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Category: Sherm Lollar (page 1 of 4)

Retirement is not without Hassles: A Winning Moment? #1216

I’ve been in Vegas at the Westgate Resort and Casino for over 12 hours and haven’t lost a dime. In fact, I’m ahead, even though a bar fountain Diet Pepsi just cost me $8. My wife is still asleep, so I can continue these written ramblings about my retirement life. I’ve used the last two posts to expound on bladder problems and butt-crack to give you an idea of how educational and enlightening my thoughts can sometimes be. Currently, I’m sitting on my butt in a dark hotel room at the computer keyboard, trying not to disturb her. I did, however, get a three-mile run in already and checked-out the Sports Book.  The Hoosiers play the Boilermakers in about two hours on the big screen, with the rumored possibility of Bobby Knight in attendance. It will be a good indication of how my luck stands.

It’s the 21st anniversary of my love relationship in the city where we got married nearly 19 years ago. We celebrate the 8th of every month – this being the 252nd. Even though 10 has always been my lucky number, dating back to the playing days of Sherm Lollar, 8 could be even luckier. Our room number ends in an 8, but the digits add up to 10, as I continue to look for signs of good fortune. Even that $8 Diet Pepsi might have meaning, despite my favoritism to Diet Coke that they apparently don’t serve in this hotel. They did, however, give us plenty of great chocolate chip cookies and a case of free water thanks to our personal concierge, Guy. I gave him a $10 tip, sticking to the numbers, and agreed to have lunch with him in a few days. We’ll meet again at the Elvis statue in the lobby where he will certainly try to sell us on something. We already are timeshare owners, so they apparently want our feedback and willing to pay $100 in addition to the free lunch. This is why I can momentarily say that I’m ahead at this point in our week-long stay. 

We used Alaska miles for the flights, paid only $300 total for the room, $18 for an Uber, and put-down a $25 refundable deposit to make sure we show up for lunch with Guy. He sent me a friendly text this morning offering to go to Wal-Mart for us if we needed anything. What a Guy! I also just made arrangements and paid the $350 remaining balance for our Grand Canyon tour on Monday. Fortunately, Guy won’t go with us, but I’m sure he would if we asked. All in all, I guess I’m really not winning after all, am I? There’s the cost of tickets for our show reservations that we pre-paid as well as admission tickets for the Titanic, Neon Graveyard, and Tim Burton exhibits. It’s starting to add up, and I’ve barely left the room. So much for a winning moment in Vegas!

Old Sport Shorts: Ode to Sherm #1189

Poetry comes to me in streaks, and today was one of those days. As I was organizing my collection of memorabilia around the playing career of Sherm Lollar, I was somehow inspired to write this tribute. As I frequently go to baseball card shows, everyone talks about Mickey Mantle or Honus Wagner and how these players are the investment cornerstones of a great collection. Not everyone can afford to collect these gems, so I’m one to encourage starting with those who bring back personal childhood memories. Sherm Lollar was my first baseball hero and I honor this with cards, photos, and memorabilia that probably mean nothing to anybody but me. You don’t always have to make everything a financial investment, if it brings you a sense of joy:

Ode to Sherm

I never knew him,
But saw him play.
Have never forgotten him,
To this very day.

He was a catcher,
Wore number 10.
A perennial general,
Of the bull-pen.

He played with Nellie,
Luis, and Minnie.
Golden Gloves,
He earned many.

In the World Series,
Nineteen Fifty-Nine.
He hit a home run,
Became a hero of mine.

I watched on TV,
In black and white.
But the Sox fell short,
Of the Dodger might.

I wore his number,
It was lucky for me.
But the Hall of Fame,
unlikely to be.

Defense was his game,
A leader behind the plate.
But overshadowed,
By Yankees’ Number 8.

Not every team player,
Can be in the spotlight.
But some are admired,
For the things they do right.

He played in Chicago,
For eleven years.
And like me,
He had big ears.

I’ve written Cooperstown,
On behalf of him.
But hitting .264,
His chances are slim.

Over seventeen years,
Sherm’s glove was his force.
When it came to fielding,
None better, of course.

