This account of my life is in no way intended to insult, berate or denigrate anyone at all. It is an attempt by me to tell a story, to possibly resolve issues in my own life and lend a bit of inspiration to others who may have similar issues in their lives, to find solutions for their problems as well.
Seattle to Everett. 1980 to 2001.
Ok. So now I was done with ‘hometown’ and really ready to start a new life. Being bullied had been behind me for many years now. Life was pretty much normal. Pretty much.
It was tax time, still living in Aberdeen, and I had a flat $500 coming. There wasn’t much work in Aberdeen over the preceding years and it was getting worse. I knew that if I didn’t make the move now, I never would. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. I left my family behind, all of my schools, a lifetime history of friends, a band I loved playing music with. A complete life and history. So, I asked my brother if I could borrow $500 dollars from him under the condition that I have my tax return delivered to his house and he bring it to me in Seattle when it shows up. I’d cash it and give him the cash then. He said that would be fine. He gave me the cash, so I found a car to buy. The Plymouth to the left. I paid $200 for it. As I described in the end of Part One, I had set up a deal with my parents. I called them, told them I was on the road. “Fine. Sounds like a good plan. See you when you get here.”
I stuck the key in the dash, drums in the back seat and everything else in the trunk. Turned the key and moved on from March 3, 1981. Got to Seattle, greeted at the door by Dad and Trish. Settled in and started looking in the phonebook for glass shop listings. Trish, step-mother, had told me I wouldn’t be able to bring Sammy, my purebred American Buff Cocker Spaniel with me, but Samantha was not going to be left behind. She had spent at least three years with me every single minute, and she was not going to be left behind. I had to keep her in the car. What was I thinking? I really should have seen the flag and set up a different arrangement to move to instead of going to “Dad and Mom’s” house. I was so glad to have left years before, why return? I don’t really know. It’s funny that people who are willing to help you any way they can really aren’t willing to help you anyway they can. Had I been in their situation, realizing it was very temporary, I would have actually helped in any way I could. Whatever it took. Honestly, I am like that regardless of this story.
So, I’m canvassing the city, hitting every glass shop I can find. Not getting any results. Nada. Day after day. About a week into it, I get up, take my shower, eat my toast, drink my coffee. Grab my keys and stack of resume’s and completed applications from the day or two before, head up the stairs to the car. When I get there, the two passenger side doors are open and the trunk is open. All of the glazing tools I had brought from Aberdeen with me were gone. Gone. I could have stayed in Aberdeen and saved money. I had never installed a stereo.
I didn’t file a police report. Didn’t seem to be a great idea. New kid in town, no idea of what to do, destitute now. I know, it should have been reported, but I didn’t need to go through all of that, knowing I would never see those tools again, no matter how long it took to retrieve them or what I paid for them. Heart broken. I wasn’t going to get the break I got from Jack, in Aberdeen, here in Seattle. Seattle is not warm and fuzzy for locals. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had told Dad and Trish that I could be out within a month. Boy, that looked closer than ever now. Talk about running out of time. I never did receive a response from any of the shops I contacted, but had I, I would have been SOL. Plenty of skill but no tools. They surely weren’t going to help me the way Jack Dominic did at Jack’s Glass. Back to square one.
Well, I hit the highway, looking for “Help Wanted” signs, north, south, east, west. I had no time to waste. I went north, back seat piled with phone books at the hand. I saw a sign in a Winchell’s Donuts shop. I figured, “What the hell. I need to work.” I parked. Straightened my tie and pushed the door open. To my surprise, there was a face I knew. What? Eileen Easter standing there, and she was the manager. We traded smiles. Shook hands, then hugged. Why? Well, back in Aberdeen, there was a ‘head shop’ called “The Freaque Boutique” on the corner of South Heron and East H Streets. Just before you turn right/south and head up the Chehalis River bridge to south Aberdeen. I had, back in the day mind you, bought plenty of ‘toys’ from Eileen. Bongs, etc. We actually knew each other as owner/customer. We had never met outside of her store.
Anyway, she said, “When can you start?” I said, “When can I start?” She told me “Tomorrow.” I said, “You got a deal.” I was seeing the end of the tunnel again. Let me be clear here. I would be flipping donuts, not installing glass in windows. So, I went back to the house, told dad and Trish all of what had happened that day. They were sad but happy for me. Looking back today, probably more like relieved that things weren’t going to get prolonged and nasty. I had no intention of spending more time than I needed to get out on my own and become stable.
