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Diner Life

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 08:11:00 +0000


A day at Autzen

Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:28:00 +0000

As with most events, I struggle with the night before.  So, this time I took a pill.  And even with that, I was up at midnight with all of my last minute thoughts.  What if this happens....and what if that.  Around 3 or so I put a post up on facebook and then went back to bed...hoping for an hour or so of needed rest.  I was to be at Jake's at 630.I awoke and looked at the clock that said 635.  Jumping out of bed and into the shower, I still made it there by 7.  I kept telling myself that this was their day and we wanted it to be special.  I tried to make it a point to see every one of them and press that point.The cooks popped me out a plate of my usual (scrambled eggs, avocado, and sausage with corn tortillas) and I went to pour some coffee and was reminded of my nerves as my hand shook while pouring it.  I went off into the back room to be by myself and try to collect them. Zin, who knows me well, sought me out and gave me a hug telling me all would be well.  And...I knew it would.  I asked him to get everyone out front for a picture before we were to leave.  The guys all lined up in front of the diner for a last minute picture opportunity for wives and children of the guys before they went off on their great adventure.The two Deschutes County Sheriff vans were soon loaded with guys in their 90's like a bunch of excited kids heading out on a class outing.  My good friend, Neil Mackey, drove the point with Lt Deron McMaster following and I behind them both in my Jeep.As we arrived at Belknap springs for their rest stop, I realized how far we were behind schedule.  I kicked myself for not getting going at 7 instead of 730.  So, I tried to encourage them to make haste and get back on the bus quickly.  I figured our 20 minute stop was probably a record for 20 some 90 yr olds getting off a bus, relieving themselves in a place with only one bathroom, and loading back up.  I also asked Neil to pick up the pace if he would. We pulled into Autzen at 1020 and the Ducks had a cart ready to take some of the guys down to the field.  Most of the excited guys did not want to wait for the cart to return and made their own way down to the field. A girl from "" asked me for some interviews so I looked around for some that had not been interviewed in previous trips and lined her up with three.  While they spoke, I caught up with Kyle Wiest (Oregon's football director) on the sidelines.  Marcus Mariota had been there the day before but he had not seen him that morning.  One of the guys who had been to Iraq had left me with a coin for him that he had gotten in Baghdad.   On one side was the symbol for Iraqi Freedom and the other the Oregon Ducks.  We talked of the kids and he told me that the coach had used the story of one of the vets that I had sent him to prep the team for today's event.Before the third man was finished interviewing, the end of practice arrived and the coach was bringing the men in a huddle.  I rushed over to hurry the interview while Kyle jogged over to the huddle.  Collecting all the guys, I headed them over to the side of the huddle.  As I got the last man there, I managed to hear the coaches introducing the recruits that were there checking out the school.  One of them was a transfer from Notre Dame.  The coach called the guys around us and soon we were surrounded by trees.  I looked next to me and Thomas Tyner was standing there.  I shook his hand and told him that his jersey was on the wall of our diner.  I kicked myself later for not giving him one of my cards hoping that one day he might stop in so we could take a picture in front of it. We were in the middle of the scrum of players and old vets and I noticed one of them coaching Am Denfield to call down the practice.  I grabbed my camera quickly to capture the moment as Am is our only Beaver fan in the group. As the practice broke up, I looked around and saw huddles of what looked like s[...]


Sun, 12 Apr 2015 10:45:00 +0000

 The first time that I met her, she was standing by his side.  And that is how I will always remember her….by his side.  It was in the back room at Jake’s.  They had arrived for a Band of Brothers meeting.  It might have been his birthday but I am not sure.  Her smile was bright and cheerful and her handshake was warm.It was not long before we became friends and the handshakes were changed into hugs.  And as I think back on her, that is one of the biggest and brightest memories….her hugs and the warmth of her cheek.  That along with the twinkle in her eye and her bright smile.  When she had an idea, she would sometimes have a sort of impish giggle and she would shrug her shoulders….as I think of it, I can see her doing it.When she came into Band of Brothers meetings, I would sometimes escort her to her seat as Bob would end up talking to someone on the way in.  She would slide her arm under mine as if it were official.  She would ask me to give someone her seat if the room got too busy and afterwards, she would often help clean up tables and then wait patiently in the entry way for Bob as he would often be asked things afterwards.  She was Bob’s perfect companion.  And their love for each other was always evident.  So much so, that when he came without her, it was as if something was missing…because she was.I recall one day when they came in and she smiled and said, “I have something to show you.”.  She held out her hands and so did I.  She placed a small object in my hands and I looked down at it.  Then as I realized what it was my knees began to buckle as I staggered to remain standing.  I was holding the Medal of Honor.  It’s weight seemed overwhelming.  I quickly handed it back to her feeling unworthy to even handle it.  “I thought you might want to see it.”, she smiled.  The tears welled in my eyes as I thanked her for the kind gesture.  I remember that day fondly and only felt the weight of it one more time when a couple of years ago, Bob asked me to place it around his neck just before we met with the Oregon Ducks after one of their practices.  A few years ago, Judy and I were honored at a breakfast for the Red Cross.  Bob and Bea came to support us.  I noticed Bob in line with two plates.  I asked him about Bea and he said that her blood sugar had dropped.  I asked him what they liked and he told me.  So, I took the plates and told him that he needed to stay with her.  Then, Zin and I took their plates to the front of the line and filled them with the needed nourishment.  The only time that I recall seeing her without being by his side was when she was waiting for him.  They will always be in my memory…side by side.  One day, she looked me up during one of the meetings.  “Bob’s says his hand is tingling.”, she said.  I went back to her table with her and Bob admitted that his hand didn’t seem to want to do what he wanted it to.  “What should we do?”, she asked.  “Well, I would get him in to see a doctor.”, I answered.  A couple of hours later, she called me and thanked me.  He had a small stroke.  A couple of weeks back, I got a phone call.  On the day that they were to return to Oregon from Arizona, Bea had suffered a stroke of her own.  She was rushed to the Phoenix hospital for treatment.  The stroke took her voice away and paralyzed her on her right side.  She lasted less than two weeks.  The word went out on Friday that we had lost her.She will be brought back to Bend where a service will be held to honor her life.  As I think back on her, I can see her sitting in one of our booths, by his side, or at an event, by his side, or just sitting out on their front porch, by his side.  For that is how I shall always remember her….ever faithful…ever loving….and by his side.[...]

Big Richard

Wed, 03 Dec 2014 20:26:00 +0000

I don’t know the year, but I remember the time.  We had been in our new building for a few years when the big guy showed up.  He met with an old friend, Richard Coon.  Richard was struggling with cancer and had diminished in size so when he met with this new Richard, they seemed quite the odd couple.  They were soon Big and Little Richard.  Sadly, we lost little Richard soon afterwards to that dreaded disease. Richard Smith (Big Richard) soon became a steady regular as did our conversations.  I found that Richard was the construction supervisor at Habitat for Humanity.  Since my daughter, Carrie, had been on the list for a house for some time, I asked him one day if he knew how far along she was.  To my amazement, I found that she was right up at the top of the list….number 2.  He came in grinning one morning and told me not to tell her but the person on top had just stepped aside and she now was to get the next house.  It was hard for me not to tell her as she had become a bit discouraged as to whether she would ever get one or not. Habitat had just had a big plate supper to raise money and I wanted to help also….especially since my own daughter was soon to be a recipient.  I poured over ideas with Richard one day while sitting at the counter.  Now, recently, my best friend Frank Patka and I had gone to a couple of free Texas Holdem tourneys down in Sunriver and I mused whether we could actually raise some money while playing this card game that had become so popular. I decided to give it a go and purchased some table tops and chips from Walmart that I found on their closeout isle.  I began to promote and Frank and I hosted the first event on a Monday night.  Two people showed up.  I was quite discouraged.  But, the next Monday four people showed up and it grew from there.  Soon, we had two to three tables of players every week.  I had some sweatshirts made up and gave them to the winners in those first months of the growth of the event.  I also gave it a name….Holdem for Habitat.  And the person who was working on my logo agreed to make a logo for the event as her donation. The popularity grew and while Richard played in those early times, he soon decided to be the chip boss for the event and to coordinate it rather than play.  To me, this seemed a boring task as I loved playing but Richard seemed to take it on with gusto and gained the respect and admiration of the players.  I recall when the local TV station decided to run a piece on our event.  With Big Richard between us, the newsman interviewed us sitting at one of our tables.  This helped bring in even more players. Then, tragedy hits a bit when my office was broken into after one of the Monday night events.  A dishwasher who quit the next week seemed to be the culprit as he was sitting out behind the building and must have seen me place the bag in my desk drawer.  The burglar knew exactly where to go as he broke through my door and pried open my desk drawer stealing over $1000 of Habitat’s money and around $500 of mine.  It was a lesson learned of never leaving money in my office and of being more discreet around short term employees. As you can imagine, the theft became big news and it reached out to other areas of the state.  An officer of the Department of Justice called me up one day.  At first, I thought that someone had found the thief.  But, I soon found out that I was the one being investigated.  Now, I had studied the laws and found nothing that I could see as a problem.  But, the investigator soon showed me my error.  Money down for chips, chips played to win, and a prize given to the winner meant gambling. I was told to rectify the situation, one of those items needed to be eliminated.  I thought that it was going to be the end of the game.  But, I woke up one morning with an idea.  First off, we had re[...]

