This morning when I woke up I was feeling pretty good, all things being equal. For some reason as I lay there I kept remembering Lorraine’s father coming by my apartment and picking me up so I could help him clean a couple of houses. Eric was a pretty cool guy.
One of the things I remember about him was when he greeted me he always said, “Another day in Paradise.” As I sat down surrounded by cleaning equipment, all I wanted was a cup of coffee, but I wouldn’t ask because Eric was a hardworking guy, he didn’t have time to sit around drinking a cup of coffee.
Eric had migrated to the Salinas Valley from the Cantone Ticino area in Switzerland because his wife’s family moved to America and she missed them. So he gave up a great paying job and everything he knew to come to the USA.
I was helping him this morning because I needed two things. One was I needed some money, which would be forthcoming once the duties of the day were completed, and I also wanted to show him that I was a hard worker. I had returned from Alaska, where I went to hide for a while and get my head on straight.
Bad things happen to bad people, but in my case it was bad things were happening to good people. I had run away from all responsibility and moved in with my brother, who had a truck rental company. He lived in a very small town called Dillingham and kept rental pickups running for the folks that flew up to Alaska to fish.
I would like to tell you that he was the king of rental trucks, but that wouldn’t be true. What my brother did was buy any pickup that had been left by the side of the road because there were no auto repair shops in Dillingham.
Roger, my brother, was the owner of three or four repair shops over in the San Joaquin Valley. He knew how to make even the most beat-up pickup run as if it were new. Many times folks would move to Alaska and buy any old pickup they could find. Then, they would take it to Roger to fix so they were road worthy and he would be given title when the original owner came back down to the lower 48. I have to tell you that if you haven’t been to our 50th state, you have missed some of the most beautiful country there is.
I had flown Lorraine up to Dillingham because I missed her and I wanted her to see what it was like up there because I was contemplating moving in with my brother and staying. It may be the most beautiful state, but it is also a pretty tough place to live.
I had rented a plane from the local taxi company, yes it was a taxi company, but they had no cars. If you wanted to go somewhere, you had to fly to go there, so there were always three or four planes ready to fly.
I thought it would be cool to show her the beauty of the state. That was my first mistake. She was not used to flying where they have thermals that throw you around inside the plane, and I wanted to show her the beautiful lakes that are prevalent in the area. When she started getting a little green from looking out the window, we decided that she had seen all we needed to convince her to move up there with me. She was really great about it, but I could see she wanted some Mother Earth under her feet.
When we got back to the airport, I thought I would show her the night life that was available, so we got in the pickup I was driving and started to hit the bars. She asked where we were going and I told her we would be visiting the night life of Dillingham.
The first place we went was named the Airport Lounge, but everyone just called it A-Bar. After getting her color back in her face, we had a couple pops and headed to the next place that stayed open after dark. That place was called Bar-B. Oh yes! They had legal names, but for some reason no one called them anything but Bar-A, Bar-B, Bar-C and The Hotel.
The reason they called it The Hotel is because it was a bar and restaurant inside the reception area of a beautiful hotel. It was one of the only places in town (I probably shouldn’t call it a town, village might be better) where you could get served a very good meal. Lorraine was starting to loosen up a little, so we all ordered prime rib.
It was frozen when it was put into the oven and still frozen when it reached our table. We had met a couple of permanent inhabitants that were fun, so we weren’t particularly hungry but still, frozen prime rib is pretty fancy for Dillingham. One of the guys that was sharing our table was named Bo. That’s all, just Bo. He even had an Alaska driver’s license with that name on it. He was about 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighed over 300 pounds. He ate the rib even though it was still a little crunchy.
Lorraine had already found out that every person she met were really nice people. So we went back to ordering our libations and had a really great time. Everyone she met loved Lorraine; I of course was glad to see that happen, as I was pretty sure I was going to move to Alaska.
When we decided to go to our cabin for the night, we were pleased to see that it wasn’t even dark. Here it was about four in the morning and it was as bright as day. We drove to my brother’s house without turning on our headlights.
Lorraine had to leave the next day to get back to Salinas and her job. I was pretty sad, but I knew she only had a couple of days to visit me. The next day was pretty sad for everyone that met Lorraine. To be honest, I’m pretty sure she was ready to leave. The folks in Dillingham at that time didn’t have any movies or fun things to do unless you count drinking as fun.
Once again I asked her to marry me and stay in Dillingham, but her mind was made up. I remember her saying, “I think the women here wear leather underwear.” Even a blind man could see I was not going to succeed in getting her to stay. So I took her to the plane the next day and she returned to the lower 48. Her biggest regret was that salmon fishing opened the next day and she didn’t get any cooked over the tailgate of a pickup.
I moved back to Salinas a few months later as it began to get cold and dark. I missed her and even her dad finally agreed that I would make a good husband. So, as Eric used to say, “Another day in Paradise.” And about 42 years later, we are still smitten with each other.