So, I went to work making donuts. Night shift. The very first time I had ever worked nights. It was tough at first, but it got easier. I don’t remember the location, but it was up in north Seattle. For a bit I was working there while living on Perkins Lane. Then I got a call and my father told me he could get me closer to downtown working in a pizza shop. I took the job. It was around a month after taking the job at Winchell’s. It was more of a retreat than a change of jobs. Much more enjoyable, close to the Seattle Center, lots of activity and always busy. I made friends with Mike Hasme who was working at Tony’s Italian Restaurant for Bill Forte, the owner and dad’s drinking buddy. My father had slipped me in. It was a well appreciated favor from him. The shop was on the corner of 1st Ave. N and John St. It is now a Thai restaurant.
Well, Mike and I got along famously. We took an apartment together just a half block from Tony’s on the same side of the street. The Fionia Apartments. It was a good start for me. For the first time in my life I was completely and totally on my own. I was loving this. Funny thing, I was 28 years old. I spent way too many years in Aberdeen. So, things were shaping up.
Bill Forte, Tony’s owner was a real piece of work. Married to a wonderful woman, but getting “on the side” action down in the basement office from “Boomer” the waitress. I don’t know why men get married then act like they aren’t. What a waste of time for everyone. Boomer was cool and we all got along with her. She could deliver a good joke as well as take one. Yeah, a good sport.
Mike and I were great buds. We went pretty much everywhere together. Partied nearly every night. He always knew where to party. It was a kick. I was still driving my Steg, but we usually rode in his boat so I normally parked it in front of the Fionia and rode with him. I think it was a Buick. Huge, comfy car. Green. Gas was cheap back then and Ronny was running the country, kind of. Everyone hates whatever man serves as president, so, ‘kind of.’ At the time, I didn’t concern myself with political matters. I should have been concerned, though.
Ok, now I met a woman. I think Trish, my step mother, may have set it up. Vicki, me, dad and Trish, went out on a blind date, bowling. Vicki and I hit it off. It wasn’t as if there was a chorus line to pick from, but it was fun to be with someone agreeable. We dated for a year I think. Not really much exciting ever happened. I look back now and Vicki is not someone I would be interested in at all. A good person but just a bit too gossipy.
At Tony’s, Bill would open, get things rolling then leave for his morning cocktail. Stop by at lunch to complain about whatever he could find. Leave, hit the bar again, then back for the evening rant. He always was there at closing because he didn’t trust anyone on the planet at all, least of all to close the shop. Eventually, I left Tony’s. Bill was just too much to deal with on a daily schedule. I walked up the hill, actually walked three blocks up the hill to the Pacific Science Center and applied for a job. I had nothing to lose. They hired me, gave me a broom, a vacuum cleaner and four hours a day, five days a week to use them. I did well. Free passes to the laser Pink Floyd shows for myself and any guest as well as keys to all doors in the entire compound. The laser shows were awesome. They went on for years and were a big nightly draw for the PSC.
Granted, I was still working close to home which was close to downtown, but I really wanted to work 40 hours a week. I was informed that the PSC job would be 20 hours a week when I interviewed but took it anyway with plans to grab the next 40 hrs./5 days a week job that I liked when it came along. Eventually I went looking for work in the afternoon. By this time, Mike and I had moved out of the Fiona.
I rifled the want ads in the Seattle Times and found a job selling rodeo tickets over the phone. Yeah, I was “that guy.” At the time, I really had no idea of the reputation or job of a telemarketer. A small town kid with a small town ideals system. I met a guitarist while at this job. Jerome was his name. I asked if he would like to just jam. “Yep.”
I was living in Bellevue, WA. Rooming with a friend who had also moved from Aberdeen. I don’t remember how we got back in touch with each other, but we ended up rooming together. I set my kit up, practiced when I could and slept when I was tired. I was either on a bus, pushing a broom, on a phone, on a bus or sleeping. Not much free time considering that my day was in segments. On a bus for an hour, at work for four hours, waiting four hours, working four hours again, wait an hour for the bus, on the bus for an hour then rest up to do it again. A 14 hour day for eight hours of work.
