Tag Archive | 1980

The Grizzly Bear

Ursus arctos horribilis

March 8, 2022

Ursus arctos horribilis, also known as the Grizzly Bear, is one of the most feared animals in the world. When the first explorers and fur trappers began to explore what would become the great American West, tales of a huge, ferocious bear soon made their way back east.

A grizzly bear at Yellowstone in 2010 from https://thegirlygirlcooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/yellowstone-national-park.html

It was that intrepid pair, Lewis and Clark, who gave the bear its name. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first described it as grisley, which could be interpreted as either ‘grizzly’ (i.e., ‘grizzled’—that is, with grey-tipped or silver-tipped hair) or ‘grisly’ (‘fear-inspiring’, now usually ‘gruesome’). The modern spelling supposes the former meaning; even so, naturalist George Ord formally classified it in 1815 as U. horribilis for its character.”

There was, of course, good reason to think of the animal as fear-inspiring. An adult male weighs between 400 and 790 pounds! Females are smaller with a weight range of 250 to 400 pounds. At an average of 6 ½ feet in length and 3 ½ feet tall, it would sort of be like having a pro basketball player combined with a sumo wrestler; a truly intimidating beast. Oh, and did I mention that its front claws are between 2 and 4 inches in length?

With the expansion of human civilization there has been a marked decrease in the grizzly population over the last 500 years. In 1850, grizzly bears were found in all of the western half of the US from the Canadian border to Mexico. Population in what would become the lower 48 states is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000 animals.

Their numbers have, however, decreased significantly. The Infallible Wikipedia shares:

“There are about 55,000 wild grizzly bears located throughout North America, 30,000 of which are found in Alaska. Only around 1,500 grizzlies remain in the lower 48 United States. Of these, around 1,000 are found in the Northern Continental Divide in northwestern Montana. About 600 more live in Wyoming, in the Yellowstone-Teton area. There are an estimated 70–100 grizzly bears living in northern and eastern Idaho. Its original range included much of the Great Plains and the southwestern states, but it has been extirpated in most of those areas. Combining Canada and the United States, grizzly bears inhabit approximately half the area of their historical range.”

In last week’s Tuesday Newsday, I shared information about the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In the 1950’s and 60’s, especially, Grizzly Bears and Yellowstone became synonymous. It was during this era, particularly, when the explosion of visitors, combined with an abundance of grizzly bears combing the park dumps and trash cans for a meal, collided.

What happened was an increase in bear and people encounters, similar to those often seen in movie footage of the time:

In the early 1970’s, policy changed with an all out effort to return bears to their natural ways.

Of course, I did not know all this when the hubby and I arrived at Yellowstone on September 1, 1980. As far as I knew bears roamed everywhere in the park and were around every turn. This is my mindset when, just after sunset – about 8:30 p.m. – the hubby has gone on foot to pay for our campsite.

There I sit, all by myself, the camp sites around us empty… when I hear it. The hum of an engine and the crackle of a loudspeaker, the words – at first – unintelligible.

I watch as a station wagon, bearing the National Park logo, rolls slowly into view, emerging from the dark forest. There are speakers mounted on the roof and someone from inside the safety of the car is, apparently, determined to scare any and all visitors half to death. The loud speaker cracks with sound and a solemnly intoned message blares into the quiet night to those foolish enough to camp there:

The author with a grizzly bear when visiting the University of Alaska Museum of the North at Fairbanks in March 2017

“This is bear country!” (static sounds follow) “Store all food securely in your vehicle” (more static)… “Fear… fear… fear…” (static). Okay, I made that last part up, but by now you have the picture. The message repeats as the car slowly disappears into the night. By now I am certain that grizzlies are going to emerge from the woods and make a meal of me, a certainty since all that would be between us and the 500 pound beast is a flimsy tent wall.

By the time the hubby arrives back in camp, I’m good and freaked out. Even so, we get a fire started, dinner fixed and eaten. And then I get really weird. I’m on my hands and knees, with flashlight, searching for that one kernel of corn I’m certain I dropped during the meal which, if smelled by a bear, will encourage them to rip into our tent and have us for a midnight snack.