John Spence

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:57:00 +0000

October 30, 2013For the ones from out of town who cannot get the local paper, here is today's main article:John Spence, right, talks with Jonathan West in 2012 shortly after West — a Marine — received the Congressional Gold Medal for his service during World War II. Spence, who died Tuesday in Bend, served in WWII and was the first to try out a new diving apparatus that allowed for much greater freedom underwater. Erick Simmel, a filmmaker and historian, says every combat swimmer since can be traced back to that swim by Spence.World War II vet was a firstJohn Spence, dead at 95 in Bend, pioneered U.S. underwater warfareBy Scott Hammers / The BulletinPublished: October 30. 2013 4:00AM PST"America's first frogman," John Spence, died Tuesday in Bend. He was 95.Lyle Hicks, owner of Jake's Diner and an active member of the veterans group Oregon Band of Brothers, said he went to visit Spence Tuesday morning and learned he had died during the night. J.W. Terry, president of the Band of Brothers, said Spence had been at an assisted living facility for about a year.In the years before Spence's death, Hicks, Terry, and California filmmaker and historian Erick Simmel collaborated with Spence to develop a detailed biography of his service in the U.S. Navy. Portions of that biography are excerpted here, including all quotations from Spence.Born in 1918, Spence was the son of the sheriff in Centerville, Tenn. Spence was 9 when his father was killed, ambushed by a group of moonshiners.Spence joined the Navy in 1936 and was sent to diving school. Assigned to the USS Idaho, he was primarily a gunner, but on occasion he'd be called on to dive, doing ship maintenance wearing a diving helmet tethered to an air source on deck.He was discharged from the Navy in 1940, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Spence volunteered to serve as a gunner protecting merchant ships. But Navy officials instead took note of his diving experience. He was told the Navy had a role for him as a diver, and he spent the next three weeks camped at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., waiting to get the call.A letter from Spence's mother alerted him that his assignment could be something different. Federal agents had been through his hometown, tracking down his former teachers and classmates and asking questions.The Navy brought Spence to a secret base on the Potomac River south of Quantico, Va., where Spence learned he'd been recruited to the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. Italian swimmers had been sinking British ships, Spence learned from his commanders, and so the Navy had decided to form its own group of underwater warfare swimmers.The term “frogman" was coined during the group's initial training, when Spence tried out a new waterproof suit made from green rubber.“Someone saw me surfacing one day and yelled out, 'Hey, Frogman!' The name stuck for all of us ... but once again, I was the first," Spence told his biographers.'Like Buck Rogers'Spence's claim to being the first American frogman began the day a team of armed Marines escorted him to the pool at a Washington, D.C., hotel, where he was introduced to a young medical student, Chris Lambertsen.Working in his garage, Lambertsen had built a diving apparatus out of a converted gas mask that allowed much greater freedom for the swimmer than anything Spence had used before. Spence was selected to be the first test subject, and soon he was swimming back and forth in the hotel pool, underwater, with no bubbles rising to the surface.“It was silent. The only sound was my own breathing," he said. “It made me feel kind of like Buck Rogers."Other hand-picked swimmers joined the team, and the five-man unit began training in explosives, espionage and close-quarters combat.Spence was sent to Florida to teach newly formed Army and Navy amphibious units how to use Lambertsen's apparatus, a rebreather. One of Spence's students was Draper Kaufman, recently selected to lead the new Navy Underwater Demolition T[...]


Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:22:00 +0000

Time is a precious thing.  A minute or so either way can make a huge difference.  I was reminded of that on Saturday as I prepared to venture over to Eugene to join an old friend at the Duck game.  I lingered a bit in the office talking with my son, Casey before I left.  I was going to drive to the game and then afterwards drive up to Vancouver to join up with Judy at our daughter, Trinity's place and then back home the next morning. That small time made me leave around a half hour later than I had anticipated.  I began up and over the Santiam only to be stopped just shy of the HooDoo turn off.  I sat in the massive back up of traffic wondering what had happened up ahead.  I watched as many people began to turn back and I wondered what they knew.  Then, I realized that I had a smart phone and wondered if I could get service where I was.  I pulled out my small hand held computer marveling at how much communication and information has changed in the last few years.  I looked up the ODOT page and found that their was a large accident ahead.  They recommended a different route.  Now, I knew why others had turned back. I too turned around and headed back down but now I began to fret at being stuck inside this huge traffic flow going over that small pass.  I fought as to whether it was all worth it or if I should just turn north towards the girls and call it a day.  But, I had not seen my friend in a while and the game was a big one so I figured that I would just play it by ear when I got back to Sisters.  As I drove past Black Butte Ranch, I wondered if many would take the Cold Creek Campground cutoff road.  It is a small but straight gravel road that cuts over to the McKenzie. As I approached the road, I watched the mass of traffic in front of me and no one was taking the short cut so....I decided to give it a go.  I turned and headed down the road and marveled that I was the only one on it.  So, I took it a little faster than I normally would (40 or so) and shortly found myself on the other pass well ahead of the crowd with hardly anyone there.  I reveled in my small victory and smiled at the fact that I was now ahead of all of them. But, when I got to the top, a small light came on the dash.  The tire monitor told me that their was a problem.  I was driving Judy's new car that tells you all sorts of info including tire pressure and switched the monitor to see the problem.  The back right tire only had 16 pounds in it.  I pulled over and looked at it and you could not tell there was a problem so I kept on going thinking maybe the problem was the sensor.  But, when I got to Proxy falls, the indicator now said 9 pounds.  I pulled over again, still far ahead of the others and it looked low but not that bad.  I figured that I could easily get to McKenzie bridge and find some air for it.  I drove past a rather large flat area by the church camp with that vision in my mind.  The tire would did not.  Shortly before the bottom of the past, it gave up the ghost and I struggled to find a place to pull over. The only place was rocky and a bit of a incline but now...I had no choice.  Sweating and nervous, I was angry at myself for not just pulling over at that large flat area.  I got the jack out and placed it in the only place available and began to raise the car.  The rocks did not allow the jack good footing and the incline was not friendly and now I worried that it would slip off the jack.  I quickly swapped the tires and tightened the studs on the small donut reserve.  With the flat tire in the back, I started the rig back up.  The huge line of traffic was now upon me and the traffic the other way was now in play also.  It was like rush hour and I was left looking for the small gap to slip into the flow. I saw my break an[...]

Everything is Ducky

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:19:00 +0000

I awoke early in the morning.  Last minute thoughts went racing through my mind.  I slipped out of bed and onto the computer to check weather and other last minute details.I made a mental note to insure that when I got to work, I would look up the roster for the Ducks so that we would know who we were looking at at any given time. I gave a wake up call to Vivian, Red's wife but he had been up for hours.  I wondered how many of the men had actually gotten much sleep.  Especially that ones who did not experience last years event but heard from others about it.Judy then slide out of bed also and we made our preparations to depart. I shared with her that my anxiety was raising a bit but knew that it could just be last minute jitters.  We agreed to set up a back up fail safe just in case by gassing up her rig.  I stopped in at Kent's Shell station to top her off.  They have the best service in town but this morning...nothing was fast enough for me.  I could feel it all creeping into my head.  I needed to prepare a back up for the day.I was so glad that I had anticipated this a bit and had asked my buddy, Zin to join us and help organize. By the time that I reached the diner, waves of anxiety were flowing over me and I was having a hard time concentrating.  I kept telling myself that all was well and that my doctor was joining us in the trip.  What could possibly go wrong. I slipped into the office and Zin joined me there.  I told him I was struggling a bit as I printed out the extra sheets of who was to go in each bus and info on all of the WW2 guys so that they could be properly introduced.  I told him that I was confident that all would go well but that I wanted him to be ready to take my place.We went in to get some breakfast and all of the men were waiting in the front room.  I went over and teased Mr. Denfield that after today, he would be a Duck fan (he is a die hard Beaver fan but agreed to go on the trip).  I was hoping that this distraction would help but I felt it all pushing the other way.  I looked over at Zin and motioned to join me in the back room.  I did not want them to see my distress. With tears welling in my eyes, I forced down as much food as I could.  Knowing that something in bananas help, I told Judy that I would be right back and drove down to Safeway.  I forced down one of the yellow fruit as I drove back up and parked.Zin had them all outside and ready to go.  I was feeling better and helped organize a picture of us all before we left. I stepped up into the bus and realized that it was not a good idea.  There was no way out once I was on it and if I had a large problem I would end up shutting down the whole convoy.So....I took the escape route and told them that Judy and I would drive.   That decision alone seemed to help out matters and my heart began to slow down a bit from its hard pumping. As we pulled out of the lot, I wondered out loud if we would actually make it to the practice on time.  "What ever happens, it will be ok.", Judy countered.  She was right.By the time that we were half way to Sisters, I was calm and feeling fine....the point in front of a convoy of two Deschutes County Sheriff busses filled with WW2 vets on their way to visit the ducks. This was the second year of this event.  Last year, we had taken them over in cars.  After hearing about it, the Sheriff told me that they would like to get involved in this honor of our senior vets.  With two of his finest driving behind me, we were truly in good hands.The first little glitch happened when we went through Sisters.  The busses took the truck route.  I merely waited off to the side after going through the town and pulled back out in front of them.  The night before had been cold and wet and the pass was heavily covered with cinders.  [...]


