Thursday, June 24, 2010

Memories of Chester

For those of you in the local community you probably already know just what I am going to talk about in today’s blog. Those of you that are from distant areas are going to get my perspective on one of best people I have ever known. Chet Bauermeister a local man and fire chief lost his life in an accident while fighting a brush fire yesterday. I had known Chet all my life and for a few months back in the day I spent quite a lot of time working with him. The memories from those days were heavy on my mind today.

Chet was basically larger than life. Tall, broad, thick, strong and loveable would all be apt descriptions of Chet. The thing I will most remember about Chet is how he was always willing to help anyone at anytime day or night. Chet was a husband and father and loved his family very much. Chet came from a family that has been an asset to the community for many years. Chet will also be remembered as one of the original “Lind combine demolition derby” drivers. In this youtube clip Chet is in the purple combine from the early part of the video.

Chet was a senior in high school when I was in 8th grade. Chet was a farm kid, a football player and had a 4x4 Datsun (later Nissan) king cab pickup. For an 8th grade farm and ranch kid Chet was about as close to a future goal you could strive for. Chet also had a knack for driving big semi trucks and could fix most anything that went wrong with them. My youngest close contact with Chet is a story that I have not told many people.

My freshman year of high school I attended FFA (Future Farmers of America) state convention in Pullman. The last night of the program Chet and a neighbor and future world champion auctioneer (C.D. “Butch” Booker) attended the last session of the convention as well. Being that I was an upstanding student and being that Chet and Butch were also upstanding Future Farmers my advisor allowed me to leave the convention that night because we “needed” to get home to change irrigation water early in the morning (heh heh). To make a long story short Mr. Booker had a Camaro and spun his tires when we left a girls dormitory which attracted the attention of a local police officer. Being that we had been partaking of some beer there was a few issues and Cartha Dewayne was banned from driving the rest of the night, but we luckily were mostly run out of town. Chet drove us to Connell that night and we all slept in a hotel room within 15 miles of home because we were all supposed to be in Pullman!

The other memory of Chet is from our trucking days. Chet and I were on the same run out of Canada in the early 90’s. We were hauling cull “juicer” apples from the Okanogan valley apple warehouses down to the Yakima valley juice plants. Both Chet and I were sure we were individually the best highway pounders in the world and when we ran together we thought we were invincible. One morning we were to load at a warehouse in Penticton, British Columbia. We arrived a bit groggy from a late night at the local “Cabaret” (aka strip club) that was called “Tiffanys”. We had loaded here before and we pulled around to the back of the warehouse to load our apples. The fruit was already stacked in bins but there were no forklift drivers to be seen.

Chet and I went to the office and asked how long it would be to get loaded. The boss man was not very friendly and told us it would be at least 30 minutes. We went back to our trucks and drank Gatorade and solved the world’s problems. After an hour or so we made our way back to the office and explained that we needed to get loaded as soon as possible. The boss man yelled at us saying, “Unless you boys know someone who can run a forklift and a bin dumper you will wait until I decide it is time for you to get loaded.” And then he slammed the door in our face. Chet looked at me with his trademark grin and I gave him the eyebrow twitch and we all but held hands and skipped back to the apple bins. We had the same plan without even discussing it.

Chet ran the bin dumper while I ran the forklift and un-stacked full bins and restacked empty bins until both of our trucks were loaded for the trip south. When we pulled onto the scales at the office the warehouse boss man was livid that we had loaded ourselves. He did weigh our trucks and made out our paper work however and said, “I ought to make you boys unload that fruit and wait until my guys can load you!” Then vintage Chet kicked in when he said to the man, “unless you know someone who can drive and unload these trucks I would just give us the paperwork and STFU.” Hammer down buddy, hammer down! I will miss you big man.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the European starling aka Sturnas vulgaris.

Today’s picture is tonight’s sunset over they corrals and hay barn.