The Brief Resurrection Of Dale T

Lydia Ann Channel Lighthouse ~ Port Aransas, Texas

None of the roustabouts, deck hands, or dock workers along the middle and upper Texas coast seemed to know how Dirty Dale got his nickname, and Dale wasn’t telling.

Gracie, who’d given up life on an oil rig to put her cooking talents to work in a land-locked café, served him breakfast every morning. She insisted his name came from his good-natured willingness to pursue every female in sight. Certainly, no matter how oblivious, uninterested, or irritated the object of his attentions, Dale’s confidence was absolute. Sliding into a seat next to an unaccompanied woman, he’d murmur, “Hey, darlin’. I’m here to improve your life.” Most didn’t feel the need for improvement, but he remained willing to try.

A prissy live-aboard in his marina claimed to have named him Dirty Dale because he rarely indulged in a shower, but that wasn’t true. Like his dock-mates, Dale trotted down to the bathhouse with towels and a change of clothing every day. A scruffy beard and fly-away hair did leave him looking unkempt, and you could see traces of his current projects in the grease or oil smudged across his shirt, but none of that added up to a lack of personal hygiene.

Those invited to board his boat for drinks and conversation often assumed his nickname reflected conditions below deck. Living aboard a boat is complicated at best, and the old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place” may have been born on a boat. A particularly unpleasant set of woes betides the sailor who gives up the struggle to stay organized, and Dale certainly had allowed his ship to get out of shape.

It wasn’t precisely that he’d surrendered to the forces of stuff; he never engaged the battle. The interior of his boat held the history of his world: layered, crammed, and filled to the proverbial gills. Occasional gaps in the walls of stuff were the only evidence that piles of spare parts or second-hand books might have been heaved off the boat during the odd impulse toward organization.

On the water, he approached sailing much as he did housekeeping, with a style both improvisational and weirdly creative. Years after the fact, astounded sailors still recounted the day he won an offshore race by anchoring in the Galveston Ship Channel, pouring a couple of fingers of good Scotch, and sitting back to watch the fast-running tide sweep his less savvy competition back to sea.

Everyone agreed that it was a validation of sorts. If you assume God truly does care for fools and drunkards, there’s no question Dale was twice-blessed. Despite his disregard for common sense and common sailing practice, he never met the unhappy fates that sometimes befell his more prepared, cautious, and law-abiding friends.  From time to time, he even got the ladies. At least, he got them once.

During the years I knew him, Dale’s most famous escapade involved a weekend voyage down the Texas coast with his newest love. Because of time constraints, they cruised the Intracoastal Waterway to Freeport, where they spent the better part of the weekend. Then, as they were traveling back toward Galveston on Sunday afternoon, the boat sputtered to a stop. The little Atomic 4 engine had run out of gas.

Suspecting she was stuck on the marine equivalent of a country road with a guy who’d planned the whole thing, the lady-friend grew irritated. But this was unprepared Dale, not predatory Dale, and he truly was out of gas.

Later, he told us she pitched a fit that would have done his second ex-wife proud. More confident of his old Atomic 4 than of his ability to endure the rantings of a furious woman, Dale concocted a gallon or two of home brew. Combining acetone, nail polish remover, a little kerosene, a bottle or two of booze, and who knows what else in a plastic bucket, he gave it a swirl and poured it into the fuel tank. The engine fired with an explosive cough from the cylinders and a rattle or two unlike any he’d ever heard, but they were underway.

By the time he ran out of fuel a second time, they nearly were back to port. Thanks to a local shrimper, they reached home under tow and safely docked just before the woman disappeared into the night and out of Dale’s life forever.

Shortly after the infamous Freeport voyage, Dale found yet another woman. Thinking the boat charming and Dale amusing, she moved aboard. Eventually they married; spent some time shrimping; moved to Florida; took up chicken farming; tried their hands at long-haul trucking, and then divorced.

Ever the survivor, Dale remarried for the fourth or fifth time, and took the boat to Florida. No one was surprised by another divorce, but new gossip drifting back from the Keys became worrying. Not merely lovesick, Dale had become physically ill, and it was serious. Details were sketchy. Some said it was an intestinal problem. Others claimed it was cancer. There were reports of medical complications, and financial difficulties.

