Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering Jim Olson.....part 1

Went out for a walk this morning in the humidity of Grand Lake Country....came back and lifted weights for about a half hour and that was my health regiment for the day....this coming on the heels of my first golf outing in nearly two years yesterday, with son Hal and his father-in-law Tim and Tim's middle son Tyler....I shot a 118 on the Centerville area course, Hal a 111 despite some monster drives with Tim at 96 and Tyler 100 even leading the way.  None of us had good scores for the skill levels each possess, but mine was about what I expected...with a few good strokes here and there....

Jim Olson...I could write a Book with the stories....

Patricia got up sometime during the night with whatever wakes "mature" women have that makes them wake up....it must have been 1 or so in the morning, I got up soon after to head to the bathroom, with whatever it is that makes mature men have to go more than a couple of times per night...enlarged prostate?  Hell all I know is I get up usually one or two times during the night, sometimes more to pee.

About 2am I heard her walking up the stairs...she woke me and declared..."Did you know Jim Olson had died"?  I shook the cobwebs out, and mumbled something like "So that's why he hasn't called on Sunday Night for the past few weeks"...a stupid, if not excusable statement.  I slipped on my pajama's and robe and went downstairs...sure enough, there it was the Obit that Patricia had pulled up on the computer:


...she had discovered it when looking at my facebook page and seeing Jim's page.  She didn't know he had one, and frankly Jim didn't use it all that often, she clicked on it, hopeful of maybe seeing a photo of Jim's 96 year old retired Dentist dad, whom I had talked about many times....what she got was something else.  Jim had passed away late night or overnight on Sunday May 6th or more likely early Monday May 7th...Jim had called me about 10:30 our time that night.  Our usual Sunday night conversations surrounded his fantasy baseball team, and my suggestions for ideas to help him in his "Money League"...the talk eventually came around to our upcoming/proposed trip to the Boundary Waters on Northern Minnesota, along with Nick...to the same Island on Wind Lake that Jim and I, along with 5 of his North Dakota friends had taken back in June of 1978...it seems that trip, at least with Jim along, will be save for sometime and somewhere in the next world.

It took well over an hour before I could find some restless sleep until about 6:30 and then we were both up...I figure I will pay for it tonight, then tomorrow and we head to Centerville to entertain and sit with grandson Kasyn. 

As I took my walk this morning I had time to reflect on my friendship with one Jim Olson...and unlikely pair of fellow travelers we might be...but as I thought about it, I could not begin to take in all the crazy things we had done together in a rather short span, back in the middle 1970s through early 80s...then after almost 20 years of not seeing or hearing from each other, we had one more round as the new century dawned...a combination of stupid and crazy is what you can call it.


As I best recall, Jim and I met through Patricia, whom I was seeing at the time, we would move in together, Patricia and I that is, late in 1974 when I purchased my first house, on Brandon Avenue...some 200 yards from where we live today.

Jim was a beer drinking, Marlboro Light, smoking DJ out of the northern reaches of North Dakota...he was some 3 years my junior, and working at WCMS Radio, a place I would end up finishing off my radio career some 7 to 8 years later...at the time, I was managing and bouncing at the infamous Red Door...Jim was new to Celina and became not only a regular customer, but one of my weekend DJs, spinning rock and roll records to the pulsing lights and dancing drunks on the downstairs dance floor, while he sat in the cat bird seat.  I paid him a few bucks and let him drink all the 3.2% beer he could down in a 4 or 5 hour shift on Friday and
Saturday nights...I was not yet in radio, and despite working eventually at WCSM, Jim really had nothing to do with my radio days...by the time I got into radio, Jim had gotten out and moved back to North Dakota, and finished up his Masters....but there were plenty of crazy days and events ahead of us before that happened.

Like I said, "I could write a Book".....

When Jim moved to Celina he lived in a trailer on the east side of town, but eventually got a place right on West Bank Road and the shores of Grand Lake....it was a party cabin to say the least...crazy things happened at that place, including one night me kicking the side of Nick's car in, mistaking it for a neighbor who had given us some grief, alcohol and stupidity can do that to a 25 year old.  On the day we watched Super Bowl VI where the Steelers defeated Jim's beloved Minnesota Vikings 16-6, Olson and I dined on Moose Stroganoft...his dad had been hunting in Canada and sent Jim the Moose, we added the rest and it made one Hell of a fine meal...I remember I was riding my Kawasaki 250 on/off road bike that day, in January with temperatures well below freezing and ice and sleet on the roads...and I'm sure I had more that a few drinks before the game was over.  This I considered a "minor" event in our nearly 40 year friendship...there we others, I will detail in the next couple of writings that were just plain "insane"

One of those I like to call...."The Coors Beer Run"

Back in the Red Door days, Coors Beer had a cult following....looking back, who knows why, Coors Banquet Beer is nothing more than a run of the mill America Lager.  But back then, it was sold no farther east than Kansas City, Kansas....and one Friday night, we had this brain
fart of an idea...we would drive to Kansas, fill up Nick's trunk and back seat with Coors and bring it back to Celina.  What we didn't drink, I would sell to the suckers, er customers at the Red Door, for a buck a can...regular beer, Pabst and Strohs, the biggest sellers, was going for about 60 cents back in 1974 and 75.

So when I closed the bar that night at 2:30 in the Saturday AM, we piled into Nick's Land Yacht....Nick, Jim, me, and young Slorp..off we went the 625 miles west on I-70 to Kansas City, Kansas....

A stop for breakfast, a stop in St. Louis to see if by some chance they had began selling Coors Banquet Beer, no luck, and off we went, crossing the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers into Kansas....it was already the afternoon, when we packed up 25 cases of bottles, cans, and a couple of Styrofoam coolers into the car and headed back east with our treasures.  Poor Nick had to drive, and we were not going to let him off the hook...the rest of us fools cracked into a couple of Long Necks and relaxed as we headed east back the way we came...finally arriving in Celina about 3 in the morning, some 24 hours after we had left, but with a couple dozen or so cases of Coors.

Most of it we drank ourselves or shared it with our fellow Red Door Travelers....a few cases we sold, illegal as Hell of course, for a buck a can at the bar....the was the first of at least a dozen or more "Road Trips" that Jim Olson and I participated together in....I  have written about the 1975 Florida trip with Mike Schilling as our co-pilot on a number of occasions on this blog...here is one of them:


But there are more....and it is going to take a few trips back to jot them down and jog my memory....I will be back with those, probably after the Kokomo Mini Vietnam Reunion...in the meantime:

RIP Old Buddy....Jim Olson:  born Mohall North Dakota April 12, 1952   Died Minot ND, May 6, 2013

Photos-Me on the left and Jim Olson at Disney World in June 1975...Jim Olson 2011, Mike Schilling and Jim in June of 75...The Result of the Coors Beer Run in the Spring of 1975, and our Camping in Florida set up in June 1975...My old Ford Van and a Ten, here set up just north of my old home of Venice, Florida, at a State Park near Osprey, Florida....2 weeks of this will make anybody long for a hot shower and a warm clean bed.



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