Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Herb Carlson; Sun Valley Ski Instructor

In the 50's, before the folks bought the Warm Springs property or built a house, they would drive from Twin so Carol and Herb John could ski on Baldy. Neither of the folks knew how to ski at that time.  When I got off the "big black boat" as they both called it, and started to ski at Sun Valley, we would have friends up that didn't know Herb had never skied.

Invariably these folks would describe their day on the mountain and how they did.  Dad would listen patiently and at some point ask about their "weight transfer" while turning.

"What do you mean?"

"Were you uplifting and weight shifting?"

But Dad would say these magic words with a thick Austrian accent, like "oohuup lifting und veighth shifting"

The guests would become very interested and the Dad would demonstrate the classic Austrian counter rotation ski turn.

We figure over the years Dad taught at least 25 people how to ski in this manner.  And we never told anyone he  had never skied.  Why should we.  They knew from his pronunciation of "oohuup lifting und veighth shifting"  he knew what he was talking about.

The best part is that when Herb did try for the first time in about 1970 to ski,  he could !!!

 Must has been all that practice he had in the living room at the house on Warm Springs.

"You Can't Give me a Ticket"

Sometime around 1971, before the folks moved to Eagle, Mom would drive from home in Boise to teach at Eagle Elementary.

One day, during dinner, she told Herb "I got a ticket today, but I shouldn't have".
"What happened?" asked Dad.

Mom said when she got to school the cop was behind her with his lights on...and was pretty mad.
He said "I've been following you for miles.  Didn't you see my lights or hear my siren.  You failed to stop at a stop sign coming onto Ustick".

Mom handed Dad the ticket and he looked at it.  "This says he's a Boise City cop, and you were in Eagle."

Mom's response was one of her usual ones; "so what?"

"Well...." Dad never got the chance to finish.

"I told him he can't give me a ticket"

"Why? Because you stopped at the stop sign?"

"No, I told him he can't give me a ticket because I don't have a license."

Sure enough, Mom didn't have a license.  It had expired years before.

She only was cited for the failure to stop ticket.

The Son Returns to the Homeland

Sorry; this story has yet to be written. Itis about one of  Herb and Lorrain's trips to the 'Motherland'.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hard Work and the Happy Days

In 1958 Mom took a trip to Ketchum with her good friend Orriette Sinclair.  Mom was always interested in property to buy, and she found a lot on Warm Springs Road about 300 yards across from the ski run on Baldy.  There was no lift on Warm Springs run in those days so you skied it as the last run of the day.

She convinced Herb to buy it and Herb got a loan from Jim Sinclair, the bank president and Orriette's husband in Twin.  This loan was a such good rates that Dad made the minimum payments on it, until, after Jim had died, the new bank president called to complain that "it looked bad on the bank's books".  Dad promptly paid it off.

In about 1963 Herb and Lorrain decided to build on it.  They bought a 'kit house' that was hauled in unfinished by truck.  They had ski instructors (alleged carpenters) put it together over the summer. Everything was in the kit...except the brick Mom wanted.

So, Mom and Dad found an old brick school near Kuna ( I think it was the Happy Valley School) that was being torn down and we began to salvage the brick.  God, what hot hard sweaty work.  We had to clean the mortar off the brick also.  Scrounging thru the piles of broken brick to find usable ones became our weekend work.

We would load the brick in Dad's 1958 Chevy Biscayne and drive to Ketchum.  But you couldn't just put the bricks in the car's trunk and go.  No, they had to be placed so the car was not over loaded.  Dad devised the method to haul the maximum number, 228, of brick by putting them on the front and back floorboards and in the trunk.  Talk about a smooth ride.  It was the first lowrider.  And when Herb got a head of steam up, there was no slowing down.  It probably took 20 trips to complete the walls and fireplaces.

It was was a great house. I met my wife on New Year's Eve while staying there with fraternity brothers over Christmas break in 1977.

Cleaning brick, loading brick, driving the brick up to Ketchum occupied an entire spring and summer.  Dad would always say, as we sat in the hot car sweating and covered with brick and mortar dust, "these are the happy days!"   I didn't know it then, but he was right.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spinning Class at the Y

For over 20 years beginning when the folks were 70, they worked out every weekday at the West YMCA.  They would arrive at 5 am like clockwork.  Mom would swim and Dad would ride a stationary bike while watching TV.  After about 15 years of this, when they were about 85, Mom had had enough.  She told him "you are not working hard enough, you just sit there and go through the motions."  She was German. To her way of  thinking Dad should work harder than he did.  But the reality was,  Dad worked harder than anyone I ever knew.