I maintain a collection,
Of his photos and cards.
I have his Rawling’s mask,
But no shin guards.

I can’t always afford,
To dabble in Honus.
But with Sherm Lollar,
The memories are bonus.

Copyright 2020


Old Sport Shorts: Old Timer #1185

I spent yesterday in baseball mode, despite the big games in other sports on T.V. As I was traveling to my baseball card luncheon, for example, I.U. basketball somehow beat #11 Ohio State, despite 1-17 shooting in the last ten minutes of the first half. It was better that I was in the car and didn’t witness the pathetic 20-36 free throw shooting. Later in the day, I missed both NFL Playoff games because of a lengthy Old Timers Baseball Banquet. A few beers, four speakers and two unavoidable naps later, I was ready for bed. I did however enjoy a short conversation with 82-year old Pete Ward, a White Sox teammate of Sherm Lollar back in 1962. I think that he was disturbed that I was wearing a Cubs shirt while claiming to be a Sox fan. I also won a book by Jack Dunn, From The Third Base Coach’s Box.  

Today it’s raining buckets so I will definitely watch the Packers vs. Seahawks game. With the 49ers already in the winner’s bracket, West Coast fans are anticipating a Seattle vs. San Francisco match-up with the winner going to the Super Bowl. I’m also watching Purdue’s dominant first half performance against conference leader Michigan State. I’m not always a Purdue fan, but hatred is a relative thing. One of last night’s speakers was Mark Wasikowski, the new head baseball coach of the Oregon Ducks who was previously at Purdue. He talked of the in-state rivalry with I.U. In 2018 the Boilers finished 2nd in the BIG with a 17-9 record but were eliminated by Houston in the NCAA Regional. I.U. went a step further but lost to Texas, after a 14-9 conference season and a split record against Purdue. Texas failed to get through the first round of the 2018 College World Series

I last saw I.U. Baseball lose to defending National Champion Oregon State at T-Mobile Stadium in Seattle last year. Back in 2013 with Cubs’ star Kyle Schwarber in the line-up, Indiana made their first College World Series but also lost in double elimination to Oregon State. I followed University of Texas while we lived in Austin, and the success of I.U., U.T., and O.S.U. inspired me to attend the College World Series two years ago in Omaha. Texas was there, but I.U. failed to return. Oregon State emerged as the Champion in dramatic fashion. It was a sports bucket list accomplishment for me to attend the games. It was a lot more exciting than last night’s speakers that included another pep talk on luring Major League Baseball to Portland. I have a sinking feeling that I’ll really be an “Old Timer” when that finally happens!



Retirement is not without Hassles: New Year Review #1178

As I look back over the past 21 New Year’s Eve celebrations with my wife, 2 have been spent in the hospital, 3 with family & friends, 12 in fancy restaurants, and 4 at home with the dogs. Allow me to reflect on just this past year of memories that have been both good and bad, in no particular order of importance. Only two, including tonight, have ended with a relaxing night in a hotel room. 

The Year in Review:

My son turned 45

Two of my wife’s daughters wed great young men, so I’m now twice a step-father-in-law, joining my expanded family of a daughter-in-law of now over ten years

The two very different ceremonies were at The Presidio in San Francisco and Powell’s Rare Book Room in Portland. 

Both newlywed couples took gift honeymoons from us in Hawaii, while my son and his wife enjoyed our time-share condo in Orlando

We sold our stand-alone Portland condo in twelve days and at a profit. 

My oldest grandchild turned 12 and he took up golf

My middle grandchild turned 10 and we help her with dance lessons

My youngest grandchild celebrated her first birthday and I started her college fund

My wife joined me in retirement just a few months ago, while I just enjoyed my third full year

We traveled together to Thailand, Florida, Phoenix, Tucson, San Francisco, Walla-Walla, New York, Indiana, Maui, Vancouver, Chicago, Steamboat, Seattle, and McMinnville.