Sun, 30 Mar 2014 19:21:00 +0000

March 30, 2014 Before I left work that evening, I noticed a noise in my computer like a plane going off.  I knew that a fan was going off.  Instead of leaving it on, I shut off the machine before I went home.Upon arriving the next morning and turning it back on, it sounded as if their were birds in the box.  I quickly called my friend, Vito, and asked him what I should do.  Vito came over and looked at the electronic device that I have come to rely on so much and determined that the problem was the fan on the power module.  It would need to be replaced.So, Friday morning, Vito was in early with the new part and it was quickly replaced.  But after the install, we realized that we no longer had sound.  Vito worked his magic but to no avail.  Finally, he got out his tools and opened the small machine back up.  We found that it had yet another fan that was not working properly.  I was surprised that their were so many in there.  This time, the fan was on the video and sound card which in the case of my compact computer was the same card.  The fan had gotten sticky and was not spinning properly.  Vito tried taking it off to see if he could get it spinning better when one of the springs sprung dropping behind my desk.We decided to see what it would do without the fan and he installed the card back in place.  We turned on the machine and it quickly came to life, sound and all.  But just before he left the room, the video went out.  Vito opened the machine back up, took the card out, and reinstalled.  This time he left the outside off the box open hoping that the air would help cool the card.  Seconds after starting up, the video crashed again.  So....Vito left...with my much needed machine.I don't know how many times that day, I sat down at my desk and grabbed my keyboard only to stare at a blank screen realizing that I would need to change over to the accounting machine to accomplish my task.When Kim came in to do the books, I decided to go home and rest a bit.  I got home to find that the package from Bose had arrived.  Judy had purchased one of those fancy Bose systems for me for Christmas.  It had worked....for a little more than 2 months.  Bose had sent me a replacement machine.  I quickly plugged the small player in that would be giving me the true sounds of the surf each night helping me get my much needed rest.  The machine had one flaw....the manual turn on and off switch did not work.  I called the Bose corp and maneuvered through the phone system.After being shocked that it did not work, the man on the other end of the line told me that he had never heard anything like it.  He said their machines were so well made that it was quite a thing to have two of them not work to the same customer.  He said that he would send me yet another and said that if that one did not work, I should buy a lottery ticket because those were the odds.  I thought that was a bit of a oxymoron but said nothing.  I merely boxed the machine back up and sent it back.I arrived back at the diner for supper and Chris asked me if I would check the camera at the cash register.  He said that a customer had told him that they had left him a five at the register but nothing was there.I went back to the office and fired up the DVR for the security cameras.  When I went for the search, the machine froze.  I had to hard boot and once I got it back up and running, I found that I could not find any history in back up.  I played around with the settings on the machine and rebooted again.  This time, an admin log in came up.  I had not remembered a password so I tried a couple to no avail.  I went to their password problems page and was told that I would have to contact them.I found their contact page and noted that[...]


Tue, 25 Feb 2014 20:14:00 +0000

February 25, 2014A few years back, I was approached by Dick Tobiason, a local retired officer and head of the Heroes Foundation, to assist in raising funds for the Honor Flights.  The Honor Flights are trips to Washington DC for WW2 veterans to see the Memorial there.  It is actually more about honoring the veterans than it is just getting them there.  All along the way, they are acknowledged and honored.  I have talked with many of the men and women who have gone and all seem giddy with excitement afterwards.I told Dick that I could not help with what I would call a large fund raising situation but I could certainly put together something that the local every day person could get involved with and could help raise funds.  This sort of event does two things.  It raises funds for the donor and allows people who want to help and yet cannot afford to dole out $50 or more a plate to be a part of the event.After talking it over with Jimmy, I suggested a Spaghetti feed and allow Jake's to be the venue and the first Spaghetti feed was created.  The cost was $10 per head.  It made the math much easier.  If I brought in 100 customers, than we would raise $1000 dollars.  That became my goal.  The first year, we raised a bit over $2000, if I recall.It was so successful, that I had other groups coming to me and asking me to run one for them.  I knew that having too many would just dilute the mix, so I decided that the Heroes foundation would be the only recipient and that we would not do more than one per year.That was six years ago or so.....I tend to lose count.I awoke Sunday morning a little unsure of myself.  It is typical for me on days of these sorts of events.  All the last minute thoughts of what can go wrong and the anxiety that I battle began to wrap my mind a bit.  But distractions help me with that and I had one this morning in my grandson, Jayden.Jay had spent the weekend with us as his mom was over in Eugene attending the Justice conference there.Jay had LaCrosse training this morning and so we got up early and drove down to the diner to have a bit of breakfast first.  One of our waitstaff was sick so we did some shifting around which always causes a bit of distraction in the flow of things.  We began to get busy just as Jay needed to go to LaCrosse.  He asks me on the way over if I would stay and watch.  My heart sunk in telling him that I could not.  I wanted so much to watch him but knew that I was needed back at the diner.  I figured that I might be able to get back to watch a bit towards the end, especially if Judy was there watching the diner.But, as it was, Judy was a bit late as she also had an extra mouth to feed at the house with Carrie and Jay's dog, Lola who was at Grandma and Grandpa's resort and spa.I actually tried to get out a bit early, but a full pass bar of food held me up.  I arrived just as Jay got finished and ended up taking him back to the house so he could shower up.  I told him that I would come get him at lunch.I then headed back to the diner where all was in full force.  Judy was helping at the pass bar so I did what I normally do, pour coffee and put out fires.  I suddenly began to feel weak as if my blood sugar was down so I grabbed a cheese sandwich and downed it.  I also exited the pressure and went out to the office and the unending stack of paperwork that is always needed.The next few hours became a blur of sorts with the office work, helping out front, picking up Jay and bringing him back down, and all the other parts of running a fast paced diner.  Judy and I sat down for a little lunch and a dark chocolate but I soon ejected back to the office to finish things there.I got a call from my mom asking me to help her with a jar.  Dad wanted some juice and she c[...]

Snowed In

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:12:00 +0000

February 10, 2014 I was to speak in Crescent at the church that I grew up in on Saturday evening.  I was both excited and scared.  It was where I met the most influential man in my entire life in Ned Landers and it was where I spent much of my time as a youth so you might imagine how I felt.I awoke and looked out the window to a heavy layer of snow and it was still falling.  My telephone rang and it was Kim, my bookkeeper who's kids and their friends make up the bulk of our buss people.  Kim was snowed in and could not get one of them to work.  So, I told her that I would go over and bring them in.I plowed through the deep snow in Judy's rig, driving through the back streets to her house.  I felt that I dared not stop for fear of getting stuck.  Many people were already out shoveling their driveways.  I spied a small black thing sticking out of the snow off to the right.  It moved and as I looked closer, I realized that it was the black head of a mallard duck.  It was down in the snow with it's head looking around, I guess trying to figure out where to go.I picked up Matt and got to work around 8:45.  My entire crew was there and in place.  2 dishwashers, 2 prep cooks, 3 line cooks, 4 servers, 2 bussers,and 1 cashier.  I took a quick look around the room and found 7 customers.  It did not take much math to realize just how much money I was losing.To add to the matter, my lot was plowed but the area coming into it was not.  People would have to come through the deep snow to get to me.  As I waited for my breakfast, I looked out towards Costco and saw a car stuck in the snow at our entrance off of Purcell.  I grabbed a couple of kitchen crew and headed that way.A man had gotten stuck driving over the curbing that you could not see from the depths of the snow.  He told me that he was on his way in for breakfast.  We pushed him off of the curb and he drove around to our Hwy 20 entrance.I contemplated closing when a few more customers showed up.  One of them stated that other restaurants were not open so I figured that just as long as they came in, I would stay open.  I knew that it was not going to be a stellar day but no one said that you would make money every day.  That is a part of being in business.I knew that I was not needed so I looked at other things that I needed to do.  I stopped up at the hospital to see my friend and brother, Jack Cooper.  Jack is 89 and had a quadruple bypass on Monday.   I looked in his room and found him fast asleep so I just left a note stating that I was there and drove off to my house to shovel snow. I cleared out my driveway and shoveled off my car.  The snow was still piling up and I felt it's 4 wheel drive might be needed.  I finished clearing the drive and fired up the car, letting it warm up before I took off back down to the diner.  Judy asked me if I would wade out into the back yard and bring in a couple of bird feeders.  We had spied a woodpecker in the neighbors yard just sitting down on the cross bar of their fence and looking over the top.  By the time that Jay and I were ready to head down to the diner for lunch, she was busy taking pictures of the mass of birds that were using our deck for protection and food. Judy let me know that she was concerned over me driving all the way down to Crescent.  I told her that I had committed and was not sure what to do.  So, that was tugging at my thoughts as Jay and I got in my rig and headed out.  Immediately, I struggled in the snow and ended up throwing the car into 4 wheel drive low.  It went through the deep snow with ease.  We saw car after car in the ditch and off of the road as we made our way down to the diner.  I spied my b[...]