My travel log entry reads as follows:

“I became almost fanatical in seeing that everything was securely locked away and bear proof. No bears tried to eat me during the night.”

My entry says ‘almost’ – there was no ‘almost’ about it. I was fanatical.

During two subsequent trips to Yellowstone, in 1982 and 1989, we became obsessed with trying to find a bear. It was during the latter trip that we did, finally, see one. It was about a half a mile away, across a valley, and it took a pair of binoculars to confirm. That was it. The only grizzly we ever saw in the wild.

Even so, bells tied to shoe laces do offer that extra bit of noise which is a good idea since you never, ever want to surprise a bear. Although we’ve seen grizzly in captivity a couple of times over the years, I think I’d rather not encounter one in the wild. A very horribilis idea.

As always, a link or two for those who want to know more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_bear

A pretty good documentary if you have 45 minutes:

Nat Geo Bears of Yellowstone:

The Dakotas

But Which One Was First?

November 2, 2021

The author in South Dakota in 2014

Up until November 2, 1889, this region was collectively known as Dakota Territory. But it was on that date when the two were split and became the 39th and 40th states in America. But which was first? South Dakota or North Dakota? No one knows for sure.

 The Infallible Wikipedia shares the following story:

“As the southern part of the former Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. They are the 39th and 40th states admitted to the union; President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the statehood papers before signing them so that no one could tell which became a state first.”

The scene is all blue and yellow at an entrance to North Dakota Road Sign

Or, if you prefer it from the perspective of the other half:

“North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, along with neighboring South Dakota, as the 39th and 40th states. President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the statehood papers before signing them so that no one could tell which became a state first; consequently, the two states are officially numbered in alphabetical order.”

Sure sounds like North Dakota thinks they were first. For those paying attention, there were four states admitted to the union in November 1889. Besides these two, Montana and Washington were welcomed on November 8th and 11th respectively. But back to the Dakotas.

I find it interesting that they were split north and south since in reading about them geographically, an east/west split would have probably made more sense. The Eastern half of both states are considered part of the Great Plains with climates and an emphasis on agriculture which reflects this. For both states, the majority of their populations live in the Eastern half.

West of the Missouri river – which bisects all of South Dakota and most of North Dakota – the terrain changes. One notices that there are more mountains and the landscape is more rugged as the climb towards the Rocky Mountains begins.

Both states have abundant natural resources particularly gold in South Dakota, rich oil deposits in North Dakota.

The number of folks who call each state home live in their cities as follows for South Dakota:

“Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota, with a 2010 population of 153,888, and a metropolitan area population of 238,122. The city, founded in 1856, is in the southeast corner of the state. (snip)

Rapid City, with a 2010 population of 67,956, and a metropolitan area population of 124,766, is the second-largest city in the state. It is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, and was founded in 1876. (snip)

The next eight largest cities in the state, in order of descending 2010 population, are Aberdeen (26,091), Brookings (22,056), Watertown (21,482), Mitchell (15,254), Yankton (14,45), Pierre (13,646), Huron (12,592), and Vermillion (10,571)”

North Dakota’s cities are even smaller with Fargo, based on 2021 estimated numbers, coming in the largest at 125,804 residents. The next nine are:

Bismarck (74,129), Grand Forks (54,243), Minot (47,236), West Fargo (38,654), Williston (32,189), Dickinson (24,007), Mandan (23,190), Jamestown (14,840), Watford City (9,345)

I compared these numbers to the three cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond, Washington – where the family lived for many years – which has a combined population of about 331,000 people. King County claims 2.3 million people. The two Dakota states combined have about 1.67 million population.

Over the years, the hubby, the kids, and me, have been to both North and South Dakota. Never more than a few days at a time and mostly as brief stops to visit a National Park, Monument, or to spend the night on the way somewhere else.

