Archive for May, 2018

Humboldt – Tines to Remember

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Humboldt: Times to Remember

Deane Swickard and I went up to Humboldt after the 64 Flood. We crossed the Klamath River on a ferry and the hills were still weeping from their saturated condition. I was somewhat familiar with the country because I had visited Mad River Ranch with my folks who were hoping to buy it. I had spent several weeks there in the summer and fall hunting and fishing. Deane was also no stranger because he had also hunted the area. The trip up was interesting because of all the wineries in Sonoma County that offered liberal tasting. It could have been worse but Deane wasn’t a drinker.
We booked into the Mai Kai apartments which were kind of like dorms but not really. Our roommates were guys from the Fresno area: Frank Deckert and Mike Smart. Frank was forestry student and Mike was still uncommitted. We met a number of good friends around there. Rich Lamb, Jim Linn, John Ellsworth and Tom Spencer . A lot of the guys in the Mai Kai were wildlife students who amused themselves by setting traps for other residents including us. We returned the favour and no one got hurt until we jammed the sliding glass door on our neighbors and threw tear gas in. It didn’t agree with those guys because one of them ran through the glass door. As I recall, that ended our time at Mai Kai.
I ended up at the nearby Redwood Gardens and worked as a janitor in the evenings. My employer was the football coach who had set up the program for his players but not enough wanted the jobs to fill them all. We cleaned the telephone building in Eureka. It took us less than two hours but we were paid for eight. I also put in a few shifts at the Keg, a fine little watering hole in Arcata. I had a soft spot for The Keg from day one when the place closed down at 2 AM but stayed open all night for the people selected by the owner, a notorious character who I only knew as “Junior “. He impressed us by dancing with the girls with a hammer in his pants. When he rubbed against them they screamed and fled the place. Junior claimed it had the opposite effect of course. The fact was there were very few girls at Humboldt in those days because it was mainly a fisheries and forestry school. The few women were as big and strong as BC loggers and the best of them had all the action they wanted and more.
Aside from sessions at the Keg, Flynn’s Inn and the occasional shift at Marino’s or Toby and Jack’s, we went to basketball and football games. When Bill Winkelholz a six foot ten forward from UCLA who played on their 1965 championship team showed up at Humboldt and we became friends, we went to nearly all the basketball games. The Lumberjacks didn’t win much but the games were good.
I had some great Profs at Humboldt. John DeWitt, Ernest Salo and George Allen in Fisheries and Dasmann, Mossman and Yoakum in wildlife. Dasmann had written a book called The Destruction of California and went on to write others and become revered in wildlife and conservation biology. He went on to teach at UC Santa Cruz. I had a soft spot for Dr. Allen because he was a fellow Canuck and hockey fan. We had a lot of good hockey talks especially when he discovered I had a friend (Jack Stanfield) who played for the Buffalo Bisons. Dr Allen sponsored my study of the effectiveness of mosquito fish in controlling mosquitoes in log ponds. He and Dr. Dewitt had strong roles in the development of Arcata Marsh, an innovative sewage treatment system that is much admired.
I also worked at the Arcata Hotel for awhile. The owner was Mr. Greer from Fortuna. He installed beer in the coke machine to keep a supply of young guys around but he cops got wind of it and I moved on to an apartment by the Keg where many more adventures would happen.
The Keg had one of those eight ball pool tables that are common in bars. There were a few hippies around Humboldt in those days and they often played pool in the Keg. They were happily at it one night when some Green Berets fresh from Viet Nam marched in and demanded that the “damn shrubs” give them the pool table. The hippies were rather undernourished and the Green Berets were large. Everyone thought the hippies would demure and fade into the night. No way. The fight was on. The skinny hippies beat the snipe out of the Army bullies who crawled out in tatters. They never showed up again and the hippies took their business to The Boot, a bush okie bar on the downtown square.
About that time we pulled a good one on Tom Spencer who was about to go off to Viet Nam. There was a hamburger joint just below our apartment. Spencer said he was hungry and was going to head down there. As got in line just below us, we phoned the place and warned that a criminal was in their lineup and about to rob them. We described Spencer and the girl got quite excited. “I see him, I see him” she yelled. “Call the cops immediately.” They must have been nearby because they whisked our poor roommate off without much fuss. Of course we were rolling on the floor by then. But round two was about to prevail. Spencer must have convinced the cops that we were responsible because before long there was a loud knock and the Sherriff strode in.
Lamb was into his cups and decided to deny everything and denounce law enforcement at the same time – he even scuffled with the Sherriff  Before long he got hauled off and they found out I had an unpaid ticket so both of us went to jail and Spencer went free and had the last laugh.
But maybe not because he was never heard from again after he went off to Viet Nam. He was a Canadian as well and could have high tailed it. Lots of Americans headed to BC when the army called and , to my knowledge, none ever suffered for it. Jimmy Carter pardoned them a few years later.
When I finished at Humboldt, Uncle Sam came for me too because I was a dual citizen and had been inducted into the army. “ report to Oakland army terminal” the notice said but I went the opposite direction to Nelson ,BC. I felt kind of bad because the Americans had given me a fine education for very little cost and I felt like I owed them . But not my life. Indeed.







Founders Hall at Humboldt