Sat, 11 Jan 2014 20:10:00 +0000

January 11, 2014 Joe Kline / The BulletinJakes Diner owner Lyle Hicks bags up some clothes collected at his restaurant for his Middle of Winter clothing and drive on Saturday afternoon in Bend. Hicks gives the clothing and other items collected to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, which distributes them to those in need.A coat for a veteran in needBend diner holds traditional clothing drive for vetsBy Elon Glucklich / The BulletinPublished Jan 6, 2014 at 12:01AMThe smells of bacon, pancakes and syrup filled Jake’s Diner on Saturday morning.But Bend resident Bob Stoops, 70, pulled up outside the east Bend eatery with something other than food on his mind.The U.S. Navy veteran stepped into the diner’s foyer toting three jackets and a pair of blankets, and dumped them into one of several bins pushed up against the wall. A piece of paper above the bins spelled out a list of items people could donate to local veterans in need — clothing, food, blankets, toiletries.“I’m a veteran, too. Fortunately, I’m a little better off than some,” Stoops said. “So for those less fortunate, I give where I can, whether it’s at the Goodwill, the Humane Society or here.”Jake’s Diner has held winter donation drives since 1995. Owner Lyle Hicks calls it the Middle of Winter clothing and food drive.For years, the drive has targeted the homeless and needy across the High Desert, but the focus in recent years has been on helping homeless veterans.Volunteers collect the donations and bring them to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, which distributes them to veterans in need.The idea came after Hicks read about similar efforts around the country during the December holiday season.“I thought, ‘Well, that’s Christmas. But who cares about them in January, February, March? That’s the coldest time of the year.’”Since then, the bins have become a sort of Jake’s Diner tradition. Hicks often leaves them in the diner foyer throughout the year. Sometimes, days and weeks pass without a donation. Other times, the bins pile high with jackets, scarves, hats and blankets.“It’s not just warm clothing,” Hicks said. “It’s food. And I’ve even had guys bring in small propane bottles for heat. Anything they can use.”This winter has been unseasonably mild, but overnight temperatures still drop into the teens — potentially fatal conditions for anyone without shelter.Hicks said he’ll keep the bins out in his diner as long as people keep donating.Homelessness “is a need that’s always been out there,” Hicks said. “Fortunately, this is an exceptional community. … As long as there’s that need, and there’s something we can do, we’ll be here.” [...]

Curb it

Mon, 09 Dec 2013 20:03:00 +0000

December 9, 2013 For some reason, I seem to attract angry people from time to time.  I suppose we all do because they are out there. When I do, I always attempt to explain myself but as was the case yesterday, my words usually fall on deaf ears.My mom called me and asked me if I would take her to Fred Meyers to pick up some prescriptions.  Now let me preface this with the fact that my mom is closing on 87 and yesterdays temperature was slightly above zero most of the day.So, I used Judy's car which is warmer and has heated seats and I drove over and picked her up.  We drove to Freddys talking with the radio on softly playing peaceful Christmas music.When I arrived, I asked her if she only needed to pick up her prescriptions and she said that she had a couple of other things but not much.  So, I made the decision to drop her off at the door and keep the car warm for her.  Normally, I would go in with her but with the cold, I opted for her comfort first.  I told her that I would be close by where I could see her and would pull back up and pick her up.I hoped to find a parking spot where I could keep tabs on the door but as I drove around the lot, I saw that was just not going to happen.  Then, I spied a guy parking along the curb waiting.  I looked at the curb and it was yellow.  Now, according to the DMV, yellow curbing is for loading and unloading and is designated primarily for commercial vehicles such as UPS.  But today was Sunday and there is generally no commercial on that day and I figured I could keep my eyes open and if one did by chance, I could always move on.So, I slid behind him making sure that I was not blocking any avenues or the front of the store.   There is a side street where drivers can pick up prescriptions from and I insured that I was not blocking that either.  Shortly, the guy in front of me picked up his passenger and I then pulled up in his spot.  I still was keeping my eyes open for an open parking spot where I could see the door.A van pulls along side of me and rolls down his side window.  At first, I thought it was either a friend or a customer who wanted to say hi.  But instead, I turned to find an angry man in his minivan screaming at me.  "Don't you know you are blocking traffic", he screamed.  He called me a couple of choice words while I tried to explain that I was sitting in a yellow zone.  While he yelled a car traveled the opposite direction quite easily which should have showed him that there was plenty of room but did not.  He then flipped me off and drove angrily around the corner.  The roads were quite slippery and I hoped that he would not hit something in his anger.  I would have felt at fault since I was the one he was angry with.He came walking around the corner just as angry and I prepared for a confrontation.  Instead, he stopped and took a picture with his phone of my license and yelled something else at me.  I rolled down my window and waved for him to come over and speak to me.  He shook his head and walked toward the store. I wanted to explain to him what I was doing thinking it might make him feel better knowing that I was keeping my car warm for my 87 yr old special passenger.A couple of minutes later, a parking spot with view of the door opened up and I slid into it.   A couple of minutes more, he came back out, walking around looking for me.  Then I thought of the fact that my business name was on the back of the vehicle.  He probably will not be coming into my place of business.  I justified that with his anger, I probably did not want him anyway.Then I realized that my vehicle was actually a commercial vehicle also.  If I would have been deliv[...]

Giving Thanks

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 20:01:00 +0000

November 29, 2013 Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  We served around 350 seniors. There were ups and downs and there always is but I choose to be thankful for the ups and wish to list the highlights of the day:So many handshakes, hugs, and kisses from grateful seniors who would have sat in their houses in front of the TV.  To watch them interact with the volunteers and see the smiles on their faces is a priceless thing.Our greeter was from the local TV station and did an incredible job along with one of our regular helpers who had never organized seating before but did it like he had done it all of his life.In the first hour, servers along with a couple of seniors stopped and sang "My Girl" along with the singer.  Servers from the back room ran into the front room to join in the fun.  I stood next to the greeter and said, "This is why we do this."  Seniors in the crowd clapped and sang along with all of them.Buck and Gayle picked up Ethelene. As she came in the door, she shook her finger at me and barked, "Don't you ever send Buck Sherwood after me again!".  I believe she meant it too.My daughter, Trinity, giving up two days of time and a half at the airlines to step in and reduce my stress.  I am not good at organizing and she is.  She stepped in where ever I asked her to and helped reduce the problems.My other daughter, Carrie and grandson, Jayden who showed up to be with us.  Jay helped out in the cashier booth and was greatly appreciated.  Carrie knew I was stressed a bit and gave me constant hugs and reminders that I was loved.Judy showing up even though our little dog, Mia, had kept us up most of the night prior with an upset tummy (still don't know why).Tony and Leo from my group showing up and eating with the seniors.  It was great to see my two brothers and their presence reduced my stress just being there.Somewhere in the first two hours (always the most stressful as that is when the problems usually occur), I stepped out on the floor and one of our volunteers told me, "I am having so much fun".  I had been wound tight and that was such a release knowing that they were enjoying themselves since I had already encountered other angry volunteers who did not deal well with our disorganization.Cynthia from COCOA who worked feverishly with Trinity to control the staff problems.  They agreed to stay in touch with one another before next year.Seeing friends and customers who have become friends over the years enjoying themselves with good food and entertainment.Jimmy working so hard these past few days to insure that the food quality was top notch and to insure that the left over food was delivered to the police station so that officers who had to work so that others could enjoy their day could have some holiday cheer when they took their break.Ed's tap dancing.  I saw a couple of seniors grab their cameras so they could take his picture while he danced.Being able to jump in and sing the chorus of a song that I knew with Roy and the resounding whoops and claps afterward.Richard once again handling the pie station.  It is so comforting to know that I can count on him every year there.The various venders who helped out including Sysco, FSA, Franz, and Farmers Coffee.  And local dairy, Eberhard providing the ice cream so that the pies became pie alamode.All of the various volunteers and entertainers who took a big hunk of their holiday to become family to the many who showed up.  Love isn't Love  (til you give it away).  Reba McIntire and Michael W Smith amongst others.The people who donated money on the week before to pay for peoples meals on Thanksgiving that they did not know.And last but certainly not least, Barb, Sterli[...]