We saw Elton John, Pink, Goo-Goo Dolls, and Train in concert

I grew my Ancestry family tree to include over 18,000 relatives

We helped free a Jeep stuck up to its front axle in deep Panama City Beach sand 

I donated blood on several occasions 

I finished with over 15,000 Buffalo Wild Wings points to use for future “Leadership Meetings”

We moved to a downtown apartment and started using public transportation

We lost cat Frankie and schnauzer Tinker to old age

We attended our 7th Outstanding In The Field in Vancouver, BC – our first international dining event

My wife’s mother sadly died at age 97

We saw Beetlejuice, Moulin Rouge, and Tootsie on Broadway

I missed my 50th high school reunion

I lost two college fraternity brothers

We saw the 60th annual Twilight Zone movie presentation on the big screen

I.U. soccer lost to I.U. Santa Barbara and failed to reach the National Championship like last year

We watched I.U. baseball win and lose in Seattle and Oregon State beat I.U. the same weekend. The Beavers were not able to return to the College World Series

I.U. football earned a spot in the Gator Bowl

I.U. basketball failed to make the tournament again

The Chicago Bears failed to make the playoffs

The Cubs did not win the Division or make the playoffs. The White Sox didn’t come close

The Portland Trailblazers enjoyed playoff success but fell short to the eventual champion Warriors.

I saw Oregon basketball beat Memphis at the Moda Center

Oregon earned a spot in the Rose Bowl

I’ve added to my Sherm Lollar baseball collection while drastically downsizing my Cubs memorabilia to accommodate our much smaller living space

I gave-up my once-framed I.U. jersey to its rightful owner Kent Benson #54

We had Portland visits from my wife’s Indy girlfriends, my wife’s youngest daughter, and our Decatur friends

We reconnected with many old friends around the country

We paid off all our credit cards and the balance on our Decatur, Illinois mortgage

We eliminated most of our wine club memberships

We invested in more Marriott Vacation Club points

We planned and paid for many trips next year including Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Spring Training, Alcatraz, the Great Pyramid, and Glacier National Park

We bought the Regal Unlimited movie pass for next year and can easily walk to the theater

My wife’s oldest daughter and husband bought their first house. They also adopted Falco to play with now lonely Tally, our 10-year old schnauzer

My wife’s youngest daughter took a new job with Stanford Hospital and moved with her husband to San Francisco

We’ll end the year and day #7,861 together with dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa and start the New Year with theme park visits with my grand children

We looked at retirement properties along the Gulf Coast of Florida

We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary at Joel Palmer House in Oregon wine country

We met my cousin in Phuket, Thailand

I finished Game of Thrones

We went to the King Tut exhibit at OMSI in preparation for next year’s trip to Egypt

I completed the 11th consecutive year of my daily running streak

I had just one minor cold this past year

I just now finished my 1,178th blog post


Happy New Year to all!











Retirement is not without Hassles: Water Cooler #1164

It’s now been three years since I started this retirement blog. It’s helped me transition from a disciplined sales career into establishing a steady morning routine of running and writing that I’ve religiously stuck to these initial years. My goal was to run and write everyday and I now have 1,164 posts to show for it. I’ve written poems, eulogies, and random thoughts to express my emotions – it’s now my water cooler, as I share my day with others on the internet as I used to at the office or with my clients. I hope to continue it for many years to come. 

On the entertainment front, we just finished with The Crown and have one final episode of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to watch. I continue to follow Curse of Oak Island and Vikings, while my wife is into HGTV. I’m reading Criss-Cross by James Patterson, but my interaction with books has been limited to bed time. It’s difficult to get into a story when it’s consumed in bits and pieces, so I often lose track of who’s who or who done it. It will be good to sit on an airplane, “forced” to read for hours at a time.  While at home, I tend to be too easily distracted by other things because of my limited attention span. I’ll suddenly shift from T.V. to genealogy to blogging to collecting with too little focus on each interest. It’s definitely time to hit the road. 

With regard to sports, I did hear back from I.U. basketball legend Kent Benson in response to the jersey that I sent him. (See Post #1149). It had it in my sports memorabilia collection for years, but with his recent family medical issues, I thought it might serve a higher purpose. Fed Ex had trouble with the delivery address but went out of their way to find him – all part of the “Christmas Spirit.” It’s been 43 years since he wore it during the historic undefeated 1975-76 seasons and National Championship run. In his e-mail he expressed gratitude to receive it and was touched by the letter that I enclosed. I’m just glad it’s safely in his hands. 

