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Robert Boyce Memorial

June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016

About an hour ago I had to pee, so I got up, did my business.  Gunther whined in his crate.  Well, there are uh, let’s see, Penny, Henry, Bea, George, and me all sleeping together in the basement of Clara’s and Brian’s house.  I sure don’t want a whining dog waking up the whole family.

I open the crate, let Gunther out and we trot upstairs to the family room.  I get on the computer while Gunther humps a stuffed toy the size and shape of a basketball. Why?  How?  He has been castrated! Why would he hump the stuffed toy?  I stare in disbelief.  He doesn’t stop!

He won’t be still.  I finally figure out that he is thirsty.  The kids gave him so many salty “Puperoni” treats yesterday that he had to drink all his water.  I fill his bowl and he drinks almost all of it.  I fill it again.

Gunther and I sit for a while before I carry him back to his crate and lock him in.  Now I can’t sleep and it’s two a.m.

Now I’m back upstairs on the computer, drinking a beer, writing, waiting for a sleepy feeling to return.  Man!  Rochester Minnesota is a warm, humid place. My thighs stick together with perspiration.

For this reason and that, I think about a time almost 60 years ago when I had a chance to sell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer door-to-door in Missoula.

I used to like doing door-to-door commerce when I was a kid.  All my best friends did.  One time we got a stack of old magazines and went door-to-door.  We wanted a dime each.  Of course nobody wanted to buy our old used magazines.

We tried selling at this old lady’s hose on the corner of Kensington and —I don’t know — maybe Thames street in Missoula, and she brought out her hearing aid.  What a contraption.  She had an amplifier and a long wire that went to an earpiece.  She asked us to speak into the amplifier.  We did, shouting that we were selling magazines.  I think she misunderstood.  She pulled out ten dollars, which we refused.

Anyhow, years later I somehow got signed up to sell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  I hated the name.  I wanted it to be Post-Intelligence.  The final “r” grated on me.  I settled on “Seattle P-I,” but that didn’t go over well, either.

A frantic acting, sweaty, man dropped off a bundle of maybe ten issues of the Sunday Seattle Post-Intelligencer at my house.  He told me to sell them and I could keep five cents each and I was to give him the other twenty.  I think now, that he was having as much trouble as I selling it.  I was dubious, but I agreed to try.

I remember that my mother wouldn’t allow me to sell it on Sunday, the day it came out.  In those days stores and just about everything in Missoula except Olson’s Grocery was closed Sundays.  Day of rest.  Therefore, I had to try and sell them on school nights and Saturday.  Nobody wanted to buy until I got to Bob McConnell’s house.  Bob lived with a relative there.  He was a high school kid, probably a freshman.  The next week I went to Bob’s to sell him another issue, but he wouldn’t buy.  The Seattle P.I. had no world news, he said.  Plus, who wants yesterday’s paper?

I wasn’t really tuned in to the high school kids like Bob McConnell until they started at the University of Montana.  I vaguely remember that Bob Boyce, one of my brother Tom’s friends, had a distinctive face that most of his peers described as ugly.  I didn’t think he was ugly, and I think they thought he was ugly in the best sense of the word.  As one who had a lot of character, sort of like Abraham Lincoln.

Bob Boyce died when Mike Fiedler’s brother Eric crashed a car on the road to Drummond.  I remember there was some sort of inquest, or investigation and Eric was not found culpable.  Nonetheless, there was this cloud of innocence lost on Tom and his friends after that.  Evil had entered the world.

In 1967, when I was a freshman at the University of Montana, I was walking past the philosophy department library and I noticed that it had been named in honor of Bob Boyce.  I remember now that I was on my way to interview Henry Bugbee, Chairman of the Philosophy Department.  I wanted his views for a newspaper article I hoped to write about the administration’s desire to downsize the liberal arts.

How destiny works:  In 1978, when our family was preparing to move to Brazil to work on drug research for treatment for falciparum malaria, I needed to take a crash course in Portuguese.  Jim Flightner taught the course and we met in the Robert Boyce memorial philosophy library, a small room with a table at the end of a hall in the Liberal Arts building.

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