Well, Jerome and I jammed when we could, usually on the weekends. It was fun, we worked on Van Halen tunes, Scorpions tunes, UFO tunes, etc. I don’t remember if we ever gigged, but we enjoyed each other’s company, doobs and jamming together. However, this routine got the best of me after a while. I moved back to Seattle and took an apartment above the Cascadia Tavern on the Western Ave. side off of 1 St. Ave.
One day, Jerome asked me to go to a party with him above Golden Gardens in Seattle, actually, it’s above Shilshole Bay, but Golden Gardens is the landmark. His girlfriend, Sandy Duncan, was the host and she had invited her sister, Edie (pronounced E-D.) I think it was actually a blind date set-up, but I saw no reason not to. At the time, I was fresh out of Small-town, as I mentioned, so ‘party’ was a hot button for me. I’m in. I was also single.
Well, we all got to the house, bowed, curtsied, touched cheeks and shook hands. Introduced ourselves and took a seat on the floor around a makeshift table. Rolled a couple, drank a few, laughed a lot. I found Edie to be fascinating, Sandy funny and Jerome was my pal to begin with. This was nice. Very nice. We sat and talked about everything. Sports, music, politics sort of, religion, spirituality and life. Everyone was quite comfortable with each other. I ended up staying the night, Edie being my gracious host. We accepted each others intimacies.
During this time, I had been waiting for a settlement from a pedestrian-vehicle accident I was in. I was the pedestrian. The driver’s insurance company paid my medical fees and awarded me $5,000+ in the end. I moved in with Edie and Sandy. I was now back to one job, that being at the Science Center. Edie owned a nice Camaro and we shuttled all over town and to work in it. A hot-rod of a sort. Me, Edie and my dog Samantha.
This worked well for a few months, but nothing lasts forever. Eventually, Sandy moved out, Edie and I remained. One day Edie got a phone call from home, Billings, and in a week or so flew back to Billings to visit her parents. No big. She returned, we decided to move closer to downtown so we located a basement apartment in West Woodland off of 6th Ave. NW at NW 60th St. It was a nice place. I could play music in a small laundry room with a friend, Matt Dentino.
Edie and I were doing well, I was still working for the Science Center.
We used to go downtown and visit the homeless people who didn’t want to come out in the light. Under the Freeway facing Elliot Bay was one of the wonderful spots we used to visit. We’d sit and watch the boats in the water, the traffic above making a whoosh noise. We would talk about being happy even if you weren’t happy. Just because you aren’t happy doesn’t mean you can’t be. We would drive down to Golden Gardens with my Cocker Spaniel, Samantha, and let her chase the seagulls and anything that even slightly moved. We’d take her to the Seattle Center and she would chase ducks in the ponds of the fountain sculptures. The Chittenden Locks was nice as well. Wine, crackers and cheese as we sat all day and watched the boats in the slip going in and out, to and from Lake Union. Life was good. Again, not everything endures forever.
Edie had originally moved to Seattle, from Bozeman, MT., to attend college. The University of Washington was her choice. Of course, she was in college and I was a fairly loose and vulgar musician. We had fun, to say the least, during our time together. We did love each other.
Gradually, as I used to do, I took the situation for granted. I became arrogant, possessive, a typical self-centered male. My attitude created a problem for us. I became jealous of Edie’s friends, I wanted things run my way, on and on. Yes, it created a problem. Eventually, she went back to Montana to live and finish school, I think. I know today she is a Chemistry Teacher with a B.S. She has done what she set out to do. I am very happy for her.
I stayed in the apartment for two more months, trying to make my way through The Art Institute of Seattle. I failed at that. Losing Edie knocked the wind out of me. First because I cared deeply for her, I wanted to spend years, possibly, my life with her, secondly, it forced me to look at myself and my failure at being a man a woman could care for. Yes, I lost my grip. I became disinterested in everything.
