Vic’s Dive-In hasn’t opened yet. In the early hours of the morning, only the back door is unlocked. A group of older men sit at a booth laughing and drinking coffee. They are the Rusty Zippers.
“We don’t explain [the name],” member Glenn Kaufman said laughing.
Frank Hastings noted there were other similar groups across the nation, like one on the East Coast called WD-40.
Although the members refuse to shed light on the meaning of their group’s name, Rusty Zippers calls to mind the scars left on a few members’ chests after heart surgery. The name’s origin is attributed to a local professor from Alaska who was adamant the group needed a title. The Rusty Zippers have 13 members, and meet three days a week at the restaurant, just as the original Zippers met when Vic’s opened 60 years ago. The men are all veterans.
“We have all the forces covered, although we may have fought in different wars, ” one of the Zipper members explained.
Members’ careers include being a principal, an engineer, a national park superintendent, a farmer and a grocery store manager.
“We used to have a minister,” member Ken Frazee said. “If you know any ministers send them our way. They give a different perspective.”
Every time the group gets together, each member puts a quarter in a jar.
“If you forget to wear your hat, you have to put in more,” member Gordon Fowler piped up.
At the end of the year, the funds are donated to a charity. They have donated to the local food bank on more than one occasion, and a few years ago they donated to the elementary school to assist the teachers.
“We elect a treasure every year. I was nominated once because I wasn’t at that meeting,” member Doug Rowan said.
Mostly the friends just connect with one another, but they also put their minds to good work.
“We solve the world’s problems, but by the time we are done, there are a bunch more,” said Hastings as the group laughed.