In those days before email and cell phones, it was hard to get solid news, but reports still traveled, and we learned the bitter truth. Another surgery hadn’t gone well. Dale was expected to survive, but didn’t. With word of his death arriving on the Texas coast, everyone paused, and swallowed hard. If death could come to Dirty Dale, blithe spirit and survivor extraordinaire, it could come to any of us.

Months passed. At the marina where Dale had lived, new boats arrived, skippered by sailors telling their own fantastic tales of life on the sea. Occasionally, pulled together by the return of cruising friends or the simple urge to party, old-timers gathered for long evenings of nostalgic story-telling.

One particularly languid summer night, stories flew as we laughed again at the man who fell off his own boat, then witnessed his panic-stricken girlfriend calling his wife for help.  We remembered the salt-encrusted, slightly crazed live-aboard who varnished his decks with a mop, and the braggadocious tech savant who was showing off his new electronics at the very moment he took out a channel marker. Eventually, stories about Dale began to surface and those, too, were retold with relish.

During a beautifully embellished version of the infamous Freeport cruise story, maudlin sentimentality was flowing as freely as the wine when the door to the clubhouse flew open and an unkempt, disheveled apparition stepped into the room.

“Whatnhell’s a guy haveta do t’ get a drink around here?”

As surprised by our silence as we were stunned by his presence, Dale tried again. “Whatsa matter wi’ you guys? You drink it all up already?” 

At last, someone blurted it out. “Dale! We thought you were dead!” Looking around, Dale must have seen the shock and astonishment in our eyes. “Dead? Me? Well, if I’ve been dead, I’m sure as hell glad to be back. Now, somebody pour me a drink.”

Clearly, the gossip had been wrong.

Each year, as the season dedicated to another remarkable story rolls around, I think about Dale.

He’s well and truly gone now, having succumbed at last to the same disease  rumored to have killed him in the first place. I miss his teasing, his larger-than-life persona, his ability to charm and hornswoggle anyone he met, but most of all I miss his generosity. Of all the gifts he offered so willingly — his receptive spirit, his humor, his determination to explore the possibilities of life outside the bounds of normal society — perhaps his greatest gift to a surprised few was an experience akin to resurrection. Whatever happened on that first Easter, no disciple could have been more astonished than those of us who thought — if only for a brief, irrational moment — that Dale T truly had risen from the dead.

During this Easter season, whether you’re Christian or whether you aren’t; whether you believe Jesus walked out of his tomb or whether you don’t; whether you dismiss the rabbits and eggs of the pagans or embrace them with the joy of a child, Dale T has a message for you.

Keep your eyes open. Be attentive. Listen.

You don’t know what forces are abroad in the land, and you can’t predict what’s going to happen next. You never know when someone might roll away your stone, and you never know who’ll be next to come sashaying back from the dead.

Comments always are welcome.


106 thoughts on “The Brief Resurrection Of Dale T

  1. It seems that Dirty Dale might well have served his apprenticeship with Lazarus. A real cracker of a story and well-told, Linda. A joy to read on this quiet Easter Sunday afternoon.

    Sometimes, people long gone from ones life do pop up. Not long ago while walking past some shops, I noticed an old lady staring at me. I stared back. There was just a hint of familiarity with both of us arriving at recognition simultaneously.

    Some forty five years had passed since we saw each other for the last time We were both doing a print-making course at East Sydney Art college. Of course, she recognized me as ‘an old man’ now.

    1. He certainly was one of those larger than life characters: so much so that even people who never met him still are telling stories about him in the bars.

      Isn’t it a funny-strange experience when we recognize someone from long ago? When the recognition’s mutual, it’s even more delightful. I think it’s so interesting when someone like the lady you encountered says, “You haven’t changed at all.” Of course we’ve changed over the years, but it suggests that there is something that remains recognizable, despite it all. That’s nice.

  2. One is reminded of the Samuel Clemens line about the reports of his death being greatly exaggerated. Every life should be graced by a sprinkle of colorful and eccentric characters who loom large in the legends, if only to remind us not to be afraid to bloom where we’re planted.

    1. Quotations, too, sometimes get reborn. Here’s how Wikiquote traces the one you referred to:

      “James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

      The source of that earliest version is given as “a note Twain wrote in London on May 31, 1897 to reporter Frank Marshall White: Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Lighting Out For the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 134. (The original note is the Papers of Mark Twain, Accession #6314, etc., Clifton Waller Barrett Library, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va., in Box 1.)”

