The Adolescents

Nice Work If You Can Get It—The Dipsey Doodle—My Funny Valentine— You Must have been a Beautiful Baby—The Flat Foot Floogie—What’s New?—I’m An Old Cowhand—Change Partners and Dance With Me—Two Sleepy People—Music,Maestro, Please. We worked our way through all of them—and then some.


Cy Nims was in love. He’d met a Grant High School beauty named Crystal Ayers during spring term. Every night or two, he scrawled a postcard to her, while I curled up close to the fire and squinted at one of the two paperbacks I’d tucked into my duffel bag. One was Jack London’s White Fang, The other, I don’t remember. Five years after that summer on the road, smack in the middle of World War II, Cy married Crystal Ayers—a joyful marriage that has lasted more than fifty-five years.


One Saturday night, we hitched a ride into Hood River to look around. We weren’t in town more than twenty minutes before two nondescript local girls picked us up in some kind of jazzed-up cabriolet. They said they were on their way to a swinging dance on the waterfront. A bit of double talk and some kidding around on both sides resulted in their taking us to the dance and paying our way. The dance was held on the top deck of a decorated old barge anchored on the river, where a raggle-taggle Hood River band tried in vain all evening long to stay on the beat.

As closing time approached, the girls began talking about going out for something to eat. Cy and I had about two-bits in our jeans, between us, We were embarrassed, but too proud to admit it.

That’s when we went to the men’s room and never came back. We ditched the girls and headed back to the campsite.

As I think back now on our behavior, it was shameful. Opprobrious!


When the Hood River job closed down, we drifted on to The Dalles, where the Columbia River rumbles through a narrow canyon on its way to the Pacific, It was here the ruts of the Oregon Trail came to a complete stop—blocked by the rugged Cascade Mountains. In the early years of the trail, before discovery of the Barlow Pass around ML Hood, there was only one solution. The emigrants floated their covered wagons down the Columbia River. Because of the swirling rapids, the trip down river was especially treacherous. A risky business.

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