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The Bitterroot

The conference has concluded so we’ve driven over to the western side of the state to visit the town where Ted lived when he was in 9th and 10th grade.

The 4-hour drive was beautiful and we had lunch on a lake.  When we got into Corvallis – a metropolis of 976 people – we stopped at the high school.

It was so different from the architecturally uninspiring school I attended, which had a smattering of 1970s‑era buildings.  Corvallis High was quaint and charming.

It was a week before classes resumed, so not many people were there.  We were, however, able to meet with a delightful woman in administration who was kind enough to give us a tour.

During our walk through the halls, we chatted it up with Mary and it turns out, her husband knew Ted’s father.  Al (insert link) was a writer here in the 70s and 80s and had several books published during this time. Many of the townspeople knew of “the writer who lived on the mountain.”

Walking around the school brought back so many memories for Ted.  We stopped by the gym where he had his wrestling matches, the practice field where he played football, and the hall where he had his locker.

Mary was able to get us access to some old yearbooks so we could make photocopies of the pages Ted was on.  He was quite the stud coming from Miami.  In his choir picture, he sported a fabulous polyester suit with broad-tipped collars.

It’s a wonder the Wrangler-wearing crowd didn’t take to him immediately.

When we finished there, we drove up to his old house.  Unfortunately no one was home but we walked around (and yes, peeked in the windows).

We checked out the deck that had no railing when Ted’s family was living there – his dad wasn’t exactly Captain Cautious – but we were pleased to see subsequent owners had gone ahead and added the railing.

He pointed out his bedroom where he spent many an hour improving his school papers only for his dad to obliterate them once more with a red pen.  And he showed me one of the dozens of trees he was tasked with trimming off the dead branches – with a regular saw, of course, no chainsaw provided.

Say what you want about old fashioned parenting, but it can definitely keep a teenage boy out of trouble.

But the most colorful memory Ted had was the time that he went sledding with Tommy Carter down their tree-lined road.  As is typically the case when teenage boys get to play with gravity, they quickly found themselves in a perilous situation.   Before they could rectify the lack of steerage, they were hurling straight for a tree.

Despite hitting it at a ridiculous speed, they both lived on to tell the story and perhaps use it as a cautionary tale for their future children.