Moving to other memorabilia, I lost out on a 1949 St. Louis Browns signed baseball that was up for auction on E-Bay.  My interest was the Sherman Lollar autograph (See Post #5). He caught for them and owner Bill Veeck between his Yankees and White Sox years behind the plate. I’ve added a couple of unique “Sherm” pieces to my collection recently, including a post card from his bowling lanes and a Trivial Pursuit card where he was the answer to a question. He was my player idol as a child, but obviously not the most recognizable name in sports. I’m always surprised when other collectors are interested in merchandise related to him. In the case of this particular baseball, there were two other signatures, and someone outbid me at the very last second. There are tricks that I’ll need to learn more about if I intend to effectively compete in this process. I now feel even luckier that I recently won the 1956 White Sox baseball on the Heritage Auction site. It sold for much less and not only featured the Lollar autograph but also White Sox Hall-of-Famer’s Larry Doby, Nellie Fox, and Luis Aparicio. 

Looking ahead, we’ve arranged several holiday get-togethers with friends before we head to Florida next week. While we’re enjoying the warmth, we’ll also coordinate with former co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors. My wife has arranged dinner with a friend she hasn’t seen in a good forty-years. It’s not as long apart as some of my recent fifty-year reunions, but she is more than four years younger. We’ll also look as some potential retirement properties along the way. That’s it from the water cooler today!


Old Sport Shorts: Hall of Fame #1156

With the recent announcement that St. Louis Cardinals catcher, Ted Simmons, will finally be inducted into the exclusive “Cooperstown Club,” it tells me that Sherm Lollar will probably never make the cut. Simmons is considered one of the best hitting catchers in MLB history, while Sherm was only known for his defense. Although a victory for catchers in general, I’m still disturbed that the Hall of Fame is all about hitters and pitchers. Back in 2017 I wrote a Sherm support letter to “The Hall” expressing my concern that there were 220 members that were former players including 77 pitchers. (See Post # 5). What would a pitcher be without a catcher and the rest of his team? After all, you can’t be a winning pitcher unless your team scores at least one run. With the addition of Ted Simmons in 2020 there will now still be only 20 catchers honored. 

At least there’s been some recent attention to catchers, including Mike Piazza (2016), Craig Biggio (2016), Ivan Rodriguez (2017), and Ted Simmons (2020).  At the time I wrote my letter, there had been a 10-year drought in recognition since Louis Santop of the Negro Leagues in 2006. Simmons was voted in by the Veteran’s Committee whose role is to consider players from the past, like Sherm Lollar. They voted- in fellow White Sox alumni outfielder Harold Baines (2019) whose playing career started in 1980, 17 years after Lollar retired from the field. The baseball writers tend to focus on the modern era players. Two other White Sox catchers, Carlton Fisk (2000) and Ray Schalk (1955) are currently enshrined.

Sherm Lollar played from 1946-1963. Only two catchers from that era are currently in the Hall of Fame, Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella. I recently bought a Sherm Lollar endorsed catcher’s mask and mitt from that time period. It made me realize how crude and cumbersome their equipment was compared to modern-day gear. Bats haven’t changed much through the years. Baseballs, on the other hand, have become a controversial topic. Also, home stadium dimensions favored the offensive production of certain players. Sherm had a lifetime fielding percentage (FP) of .992. higher than any other current HOF catcher despite the heavy mask and flimsy mitt that he was forced to wear. Of those worthy of future consideration, only Elston Howard has a higher FP at .993 but with 147 fewer games. 