After the hubby I were married in 1980 something, we drove east on our way to Illinois so that I could meet his older sister and her family. It was day four of our drive when I first saw South Dakota. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I cannot claim actually ‘seeing’ much since we arrived at the hotel where we were able to get reservations in the middle of the night. It was now September 3rd.

After a short night’s sleep, we were up and out the door by 9 a.m. I wrote about that day with the following:

“Our major stop of the day was at Mt. Rushmore. We saw the presidents and then had a picnic lunch on the shores of Horsethief Lake. We barbequed 3 veal cubesteaks on the hibachi.

The author in all of her age 23 glory at Mt. Rushmore in early September 1980

By 1:30 we left Rapid City, S.D. and headed east on I-90. We drove all day until we got to the Lake Vermillion Recreation area, only to discover that it was no longer a picnic area (or a campground as shown on our AAA map!)

We almost cooked dinner there, but gusty winds made us decide differently. We also learned why it was called Lake Vermillion as just at sunset, the lake turned a deep, blood red color. It was quite pretty against the deep green grass along its bank and the blue and purple puffed clouds in the eastern sky.

The sky which caused us to rethink our plans for camping out on the South Dakota prairie.

Sioux Falls was only a few miles down the road so we decided to eat there. We also decided to stop there – instead of in Fairmont, Minn – when we saw a huge thunder and lightning storm boiling up in front of us.

We stayed at the ‘Thrifty Scot Motel.’ We ended up eating dinner at the “Happy Chef’ – a VIP’s or Sambo type restaurant.* We tried to eat at a Mexican restaurant but it had closed by the time we found it.

One nice feature of the Thrifty Scot was that they had doughnuts and Orange juice for breakfast at no extra cost. We paid $22 for our room there.”

A 1960’s era matchbook cover from Sambo’s restaurant. Because back then not only was the theme politically incorrect, but smoking inside a restaurant was also allowed!

A few things come to mind as I read this account from 40 some years ago. One, anyone under the age of 60 has likely NEVER heard of VIP’s since the last of the chain of 53 restaurants closed in 1988. Two, you can be forgiven for not knowing what a Sambo’s is either as it filed for Chapter 11 in 1981. The owners, Sam Battistone Sr. and Newell Bohnett, combined their names to get the name “Sambo’s” never intending it to be associated with the popular 1899 children’s story of the Indian boy Sambo who turns tigers to butter.

I also guess that the Thrifty Scot was ahead of its time, giving ‘breakfast’ to the travelers for free. J Nowadays, I’d likely skip both the doughnut and the OJ.

In all fairness to North Dakota, we traversed THAT State on the return from Illinois. Unfortunately, I was sick which prompted a stop in Fargo at the emergency clinic, the acquisition of a sulfa prescription for a bladder infection, and then spent the night in the highly entertaining town of Bowbells. (Population 587 in 1980… now about 336) Which is also a story for another post or, possibly, the basis for a work of fiction.

Personally, I think everyone who has the time and the means should attempt to visit every state in the United States. There are interesting things to see and do and one gets a different perspective when one goes beyond the familiar surrounds of where they live.

For more information about the two Dakotas and other items in the post here are some links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Dakota

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambo%27s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VIP%27s_(restaurant)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowbells,_North_Dakota

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Little_Black_Sambo

Wedding Woes

“You’re practically guaranteed great weather.”

August 31, 2021

By my count, I have only 137 Tuesday Newsday posts before I hit the magic number of 365. That’s a whole lot of posts. So some days, like for August 31, it can be difficult to hit on just the right topic.

As I was surfing the web… er, researching… I found myself watching a documentary on The Carpenters. For those who have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know that I’ve featured something about The Carpenters twice so far.

Richard Gere and Debra Winger in the romantic movie ‘An Officer and a Gentleman

To be fair, I WAS researching actor Richard Gere whose birthday is August 31, 1946. I had watched a couple of clips from two of the movies he was in (Looking For Mr. Goodbar and An Officer and a Gentleman) when a Carpenters video popped up and then I remembered a connection between myself and Karen Carpenter.

So, my friends, this is the third post for arguably one of my two favorite musical acts.

