Sunday, March 19, 2006

Many Moons in the Room

Nothing like a party to bring out "old" Sandpoint. If my math is right, we celebrated 960 moons for Bud Moon yesterday. Well, actually, today is his birthday, so he arrived on the scene the same day those swallows showed up in Capistrano in 1926. Yesterday, almost 80 years later, Bud was celebrating with a roomful of his friends and relatives at the Elks Club.

There were many Moons in attendance. In fact, once when I offered to take Corie Moon's digital camera and do the snapping so she could be in a photo, nearly a dozen other Moons from 11 to 56 suddenly showed up to gather round her. Among the group were Moons who teach college (that would be my longtime friend Chris), there were Moons attending college and some Moons who will, no doubt, have college on their list of "things to do."

Bud and his wife Susan hung out near the cake table, which also included a couple of impressive model boats he's fashioned since retiring to East Hope where he's the mayor. While they greeted the continual line of guests, Maggie Becker, Bill, Sam Wormington and a few other temporary table drop-ins like Helen Newton, Faye Stevens LaMoreaux, and Judy and Ted Farmin, maintained a good people- watching venue near the back of the room. I guarded Candy Crabb Moon's beaded purse (she told me she got it at a yard sale) while she worked the room, visiting with other guests.

During our running commentary, Maggie and I both observed that Sandpoint's older set is definitely getting older and, in many cases, a bit more tottery. Many of these folks were the people who were involved in the start-ups of well-established businesses or they were "in charge" somewhere when I was growing up here.

Ward Tifft, who sold real estate in Sandpont long before at least 863 others who've replaced him were born, told me all about how Bud had convinced him to invest in a new bank for Sandpoint back in 1981. Bud tried to convince him to invest $10,000 in the Panhandle State Bank, but he opted for $5,000. Ward wishes he'd put in the suggested $10,000, but he's still not complaining because the smaller investment has grown to more than $250,000.

Jack Parker just decided to hang it up after decades of chairing the local hospital board. He's gonna stay on the board, but he figures it's time for someone else to sit at the helm. Dick and Claire Sodorff---my principal and counselor in high school and my boss and colleague for several years afterward, remained at their table through most of the party and visited with Lola Nieman whose family has owned the local flower/music store for longer than I've been alive. I hadn't seen Lola for at least 20 years; hasn't changed a bit and as beautiful as ever.

And, of course, our tablemate Sam, who's 85, spent a little time being "in charge" up there at Schweitzer Basin in its early days during the 1960s and 1970s when Bud Moon, Jim Brown and a bunch of other locals decided they needed to build a family-style ski resort. The hill now goes by Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and Sam stays away. Nowadays, he devotes most of his time to training his search and rescue dog or helping with his daughter and grandchildren's farm animals.

I saw Chuck Wigton from the ol' KSPT feature "Moments of Meditation." He and Minute drove up from Post Falls where Chuck now works for his son Lance at a Christian Church. "He's Chuck's boss," Minute told me. She also tells me she sees our dear friends Thane and Connie down there too, so "HELLO, CONNIE. We miss you."

I was especially thrilled to finally lay eyes on The Basingers. I'd heard about the Baysingers for years while Chris Moon and I drove "vehicles" on remote roads for the U.S. Forest Service. We did do some work with traffic counters, but we had plenty of time to talk, and her cousins on her mother's side, The Baysingers, often veered in and out of conversation whenever the large family would come to Sandpoint to swim in the river where the Moons lived at Dover.

And, speaking of the Dover river rats, two of the next-door-to the Moons Sneddens were there: Dr. John and his lovely sister Lynn. At first, I wondered if John had gone out and found a new wife, but then I realized the wife looked a lot like him, only prettier. Later, his wife, Mary Snedden, arrived on the scene in time to snap a photo of Chris, a Baysinger and me.

It was definitely Bud Moon's birthday party, but for most of the folks attending, it was also a party to cherish for a different reason. Such gatherings with such numbers of legendary hometown faces are becoming rare. We were happy to see Bud, Susan and so many Moons, but we were thrilled to see so many other faces who've played a part of our personal tapestries for most of our lives.

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