Wed, 13 Nov 2013 20:00:00 +0000

November 13, 2013 I don't remember the day that I met Bob Falley.  It seems as if I have always known him.  Big guy (no overweight....strong) with always a smile on his face.  He always looked happy and his words spoke the same.I would often see him and Dorris walking in the neighborhood behind our building and loved stopping to talk with them.  Their love for each other and for others just seemed to glow from them like a beacon.  Their love of God filled them so full.  It reminds me of a song that I sang in my youth in church.  This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.....theirs shown brightly.I saw them just a couple of weeks ago.  They had stopped to rest behind the diner.  Judy and I walked over and chatted with them for a bit as they rested.  It is a memory that I will always cherish as it was the last time that I saw Bob.Last Tuesday, I returned to the diner after stopping to see John Spence and finding him gone.  Mary told me that she was told that Bob had passed on.  I said, "you must be thinking of John.".  She said, "No, Bob.  They guy who always walks behind us with his walker".  I called the office to hear the news.  Bob had fallen asleep in his chair and not woken up.I called the house and talked with Doris's sister.  Then Judy and I went over to the house taking with us a copy of Bob's Band of Brothers story and the video of his encounter with the Oregon Ducks.  While we were friends, it was those two items that had brought us the closest.I recall it well.  I had just had discussions with the director of football at Oregon where he agreed to open up a spring practice to WW2 vets as an inspiration to their players.  I saw Bob and Doris walking.  I pulled up alongside of them in the car and rolled down the window.  I asked Bob if he liked football.  He said yes.  I asked him if he liked the Ducks.  He said yes.  I asked him if he would like to go see them.  He said, 'go see them play?".  I said,  "Would you like to meet them?".  He stopped and looked over at me and said, "Would I?!".  He was one of the most excited men that we took with us.I still remember him speaking to the Ducks on their knee in the middle of the field after he was introduced.  He smiled and waved.  Then he thanked them for letting him come.  "Boy, do I have something to tell my kids and grandkids today!", he said. So, when the Ducks offered to video two of the guys during the spring game, one of them in my head was Bob.  I called him on the phone on the way home that day.  I asked him if he were going to the spring game with us.  He said that the practice had beaten him up a bit and that he would probably not be going.  I then told him of the video.  He said that it sounded like fun but he was still unsure.  I told him to think about it and talk it over with Doris.  I said I could give him 5 minutes before I would move on to the next vet.Twenty minutes later, I got the call back..."Are my 5 minutes up?".  A few minutes later he called again, "Can Doris go?".  He and the other vet, Jack Cooper, were the perfect men to go.The video is on youtube and  It is called "Through their eyes".  My daughter, Trinity videoed at Jake's and on the way over with one of the Ducks cameras and then we met two videographers at the game.   We had to find seats at the game and my buddy Frank was able to get some for us but they were at the top of a tall set of steps.  I walked with Bob up the steps and showed him their seats.  "This is great", he said, "But I have to pee![...]

All boxed up

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 18:55:00 +0000

September 12, 2013 My grandson, Jayden, is in high school now. I am very proud of that young man.  I know that I am biased but there are many things of his character that make me feel that he will be a good man.  He is kind, thoughtful, and caring.  Those are all traits that don't just happen.  They are also very good foundations of manhood.Where he hated middle school, he seems to take his new adventure in high school pretty well.  And his first big test in it is coming in be exact, soccer.  Both Carrie and I encouraged him to take soccer to stay in shape for his favorite sport, Lacrosse.In his last Lacrosse team, his coach tried him out in a new position, Goalie. Jay hated it.  For many reasons, actually.  But probably the biggest being pressure.  Jay is a quiet young man.  And goalie is the highest pressure position on the team.  When the other team would score on him, he would take it all on his shoulders and he began to not enjoy the sport.He tried out and made the JV2 soccer team at Summit High.  He enjoys the team and knows many of the players which helped him smooth out his first few days of school.  Because he is so quiet, he sometimes struggles with first days of anything new but his transition to high school seemed to be going off without a hitch.His first game was last Saturday at Summit against a bigger 6A team, Central Catholic.  Judy and I walked out on the field after the game had already started.  I looked and looked but could not find him on the field anywhere.  That is because I was looking at the wrong place.  He was in the box......goalie.Knowing how he feels about that position, my heart went out to him immediately.  I spotted Carrie who was over close to him and walked to her side.  She had no idea what was going on also and I could feel the anger and fear in her voice knowing that he hated the position so.We watched as the team lost 5-1.  We found out later that the coach had asked for volunteers and one of the other boys had stated that Jay had played goalie in Lacrosse so the coach volunteered him.  Jay did what any good teammate should do.....go where the coach tells him to go.Now, since the varsity team had lost 4-2 and they had a seasoned goalie, we all told him to keep his head up.  Other parents who realized on the sidelines acknowledged his effort also.So, as I drove him to his game yesterday, we talked about his day....and his upcoming sporting event.  I told him if he knew where he would be playing.  "The coach has been playing me in goal.", he said.  When I asked him if he had told the coach that he did not like the position, he quickly said yes, but he was trying to be a good teammate and go where the coach wanted him to go.We talked of how some of the other players handled him being in the box since he is not normally there and would have obvious rusty parts of his game.  He admitted that some of them had yelled at in particular.....a junior."That one is easy, Jay", I stated, "just remind him that he is a junior on the freshman team.".  Jay laughed and told me that when the guy starts his criticism others have made that same statement.  I told him to offer the others to take his place in the box.  He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.  I could see something that I knew oh so well.  Like any other young man in high school, he wanted more than anything else to be accepted."Just play your hardest and you will be fine.", I encouraged as he stepped out of the car.  "I will", he said as he sauntered away towards his teammates.So, you can imagine how hap[...]

By the Numbers

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 18:53:00 +0000

September 4, 2013 A good restaurant manager knows his numbers. I learned mine early on.  There are percentages that you work to stay within, then you must sell a certain amount of covers to break even.  And...if you have done your math right, when you get above that break even point, the profit begins to take hold and, baring unforeseen problems, the more covers that you have above that break even point, the more profit that you will make.  It is simply spoken, Restaurants by the numbers.Now, don't get me wrong, it is only a part of the over all scheme.  And, in my humble opinion, should not be your target goal.  The most important part of a restaurant is that it better serve tasty food in a timely and friendly manner thus giving the customer a good experience and giving him a desire to return.But, if those numbers are not there, no restaurant will survive and thus is one of the main reasons that so many go under so early in their lives.  That and the fact that the profit margin is quite small.  Many young restaurateurs see all that money coming in to the tills and actually think that it belongs to you.  I preach to my people that only a nickel of every dollar actually goes in my pocket and generally speaking, that is true.Every year, I do a certain amount of charity events.  It is one of my ways of giving back to the community that kept me alive.  I believe that to be a variable in yet another mix that all good businessmen should be involved in.  By that, I mean community spirit, believing in particular causes or organizations, and (even more importantly) showing who you are.All that being said, a few years back, I decided to give the end of the summer cruise to a group of people who had become very near and dear to my heart, the High Desert A's.  This group of mainly more senior members (I am one of the younger) have come to take our diner on as a sort of home.  They invited Judy and I into their group with open arms and even helped us get our first Model A.  I enjoy hanging out with them as I do my veteran brothers and sisters.....many of them are veterans also but all of them have a strong love of country.Last year, at the end of summer cruise, I did not do my job well or right.  The product was right, the atmosphere was right, and the desire was numbers were off.  That and the fact that the weather did not cooperate (the temperature dropped chasing customers off).Our numbers were not that bad considering everything.  We sold around 140 covers.  As usual, most of them were senior sized.   I had placed the price in a what I felt was a good price hoping for around 200.  And, we probably would have made an OK profit if we would have had those numbers.  My other problem was serving a product that we could not use the left overs for something else.  We served ribs which is not what we normally use in the diner so not easily resold.This year, we decided to change that and serve Sirloin.  Then, whatever was left over can be cut into steaks or diced into sirloin tips that are used in sandwiches or breakfast dishes.But, this time, I also paid more attention to the numbers and priced the product accordingly.As the day approached, I began to get quite nervous over the weather.  The weatherman had stated that the day would bring colder temperatures and I worried that the numbers would not pan out and like last year, I would not be able to raise any money for my friends.  Lingering smoke from a fire also lingered over the mix.  I remember going away during the day with Judy for a few hours to clear m[...]