It was on August 31, 1980, when Karen Carpenter was married. Unfortunately, her marriage lasted only 14 months and, in many ways accelerated her downward spiral that ended with her death in February 1983 (https://barbaradevore.com/2020/02/04/goodbye-to-love/).

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In early interviews, Carpenter showed no interest in marriage or dating, believing that a relationship would not survive constant touring, adding ‘as long as we’re on the road most of the time, I will never marry’. In 1976, she said the music business made it hard to meet people and that she refused to just marry someone for the sake of it. Carpenter admitted to Olivia Newton-John that she longed for a happy marriage and family.(snip) After a whirlwind romance, she married real-estate developer Thomas James Burris on August 31, 1980, in the Crystal Room of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Burris, divorced with an 18-year-old son, was nine years her senior. A few days prior to the ceremony, Karen was taped singing a new song, ‘Because We Are in Love’, and the tape was played for guests during the wedding ceremony. The song, written by her brother and Tom Bettis, was released in 1981. The couple settled in Newport Beach.

James Burris and Karen Carpenter at their August 31, 1980 wedding

Carpenter desperately wanted children, but Burris had undergone a vasectomy and refused to get an operation to reverse it. Their marriage did not survive this disagreement and ended after 14 months. Burris was living beyond his means, borrowing up to $50,000 (the equivalent of $142,000 in 2020) at a time from his wife, to the point where reportedly she had only stocks and bonds left. Carpenter’s friends also indicated he was impatient. Karen Kamon, a close friend, recounted an incident in which she and Carpenter went to their normal hangout, Hamburger Hamlet, and Carpenter appeared to be distant emotionally, sitting not at their regular table but in the dark, wearing large dark sunglasses, unable to eat and crying. According to Kamon, the marriage was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was absolutely the worst thing that could have ever happened to her.’

In September 1981, Carpenter revised her will and left her marital home and its contents to Burris, but left everything else to her brother and parents, including her fortune estimated at 5–10 million dollars (between $14,000,000 and $28,000,000 in 2020). Two months later, following an argument after a family dinner in a restaurant, Carpenter and Burris broke up. Carpenter filed for divorce on October 28, 1982, while she was in Lenox Hill Hospital.”

By August of 1980, I was no longer obsessed with The Carpenters. My life had moved on. I had graduated college in May 1979 and also met the man who would become my hubby.

That year I took a job in Eatonville, Washington, as the sole reporter (and grunt of all things small town newspaper) for The Dispatch. When I wasn’t out covering a story, weekends often involved driving to Seattle to spend time with my boyfriend. Life was full and busy. Then in May of 1980 we became engaged and planned our wedding for the end of August.

The soon to be hubby and I discussed having an outdoor ceremony in a park in West Seattle. My mother had other plans.

Instead we ended up at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Yakima on August 30. We had not given much thought to that particular date. As it turned out, that was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend which prompted more than a few declines of guests due to other plans.

Reciting our vows at Westminster Presbyterian Church

A couple weeks prior to the ceremony, the soon to be hubby was on the phone with one of his friends, encouraging him to attend. It was in this conversation when one particular phrase was uttered which has come back to haunt the hubby over the years:

“You should definitely come since you’re practically guaranteed great weather.”

According to WeatherUnderground at the time our OUTDOOR reception in my parents backyard was to take place, it was a decidedly un-summerlike 61 degrees with rain. An even more astonishing fact is that the record low temperature for August 30th in Yakima was 36 degrees set on that date in… 1980.

There were a few other glitches that day also. The hubby’s brother never arrived as he was attending a Porsche car rally near Mt. Hood and his car broke down.

Then, as I was literally about to start the traditional walk down the aisle, the photographer whispers to me, “There was a problem with the camera and none of the pictures I took turned out. We’ll have to do them over.”

Pro Tip to photographers everywhere, this is NOT something you tell a bride just before she walks down the aisle.

