On the Horizon

At the outset, I didn’t like Lew. He had thin, rather cruel lips and the squinty, flat blue eyes of a gunner looking for trouble. But he surprised me. He worked hard and he worked fast. And I surprised him when he saw that I could keep up with him.

We never became great friends, but we became known as a pair of good, dependable shipfitters.


On the swing shift, I punched in at four-thirty in the afternoon and worked until eleven-thirty at night. Then the graveyard shift took over. Willamette Iron & Steel was an around-the-clock operation.

Sometimes after work I would join Lew for a couple of midnight beers at Bernie’s Place, a workingman’s tavern within hollering distance of the shipyard’s front gates.

In the back room at Bernie’s, there seemed to be a continuous, poker game underway. The place was a gritty hangout for shipyard workers. When we walked in, sweaty and grimy from hammering steel for seven hours, we were surrounded by guys we knew. And the bartender would shove a bottle of beer in front of me without giving it a second thought.

One night, Lew revealed his age—thirty-one. He told me that he had a wife down in Mobile. But he wasn’t going back.

One time only, I took an open seat in the late night poker game for an hour or two. It was an expensive lesson on when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

Damn, that was a long time ago.


In late summer that year, the dedicated work ethic and ballet beginnings of Mary Bovee paid off for her, and for her supportive parents, at the Pacific Northwest Figure Skating Championships in Seattle. Tiny, delicate and athletic, her tight spins and flawless jumps were a tour de force in the final night’s free style performance. But in the eyes of the five judges, it was her artistry and grace that counted most.

According to the reports, she showed “a quality of expression rarely seen in young teens.”

At the age of fifteen, Mary Bovee was crowned Pacific Northwest Junior Figure Skating Champion.


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