The Gigs of April had many surprises for this ol' duffer | Ferry Home Companion

Howard Schonberger ... Ferry Home Companion - Michael D
Howard Schonberger ... Ferry Home Companion
— image credit: Michael D'Abrosca

The Gigs of April had many surprises for this ol' duffer:

April 1: Christy parted my hair on the wrong side (right side instead of left) as they always do, but she made up for it since everyone thought it looked great.

April 2-9, 16-23 and tomorrow: I made it to my Tai Chi class at the Senior Center and almost was on time. Kira, the instructor, says I'm doing OK after only a few years.

April 4: Covered the San Juan Island Yacht Club Commodore's Ball.

April 5: Covered the San Juan Singers Spring Concert.

April 6: Saw "The Red Violin" at the Yacht Club's first-Monday-night-of-the-month cult movie.

April 7: Saw Dr. Pardeep Brar, the dental surgeon, who set up my last "Golden Gate Bridge" in Anacortes. Lost one Scrabble game going over on the ferry. Almost missed the ferry while playing outside the terminal on the way back.

April 10: I was one of the Baker Boys and brought seven dozen Chocolate Cook Chippies (loaded with white, semi-sweet and/or bittersweet chips) to the Elegant Edibles fund-raiser for C.A.T.S.

April 11: Sold out cookies at the theater.

April 12: Gave Oreos and coffee to warm 70 dampened worshippers for the 29th year at the Easter Sunrise Service at 6 a.m. on Carter's Ranch overlooking the airport.

April 15: Attended great San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau luncheon, with more than 90 in attendance from all the islands. Deborah Hopkins and her competent staff convinced everyone, with the figures they cited, that this could be an excellent season despite all the gloom and doom demonstrations that were going on at the courthouse lawn that day.

No one dislikes taxes more than I do, but as they said when you thanked the paymaster during the Great Depression: "Don't thank me; thank God you've got a job!" I consider it an honor to pay Social Security and income tax ... even sales tax. People said Roosevelt was a Socialist, but he picked Ike and by God he got us through and probably saved civilization by getting the A-bomb before Hitler did.

Back to the luncheon: Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Melissa Johnson was very impressive. She could be a winner for the islands.

April 17: Friday Harbor High School had a hypnotist from Hawaii at Turnbull Gym to raise money for graduation ceremonies and activities. It was a lulu. About 20 receptive volunteers were doing everything but jumping hoops by the time it was over. He even tried to hypnotize the entire office to not drink and drive.

Having known the tragic circumstances carrying plasma bottles for victims en route by plane and ambulance to hospital care, I was really impressed. A great program. I'm not a mother, but I joined MADD long ago.

April 18: The gorgeous Steele Memorial Garden was dedicated, memorializing Gordon Steele's grandfather, a blacksmith who brought his family to the states from England in the early 1880s, and also dedicated to his late wife, Beverly Steele. Bev, the late Kate Weed, and other movers and shakers were the ones who started C.A.T.S., particularly enlisting Paul and Lu Whittier to put up matching funds for that fine institution.

David Bayley's music and good weather all made it a day to remember. Great refreshments.

Gordon, who donated the garden at the theater, and Bev not only helped make this dream come true, but also performed in many a musical. We'll never forget Bev's "Dolly" performance!

April 18: That evening I went to the Ale House for the second sell-out performance of "Paradise, Lane Ten, On Overload." (My wife was in Vancouver with three of her five daughters for a mini-reunion weekend at the Pan-Pacific.) This dinner murder mystery show upstairs has three more performances. It's to help the Pig War reenactment fund ... and this is the sesquicentennial year.

It's a satire on my beloved ferry system, but all in fun. As playwright Chris DeStaffany so aptly describes his work, "It's about 8,000 of the funniest people in the world ... the people who live on this island." And the most loveable, I might add.

The players: Lori Narum as Debbie Dunkshot, Lynda Guernsey as Roxie Elwha, Julie Laidlaw as Shirley Doit, Scott George as Redd Tyde, Miles Crossen as Dan Blather (newspaperman, of course) and Author DeStaffany as Top Side Guy who holds it all together.

(Redd: "There is going to be casino gambling on the ferries?" Debbie: "Well, not on all the boats. The small ones will just have slot machines. Some people liked that because they thought the odds were better than putting their money in the vending machines.")

See it this coming Friday or Saturday or the following Thursday.

April 19: OPENING DAY AT SAN JUAN COUNTY GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB. Sixty-three stalwart members had lunch at noon and a scramble nine-hole tournament starting at 1:30 p.m.

For those of you uninitiated to the idiosyncracies of golf tournaments, a "scramble" is where everyone in your foursome tees off on different holes (two foursomes for each of the nine holes). After each player drives, the group picks the best shot for the ensuing shots. One rule, however: every player must have his ball chosen at least once as best drive.

Now, I've been playing golf for 80 years and never had a lesson. It shows. I hope you realize how humiliating it is to always play until the last hole before your ball is used ... no matter how bad you've hit it.

I did have the advantage of a new brush top tee given to me by Terry Kruth. It kept me from whiffing my drives as I often do on opening day. Bob Wingate saw I was having difficulty putting it in the ground. "You don't have to pray before you shoot, Howard," he noted.

Since we started on the No. 3 hole, our last hole was No. 2. During the round, only one or two of my approach shots had been selected by Wingate, Dale Fenno and Bud Bolin as best. This was it.

They were respectfully silent as I swung and hit my best drive of the day. Right down the middle. My buddies felt sure they could get it to the green over the trees without going in the pond from my lie. One hit the top of a tree and bounced in the pond, another topped into the pond and another lost his ball. I hit a slice around the pond and was about 139 yards uphill from the hole. Wingate suggested I use the same club (a 3-wood) for my third shot. I landed hole-high just off the left side of the green. No one else was on the green.

For the third time, I had the best shot! I never had had more than one shot chosen in succession as the best in all my years of scrambling. Here I was playing with three regular players as I stepped up and chipped my fourth shot within a yard of the cup. Four in a row. Wow!

I stepped up to my ball and took careful aim. I drained it. It was my hole all the way — almost worth a cigar, like Cabrera at the Masters. Hope springs eternal if you keep the faith.

Go with the F.L.O.W. (Ferry Lovers Of Washington).

— P.S. I did go to the concert for Heather Masse and Aoife O'Donovan at SJCT Friday night, but the sound system didn't seem to mix well. I couldn't understand a word, but it was worth it to hear the guitarist and electric piano. Awesome.

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