One day I somehow discovered another local studio called Starship Studios at E. Marginal Way and Spokane Street. I walked into the office to see what was going on and to look for a bulletin board with any “Drummer Needed” postings. Stacy Sidener was the lessor for the studio, not the owner, but I talked to her and she said that since I was a new guy with no place to practice, I could setup and practice in one of the small rooms off of the south hall way on the right side. So I did. I got myself a head set and a small walkman rig and would play by myself to my tapes for hours. I wanted to play so badly as well as keep my ‘chops’ up. Incidentally, Queensryche was rehearsing right across the hall from me and I got to sit in their studio as they rehearsed now and then. They hadn’t even gotten picked up at this time, and I just knew them as a local band. Really loud. REALLY LOUD. One day Stacy told me there was going to be a jam session in a day or two and that I would be welcome to set up and play. I did so and met some people and had a good time. A day or two later, upon returning to see if there were any new postings, I ran into the guitarist/keys from the jam session, Eric Jolson. He asked me if I wanted to join a band that he was putting together. He said he was going to be doing old classic rock and that there would be sets put together of individual artists. A Doors set, an Elvis set, a Jimi set, Jefferson Airplane, ’50s, etc. I was in. Sounded good.
So I was the drummer for ‘Bac Trak.’ Classic rock, tunes as close to the original as possible. We got a manager and eventually played all over the Seattle area. Bremerton, a ferry ride across the Sound, we even drove from Seattle to the Northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State to the Makah Indian Reservation for a New Year gig, ’80/’81. We hit a huge snow storm on the way. Neah Bay was our destination. We played two nights. Wednesday and Thursday nights. The Makah Indians treated us with respect and dignity, and partied our butts off for us. I’ll never forget the huge lady plopping down on Tim’s lap and telling him, “I like you.” The look on his face was priceless. Finally, internal stress caused us all to break up. But it was certainly fun while it lasted, which was about a year and a half.
So, again, job hunting. I hit Ivar’s Fish Bar on the waterfront by the ferry terminal. They hired me. I worked for them for three years. Secured an apartment on Cedar St. at Western Ave. This apartment was just on the other end of a tavern. The Cascadia. Dive, hole in the wall, no rules. Pay as you drink. No live music.
While I was at Ivar’s I was moved to kitchen manager from stocking the warehouse and selling fish. I ran the short order kitchen for three years. Passed all of the inspections from the health department with 98 pts. and higher, regularly. Worked with some great people.
Now for the part of this story that led me to the most intense bit of training I have ever experienced in my life.
Back in my Cascadia days, when I was employed at the Pacific Science Center (after Tony’s Italian Restaurant) I met many people in the area of Belltown and lower Queen Anne. Two boroughs of Seattle just north of the downtown business district. There were two ladies who were close friends, Pam and Pauline. I kind of liked Pauline. We joked around, drank beer, laughed. Never dated. I wasn’t sure where she lived at the time, but she spent quite a bit of time in Belltown. Laughed loudly all the time. All the time. Spent quite a bit of time drinking, actually, between the Cascadia, the Footlight Tavern, which was three blocks north, across the street from Tony’s, The Malamute Tavern, on the same block as Tony’s, across from the Arkona Apts. on 1st North. Then more bars and taverns further up on Queen Anne Hill. Yeah, bunch of lushes, us. Oh well.
Well, one day, the Cascadia Tavern burned to the ground. The apartments above it went as well. By this time I was driving taxi for Broadway Cab, yep, a cab hack, “Cabbie,” and living on the west end of the block from the Cascadia. I made good money but ended up spending most of it on things I should have stayed away from. One night, I took a bell, it was actually a “bingo,” a person on a corner waving their arm, but sent over the air, that no one would take it because it was way up on Cherry St. A really bad neighborhood. I was bored, it was 2 a.m. in the morning. I took the “bingo.” I was robbed for $50 at gunpoint. I didn’t see the gun, but one does not ask for credentials in such a situation. I quit driving the next day. Didn’t want to be unemployed again, but I rather like breathing air.
Things get foggy here, so I’m going to get to the point.
I ran into Pauline while visiting the Eastlake Tavern up on Eastlake Ave. at Lakeview Boulevard East one night. She was doing her “bender” act, but it seemed like the time to move on her. When I look back today, ‘what was I thinking?’ She took me home. Bump, bump. She asked me if I wanted to move in. Why did I say “Yes?” No clue, but I did. I moved in with her and her two daughters and son, whose father’s she had never married. One father, Layne’s dad, I had played music with years earlier. That may be another place I saw Pauline before. Hmm…?
She told me that if I wanted to stay I could do so, without paying for it, if I helped around the house and kept her happy, and ran the three kids to and from school and anywhere else they needed to go. I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. Sounds too good to be true? Absolutely, it was, but there was a lot that I learned, and still use in my life today, that came out of this chaotic situation.
Part Three contains the impetus for writing this four part story.