A Teachable Moment

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 18:51:00 +0000

August 9, 2013A good manager is also a good teacher.  You can state a statement over and over but sometimes it is just not received well without an example.  I recall once using a simple cup of coffee.  I poured a cup and then added some cream and sugar.  I then took the spoon and blended it while I talked.  The spoon was a very important part of the ending cup.  It blended the three ingredients into the drink making the finished product.  But, once the spoon was taken out of the cup, you would not even realize that it was there.  "You are the spoon.", I spoke, "You make or break that perfect cup of coffee....but....I can use another spoon just as easy.  I might like you.  But, I could just pick up another spoon.  No One, not you nor I is irreplaceable.  And once you are replaced, our customers will not remember the difference because we will just find another spoon."I had made that statement for just one of the girls in the room.  It was early on in my career at Jake's and one of the entrenched waitresses had been attempting to push me around with her feeling of being indispensable.  She was very important to the diner....I knew that.  I did not want to see her go.  But, I also knew that unless she followed me, I would not be able to get others to follow.  She sat waiting in the room as the others left.  With no one else there but her and I, she looked up and said, "That was for me, wasn't it?".  "If the shoe fits", was my reply.  "OK, I get it!", she snapped as she popped up and left the room.  Although she still gave me fits from time to time, she never tried threatening to leave again.Sometimes, personal experiences become stories....stories that can teach.  Something that can be related to to show a point.Yesterday, I was shopping in a store.  I won't name it's name but I had picked up a few items but felt that I did not have enough for a cart.  I walked towards the only open cash register in the place.  A lady was talking with some young girls by the register looking over some of the impulse items that were laid out there.  Her shopping cart was laden with stuff.....filled to the brim and overflowing.  The girls were attempting to talk her into one more thing.  They were spraying each other with some perfume type product.  "Doesn't this smell good, Grandma?", I heard one of them say as I walked past them.Happy that they were still behind me now, I walked up to the register and unloaded my arms unto the open counter.  The cashier was loading up bags from the lady in front of me that she had just rang up.  She looked up at me with a funny sort of helpless look.  "Grandma, you need to bring your cart around.", said the lady in front of me who looked like she was ready to leave.  I soon realized that Grandma was paying for everyone's stuff.  And Grandma had more stuff to ring up......lots and lots of stuff.  I scooped up my things and moved out of the way for her.  She seemed oblivious of me even being there as she slowly unloaded her at a time from her cart.  12 bottles of soda and 8....yes...8 bottles of large shampoo were just a couple of the things coming from the seeming bottomless cart.I stood there.  My arms holding the items that I had picked.  I looked around, hoping for someone to bail me out.  I was hoping that one of the other employees would see the line beguinning to form and open up another register.  A man behind me had a shopping cart that was about 3/4 full and another lady was millin[...]

Waltzing Matilda

Sun, 07 Jul 2013 18:47:00 +0000

July 7, 2013 Events are never the same...and this one was no exception to that.  Our Fourth of July BBQ and Blues loomed in front of us and it had all of the look of a huge success.  The band seemed like an ace in the hole.  Richard Taelour, Two Grammy award winners, Half of Merl Haggard's band, and Harmonica Steve who had helped Richard send my friend Kieth home just weeks before.  I bragged up these guys and invited people to come listen to them even if they could not afford to buy the BBQ.  And...they did.We sold 100 less BBQ than we had the year before.  Lots of product left over which means that if we cannot sell it than this event becomes a loss.  But, that is a chance and a choice that you make before it all starts and that is a part of this game.Looking back, the band (as incredible as they were) was actually a part of the reason that it was less.  People came from all around to listen and watch.  Parking spaces filled up early.  And, I have been told that people came to eat some BBQ, drove around, could not find a spot to park, and gave up and left.But this post is not to grumble about that for no event should be measured by money but by did it make people happy and this one truly did.  And I will try and post some of my highlights as I remember them before they are forgotten.  After all, is that not one of the reasons of a blog?I came down early in the morning to handle last minute affairs such as printing up the menu and such.  Breakfast came faster than I expected and I ended up working out on the floor.  This made the morning fly by and before I knew it, it was afternoon.  I downed some lunch and headed home to put my head down for a couple of minutes as I knew that I would be there late in the evening.I drove my Model A down, parked it, and set to the last minute details.  The set up seemed almost flawless as people did what they have done so many times before.  The band came early to set up and I could not find a power bar for them so I had my buddy, Zin, drive me to the store to get one.The BBQ and the band seem to start at the same time.  And both seemed to rock.  People lined up for both of them.  The whole thing flowed and my stress level remained like the weather....high but cooler than the days before.  Everyone did their job, the band sounded unbelievable, and the comments on the BBQ were that it was a hit.But, as I walked around, something seemed different.  I realized fast what that was.  In the past the line for the BBQ was down the side of the parking lot.  Tonight, it was there but not even partly as long.  Fortunately, Jim saw the same thing and pulled back on his cooking but not as fast as was needed.  In the end, we still had three trays of BBQ that we are going to need to use up somehow.My VVA brothers all did their part and I walked around doing what I am suppose to do....look for problems and solve them.  But other than the lack of eaters, there didn't seem to be any.  Over and over, I was thanked for the night, the food, the atmosphere, and the music.  So, I just walked around the lot and the floors and talked to people.  And because this is what I enjoy, it was a great night.I stepped out on the deck and one of the customers pulled me to the side to let me know that we had a Major General (thats two stars) here tonight.  He said the General wanted to meet me so I waited as he was down in the chow line. I expected a large broad shouldered man with a stern confident look and gait.  But what I saw wa[...]


Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:44:00 +0000

June 20, 2013 I drove up to the familiar house, parked up on the curb, opened the gate, and walked up to the door.  I knocked but could see Frank was sitting alone in the front room.  He started to get up and so I opened up the screen door.  "Please don't get up", I stated.  "Wow, Lyle, it is so good to see you", he said.  "It is good to see you too, my friend", I returned.I walked across the room and sat as close as I could to him.  The TV was on and I could tell his confusion of trying to hear me over it, so I grabbed the remote and turned it down as I could tell Frank was confused on what to do.  You see, Frank has Alzheimers.   I was here not just to see my old friend....but to perform a duty.  Something that a good friend should....must do.  To tell him of the passing of one of his closest friends in life.  It was my duty because I was one of the links of the bond of their friendship.  For once upon a time....not that long ago, the two were the very cornerstone of the diners counter.When they made the movie, Jake's Truck Stop, they were such a key part of the flavor of the diner, that she actually finished off the documentary returning to their conversation at the counter.  When the Bulletin wrote a story on the movie, they added a picture of that part of the movie as an example of what was to be seen in it. I remember when Frank was first diagnosed with Alzheimers.  Keith and I talked and Keith was so saddened by it.  Then only a year of so later, Keith himself was diagnosed with the same disease.   But Keith's advanced much faster.Keith's wife, Marjorie, tried so hard to keep his mind occupied and working.  She would daily give him a list of things that he was to do.  He would drive in to Jake's for breakfast, go through his list and do his chores, and then stop back by for either lunch or dinner before driving back home.  This kept him going....kept him alive for much longer.Keith was a quiet man.  He was more of a listener than a talker.  I spent many a breakfast just sitting next to him eating.  But when he did talk, he had something to say.  He talked of his greatest loves....his family, his cars (Porsche and Jeep), and Hawaii. Those were his favorite topics.  He was always open to your opinion on a subject as long as you were open to his.  Everyone enjoyed being around Keith.  When the girls saw him coming in the door, they were shouting the order into the kitchen so that it was in front of him shortly after he sat.We watched as the disease took it's toll on him.  His conversations would repeat themselves or he would forget where he parked his car or what car that he was driving.  Once, I was playing poker in the back room when he came back and told me that he could not find the key to his car.  I sent a couple of crew members around looking for them.  His wife called me on the phone to ask me if I would help.  I left the table and walked out to his car.  Their were the keys in the door lock where he had left them when he locked it up.Then came the day that they stopped him driving.  Marjorie called me to let me know that he had not come home yet.  A couple of us began looking in the parts of town that he was sent to.  My spot was Safeway.  I drove around and around the lot.  I could not find him or his car.  I drove the roads surrounding it and came back to the lot and made some more passes.  She called me to let me know that he had arri[...]