      Wikiquote goes on to say that “White subsequently reported this in ‘Mark Twain Amused,’ New York Journal, 2 June 1897. White also recounts the incident in ‘Mark Twain as a Newspaper Reporter,’ The Outlook, Vol. 96, 24 December 1910.”

      Later, Twain himself put out a variant: “I said – ‘Say the report is greatly exaggerated.'” That appeared in “Chapters from My Autobiography,” The North American Review, 21 September 1906, p. 160.

      Wikiquote concludes with what it designates a misquote: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” It adds a statement that “This paraphrase or misquote may be more popular than the original.” I’d change the “may be more popular” to “is more popular.”

    2. That Clemens reference is perfect. It’s amusing, too, since both Dale and Clemens had in common a taste for exaggeration. As for colorful and eccentric characters, I say the more the merrier. Going back to the bluebonnets for a moment (or the fields of groundsel, for that matter), I’ll just say that as beautiful as they are, they do lack a bit of the interest provided by a good mixed bouquet.

      1. And speaking of exaggeration, you may have noticed that increasingly many people are using overexaggerate to mean exaggerate.

        Each spring Eve mentions how much more a wildflower display appeals to her when it’s a mixture of colors rather than an unbroken swathe of a single color.

  3. Lovely story, reminding me of some old Bush characters I once knew. Rough diamonds. And yes once upon a time, when I worked in aged care home support, there was a case where we thought the gentleman had passed in the night as his wife couldn’t rouse him, only to have him open his eyes at the right moment. Seems he came back.

    1. Did any of your Bush characters have descriptive names? It occurred to me just this morning that many of the most interesting people I’ve known since moving to the waterfront have nicknames, like Dirty Dale. Say “Teacup,” “Varnish John,” or “Bluejay” to anyone who’s been around here for a while, and the stories will start to flow.

      Your tale of the man who came back reminds me of a related, though not entirely similar, experience of my own. When I had my second cataract removed and a new lens implanted, I chose not to have sedation, since the first one had gone so well. I was lying in the operating room, listening to the chatter among the various surgical assistants. Most of it involved what they were going to have for lunch: would it be Chinese, or pizza? After a couple minutes, the surgeon hushed them, saying, “Be quiet! She’s not sedated, and she hasn’t had anything to eat.” The experience made me realize the stories about the apparently unconsious or unresponsive actually hearing what’s going on around them may be more common than we know.

    1. This morning, another friend posted Easter bunnies on her blog, and now you’ve done the same. It finally moved me to search out the photo I knew I had of grade-school me with the pink rabbit I found in the oven one Easter morning while hunting eggs. I had this rabbit for years. Of course it’s long gone, but no matter. The memory remains. Happy Easter, and thanks for the nudge!

    1. You would have enjoyed Dale. For one thing, he was one of the best barbequers and grillers in the area. When the word went out that Dale was cooking, everyone started drifting in.

      I hope your Easter day’s as beautiful as is ours. It looks like most of Easter week will be fine, too — another reason for celebration.

      1. Talking of BBQ: we did have some very good stuff on Easter. :)

        And re what you wrote about Dale and his “tidiness”: I had a skipper once who kept (nearly) everything, even useless stuff like battery-cable ends about 2 inches long and totally frayed, or little pieces of wood with rusty nails in them. At one time, when he was off the boat visiting with a friend, we went through the boxes he kept this stuff in and threw out everything that could no longer be used. I don’t know if he ever noticed. ;)

        1. I’ll bet I know who your main cook was, too!

          I laughed at your tale of the skipper who kept it all, “just in case.” That’s why storage units close to marinas are such a great investment opportunity. I can’t tell you how many sailors I’ve known who’ve had to rent one (or two, or more) storage units to keep all the stuff that they might need “someday.” Extra impellers and shaft pullers are one thing. Old sails, booms, battery boxes, dinghies, etc. are something else, and require a little more room.

          Of course, the other end of that spectrum can be a chore to live with, too. The guy we called Captain Bligh (to his face, and with his approval) always told his crew, “This is your assigned space. If I find anything outside that space, it’s going overboard.” He’d do it, too. He lost a few crew members that way (because of their refusal to sail with him, not because he threw them overboard) but he certainly maintained his beloved sense of control.

