When I asked how many quarters it took he explained how one dryer got hotter. His openness came as something of a surprise since, when I'd visited this part of the world before, folks seemed noticeably xenophobic; it turned out he'd done a stint in the military which often fosters an easy amiability. When you know you're going to move within a short amount of time, you make friends quickly, or not at all.
While he folded sheets and pillow-cases I learned he'd grown up in California, been stationed in Clovis (NM) and Alaska, spent eleven years in the mill in Kettle Falls before returning to school to study massage. He's a Rolfing specialist and has been in business for three years. Thus, all the sheets. In addition, he's a watercolorist and his wife does ceramics.
As he told his story he described how, at 18, he'd joined the Air Force hoping to travel. Vietnam was going strong and his Mom was opposed to him enlisting. Stationed at Clovis, New Mexico, he spent most of his time in the barracks and sent his pay home. His Dad had died when he was 12 and with two siblings his Mom needed the help.
When stationed near Seattle he and a buddy went into town and got a room. It turned out the buddy was dealing drugs and the cops showed up. They hauled them both in but Greg's sergeant knew he wasn't the type and got the Base Commander to get him out. The sergeant's help came as a surprise as he hadn't given Greg a clue that he was in such good standing.
In those days a bust like that would have ruined Greg's military career. Listening to him tell it, I recalled the era, the violence and the lost lives. A friend spent four years in a Federal penitentiary for possession of two, thin joints. I was in Nashville, Tennessee when Stokely Carmichael spoke and I knew first-hand the validity of the race riots. I also demonstrated against the war. And now, over forty years later, it was heartening to be in the company of someone who'd come through it all, at least from what I heard, okay.
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When I asked how he'd surmounted the world-famous American aversion to touch, Greg told me how the folks in this neck of the woods have to work for a living, the kind that caused Maynard G. Krebs's voice to break. Many incur injuries and when standard medical practices fail to alleviate the problem, people come to him.
He described how a wife whose truck-driving husband had injured his shoulder led him by the hand and stood by while Greg rolfed him. The results were so impressive that word quickly spread and he's been busy ever since. (Mrs. Pritchett is a certified Rolfer as well.)
While I was waiting for a dryer, Eggbert got a bath. The local chapter of Proud to Wear an Apron (PWA) was having a fund-raising car wash to send the girls to Texas to compete in the Nationals. They didn't respond when I inquired if they were taught birth-control, but the enthusiastic appreciation for my contribution begged the question: Were their attitudes developed through participation in the organization or did they choose to participate due to their attitudes?
Kettle Falls is something of a throw-back to the 60s with some contemporary twists. There's a good-sized organic foods and vitamin store where a woman in hiking boots, wearing a beaded cap and ankle-length skirt with a baby in a sling on her chest looked as if she'd just come from a Rainbow Gathering. Down the street, Kettle Falls Foods had, the evening before, held a grand-opening party to acquaint the community with the new owners, one of whom, who came out to dispense the propane, appeared to be of East Indian heritage. When I mentioned I'd bought out their stock of Sheaf Stout, he acknowledged his extensive selection of micro-brews. The times they are a chaaaaaannnnnnggggiinng...in spite of the xenophobes.