So she enrolled him in a 'spinning class'.  Except this class was the advanced class and everyone in it was less than 30 or so.  All young and fit .

Dad told me about the first class.  He got there early and sat on a bike in the back.  Others arrived and looked at him but said nothing.  The instructor came in from the front and didn't see Dad.  The class started and the instructor told the class to get "up high and off the seat, let's get a good sweaty warmup started."

Dad said he was "really going" when the instructor said "Stop!"  and pointed at Dad saying "you are not supposed to be in this class".   "Are you sure you have a doctor's approval?"  Dad told her he had ridden a stationary bike for years.  He just didn't tell her it was while watching TV.  She then asked " so, no heart problems or anything?"  Dad gave her the old 'secret agent' slip...not a lie, just a sidestep;  "Not that I would say".  Truth was Dad had suffered at least three heart attacks by that point in his life.

Long story short, Dad was kicked out of the advanced spinning class.  And Mom was not happy about it.  Thereafter, any chance she got, Dad was made to shovel the driveway, rake leaves, gather firewood at  Symms, etc..  When I saw Dad shoveling the back deck one day when he was 91 I confronted Mom.

"Good lord!  Are you trying to kill the poor man?"

She replied " That's good for him".

She thought like we all did,  Herb was the toughest man in the world and nothing could hurt him.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Herb and his "friends with the blue lights"

When I was growing up, and up into the 90's, Dad had a lead foot when he drove.  Never reckless but about 20 over the limit on open roads.  Mom knew it and when she was peeved at him about some thing, she'd needle him.

"Herb slow down!"  Dad's response was always the same.  "What?" as though Lorrain has just accused him of doing the having two heads.  Mom would then turn to me and say " he should have been a race car driver ."  She would then make car noises and say "zoom!".   

When Matt was little he'd ride with the folks on trips.  Upon their return on one occasion I  asked how was the trip?  Matt replied "Great!  We met Peep's (this was the boys' nickname for grandfather) friend with the blue lights!"  Seems that that was how Herb explained the traffic stop, saying "Oh how nice, my friend wants to say hello and he's signaling me with his blue lights".  Dad would then go back and have a nice chat with his "friend."

Dad would never ask me to defend him on any of his citations.  He would just quietly pay them and never bad mouth the officer.  Mother was quite different in her approach.

You see, Mom never felt she was guilty.  And she would tell you so with all conviction.  Then she would hand me the citation saying "take care of this".   Once I asked her "what do you mean, take care of this?".
"We'll, just tell them I'm not guilty.  You're a lawyer ...they'll believe you".  Right.  I never did tell
her that most folks thought the exact opposite.
The second to last ticket she gave me to "take care of" was for using the emergency turn-around on the interstate near Mountain Home.  This occurred when they were in their 90's and Dad was driving. As always, I interviewed my client with the hopes of establishing a defense.
Seems they missed the turn to Sun Valley and needed turn around.  Seeing an ISP trooper parked across the interstate didn't deter Mom;
"Turn right here on this gravel road" instructed Mom.
"Lorrain, you can't do that.  It's for emergencies"
"No it isn't.  It's a nice graveled turn-around and if they didn't want you to use it they wouldn't have put it in".
So, Dad turned onto the emergency access and went back toward the Fairfield exit.   Again, right in front of the ISP officer who had someone else pulled over.
About 5 miles down the road Dad saw the lights and pulled over.  The officer stayed in his car talking on the radio and writing for a few minutes.
The officer then walked up to Mom's side and handed her the citation.  And she hadn't been driving.  "Here, sign this" he said.  Somehow the ticket was properly filled out.  Her name, DOB,  address, everything was correct.  What did Mom do?
"I signed it".
I looked at the ticket.  There was no signature there.  "Where did you sigh it" I asked.   "Right there...I drew a 'frowny face'"   Sure enough.
There was a mean lookiing frowny face on the signature line.
"So what did the officer do when you drew the frowny face?" 
"He grabbed it away from me and then, looking past me over at Herb, said, 'Mr. Carlson, you have a nice day' and drove away.

Leaving the house with that citation I had to laugh.  The ISP officer must have watched Mom gesturing at toward the emergency access and pressuring
Dad to turn in there.  I ended up paying the ticket myself even though, legally, Mom should not have been cited.  Later, Mom asked about the ticket.  "All taken care of Mom" I told her.  "Good" she said, "they never should have put such a nice turn-around in if they didn't want people to use it."