          1. On that trip [it was sailing a yacht from the Mediterranean – close to Malaga – to Nieuwpoort in Belgium] I wasn’t the cook but the navigator. That reminds me. When I was asked how I could find my way, I used to say, “Oh, that’s easy. Europe is always on the right hand side!” :D

            1. And that reminds me of my first offshore sailing trip. My sailling partner said, “Just remember. If worst comes to worst, and I go overboard, and you can’t pick me up, set a course of 270 and you’ll hit the Texas coast. Can’t guarantee where you’ll hit it, but you’ll be in Texas…”

            2. LOL
              I’m still figuring out where you were so that a course of due west would take you to the Texas coast. ;)

            3. I wondered if anyone would catch that. Leave it to the navigator to get it — well done! (The advice was given, but the heading was different.)

    1. As some sage surely said, there are many roads to truth. Dale’s road may have been a little quirky, but it certainly was entertaining. Happy Easter to you — I hope spring finally is settling in.

  4. He who created the universe just by uttering the word sure could walk out of a grave alive. He is risen, indeed! A blessed Easter to you, Linda!

    1. Think how many Easters we’ve shared, Arti. I hope there are many more to come: many more opportunities to affirm, “He is risen, indeed.” I hope the entire Easter season is filled with blessings for you.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Story-telling’s great fun, and a good story can endure for some time. Personally, I think a front porch is the best place for story-telling, but since I can’t figure out a way to gather all of you on a porch, I’ll just keep at it here.

  5. I love Dirty Dale’s Resurrection. You’re such a great story teller, Linda—very Mark Twain-ish—and Dale’s uniqueness gave you a lot of colorful material to work with. Happy Easter.

    1. Dale was a rich source of material, that’s for sure, and good material does make story-telling easier. Coincidentally, he had a nickname for me, too — one that was pretty well known. Someday, I may tackle that side of the story.

      In the meantime? I’m glad you enjoyed this, and hope it added some pleasure to your day. With any luck, you’re finally getting some spring up there to go along with Easter. If not? May it come soon!

      1. You should definitely tackle that side of the story! It was a fine tale. I got interrupted before I could finish and could not wait to get back to it. And I was surprised that it had a lesson at the end. Bravo! Love the photo of the lighthouse.

        1. The staysail boom for a boat I sailed for years lived in that lighthouse for a time. It got stowed there after the previous owner of the boat did his own disappearing act; the Coast Guard found the boat circling, and the owner dead, still aboard. Explanations varied.

  6. I think boats attract characters … my father and brother have always owned boats, and some of the saltiest people I know have been found on the docks. Fun story with its Easter parallels!

    1. Boats certainly do attract characters, although it seems to me that sailors tend to be quirkier than power boat owners. If you see your vessel primarily as a condo on the water, life can go on pretty much as it does in the suburbs.

      Dale certainly wasn’t a suburbanite in any sense: he wasn’t in competition with anyone, and he didn’t much care what anyone thought of him. I’m glad you enjoyed his story — and I hope you had a chance to take advantage of the wonderful weather this weekend.

      1. We actually left town for Arkansas, where the weather was also gorgeous and we visited the most stunning gardens one day. Have you been to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs? Incredible!

    1. Thanks so much, Sheila. I really appreciate those kind words — especially “engaging.” That’s music to any writer’s ears. Happy Easter Day to you, and every good wish for a warm, flowery, and colorful Easter season.

  7. what a great story and told so well! Easter, like all holidays, is just another Sunday to me, an excuse I don’t have to believe in to lay around and do nothing. which means I’ll be out in the yard all day futzing around.

    1. Thanks, Ellen. I hope your day was as glorious as ours. It was an almost perfect spring day, and we spent a good bit of the afternoon just sitting around — and telling a story or two. None were as dramatic as Dale’s story, but it was fun.

      As for futzing in the yard, I suspect your yard’s looking pretty darned good at this point. Last week I came down 71 from Columbus to El Campo, then south to 35, and flowers were everywhere. It’s so nice to see.

    1. Resurrection as a dynamic underlying all of life is one of the most important truths of Easter. I hope your Easter season’s filled with resurrections both large and small, Martha — and I hope Easter day was a good one. I’m glad the story touched you.

  8. Wow, what a great tale. I had a blast reading this. Thank you and Happy Spring!
    “What a yarn!” doesn’t cover it, you weave a whole joyful tapestry.
    Not many folks can throw in “hornswoggle” and “braggadocious” with perfect fit and naturalness. Well I wish I’d been there to see this character “sashaying back from the dead,” maybe fueled and reanimated by that acetone/kerosene/booze concoction – – I’m pretty sure the guys down in Schuyler county run that mix through a loaf of bread and drink it during ice-fishing, but none of them are as colorful or larger-than-life as Dirty Dale.

