Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Remembering Lucky

(Edit) A fan sent in this photo this morning. Thank you Steve.
Today has been special and I have been smiling all day. Not that I am not usually smiling but I have been smiling for a special reason. Many fans of this blog will remember that Lucky the race car got his name in memory of a very good friend of mine whom I grew up with in a small town on the coast of Southwestern Oregon and his name was Lucky as well. Unfortunately due to a tragic accident Lucky was taken away from us all too soon.

Well, this morning I received an email that made my day. It was from none other than Lucky's oldest daughter Sheila and what a nice email it was. She wrote how grateful she was to read the blog that's a fitting tribute to her father and how touched she was. Funny but as we talked I learned that one of my friends is her uncle and I hadn't even know after all these years. We both thought it interesting that even though they didn't know of the blog until recently that they had bought a new car which you can see in the photo with a paint scheme very much reminiscent of the one Lucky will soon have. Almost ironic isn't it. Sheila has a sister by the name of Shawnna and a brother by the name of Micheal James (M. J.) and while I have not had the pleasure of meeting them I am looking forward to in the future.

Having grown up since we were just little boys playing together right up until we went out on our own as young men we shared many great times together too many to count. However there is one such story that stands out in my mind that I would like to share... Growing up in Southwestern Oregon we were lucky to enjoy some of the best fishing to be found anywhere. One weekend Lucky and I decided to head down to the world famous Rogue River where we camped out. I had a pup tent that we used to camp out only a few feet from a stream called Lobster Creek that runs into the Rogue. It had been a very good year for the salmon runs and I had already caught my limit and Lucky was still trying to catch his last one to complete his limit. For two buddies getting away from home for the weekend and relaxing when the weather was warm with my favorite dog Ginger, life couldn't get any better.

There is a bridge that crossed the Rogue River near Lobster Creek and a family that was camped out across the river had used it to come over and see how we were doing. As they came into our little camp area where we sat fishing Lucky began to grin and whispered something about judging by their looks they just had to be from California. Bermuda shots, Hawaiian shirts, sandals and so on. They had about six children three of which were theirs and the rest were friends and sure enough Lucky was right since it turned out they were from Los Angeles. This was their first ever camp out and they had never been to Oregon and they were having a blast.

I will never forget the look on the wife and husband's face when they asked Lucky how the fishing was and he held up a salmon. They got so excited Lucky and I couldn't help but laugh. And if that wasn't enough for them when I took them over to the small Lobster Creek and showed them the salmon swimming up stream they almost burst at the seams! They just could not believe their eyes and the kids were beside themselves. As Lucky and I sat by our fishing rods I could hear them getting more and more excited and even getting to the point of a frenzy. All of a sudden I heard some splashing and the wife and kids yelling so Lucky and I turned to see what was going on. I will never forget what I saw until the day I die. Here was the rather large man... Ok, so he was HUGE, dressed in sandals and a loud Hawaiian shirt running right up the middle of Lobster Creek chasing a half dozen salmon upstream. As his wife and kids ran along side of him on both sides of the bank like Superman himself he takes a flying leap into the air and crashes head first right in amongst those huge salmon! Lucky and I were about to die laughing and when he stood up holding a huge shiny, squirming salmon in his arms I couldn't believe my eyes!!! Lucky and I almost couldn't breath. His wife and kids where screaming like a raving bunch of lunatics as he waddled out of the creek with that huge salmon flopping it's tail in his face. When he dropped the salmon on the bank all 8 of them jumped on that salmon to keep it from getting away as it flopped around on the bank. Then he began doing some kind of dance while swinging his arms over his head and yelling, "We got a salmon! We got a salmon!" It was reminiscent of a tribe of natives in Africa having just taken a wild elephant.

While Lucky and I were still cracking up the big guy came over and asked if we would show him how to clean it and tell him how to get it back home without spoiling. I began to tell him that if he got caught with that salmon he would go to jail. His wife and him looked shocked and didn't understand. "Why can't we keep it? We caught it and it's ours." The wife asked. I explained there are laws to protect the fish and the laws not only include having a license and salmon tag but you must "legally" catch them by using a fishing rod. Further more it is illegal to catch fish in that part of Lobster Creek anyway. They looked sadly defeated and humiliated as the kids stood there with pouted lips as he released the salmon back into the creek. He looked as if he felt like he had let his kids down that only minutes ago thought he was Superdad.

As they began to walk away with their heads hung low and the kids almost crying Lucky said, "Hey, what do ya say we give'em one of ours so the kids won't think their ole man let'em down." I called them back and we told them to go down to the little market along the river and buy a salmon tag and come back and we would gladly give them one of our salmon. They didn't walk, they ran back to their side of the river and a short time later returned with their tag and an ice chest to claim their salmon. Once again they were all smiles and I can still remember the whole bunch of the kids blowing kisses to Lucky and me off the Lobster Creek Bridge as mom and dad carried their prize back to camp. Lucky and I laughed for the next two weeks straight remembering that crazy dad run right up the middle of that creek splashing water to hell and gone with all those salmon swimming for their lives. Lucky laughed and said "I bet they never saw a grizzly dressed in a Hawaiian shirt before!" It just seems to me that everyone that ever met Lucky was indeed just a little luckier for having known him.


George Sullivan said...

Nice tribute to a good friend. I got some good laughs from it.

Gary Faules said...

Thanks George and yes, Lucky was a good friend indeed and as you can guess we shared a lot of laughs together.

Speaking of friends, I will be meeting up with your racing buddy this Sunday and looking forward to it too. I wrote him back as to where we will meet up but I haven't heard back so I hope he get's the message.

Gary said...

Wow, what a great story! I can see a couple of my buddies pulling a stunt like that. Maybe even me!

Shawnna said...

Hey Gary, I really am appreciative of you sharing your memories of a great guy with all of us. Lucky was taken from us all way too soon. Your stories keep him alive, at least in spirit. Thank You, Lucky to be Lucky's daughter...Shawnna Siewell