Sherm Lollar is ranked in the top 40 catchers of all time by most studies. Twelve of those players are already in the Hall of Fame. I feel there should be more recognition for defense at that position, especially back in the fifties when expectations for catchers were not necessarily about hitting. Their role was to be an on-field general and pitching coach. Regardless, Sherm still hit .264, certainly better than both Schalk and Gary Carter (2003). Next in, will be Joe Torre, Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, Joe Mauer, and Buster Posey. Sherm is still far down the list, but high on mine. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Who Am I? #1130

My wife felt like a football widow these past few days and admittedly I spent a lot of time in front of the “boob tube.” Don’t worry, I did get a 3-mile run in every day to extend my continuous streak to 3,977. Only 23 days until the four-thousand milestone and another 28 to hit the 11-year mark! While not on the run, two I.U. soccer wins and the BIG Championship did not make up for the loss to Penn State. The Hoosier basketball victory over Troy in between was interrupted by our “Meet the neighbors” open house, but the Oregon Ducks game started after everyone left. The Indianapolis Colts game wasn’t televised, while the “Bad News” Bears weren’t worth watching. I will get reacquainted with my wife today on our way  to “Matinee Monday.” I want to see Ford v Ferrari that in her opinion is just more sports, but agrees that it’s getting great reviews. 

While I was sitting in front of the TV, I was also actively engaged on the internet. I won a 1956 Chicago White Sox autographed baseball through the Heritage auction house that included Sherm Lollar’s signature, along with Hall of Fame members Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio. It was my first experience with on-line bidding, so I was fortunate to claim the prize after the two-week process. At the same time, I was busy with “Ban(n)ister World,” adding more names to my Jerry Banister Family Tree. I created a list of about 100 names with “Common Ancestors” among my Ancestry DNA matches and performed the tedious task of connecting each them to the tree branches. It will hopefully give me more stories to add to my “Diary of an Adoptee.” It’s all about my curious quest to identify those who gave me life and find out more about their extended Ban(n)ister family members

If you didn’t know it already, I’m an adopted child and running fanatic that turned out to be an Indiana University (I.U.) grad, media alum, sports nut, collector, movie lover, and hobby genealogist. I have time to do all of these interests in retirement, and write about them in this daily blog. This particular post combines all my favorite activities. My wife and I now live in Portland, Oregon but we’re both originally from Indiana. We’re considering a move to sunny Florida to establish a permanent retirement home. My son and three grand kids would then be nearby. In fact, we’re headed to Orlando in a month for a visit and to do some exploration of property on the Gulf Coast. My wife’s daughters will be concerned that their mother is so far away, but both of them are newlyweds with busy lives. I don’t know if our elderly schnauzer, Tinker, will be able to tolerate another move, but the younger one, Tally, will like running on the beach. In the meantime, we’ll continue to be retired world travelers, dining-out enthusiasts, wine drinkers, and party hosts. Hopefully, this all will give you a clearer picture of Who I Am?


Old Sport Shorts: World Series Time #1107

We’re headed to the antique and collectibles show, knowing that we don’t have room for any purchases in our new apartment. In fact, we just spent weeks getting rid of many of our possessions in an effort to fit into half the space. However, just walking through the aisles will undoubtedly bring back many memories of similar treasures that may have passed through our lives. Each one has a story that is often times the clincher for a sale. For example, we still have goods from the Capone and Studebaker families, not to mention family heirlooms that have more meaning than value.

I’ve recently become interested in these shows because of my sports collection. For awhile, I had some custom built-in cabinets that needed to be filled. Recently, however, I’ve had to reluctantly pass much of this memorabilia on to my son and other friends.  I’m left with a guest room/office that my wife has graciously allowed me to decorate with my remaining autographed posters, balls, bats, Sherm Lollar uniform, and ticket stubs. I also somehow got a shelf or two to store my binders of baseball cards, pictures, lanyards, and big game memories. The windows in front of me look out at the surrounding hills and colorful leaves of fall. It’s World Series time – the Fall Classic! Who will be crowned Mr. October, or what looks like November?

One of the framed posters on the wall hold our World Series tickets from 2016 along with pins and pictures of the Cubs victory. Series hero David Ross was just named their new coach. I also have a plaque commemorating the White Sox of 2005 and their World Series sweep of the Astros. My media credentials from that accomplishment are stored in a binder. The Astros are back again this year and tied the series at two games each with the Nats. In 2005 the Astros were in the National League and the Montreal Expos played for the first time at RFK Stadium as the newly formed Washington Nationals. This is their first trip to the World Series, and they have so far failed to win a Fall Classic game at Nationals Park. They have another chance tonight before the event moves back to Houston. In fact, neither team has claimed a home game. 