    1. I think you need a larger-than-life character to bear the weight of words like “hornswoggle” and “braggadocious.” Even the tech savant comes with a back-story that provided a lot of amusement for months. One of his biggest mistakes was taking out that primary channel marker on the very weekend that a Safety At Sea seminar was being held at the local Hilton. When a major speaker added the incident to his lecture, there was nowhere for the poor guy to hide.

      I knew I’d heard of Schuyler county. It’s not only straight north a few miles from Gary Myers, it’s where a photographer I follow spent a good bit of time, photographing around Watkins Glen. You may have posted about it too. I must say — my vision of the locale has been enlarged a bit. The only time I’ve strained anything out of liquor was in Liberia. If you were going to drink the local palm wine, you quickly learned the technique of straining the bugs out with your teeth.

    1. To know them is to love them — at least, most of the time. Not all are as easy to deal with as Dale (the one we knew as Captain Bligh comes to mind), but the rewards of keeping company with them can be substantial.

      A blessed Easter season to you, Brig.

    1. Lord of the Dance, indeed. It amuses me that, if it hadn’t been for my 5th and 6th grade square dance instruction during phys ed time, I might never have added “sashaying” to my vocabulary. I’m pleased it gave you a chuckle.

    1. You would have liked him a lot. Despite everything, he was a crack engineer and could outwork anyone on the dock when the urge to work overtook him. Not only that, he had a pure white cat he named Snow that lived with him for twenty-two years. He said Snow got her name to remind him that he’d rather live with Snow than in snow.

  9. I think my favorite part of this well-told tale is the glimpse into the camaraderie of “boat people” (for lack of a better phrase): “One particularly languid summer night, stories flew as we laughed again at the man who fell off his own boat, then witnessed his panic-stricken girlfriend calling his wife for help. We remembered the salt-encrusted, slightly crazed live-aboard who varnished his decks with a mop, and the braggadocious tech savant who was showing off his new electronics at the very moment he took out a channel marker.” Each anecdote packed in these few sentences could be a post of its own.

    1. You’re right that each of those anecdotes could be expanded. In a previous comment I mentioned another little detail about that tech savant: that he happened to take out the critical channel marker on the very weekend that a Safety At Sea seminar was being held here. Gossip being what it is, the story made it’s way over to the Hilton, and was included in a lecture by a primary speaker. Sometimes, there’s nowhere to hide.

  10. Lovely! I hope you had a joyous April Fool.
    I have a shipwrightous friend who tells that he was out in a small boat on the fourth of July with his family watching the fireworks. They also had fireworks in the boat… something happened, he realized that the inboard fireworks were lit, and told his family “Jump!” They did.His eyebrows were singed off, but everyone survived and other small boats fished them out. He got grief for ages: “Do you need a pencil for those eyebrows?” “Where will you be anchored next fourth of July, we want a safe distance and good vantage point.” And our water even in July is in the fifties, cold!

    1. Having a joyous April Fool is better than being an April Fool, I suppose. Or maybe not — sometimes the foolishness of the heart is underrated.

      That’s quite a story you’ve recounted. The detail that caught me most was the water temperature. Right now, the average temperature around Galveston Bay is 73F. That you’d still be in the 50s in July is quite something. Of course, I’ve always known that Pacific waters are colder than those in the Gulf, for several reason. Still, that’s more difference than I would have expected, since in July we’ll have water temps in the mid-80s.

      Thank goodness they got off, and were picked up speedily. A hypothermic holiday would have been no fun at all — even though they got a story out of it.

  11. The world is full of Dales – but they are hard to spot for the average person because they thrive on the periphery of things. These are people who rarely read manuals, disregard the rules and cannot be bothered to learn social norms.

    So they just make it up as they go along.

    In the old days, they populated the frontier, nowadays you find them hanging around start-ups and junkyards. Because they refuse to learn what they are supposed to, they become brilliantly adept at creating ways to get around whatever blocks their path.

    But like all pioneers, there comes a time and a place when and where what they do is no longer workable – and they go looking for the next frontier.

