Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Post #2000: Remembering Mike and June

I started this blog back on October 1, 2006.

I began with a post telling how Kellogg is my Paris and, earlier today, I published my 1999th post by telling about three beautiful things that occurred yesterday.

For a while now, my blog has been almost exclusively a Three Beautiful Things blog, one of many in the world of blogging.

I never intended my blog to go in such an exclusive direction, but I wanted to keep this blog going on a nearly daily basis (my success has been spotty) and for reasons I can't really explain, I ran out of steam writing the kinds of short essays I wrote for quite a while here at kellogg bloggin'. The 3BTs have kept me going.

For this 2000th post, though, I'm going to return to the kind of writing I used to do and enjoy the most.

Tomorrow morning, I'm driving up to Gladstone, OR to meet with Terry Turner and his family.  They've invited me to accompany them to Willamette National Cemetery for the burial of Terry's Mom and Dad, Mike and June Turner.  Mike died in August of 1998 and June died a little over a month ago.

First, a confession:  I have never stopped feeling bad for twice damaging property of Mike's and June's.  The first was was in the Turner living room in Smelterville when Terry and Scott and I wanted to see if we could touch our elbows to the ceiling.

I got too excited about this, and unlike Scott and Terry who lightly touched the ceiling with their elbows, I put a dent in the soft ceiling tile with mine.  Terry's explanation to Mike and June that he hit the ceiling with a ski didn't work.
I got too excited another time.  It was in the Turner camper.  Terry was driving some of us to the St. Rita's playground to play touch football and for some unknown reason, I started pounding on the glass between the camper and the driver's cab.

Scott probably remembers the stupid reason I had for wanting Terry's attention.  I thought I was being hilarious and in my high pitch of excitement I broke the glass.

I'll always feel bad for having done both things, and no matter how often I'm told the damages were minor and that I need to forget this stuff, I don't.

I still feel bad.

I probably still feel bad because Mike and June Turner were so good, not only to me, but to my parents and to Terry's friends.

Dad and Mike bowled together.  I think I remember June keeping score.  They drank at Dick and Floyd's together.  June was often there, too.  When I think of Mike and June and my dad, I think of all the stuff I love about being from Kellogg:  bullshit, Mike and Dad giving each other and everyone around them shit, laughing, arguing, making expert commentary on every sport.

It's what I learned it meant to be good friends.

To this day, it's what happens between me and my best friends:  we drink, bullshit, give each other shit, laugh, hash things out, and act like experts on sports whether we know anything or not.

Now, here it is, December 20th, Christmastime, and I'm thinking about Mike and June Turner.

They were what Christmas was all about for me, growing up in Kellogg.  Every Christmas morning, Mike and June went visiting and they always came to our house.  Dad loved having people come over on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and he had always bought an ample supply of beer and booze and was ready to mix a Tom and Jerry on the spot.

"Merry Christmas, you fat son of bitch!"

Ahh.  I knew it was really Christmas.

Mike had arrived.

Roar of laughter.

"Merry Christmas, and get your sad skinny ass in here."

Hearty handshakes.

A kiss for June.

Then Dad always performed his rabbit out of a hat trick and had drinks in their hands in a split second.

If Terry was along, Dad always said the same thing, "Well, Jesus Christ.  MARY!  We got any milk?  Ah, shit, kid, just go hang on the refrigerator door.  Jesus Christ, Mike, don't you feed that kid?"

"Hell, no, I don't feed him!  I send him over here."

"That's for goddamned sure.  MARY!  Get out the turkey!  Make the kid a sandwich. He hasn't eaten for fifteen minutes!"

More laughter.

And the bullshit continued.

Underneath the bullshit was loyalty and trust.

Mike and June trusted my mom and dad and my mom and dad trusted them with the care of their boys.

Mike and June and Terry invited me on NCAA men's basketball trips to Seattle and Los Angeles and when they went away on trips when Terry couldn't go, Terry stayed at our house.

Underneath the bullshit was generosity and care, too.

Mike and June were generous with their home.  There were nights, as my friends and I got a little older, when Mike and June provided a safe port when there'd been too much drinking or let a bunch of us take over the kitchen and dining area and do our drinking under their roof and we had a place to sleep it off.

If I'd known better, I guess I would have seen it all when I was eight years old.  Mike was the coach of one of the Farm League baseball teams.  I'll say it was the Elks team, but I don't really know.

Mike's job was delivering bread.  He delivered Bogey's (or was it Bogie's) bread.  Before a game with the Elks team, we players on other teams would trickle to the game, some on bikes, others in their family's car.

The field we played on was on the old airport and it was largely undeveloped.  The road leading to the ballfield wasn't even paved.

So while the Elks team's opponents arrived, I remember parents wondering where out opponents were.

Then, off to the east, a cloud of dust moved toward the field.  Inside the dust was Mike's Bogey Bread truck.  He pulled it up near the field, opened the back, and out filed his team, having come to play ball in the company of hamburger buns and loafs of sliced bread.

It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. 

With Mike, there was a lot of bullshit, but underneath it was generosity, loyalty, trust, and trustworthiness.

With June, there wasn't so much bullshit. She was alive with generosity, loyalty, trust, and trustworthiness.

Tomorrow, they'll be put to rest.

1 comment:

Gathering Around the Table said...

You are a class act Billy Bob!