Some traditions and memories are etched in stone or a garden in one’s mind. Stories told by others are equally influential, even when you may have been two or three years old when they actually occurred or, perhaps listened to the stories twenty or thirty years later. The stories may be tall, but upon research and definitive evidence, they sometimes result in the stone age cold truth.
I began writing this with the ambitious thought it may be about a character and a goofy or fun story, but as I think of the man I write about, it became more relevant to speak of a man’s past, his present (death), and his future. His name was, and shall remain, Rosco Bud Weiser.
Bud was the king of my father’s friends. Not recalling his height, weight, girth, and cap size, I can only recall that, in my eyes, he was ten feet tall. He was the Paul Bunyon of Moses Lake, Washington, and he was the mountain of a man with which you climb and reach the pinnacle only to be relieved to acknowledge, upon reaching that peak, how magnificent the feeling was to discover a man who was just an official number two to your own father. All thirteen of us children loved him.
Bud was from the South. He carried his South to the Great Pacific Northwest. Southern hospitality is one thing, but carrying words commonly used in the South is another. He had no problem using the “N” word, although to him, it was to us crackers much like using the word, “toe head”, or, “pecker head”. To him, it seemed to be a term of affection. Blond headed, I hated being called “toe head”, and red headed, my dad hated being called a “pecker head”. We all are offended in certain ways, one way or another, but there was something special my father witnessed in Bud: Kindness towards others, a fondness of life, a great sense of humor, and acceptance for all.
When my father first met Bud, I believe his initial reactions, since he used the “N” word, were to think of him as an uneducated redneck from Missouri. Quite the exact way my father and most of my family can recognize a bunny from an ape. We know people and animals. We know good people.
For some odd reason, my father befriended Bud while Bud was delivering milk in Moses Lake. Since, at that time, dad and mom had a family of about ten, (before a few of us were born) , we required many gallons of milk each week. Both charismatic chaps, they immediately developed a bond. Legend has it, while dad was inquiring as to why Bud would use terms such as the “N” word, or “monkey”, Bud just described it as “that’s the way my mama told me.” Dad replied, “Then, why do you leave those gallons of milk on said individuals’ porches without asking for a cent?” Replying quite timidly, Bud said, “It just seems like the right thing to do, Pecker Head.”
Bud didn’t hate anyone. He loved life and for some unfathomable reason, Bud loved our family. After a few years of delivering milk, Bud became a farmer. And, he was a good one. Upon harvest, Bud delivered excess crops to anyone in need of assistance. Our family was very enormous but not in need of sustenance. But the King of Kindness would show up with acres of corn and oodles of potatoes for our family. That’s when we left the spiritual city of Moses Lake, to the orderly city of Spokane, because of our father’s occupation as a hospital administrator. Dad and Bud remained friends.
My brothers and sisters weren’t welcomed into many homes. Doctors, their phony wives, debutants, and the bourgeoisie of Spokane weren’t terribly inclined to host our family of 13 young ruffians from the lower middle class. We were well behaved, (please and thank you) but when a simple fight broke out, chaos ensued. Eventually we learned to simply leave Christmas gifts of scotch, brandy or beer on the Doctor’s porches and run like hell, avoiding any reluctant offers to enter their parties.
Bud was the only one to invite all of the Gannons to his 4th of July party, his home located just ninety three and half miles west from Spokane, Washington. This was a station wagon vacation!
Mr. Bud Weiser had a pool. For middle to lower class civilians, this meant only one thing: millionaire. We were going to rock that party like it was ninety seventy nine. That would make me about five. Traveling from Spokane to Moses Lake was akin to venturing to the southern most part of the United States, Key West, only we were just traveling west, not south east. It’ didn’t matter. There was a pool and a Bud.
His pool came with a garden. This was a glorious garden, draped with gardenias, daffodils, roses (white red black and blue) lilacs, and a wrestling mat. Strange how things grow with the proper maintenance. Apparently, Bud received a two for one discount in exchange for his wife, who showed up at this party with disgruntled lips and sinister eyebrows, knowing this would become the demolition garden of men.
Bud’s introduction was always a poignant one leaving an impression on your ears. He would laugh and say to our father, when seeing one more Gannon, “look, another one!”……He’d then elevate you up by your ears and look you over to see if you were worthy of drinking his garbage can full of soda or a garbage can full of beer. Those sodas led me to temptation, much more than the ears being pulled to the sky, therefore, the pain wasn’t an issue. Bud would laugh and say, “gotta another one here, (directed toward my dad) you gonna have anymore…..NO? Well then drink up, eat up and swim just after, cuz my wife aint’ lettin’ y’all in our house.”
It was just then when the garden party erupted. I don’t know which one of the four brothers started wrestling in the garden, but I can, with great and utter conviction, write the garden must have been Stephen’s………(that’s a synonym for destroyed). After demolishing the garden, the party digressed. Proceeding to throw everyone, excluding the chicken, into the pool, we all had a great laugh.
My mother was mortified. My father only looked at Bud and said, “well, you got what you paid for”……Bud’s reply.. “I sure do love your family. I’ll see you at Thanksgiving.” That’s where we’d host Bud and his X wives’ deviled eggs.
The party never ended with this man. He found joy surveying our laughter and rambunctiousness as well as the love we all felt from him when he picked us up by our ears and welcomed…….all of us, to his home.
Annually, Bud would visit us with a truck load of turnips, acorn squash, corn, and many veggies I can’t quite recall, other than the potatoes. (Those would soon be our artillery when mom couldn’t cook enough). We relished those visits because he seemed to be our dad’s last friend, living ninety some miles ago.
Bud died years later, and each of the brothers and sisters visited and thanked him for what he provided for us……..not the food, the beer, the soda, or even the pool. We knew how much he cared for our love of life, and we thanked him for being a part of it.
My father taught him how to say the Rosary on his death bed. Someone I don’t know read him his last rights. It doesn’t matter. He was my father’s friend, and my dad was his friend until the end. That’s what matters.
But, I prefer to conclude with a happy note: The happiest place on earth, other than our backyard, was ninety miles away at the home of a great man with a pool. This man didn’t just welcome our family for years, he embraced us.