    1. For some strange reason, that dynamic you describe sounds familiar: especially the “rarely reads manuals” part. Given the sorts of manuals that show up these days, ignoring them may be the better part of wisdom. As a friend said after a particularly frustrating experience, technical writers seem to have become the latest extinct species.

      As for Dale, it’s a fact that some people chose the periphery, rather than being pushed there, and they often thrive. Of course, one person’s periphery can be another’s center of the universe, so there’s that. But your frontier analogy is perfect. Picking up and moving on was Dale’s forte, and he was so kind-hearted and willing to help others he never failed to find someone willing to help him out as he moved on down the road.

  12. A fascinating tale, Linda. Dale must have been quite a character. Isn’t it funny how gossip spreads, and how quick some are to believe whatever they hear? I’ve got to hand it to him though — he had a unique pick-up line, ha! Hope your Easter was glorious!

    1. I think Dale’s honesty served him well. He was like the fellow at a Houston intersection who’s carried a sign for years that says, “Why lie? I want a beer.” Reports are that he’s a pretty successful panhandler; people appreciate his straightforward approach.

      As for gossip and news, it did travel much more slowly thirty years ago. Especially among cruisers, we often didn’t get news until someone came into port and said, “By the way, I found so-and-so anchored in the Rio Dulce.” The comings and goings were as interesting as the people. Now, with our modern technology, things are simpler, but less interesting, and even less romantic.

      Easter day was lovely: warm and sunny, with low humidity. Now, we’re getting set for more rain, but it’s needed, so no complaining.

    1. Thank you, Jason. Stories about Dale just keep sprouting — well watered with various concoctions, and often as well fertilized! I’m glad you enjoyed it. A happy Easter season to you!

    1. Honestly? His story deserves to be told metrically. Longfellow, maybe. “Listen my children, and you shall hear of the rum-soaked cruise of Dale, the Dear…” If he still were with us, I’d do it, and let him provide the first public reading.

    1. You would have enjoyed him immensely. Suffice it to say that Dale spent plenty of time in your town, and fit in perfectly. But he usually went down in full summer. He thought the spring breakers and winter snowbirds déclassé.

  13. Happy Easter to you too! I read this post from beginning to end and reminded me of someone very similar to Dale. He was an old friend of my parents, a distant uncle who reminded me very much of him. It’s that ‘resurrection’ of unique qualities that shines through certain personalities and characters in life that nearly become legendary in one’s lifetime, yet for some reason, they’re always associated with them. It has to do with courage and, as you say: “exploring the possibilities of life outside the bounds of normal society.” Why is it spiritual? Probably he was always ‘felt’ rather than ‘seen’.

    1. That’s a good insight, Maria — that Dale was ‘felt’ rather than ‘seen.’ He was very much a force of nature. If you said he “blew through town,” it often was more than a figure of speech.

      I suppose the opposite of Dale would be the people who are afraid to explore the possibilities of life even within the bounds of normal society. I suppose every family has both sorts; I know mine certainly did. You had your uncle, while I had an aunt who was more like Dale than any of the rest of the family. She was my favorite, too. I spent every minute with her I could when she came to visit, and she’s the one of the now-departed relatives I think of the most.

  14. A great story. Dale was quite a character, we used to have one or two in the village where I lived and worked – they were always at their best when ‘well oiled’. Life is the poorer when people like that pass away. I haven’t known any reappear! Somehow my brain has gone off at a tangent and remembered a quote from Benjamin Franklin: ‘I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.’ Almost identical to one by Carl Reiner, the 95-year-old comedian. I enjoy a good obituary: today’s was of Drue Heinz, wife of HJ Heinz 11, who was generous philanthropist and promoter of the literary arts.

    1. I had parents and grandparents who were equally interested in the obituaries, and looked at them first thing in the morning. From time to time, one or the other would make a similar comment, like, “Since I don’t see my name here, I’d best get to work.”

      Speaking of tangents, I just went off on one, tracking the relationship between Drue Heinz and Theresa Heinz Kerry. Despite sniping from some, the family as a whole certainly has made good use of their wealth. I didn’t realize that Drue Heinz played such a role in The Paris Review. Their interviews with authors are unfailingly good. I was sorry when they put them behind a paywall — although I did have the foresight to copy a couple of interviews I enjoy re-reading even before paywalls were a thing.

  15. A most delightful tale and a masterpiece of writing. I kept wanting to grab phrases to go into this comment, but gave up. I wish I had had this sample when I taught creative writing. What a portrayal of a colorful character. I would say, “Now look. This is how it is done to perfection.!”

