by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
…in my last essay, i wrote about the wonders of lucky lager beer rebus puzzle bottle caps back in the early 1970′s. eventually i switched to olympia beer (oly tasted better to me) and that became my brand. here is a phtot of me in around 1973 thoroughly enjoying being a drunken fukup. i’ve been clean and sober for over 20 years, now. love this image. wasn’t i beautiful (and skinny)? dig them sideburns! thanks, duane wyman, for finding this photo and sending it to me….
i hadn’t started college, yet. i thought was i going to get drafted and killed in vietnam, so i hadn’t made any college plans. then the draft ended.i was just a typical american teenager back then. i think we all lived exclusively on beer. those ‘porkchops’ got me a job late as a singing waiter at an ice cream parlor (called farrell’s). good clean family fun. the manager sold drugs out of the office.my buddies and i would go to taverns (we were underage, but nobody ever checked) and play pool for beer. we got to be pretty good pool hustlers and we’d “hold the table” and drink for free all night. one of the guys i used to shoot pool against was ted bundy. soon, i moved away from tacoma and i think it saved my life.
farrell’s had this ‘family fun’ image, but i saw the most incredible bad behavior in that place. the customers thought of it as an open play ground and did the most atrocious things. i remember one drunken asshole person cut his mouth so bad on a piece of broken glass somebody stuck in his banana split (nobody knows who, but he sure made a LOT of enemies that night) that we had to call and ambulance. again, tip of an iceberg. i lasted less than six months in that place. a real horrorshow….after work late at night, we’d go down the block to a tavern where the customers played craps openly on the pool table in back. that was fun to watch.
growing up in tacoma aback then was a real trip. when i moved away in about 1975, tacoma had the highest murder rate in the country (kill city, USA). according to local papers, the neighborhood with the highest violent crime statistics in tacoma was my area – parkland. so, just as i left tacoma, my neighborhood was the toughest crime zone in america. weird to realize that now. but, man, i saw shit! about two years later, i did a mental tally of people i knew or was acquainted with who had been murdered and the total was 23! that was a shock….if that was in tacoma, it might have been ME singing to you! off-key, of course. i was the only guy in the place with a REAL straw boater (not one of those styrofoam ones). if you looked closely, you’d also see that the stickpin in my necktie had a swastika on it. it was an old nazi stickpin i found in thrift store. nobody EVER SAW IT!
we had this party house that we used to drink in every night (except mondays. we always took monday off, for some reson.) the mother of the girl who lived there was a hooker and she didn’t care if we used the place. after the mom got off work, she’d sometimes bring down ‘the girls’ from the whore house (“madamoiselle’s” on 112th, down the street from where i lived). the madame also had a son in the bandido’s motrocycle club, and he’d come down and bring his pals. there’d be all these fukup high school kids hanging out drinking all night with hookers and bikers. you learned REAL FAST the proper etiquette. never piss off a biker. or a madam!!she had mouth like longshoreman and trucker rolled into one. man, stand back.
everybody has a ted story or two. my gal (maire) later rented that same house (as a punk house) that ted lived in and he would come to their parties. upchuck told me an interesting story about having violent sex with ted in the bushes at night in point defiance park. everybody up here has a ted story….well, if you want to tar comparing seattle murder and mayhem, to tacoma murder and mayhem, you’d better brace yourself. i got the tales of terror to tell. you’ll never look at this town the same again. all the murder stories in old t-town have these ‘o. henry from hell’ endings. the stories always end up with heads in paper bags on doorsteps (ring it and run!) or with a full grown horse nailed spread-eagle on the front door. tacoma is like that – no halfway. never bring a knife to a gunfight. and yeah, i got a story that ends that way, too….i think this town is haunted. or maybe cursed. or something….