The big story yesterday for me was not the World Series, but rather the I.U. football victory at Nebraska. This was a statement win for the Indiana Hoosier program that has always been firmly embedded in the second division of the BIG Ten Conference. I.U. had not won in Lincoln, Nebraska since 1959. I clearly remember watching on TV a 1978 drubbing by the Huskers of 69-17 in Bloomington, along with four other thrashings before yesterday’s 38-31 victory. Things were apparently different before I was born, as Indiana actually leads the overall Husker-Hoosier series 10-8 with 3 ties. To me, Nebraska has always been a football school and Indiana a basketball factory. Nebraska even had their legendary blackshirts on in their historic stadium to honor their great defensive squads of the past. To make victory even sweeter, the win makes I.U. bowl eligible and resulted in a three-game BIG streak for the first time in 25 years. Bring on Northwestern for a potential fourth!

To make the Fall day even better yesterday, the Oregon Ducks pulled out a 37-35 victory over Washington State Cougars for their seventh straight. I stayed up to watch the end even through it was well past my bedtime. I can’t imagine having to drive back to Portland from Eugene, even despite the adrenaline rush from a winning field goal with no time on the clock. It was a thriller, as the Cougars took a one point lead with a touchdown drive leaving less than a minute in the game. The Ducks will move into the Top 10 nationally with losses by Notre Dame and Oklahoma. 

It must be Sunday! The Bears will try to rebound against the Chargers as the Colts try to pick up their 5th victory against the Broncos. Oops, there goes another Bears field goal attempt off the uprights! I’m not sure I can watch any more. Instead, I’ll be antiquing but will be back home in time for World Series Game 5. If it weren’t for the NFL, a retiree like me wouldn’t know what day it is!




Retirement is not without Hassles: Baseball Card Day #1032

It’s the night of my 50th high school union, but I failed to make the trip back to my hometown of Elkhart, Indiana. Today is also National Baseball Card Day, so it’s appropriate that I went to our local Mall 205 baseball card show. My purchases were primarily Chicago White Sox players from 1953-1962. Fellow collectors also presented me with some gifts, including a Go-Go White Sox Pin from the Stock Yard Inn Dugout Club circa 1959, SOX & Cubs buttons, an Official 1961 Sox scorebook, and a Sports Illustrated photo of Sherm Lollar from behind the plate with Billy Pierce on the mound. It all goes in my collection binders, highlighting the years around the Go-Go White Sox World Series appearance in 1959. Despite their loss to the Dodgers, it was the beginning of my interest in Chicago sports.

I would have to wait until 2005 for the White Sox to actually win the World Series. In the meantime, I followed da Bears through their Super Bowl victory in 1986, and gravitated to the cross-town Cubs in an effort to bond more closely with my dad and son. I never really followed the Bulls, preferring the home state influence of The Pacers. When Indy became the home of the Colts, I split my Bears allegiance that soon led to a major conflict during the 2007 Super Bowl.  Obviously, there was not an Indiana based baseball team to divide my loyalties, but I do find my faithfulness wavering between the Cubs and Sox. However, the Sox have not been as successful in recent years to officially lure me in their direction. 

In the last few years, my favorite White Sox player has become Yoan Moncada who sports uniform #10 of my childhood idol, catcher Sherm Lollar. Honestly, I was not even aware of his existence until I randomly selected his autographed baseball as part of a promotion for Sox Kids at Cellular One Park three years ago. It will always be known to me as Comiskey Park prior until modern-day sponsorship began to dictate naming rights. Two years ago it was re-branded as Guaranteed Rate that obviously didn’t guarantee victory. Soon after I bought the ball, top-prospect Moncada was brought up from the Minors and established himself in the White Sox line-up. This year he’s hitting .300 with power, so any chance of Sherm’s number being retired is growing unlikely. Former White Sox player, Ron Santo wore that number in 1974 and carried it to the Cubs where it was retired in 2003. Sherm Lollar wore #10 for ten years, more than any other Sox player, but he failed to make the Hall of Fame despite his defensive abilities. (See Post #5). Hopefully, some day that honor will belong to Yoan. Right now, unfortunately, he’s on the injured list. Sadly, Sherm has been on the deceased list since 1977. His 95th birthday would have been in a couple of weeks. 