Turns out that some of the outdoor photos did turn out… like this one of us, our attendants, and our soloist before the rain started. Note the gray stuff in the grass. Yup. Mount St. Helen’s ash – a little more than three months after the eruption – was still everywhere in Yakima.

So there I was, standing in the church on what is supposed to be the perfect day and all I can think about is what the heck are we going to do about the photos AND listening to the rain drops echoing on the skylights overhead wondering how the party next to the pool will turn out.

With our greatest role models… The hubby’s parents recently celebrated their 75th anniversary. Mine celebrated their 70th in 2017 a couple months before my mom passed.

But all things being equal, it actually was a perfect way to start a marriage. Because weddings are not marriages. Marriages are all about overcoming the various challenges which life tosses at you. In the 41 years since that cold and rainy summer day, there have been broken bones, illness, and challenges which have all but swamped us. But there has also been laughter, adventures, and joy.

So Happy 41st Anniversary to the hubby. It’s been quite the ride.

The links:

https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/us/wa/yakima/KYKM/date/1980-8-30

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Carpenter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Gere

Hallmark Ornaments

Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even Chris Mouse

December 8, 2020

When Hallmark introduced these in 1973, no one could even begin to imagine how, over the next 40 plus years, the company would lead the industry through an unprecedented demand for Christmas ornaments.

A display in a Hallmark store, circa 2013

That first year, Hallmark only had 18 different ornament designs available for sale. Apparently buoyed by the success of sales that year, however, the collectible ornaments were expanded the next year. Betsey Clark – a popular artist featuring whimsical big eyed children- had two entries that year, up from one the year before. Seen also for the first time were scenes from Currier & Ives as well as an iconic Norman Rockwell holiday painting. The number of balls was tripled but yarn figures – prominent the first year – were only half of what they’d been in 1973.

It went this way for several more years with more and more Ornament balls being offered… but with a catch. A shopper could not just walk into a Hallmark store or retailer and purchase the exact same ornament they saw the previous year. Each ornament incorporated the production year into the design. Once the baubles were sold out, that was it.

The introduction of annual orament series spurred interest. Each fall, collectors would rush to the store to snap up the newest one.

My sister’s 1978 Betsey Clark ornament

Surprisingly (at least to this author) is that the Infallible Wikipedia does not have a page devoted just to the Hallmark phenomenon. It does, however, offer up this information on a more generic page:

“In 1973, Hallmark Cards started manufacturing Christmas ornaments. The first collection included 18 ornaments, including six glass ball ornaments. The Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collection is dated and available for just one year. By 1998, 11 million American households collected Hallmark ornaments, and 250,000 people were member of the Keepsake Ornament Collector’s Club. There were as many as 400 local Keepsake Ornament Collector’s Club chapters in the US.  One noted Christmas ornament authority is Clara Johnson Scroggins who has written extensively on the topic and has one of the largest private collections of Christmas ornaments.

In 1996, the ornament industry generated $2.4 billion in total annual sales, an increase of 25% over the previous year. Industry experts estimated more than 22 million US households collected Christmas ornaments, and that 75% of those households collected Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments.”

And, according to the official Hallmark webpage, “What began as glass balls and yarn figurines has grown to more than 8,500 ornaments past and present, and a reputation for quality, craft, and above all, spirit.”

My first foray into the world of Hallmark ornaments began, coincidentally, the year I got married. During a trip into Hallmark I happened to go peruse the ornament section and, there it was, the perfect ornament to commemorate a couple’s first Christmas together.

Our first Hallmark ornament… the reverse says
“Christmas Is A Love Story Written In Our Hearts.”

I had to have it despite the fact that it was an extravagance not in the budget. The hubby was okay with the purchase of it and even another one which featured everyone’s favorite Christmas mouse, Mickey.

From that initial addictive purchase came more. Two more Hallmark ornaments were acquired in 1981. It was 1985, however, when things started to ramp up in my household.

That year saw the introduction of an ornament titled ‘Chris Mouse.’

