenanny (love that word for it) is taking shape or maybe a life of its own. I'll load a rifle , gas up the 4-wheeler and since this is Idaho, I'll peel some potatoes. Bring your hat. The casino hss the Open the Vault machine on the no-smoke side. I couldn't help wondering what your dad would have said about the diagram you slapped in the middle of your post. "Bill, what's with that #%&^(@# piece of crap? Whatzit mean, anyways?
Cuz Lura

raymond pert said...

Right. Right. A hat. My collection has run low...I gotta fix that...maybe I'll buzz over to Florence and buy a cap representing my home field casino.

I'm really glad to know the Open the Vault machine is still over on the no-smoke side. The casino in Florence doesn't have that machine and I miss it. I've had some really great times playing it.

I've had a blog post running through my head about what Dad has missed since he died in 1996. There's the historical stuff (like 9/11), the really major stuff (Boston wins the World Series), and then there's all the crap, crap like the Venn Diagram.

I often find myself muttering about stuff like that diagram, "Dad. I miss you. I wish you were still here. But, you know what? I'm happy you missed this!"

inlandempiregirl said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. You captured what I believe is in the minds and hearts of many of us as we prepare to converge on Orofino.