Tue, 11 Jun 2013 18:43:00 +0000

June 11, 2013 He came to us recommended by a friend.  We were told that he had a checkered past but that he was trying to get his life back together and I was asked to give him another chance.  I trusted that person, we had a opening in our dish room, and so Gary became one of our employees.A quiet man, we soon found out that Gary was a very hard worker and extremely talented.  There did not seem to be many 'hands on' things that he could not do.  He soon got side jobs working on peoples cars or lawn mowers or whatever type 'handy man' jobs.Gary was divorced with two young girls....his ex wife had struggles of her own.....and yet, Gary still accepted her.  And his love for the two girls was so evident.  He would often bring them into the diner and buy them a meal.  They both seemed to echo his quiet nature.But, he did not come without a cost.  His past had affected another ex employee with a somewhat 'storied' past.  Something he had done in his 'past' life had harmed her.  She called me up demanding that I fire him.  If I did not, she warned, she was going to tell the world just what kind of employee that I was hiring.Gary had been working for me for a year or so and had shown himself but even that, I must admit, I was a bit scared and threatened.  After all, if our customers saw it the wrong way, I could be harming 30 others lively hood and our business.  I talked it over with Judy and Jimmy and decided that since he was such a good employee and he seemed to be trying so hard to be a good man that we would see where this storm would take us.After one or two phone calls from the others friends, that storm blew over and Gary became not only a good employee but a 'highly valued and loved one'.  There was not an employee that his dry humor and quiet nature did not affect.  There was not a job that was given him that he did not jump into with vigor.  He became our 'hands on' guy.I watched as he picked up the pieces of his life and trudged forward with a smile on his face.  With his talent, I hoped that we would be a stepping stone for him.  I could see him getting a job as a mechanic somewhere.  But....Gary stayed on.  I guess he liked it here.He soon gained custody of his two girls and I saw Gary jump headlong into fatherhood.  His love and affection for them was very evident.  And through it all, his acceptance of his ex seemed to shine like no other that I had seen.Although I did see him angry a time or two, it was certainly not the norm.  He was going to take what life was dealing him and do so with a joke and a smile.  You know, I honestly cannot seem to find a time that I ever admonished him for anything or was disappointed in something that he had done.He was living in a small trailer that someone had given him in a little trailer park so Cindy (one of our waitstaff and a real estate agent on the side) started working with him to help him get a home through some government program.  There were quite a few hurdles to jump and it all seemed on again off again, but eventually Gary had a home for him and his two girls.  The trailer had been given him so he passed that on by giving it to someone else in need.  I knew nothing of this until I ran into a woman who was working at the dollar tree who told me what Gary had done for her and her daughter.Gary's talent certainly showed itself greatly when we began serving our Thanksgiving meals at the Bend Senior Center.  Gary organized and strapped in equipm[...]


Thu, 06 Jun 2013 18:41:00 +0000

June 6, 2013 When I grew up, one of the things that I enjoyed but did not get the opportunity to do that often was to go to a restaurant....especially one that made good milkshakes.  I recall the dairy company down on Greenwood.  I remember well them bringing out the metal shake tin along with the glass.  The taste of the thick shake that can only be done right by using hard ice cream and whole milk.  That is the reason that we do our milkshakes that way at Jake's.  Way back, when I first started managing, Jake had a soft ice milk machine.  The shake was much easier to make but the flavor just wasn't there.  The machine was a pain to maintain and I talked Jake into allowing us to just get a freezer, put the ice cream in it and scoop.  Because of the high maintenance of the ice milk machine, he agreed.  I still have that same freezer that we purchased so long ago.The only problem with that now is that I have sugar problems.  I love pies, cinnamon rolls, milkshakes, and all of the sweet stuff does not like me.  I have come to sort of get used to it. I have another problem.  It is not so bad that I have all of these sweet things around me that I cannot eat, I now have a food allergy.  It all came to my attention earlier this year when I struggled swallowing a few times.  It was back in January right around the time that I got the flu.  I actually thought it a part of that until I talked to my doctor at Physical time.  She sent me to have an upper GI and it was discovered that my esophagus  was inflamed.  I went further to have a upper endoscopy.  Upon a biopsy, it was determined that I had a food allergy.   Now, I had many thoughts that swam through my head.  I had changed my eating a few years ago when I battled cancer.  My first thought came to two items avocado and aloe vera.  I have given them both some credit in that battle.So, I was sent to an allergist.   That was yesterday.  The nurse and I joked a bit when she first checked me in.  "You own a restaurant and have a food allergy?", she quipped.  "If that is not bad enough.", I returned, "I also am diabetic.".  I laughed with her....I am now not really laughing.We picked out around 20 or so foods that I eat and set up the test.  The nurse came in and did the test on my back.  She called out each food as she scratched it into my back.  A few minutes later, the nurse came in and peeked. She went out and got the doc.  "Holy cow!", he stated, "I have never seen one that big before.".  I asked which one and he said "Rice".  I asked about the peanut one as I knew that I had that problem once.  He said it was kind of bad also.  "I don't know if you are going to be happy with these results.", he stated.The bell rang and the nurse began her measurements. I saw her writing down numbers but did not understand them.The doctor then came back in and made an initial statement of how these tests were just to determine if there are antibodies in me which can be the sign of a food allergy.  "There are many chances of false negatives.", he stated.  "Is there anything that we know for sure?", I asked.  "Yes", he said, "You are not allergic to avocado, egg, and banana.".   Any of these other numbers can result in a food allergy. So, we decided to take on the worst first. The rice is off of the chart and the peanut is rather large so I am eliminatin[...]

Another Brick in The Wall (den)

Thu, 30 May 2013 18:34:00 +0000

May 30, 2013A year or so ago, I was at the coast when I got a telephone call.  It was Senator Jeff Merkley's office.  They wanted to bring Jeff into a Band of Brothers meeting.  I told them that I was sure that would be OK, but he needed to understand that their were two conditions that needed to be met.  No politics and no religion.  He could talk of veteran issues that were being addressed of the day and answer questions but not stump for votes.We both agreed to get back with one another and they called meback the next week and agreed.  In the meantime, I had talked with the principles from the group and they thought it would be a good thing also so the date was set. I warned them that the questions that would be asked might be pretty hot since we were not going to screen them.  They thought that would be just fine.Jeff came in and was very nice.  He talked of what was being addressed in congress and then opened up the floor for questions. As I expected, since the group is a bit conservative, he was asked some pretty good ones.  Like, "Why did you vote for the Affordable Care Act without reading the bill?".  "My staff read every page.", he dodged, and then asked for the next question as I heard the grumbles from certain areas of the room.  He smiled brightly and seemed to listen to most everyone.  He dodged so well when the questions were a little hot, that I kind of gave him the nick name, "The Artful Dodger". I kind of liked the guy even though I disagreed with most of his ideas on how to handle certain situations.  He sent me a nice note and I put his picture up on our wall.So, once again, I am over at the coast and I receive a phone call.  This time it is from Greg Walden's office.  They asked if Greg could come into the diner and talk.  At first, I thought it the same thing and I gave them the spiel of the rules of the Band of Brothers.  "He is not coming in to see them.", they said, "He is  interested in having a breakfast at your diner.".  "Are you sure you have the right place?", I asked, "I am not very fancy and just a diner.".  They said that they were interested in having a breakfast similar to what the Band of Brothers do but they would invite their supporters in.The date that they wanted was the same day of the week that the High Desert A's come in for their weekly breakfast so I checked with them and they agreed to come in the day before that week and the date was set.Originally, the number was set at around 60 but as the date came closer, the number grew and the final count that was given the day before was 90.  I must admit that I began to get a bit nervous then as that would fill up every seat in the room.  I imagined a couple coming in at the end and having to sit at different tables of which they would not be very happy.I got up early and came in to begin the transition.  The one thing that I knew that I didn't need to worry about was the food.  Jimmy does so well with his weekly group that he has it down to a science.  Only this time, the numbers would be up.....but he handles that well also.  I knew their would be plenty of food.The event was to start at  so I closed off the room at 7.  Two groups were there and they soon left. The room was vacant for a few minutes which made the set up even easier.  We pulled the things off of the counter and moved the chairs out of the room.  Soon, some of Walden's people came i[...]