Mr. Mouse was just about the most adorable creature you’d ever seen. His tiny little self was wearing what looked to be a sky blue night shirt and a red night cap. In his teeny hands he held a hunter green book with ‘1985’ on the cover in gold. But best of all was that he was sitting at the base of an old fashioned gold candle holder, leaning against a 4 inch tall red candle. At the top of the candle glows a yellow ‘flame’ which, when the ornament’s cord is plugged into a socket on a string of Christmas lights, is lit up.

I was enchanted and had to have that ornament.

Chris Mouse #1 who captured my heart

Soon I discovered that my Chris Mouse was only the first in the series. I eagerly looked forward to the next year’s entry. When it arrived in the stores the next fall I wandered in one day to take a look. Like the previous year, it was cute and this time featured Mr. Mouse asleep in a pinecone house, a tiny night light adding to the magic. I didn’t like it quite as well as the first one so I decided I might wait until after Christmas to buy it, maybe even find it on sale.

Sometimes, however, things work against you and such was the case in 1986. Just before Christmas I came down with a bad cold and was laid up for several days including on Christmas. The mouse was forgotten until, a few days after the holiday, I ventured out to the stores to do some bargain hunting. Alas, the second in the series was nowhere to be found.

In the following years, my lesson learned, I always purchased the ornaments I wanted well before Christmas. The Chris Mouse series? Ended up being 13 ornaments in all, each starring the adorable mouse in the blue nightshirt and red cap, each time doing something which featured a lovely little lighted object. It just so happened that I only had 12 of them and, every Christmas, I lamented not having the missing ornament.

Chris Mouse #2 who took years to join the line up

That was until a few years ago when there, under the tree for me one Christmas, was an unexpected surprise. Santa’s helper – who I call hubby – had located the missing Chris Mouse and bought it for me. The prodigal rodent joined his brother’s on the tree, the series now complete.

It takes several large Rubbermaid totes to house all the Hallmark ornaments in their original boxes. One bin is full of the lighted and motion ornaments, the other primarily a collection of whimsical critters. A third tote holds glass balls but only a dozen or so are part of the Hallmark collection.

By the late 1990’s with more than enough decorations to fill at least two trees, I stopped buying ornaments.

2020, however, seems like the perfect excuse to purchase a new bauble with which to commemorate this unusual year. An online search revealed that my local dealer is just down the hill. Time for a shopping adventure…

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_ornament

https://www.hallmark.com/ornaments/

A Blast From The Past

The Day Mt. St. Helen’s awoke

March 27, 2018

Mt. St. Helens March 1980It was on March 27, 1980, that the first plumes of steam escaped from Mt. St. Helen’s. Just over seven weeks later, the mountain experienced a 5.1 earthquake which caused the north side of the volcano to slide away and triggered the largest debris avalanche in recorded US history.

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The magma in St. Helen’s burst forth into a large-scale pyroclastic flow that flattened vegetation and buildings over 230 square miles. More than 1.5 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide was released into the atmosphere. On the Volcanic Explosivity Index scale, the eruption was rated a five, and categorized as a Plinian eruption.

The collapse of the northern flank of St. Helens mixed with ice, snow, and water to create lahars (volcanic mudflows). The lahars flowed many miles down the Toutle and Cowlitz Rivers, destroying bridges and lumber camps. A total of 3,900,000 cubic yards of material was transported 17 miles south into the Columbia River by the mudflows.

For more than nine hours, a vigorous plume of ash erupted, eventually reaching 12 to 16 miles above sea level.  The plume moved eastward at an average speed of 60 miles per hour with ash reaching Idaho by noon.”

This information is, of course, widely known. As a young reporter for the weekly Eatonville Dispatch in South Pierce County, Washington, that first puff of steam was part of a rather amazing life experience.

At a distance of only 47 miles – as the crow flies so to speak – from the mountain, Eatonville residents soon noticed fine layers of ash dusting the community. Week after week I wrote stories about the impact of the ash fall and provided reports in the paper as to all the latest activity.

