Perhaps you remember when Steve Martin was on Saturday Night Live and did a skit featuring a ‘wild and crazy guy.’ Now I’ve never really been known as one of those, but once while in high school, I did come close… very close.
It was the summer of 1957, between the 10th and 11th grades at Central High.. Our family took a week long and many miles long motor trip from our home in Jackson, Mississippi diagonally north/westward across the nation to the sleepily little town of Glacier, Washington… perhaps 20 miles east of the East coast and 5 to 7 miles south of the Canadian border. This little town was the last settlement at the foot of Mount Baker, along the end of a dead-end highway 542.
My mother’s uncle lived in Glacier, and the family had not seen him in many years. Uncle Ed worked in the logging industry, operating a crane which loaded cut logs onto trucks which transported them down the mountain.
In the winter, Glacier was a bustling ski mecca. But we were there in summer. Although there was snow on the mountain (my sister and I tobogganed down the slopes) it was not the tourist ski season while we were there. According to our map, the census said that Glacier had a resident population of only 25. We were there 3 days and I only laid eyes on 7… including my own family!
Uncle Ed invited two of his closest friends over to meet us. These two middle-aged ‘mountain men’ owned and operated a gold mine on Mount Baker! I was enraptured by the tales they told on one-another… and about Uncle Ed.
The day before we left, the two miners asked if I’d like to come back the next summer, and work in the mine with them. Uncle Ed said he’d enjoy the company if I wanted to return. Would I? YES!!!
In my tender 16 year old brain, this was the chance of a life-time! I’d never been so crazy-adventurous. This was my unbelievable chance to try my hand at becoming a wild and crazy guy! My mind went wild. I decided that I’d (try to) grow a beard… and grow my hair out… and bleach it blonde! When school started the in fall of my return from Mount Baker, no one would recognize me… the wild and crazy guy!
Did I do it? No. So what went wrong?
When school started in the fall of ’57, my dreams of a beard and bleached hair deep inside a gold mine were shattered by a tiny imp with a bow and arrow… brought on by a cute, seductive blonde in eleventh grade American History class. My heart began to skip beats, and my hormones went on over-time. Basically, I traded my plans for blonde hair for the blonde across the room.
So much for my dreams of becoming a wild and crazy guy!