Race Night

Thu, 23 May 2013 18:31:00 +0000

May 23, 2013 The coldest day in quite some time.  The threat of snow.  Wind.  The absolute worst weather that I could imagine to have for our first car show of the summer (I joked that it was actually the last car show of the winter).  I worried that it would be a horrible bomb.  But then I looked around at a room filled with.....friends.  Friends who came to support us, who braved the cold and threat of moisture with their old cars, Veterans, Car people, church friends......and I thought......I am so blessed!  We actually sold two more BBQs than last year.  Thanks to Richard Smith who volunteered yet again to take tickets.  To Jerry Bugge who came up with this idea a few years back and not only brought in his dragster but the fellow who has the fastest car at the track.  No one walked the lot but I watched cars of people who drove in slowly and cruised it looking at the cars who had come.  Thank you cool kids, Mustang club, Band of Brothers, High Desert A's, Linechasers, Central Oregon Old Car Club, and all of the others who braved the elements.  I am truly overwhelmed!  And thank you Trinity Hicks for taking over the Jake's page and keeping people informed in this new digital age of what we are doing.  [...]


Fri, 03 May 2013 18:29:00 +0000

May 3, 2013 It is not often that I write a post dedicated to a friend who is still alive.  This one life, however, is probably one of the most incredible stories that I know of.  I could call him my personal Forest Gump except that he is no way mentally challenged.  But he has, however, the same innocence, dependability, and trustworthiness of him.  He also is from the same neck of the woods as Forest.My tale starts some 40 years ago.  I had been on my ship, the USS Durham, just long enough to get my feet set in the Navigation department.  We knew that a few of our guys would be leaving soon so their would be some billets to fill.A short fellow out of deck showed up in the bridge one day.  He had bright eyes and an equally bright crooked smile.  He stood behind the helm, holding on to it and looking around the bridge.  "This is where I want to be.", he announced, "I want to be a Quartermaster".  "Where you from?", I asked, "You sound like an Okie.".  "I am from Alabama!", he proudly proclaimed.  But it was too late....from that moment on, he was Okie.The reference to another close by southern state did not faze him.  He wore the moniker with pride.  The whole ship came to know him as Okie but his real name was Ray......Raymond Alphonsus McCaffrey III.I got a hold of our leader, QM1 Davis and helped direct Okie to the proper channels and before we knew it, he was one of us.Okie was the quickest learner that I have ever met.  He seemed to not just listen, he absorbed.  He had an uncanny way of focusing on whatever was in front of him.  He accomplished every task without complaint and always with that same crooked smile and good attitude.But he didn't just stop there.  After he had perfected all of our rate, he began learning rates around us.  You would often find him up on the signal bridge learning the flags and semaphore.I loved listening to stories of his youth.  How he never brushed with toothpaste until he joined the navy (he always used baking soda) or how he taught himself how to golf with his Uncles left hand golf clubs out in the field out behind his house.  I wonder if he still golfs left handed?  When he recalled some old story, his eyes would light up with excitement as he would share.Unlike some others who would brag or embellish their experiences attempting to be someone that they only hoped they could be, Okie was and will always be.....Okie.  That was the way that he was and if you didn't like it, that was tough.While Okie was very bright, he was also very innocent in his thoughts.  I remember talking with him once of Judy being from Australia.  I jokingly stated that I could not live there as they did not have color  TV.  "Why don't you just take your own.", he stated with a smile.He also while able to focus well on a particular item sometimes faltered a bit while doing more than that.  I remember him coming down the ladder (stairs) between decks with five gallons of deck grey paint.  I was on the port bridge wing talking with the captain.  He had asked me a question that I needed some help on.  "Hey Okie!", I called out. "Yeah?", he returned.  Except his focus was now on me and off of the five gallons of paint that now slipped out of his hands and came crashing down on the deck below.  The captain looked at Okie, the paint, and then at me.  He j[...]


Thu, 02 May 2013 18:28:00 +0000

May 2, 2013 It was my last Westpac cruise aboard the Durham....."The Lonely Bull".  It started in September of 1974.Sometime towards the end of that year, we took aboard some South Vietnamese officers for training purposes.  It was my responsibility to train in navigation. One of those men was named Sau....Sau van Nguyen.Sau was not a very big man.  But his lack of size was easily made up in his spirit.  He was very fun to be around with an infectious smile and a great attitude.  He was an officer but he asked if he could eat in the mess with the rest of us enlisted men.  He said that he just felt more comfortable around us.Sau was also very bright and articulate.  He picked up the art of navigation by the stars in quick order.  He equally grasped the electronic items also such as the Loran, Omega, and using the radar.  He seemed to absorb everything that I told him like a sponge.We spent a bit of time in the chart room just talking.  We shared our youth experiences and talked of our lives.  I don't recall allot of the content of those talks but remember more than anything just feeling comfortable around him.Sometime in early 1975, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army began attacking.  I remember feeling a bit angry that the South did not seem to be fighting back.I recall asking Sau one day why.  After all, we had left them with plenty of weapons.  He just smiled his typical Sau smile and he said, "How do you expect us to fight back, Lyle, we have no fuel or ammunition".  "You need to buy some.", I returned.  "With what?", he said, "Our country is poor. We don't have the money for that.".At the time and in my youthful mind, that explanation did not carry much weight.  I think I honestly did not let my mind turn towards such things as commerce and such.  When we needed anything, we just put in a requisition and we got it.  In fact, to insure that we kept our budget, we always instructed our supply guy to order enough of whatever before the end of budget time.So I took his explanation as more of just an excuse and let it go because I liked the man.  Years later, I read how our politicians had pulled the plug on their funding leaving them hanging.  The Viet Cong were backed by the Russians and the North Vietnamese by China.Our soldiers did not lose that war....our politicians did!So, anyway, we were pulled into Subic Bay, Philippines where Sau and the others were taken off of the ship while we prepared to head over and assist in the evacuation of fleeing civilians.I worried about Sau especially when things went real sour and the country fell.  In my mind, I could see him dying in it's defense.A year later, I was out of the Navy and living in San Diego.  Judy and I were renting a small duplex in East San Diego and I got a call from a friend on the Durham.  He told me that he wanted to bring by an old friend.  Minutes later, he showed up on my doorstep with Sau.It was so great to see my old friend.  We hugged and shared a beer.  Finally, I asked him the question that was eating away at me.  How and why he got out.  I remember even using the word desertion.Sau just smiled that same Sau smile and said, "What did you expect me to do, Lyle.  They would not have put me in prison.  They would have killed me.".  That made sense.Sau told me that he [...]

Just Ducky

Sun, 21 Apr 2013 18:19:00 +0000

April 21, 2013 I have been going to the Oregon Duck spring game for a few years now. It is a fast paced scrimmage game that gives you a jolt of the game in between seasons.  But, I have enjoyed the post game just as much or better.  They do a tribute to the military.  The military lines up the field on one side while the team is on the other.  The two meet in the middle of the field.  The military gives the player his service coin while the player gives the military his jersey.After last year, I got this idea that it would be awesome if they used veterans.  I emailed the school and they emailed back saying that the suggestion should be given at a later date when the game is being planned.  So, after the season ended, I sent yet another email.  I was given the email address of the football program for Oregon so I began sending them emails.  I highlighted the fact that we had many WW2 vets and that we were losing them as time moved on.  I don't know how many emails that I had sent but I was trying to be consistent.I was taking a nap in the afternoon early February when I was awoken by a phone call.  I answered and a man told me his name, Jeff Hawkins and said he was from Oregon football.  I was groggy and thought he was trying to sell me season tickets or something and was probably a bit short with him.  "No", he said, "This is Jeff Hawkins from the Oregon Ducks.".  I realized quickly that this was my answer to the emails.The cobwebs were still a bit in my head but I listened as he told me that I had gotten his attention with my emails and it hit home with him as his father was WW2 and he was Vietnam era.  He went on to tell me that he could not do what I had wanted but would be willing to do something else to honor the guys.  "What if we open up one of our practices to them.  And then do a sort of meet and greet afterwards.  We will video the event and put it up on the big screen at the spring game thus honoring them there.".  I knew that they would love this idea but asked him if he would allow me to bring it to them in our next meeting and he said sure.I brought it up with overwhelming response.  A dozen or so hands went up for WW2 guys and many more for others.  So, I called Jeff back and said that we would love to come over.  I told him that we have quite a few guys in our organization.  Many are WW2 but most are later.  Jeff said, "Hold on, Lyle, this is only open to the WW2 guys.  Those are the ones that you presented to me.  I can't open this up to all or I would have a huge can of worms with other veteran organizations wanting in.".  What he said made lots of sense and I immediately apologized for the misunderstanding and assured him that they would just be that era.  "But, these guys are in their 90's and we will have to have drivers.  The drivers will ask so will they be allowed to come in also?".  "I can't answer that.", came the reply.So, I went to work apologizing to the guys in the group who had their hopes dashed and asking for drivers who knew that they would probably not be going in.  I had 4 from the Bend group and Rob from Lapine.  I promoted the idea in the Redmond and Prineville group but got no response.  So, our group seemed to be the ones that were going.  15 in all signed up.  5 d[...]