The most interesting event, however, began two months earlier with a rather odd story told to me by a young couple who were driving home from Ashford to Eatonville one winter night. They claimed that they were followed by three bright orbs which sped up and slowed down in concert with their car. These young people were visibly upset by the incident and believed they had been followed by UFO’s. The photo here is NOT from that event but is illustrative of what they described.Blue glowing Orbs over Oakland, CA 2013

Another theory, however, was posited in late March in conjunction with the increased earthquake and volcanic rumblings. And that is the phenomenon known as Earthquake lightning. It is believed that lightning can be triggered by earthquakes and that, perhaps, the presence of these lights was associated with the impending eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The lights are reported to appear while an earthquake is occurring, although there are reports of lights before or after earthquakes, such as reports concerning the 1975 Kalapana earthquake. They are reported to have shapes similar to those of the auroras, with a white to bluish hue, but occasionally they have been reported having a wider color spectrum. The luminosity is reported to be visible for several seconds, but has also been reported to last for tens of minutes. Accounts of view-able distance from the epicenter varies: in the 1930 Idu earthquake, lights were reported up to 70 miles (110 km) from the epicenter.”

To this day I’ve never quite known what was or was not the truth with this account. I do know that when I was in the area where the phenomenon occurred in the two months prior to Mt. St.Helen’s awakening I was hyper aware and constantly scanned the rearview mirror for strange lights. I never did see any.

Dispatch article April 23 1980It was not until the April 23rd issue when I reported the first dusting of ash in Eatonville. Less than a month later the mountain blew.

As always, a couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake_light

Pac Man Fever

…and the Kong who was King

October 10, 2017

Arcade room gamesIt was in October of 1980 when the United States was truly invaded by the Japanese.  We are not talking about military here. No, this invasion featured four ghosts named Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde and a round yellow fellow with a huge pie shaped mouth dubbed Pac-Man. (There are articles which place the release date on October 10 but that date is disputed)

The game, which had been released in Japan a little over four months earlier, was an instant hit. Young people flocked to arcades and taverns where Pac-Man eagerly gobbled up their quarters.

Soon, Pac-Man merchandise flooded America as did other Japanese companies looking to capitalize on Pac-Man fever.

From the infallible Wikipedia:

pacman screen“When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters—in particular, Space Invaders and Asteroids. The most visible minority were sports games that were mostly derivatives of PongPac-Man succeeded by creating a new genre. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. It is also one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, having generated more than $2.5 billion in quarters by the 1990s.

The character has appeared in more than 30 officially licensed game spin-offs, as well as in numerous unauthorized clones and bootlegs.  According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has the highest brand awareness of any video game character among American consumers, recognized by 94 percent of them. Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games. It is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.”

Donkey Kong PaulineMy hubby was hired by a CPA firm in Burien who had a client that needed an auditor. So they sent him out to do the job and thus began a seven year run with a different Japanese invader: Donkey Kong. While many think of Nintendo as a behemoth company, when Donkey Kong was first being sold into the US market they had six employees: two Seattle based salesmen, the company president, a couple of Japanese developer/engineers, and one American to make the build’s happen.

It was in 1982, after Donkey Kong’s popularity skyrocketed (and made the two US salesmen millionaires) that Gene was hired as the company’s US controller. Those were crazy days with incredible long hours but also a real sense of family within the fledgling company.

We hosted an April Fool’s day party several years the theme of which was bad jokes and to play video games.  We even brought in full size arcade games (borrowed from Nintendo) for the attendees to enjoy.

When he left the company in the late 1980’s we had acquired a variety of Donkey Kong themed items: mugs, cups, socks, both electronic and board games, shirts, a bulletin board, an aped shaped ‘bank’ and, the most prized possession of all: an electronic cocktail tabletop game.

Yes, we still have all those things including the game table. But, unlike the days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong fever, quarters are no longer needed. All you have to do is plug the thing in, press a button to load the game, and escape back to the 1980’s when arcade games were king and the Japanese took the country by storm.pac man blinky

To read more about these two arcade phenomenon click here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_(video_game) (there are some errors in this article. Specifically, Nintendo’s first headquarters were in Tukwila, not Redmond, Washington)