    1. What kind words, Oneta. Thank you, so much. I’m not one who believes we should write only what we know — writing about what we don’t know can lead to learning, after all. But I did know Dale pretty darned well, and it was fun to write about him.

      Part of what made him so charming was his utter lack of affectation. He wasn’t pretending to be anything, or playing to the crowd. He just was living his life, the way he preferred. It was quite an accomplishment, and something to behold!

    1. One thing’s for certain; if resurrection is a dynamic, rather than a one-time event, we ought to be able to spot it here and there in the world — even in the reappearance of a weird and wacky friend. I’m greatly complimented that you read it twice. I’ll confess that I’ve enjoyed re-reading it, just for the fun of reliving the memories.

  16. What fun, Linda, and touching. Dale seems like the kind of person I would like. Somehow, I was expecting he would show up, that he wasn’t dead. It was too good of a punchline to ignore, and fits the season. –Curt

    1. You would have enjoyed Dale tremendously. He certainly wasn’t fit for your treks, but he loved listening to stories as much as telling them (or being the subject of them) and he would have been willing to ply you with your beverage of choice just to keep you talking.

      Speaking of beverages reminds me of the day he was sailing a Sunfish on Clear Lake and turned turtle. When the boat went over, it tossed the bottle of Scotch he had on board into the lake. Clear Lake isn’t clear, but it’s pretty shallow, and Dale dove right in to reclaim that bottle. He got it, too. Priorities, for sure.

      1. Always a fun evening, Linda, sitting around sharing tales and a few drinks.
        Dale sounds like quite the legend. His jumping in to save his bottle of scotch seems to fit right in. –Curt

  17. That was lovely, and just what I needed on a day when an arctic clipper has suggested that we give up on a spring to resurrect hope! I have so enjoyed the marina. The folk I meet there are so interesting, colorful and varied. It provides a study in the human condition unlike any other place I have frequented. Thanks for sharing something of your experience on the docks!

    1. I suppose it’s the same there as it is here. Even the boating community is divided into sub-groups: sailors and power boaters; boatyard workers and independent contractors; yachties and the Dales of the world; live-aboards and day sailors. It makes the experience of being in this world even richer, and a good bit more fun.

      It shouldn’t be long now until you can sail again: May, perhaps? I’ll bet your boating community experiences the same impatience as gardeners waiting for the snow to melt and the soil to warm. The season’s too short to lose even a day.

    1. Story-telling’s fun — as you know from telling stories to Lyla, and hearing the stories she tells. If it weren’t for our story-telling, life would be far less interesting, and certainly less pleasurable.

      I’ve been hearing commercials from Amazon touting Alexa’s ability to tell stories. Apparently you can say, “Alexa, tell a bedtime story,” and the thing will do it. Of course, you can’t snuggle up to Alexa, and there’s not a chance in the world that Alexa could (or would) tell the tale of Dale. Technology’s great, but it can’t do everything.

  18. This is such a terrific story, Linda. I chuckled along during the whole thing (Dale’s ship looks like my art room/office. Oh dear!) and the gas thing nearly flattened me. But best of all the reappearance. We never know when that will happen, do we? And like all your bests, you know how to close the circle. Beautiful and timely!

    1. That gas story is one of my favorites. Every now and then I think, “Surely, that can’t be true…” But friends who’ve experienced that particular engine say filling its tank with a brew like that could work. How he escaped engine problems after those shenanigans I don’t know, but I’ve always said that a good, mechanical engine beats a computerized marvel every time. I have seen nylon stockings used as a substitute engine belt, so there’s plenty of room for creativity.

      I do love that circle. If we’re lucky, the song will have it right, and it will be unbroken.

    1. Giggles and snickers happily accepted: even a snort or two would be fine. Isn’t hornswoggle great? I didn’t realize that both that word and rambunctious came out of the American West, or that there really isn’t any good explanation for their derivation. They’re great fun to use — no question about that!

  19. I never delete you posts but somehow life gets in the way and I am not up to commenting. So, today I am feeling not too tired and began reading about Dale T. I remember that you had written something about him before but this time I really enjoyed Dale T’s story. He was a character of characters and his story is one that could be a book or a movie. I can guarantee that with some embellishments or not, a book or movie would be hit. I am always an admirer of how you put your words together. Your way with words makes for some very enjoyable reading.