I did not get to Guaranteed Rate Stadium this year, but saw the Cubs lose at Wrigley. I’m looking forward to following Khalil Mack and the Bears defense this year, but on the basketball side have strayed from The Pacers to the Portland Trailblazers since our move west. It shows that I’m a fickle fan! I’m further than I’ve ever been from Chicago, and that’s part of the reason I’m not partying with my former high school classmates. At least I was able to celebrate National Baseball Card Day with a few more collectibles. Plus, today is the 10th!



Retirement is not without Hassles: The Couve #979

Just across the Columbia River bridge north of Portland is “The Couve,” a nickname for Vancouver, Washington – not to be confused with Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was a “hip & cool” way to distinguish it from its big city neighbor, as more and more young people began to settle there in the new millennium. Crossing the bridge became a way of life, as workers dealt with the  impossible rush hour traffic. It’s a scenic drive over the bridge, but frustrating when it frequently turns into a parking lot. I’ve crossed it only a few times since I moved to Portland 5 years ago. The first time was when I was still working to meet with a psychic in Battle Ground who wanted to advertise on the radio. I never got the business, but at least he gave me a reading. I’ve also crossed The Columbia four times on train trips to Seattle and once by luxury coach. Too often, I also fly over it to make travel connections through SEA. In the past month, however, I’ve been to “The Couve” three times by choice, including yesterday.

As I reflect on trips into Washington state, I remember visiting my high school friend Grant when he was working on his doctorate in Seattle. It must have been during the summer before I got married, and I must have flown by myself from Indiana, although I can’t remember after nearly 50 years. I only recall having Dim Sum for the first time and taking a drive close to the base of Mount Rainier. He lived in an apartment and played soccer, while I still lived with my parents and worked a summer job. It was my first experience in the Pacific Northwest, before he moved to Boston. Thanks to him I was able to see both great cities for the first time.

As I fast-forward to present day Washington state, I drove to “The Couve” yesterday for lunch. A former client and friend was in town for the Mecum Auction event, and he wanted to go to a BBQ restaurant that he had heard a lot about. I had to look it up – a place called Daddy D’s located in a Shell gas station. It was only about 40 minutes from my house and I had nothing else planned for the day. As a result, I made the drive across the bridge and bought gas down the street where it was a quarter a gallon cheaper than Shell. Since I was in Washington state, I also had to pump my own gas, a task they do for you in Oregon. It’s good to remind myself on occasion how to work a gas pump. 

When Google Maps finally got me to the address, I had to do a double-take. Outside was a tented smoker and I had to enter the convenience store to find a table, nestled between the wall coolers and shelves of snacks. My friend ordered a brisket sandwich while I was drawn to “The Sherminator,” a pile of pulled pork, hot links, and coleslaw on a sesame seed bun. It was actually named after their hungry son who needed a hardy meal following a football practice. With my interest in former White Sox catcher Sherm Lollar, how could I pass it up? It stood about 8 inches high in a shallow bowl of barbecue sauce. 

I’ve heard that 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was often referred to as “The Shermanator,” as well as the nickname of the Chuck Sherman character from the American Pie movie series. Sherm Lollar retired from the White Sox in 1962, while the Terminator films didn’t come out until 1984. Consequently, I’m probably the only one who would make that particular connection. Regardless, the sandwich was great – just like Sherm. 

I had just been in “The Couve” the weekend before to pick up some wine at the Farmer’s Market. We actually pre-ordered a case on our way back from Walla Walla, another Washington state adventure. The BBQ lunch was the second meal in the past month that I had with this particular friend in Vancouver, since its in the vicinity of his auction event. “The Couve” is not that far away, but the bridge always seemed like a dividing line rather than an invitation. It’s now becoming a familiar stretch of highway so there will likely be many more crossings in the near future. 




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