Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lewis & Clark Buffs Get Monsooned

The town is in a tizzy for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Events, which are happening all over town, and the whole area, even over to Washington, from today till Sunday. Veteran's Day got lost in the shuffle, but a creative vet had an idea of how to celebrate.

Down at the bottom of 14th Street, there is a little docking area that I wasn't aware of, tucked between some buildings on piers. In this little area I was directed to a rather large fishing-boat tender, which was bustling with activity yesterday morning. The local vets were decorating the boat with red, white, and blue bunting, and signs, and flags. The plan was to take the boat down the river, close to shore, and the vets would be on board waving like mad at anyone on shore.

Thanks to my pal, Bobby Wilson, who spoke to the captain, I got a tour of the boat. What a wonderful rig! It was a challenge to get on board, since it was a good jump down and across, even with a ladder. Being an older vessel, to move from one level to another required vertical ladder-climbing. I have discovered that I am not as limber as I used to be.

I have to comment on the bathroom, which was at the stern of the boat. It looked like it should have been in a little Victorian Bed and Breakfast. One of the men came out and said, "I can't figure out how to flush it!" Since I was next, of course I had to check it out. It's an old wooden gravity tank, above head-level. I am short, and I could just reach the flush lever. It never occurred to him to look up.

One of the vets wanted to bring his dog aboard for the jaunt, and when the dog saw the distance between the dock and the boat, his eyes got luminous and bulged like one of those toys you squeeze to make the eyes pop. The dog was grabbed at the boat end by his master, and the dock end by his mistress, and made a clean, but terrified, landing.

Of course, as soon as the boat was about to get under way, the skies over Astoria provided the required fall drizzle, and the fog dropped like a curtain. Nevertheless, the cruise was off and running, and they had a grand time. It's just too bad they didn't have any publicity, so there weren't many people around to wave at them. Oh, the local newspaper showed up, all right, but only on the morning the boat was going out, so the article and photos were after the fact.

Veterans Cruising Photos

Meanwhile, my partner, B, was over in Hammond with our pal Teresa, helping to set up sound equipment for a big Lewis & Clark event today involving the governors of OR and WA and local Indian tribes. The rain poured by the barrel for the set-up. The organizers of the event apparently thought the people attending today should experience Lewis & Clark weather. No tent. Chairs out in the open. In monsoon season. Interesting concept.

I went out to Hammond and retrieved them in their sogginess, delivered Teresa to her place, and B to ours, and went out to deliver flyers. In the rain. The event I was vending at last weekend clearly didn't have enough publicity, and I didn't trust them to deliver on publicity this Saturday, either, so I took matters into my own hands, made up flyers for tomorrow's bazaar, and schlepped to all the hotels on the west end of town.

While schlepping, on my very last stop, as I headed back to the car, I heard fife and drum music. I really thought my brain had gotten too damp. Fife and drum corps music is a very Yankee thing, and it cuts to the heart. I got into my car, and opened the windows. Yup, I was still hearing it. I whipped around the corner, and followed the sound. Surer than hell, there was a little fife & drum corps smack in the middle of 12th Street in front of the Hotel Elliott.

I parked the car, and ran like hell back to 12th street to see them. It was a group of about 8 kids, decked out in what looked like British 19th Century military uniforms, and they were fifing and drumming their hearts out ... with all the correct moves and miltary bearing. What a sight!

When they did their beautifully executed about-face and marched off around the corner, I followed them, lurking till they disbanded. I approached the oldest of the group, and asked them where they were from. St. Charles, Missouri! They've been playing so much in the last few weeks as part of the Lewis & Clark event, he had to think about where they were at the moment. It was a pleasure to hear them. i just wish Astoria had its very own fife & drum corps, but seeing and hearing them made me damn near giddy with nostalgia.

I trundled home to pick up a now de-sogged B, and we retired to the Golden Star for much-needed beer and sympathy from the outrageous Jennifer, bartender to the monsoon'ed. Life is good.

Astoria Photografpix

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