    1. It’s always nice to have you stop by, Yvonne. Life certainly can get complicated or tiring, even when there aren’t crises to be dealt with.

      The part of Dale’s life I don’t know much about is the time he and his wife spent as long-haul truckers. They drove for a reputable company whose trucks I often see on the road, and I can only imagine that their adventures on the road equaled anything he experienced on the water. The land-sea parallels might well make for a good movie. Interestingly, her name was Darla, and of course she had a nickname, too: Darling Darla. they made quite a pair, but she was as interesting and nice as Dale.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the piece. To paraphrase that famous line from Wind In The Willows, there’s nothing quite so nice as messing about with words!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Phil. You’ve surely met a few Dales along the way yourself, and know how memorable the experience can be. It’s always seemed to me that there’s a certain protective attitude taken toward these dwellers in society’s backwaters, too. Dale never really wanted anything but to be left alone (well, apart from his women, I suppose) and people were happy to allow it. A little more live-and-let-live could profit everyone at this point.

    1. Sometimes I think the reason I’ve never had the urge to write fiction is because of stories like these. I’m fairly sure I never could have made Dale up — he certainly was a memorable character, and I loved remembering him as I wrote.

    1. I am so glad to have waited for unhurried time to read this story. Surely anyone who has lived near the water for enough time, has met someone like Dale. I pictured my own friend, Nick, and smiled from start to finish as I read the story. A few times I wondered if your Dale and my friend Nick could have been the same person!!! My first sentence ever to him was in a cyber cafe, and I stated, ‘…and you’re a scoundrel!’….

      He also drank too much, and for that many did not like him — but that scoundrel would have walked through fire to help someone he cared about, and he cared about me, so that’s all that was important.

      His health waned as well, and he returned to the usa to get VA assistance. after several years of no contact, I finally confirmed thru one of his old girlfriends that he had lost his fight w/cancer.

      Really nice resurrection story, Linda!

      1. I suspect the waterfront — or the jungle, or the construction site, or the open road — is one of the best places to find people like Nick and Dale. They aren’t going to thrive — or be tolerated — in a corporate environment. Even when Dale got serious about working, it was as an over the road trucker. There were deadlines and hard work, but there was a lot of freedom, too.

        When I think of Dale — and Nick, too — I remember one of my favorite lines: “The question isn’t whether there’s life after death. The question is whether there’s life before death.”

        1. That’s very beautiful, Linda.. thank you!
          One of my favorite items he gave me, which I still proudly display, is a weathered/faded yellow quarantine flag from his boat; he asked that I put it outside my window if I were painting so he’d know not to disturb me. It is usually displayed beside another sweet faded token of affection, an old banner from another friend’s hostal. Luchy brought just-cut sunflowers from his gardens as a ‘welcome back’ gesture – once upon a times when life was simpler!

          today my neighbor and I will be painting the ‘washroom’ for Candy, the wife of the man in the hospital. It’s the only part that they had not painted before her husband got sick… with her approval, it will be ‘maracuya yellow’ – quite strong but a good color for entering the casa thru the back door.

          1. That’s a beautiful yellow — almost the same as I chose for my bath. The room’s quite large — large enough to contain a small closet for the washer and dryer, and a large, mission style china cabinet — and I chose the yellow as a backdrop for my flow blue china, along with cobalt and white chamber set pieces. It’s a Van Gogh palette without a single sunflower!

            1. Well if I ever manage to fall out of the sky and land in your bath, I’ll bring brushes and paints and see if we can coax a sunflower to grow in that space!
              Blue and white paired with sunshine yellow makes a very happy space! it must be refreshing to step into that area!

              We opened the tub of ‘maracuya’ and discovered that it looks like grey poupon – not good. The ‘primo’ that was with us said it was a very nice color – we now think that he must have – like we did – thought of the color of passionfruit – but had never seen the paint before!

              I’m heading back to switch it, and we’ll start painting at 3!

              On a serious note, we’ve been listening/watching pres Moreno’s news conference which confirmed that three people – a journalist, the photographer and the driver – who were kidnapped near the Colombian border – have been murdered. We are all upset about this –

              It would be so wonderful if these three men add a new chapter to this resurrection story.


    1. But you got here — that’s the important thing. Besides, we’re still in the Easter season. The chocolate bunnies may be gone and the last rotting egg may have been pulled from under the bushes, but Dale goes on forever!

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