Dan Gisvold at Bear Creek

Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Place

We have purchased a new house.

It is ten miles from the nearest hamlet and 20 miles from where I work in San Luis Obispo.

It is nestled in the Coast Range in what is considered high desert.

There are pastures and oaks. There are deer. Probably a bear or two. Raccoons for sure.

It is on a private well. It uses propane and there is NO cell reception.

It is a perfect place.

For Dan.

He would have loved the isolation. He would have loved the quiet. He would have loved the wildlife.

The other day I took a break from the interior painting. (Fumes, you know!) And I am standing on the back deck looking out at the neighbors pasture.

I had been thinking about how Dan would have loved the place. How much I wished he was there with me.

Then I realized.....

He already was.

It felt like he was everywhere I looked. Every place I touched.

He was in every rock and tree and bush.

This was a place he loved.

I am at ease with that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

76 Trombones

Ward is a wealth of stories about Dan. Things I had no way of knowing (I was the baby sister, after all.) and Bill had left for college when most of these things happened.

But when I discussed the latest of Ward's musings with Bill, he, like me, could just see Dan doing the things that Ward describes.

So here is the latest from Ward. Thank you for putting a grin on my face as well. By the way, I have shortened the name of the villain to avoid any repercussions!

We started music in grade school.  It was an important entity to Lindsay's persona.  Mr. Kemper was our first instructor and he helped us and our parents select the instruments we were to be married to. (Kemper also owned the local music store and sold or rented out most of our horns.) I got the clarinet (something about my mouth shape-I was really hoping for a trumpet).  Danny started on the trombone.  At first it was bigger than he was but Kemper must have been a prophet cause when Danny grew his physique emulated that instrument. 
By the time we were in the Jr. High Band we had uniforms- hand me downs from the high school, I think.  Ill fitting scratchy wool gaberdine - they said I looked like the organ grinders monkey with the tin cup.  The crotch of my pants almost reached the floor with the waistline at my armpits.  Danny's hung like clothes on a stick scarecrow.
We never took anything seriously in those days, especially band.  Band was an enjoyable release from scholastic activities.  Sour notes and other interesting sounds could be produced on our horns at inopportune moments.  Band teachers failed to appreciate our efforts.  None the nevertheless we had a succession of instructors that whipped our band into an award winning entity. Mr. Kemper passed away of a brain tumor and was replaced by Mr. Roach, a young cocky trumpeter who we adored and would do anything for. Roach got hired away and Henry Leal was his successor.  Dark hair, tall, mysterious looking Mediterranean, he gave us the score to Victory at Sea which we all loved to play.  The band was excellent.
Mr Jones came to stay when I was in my Sophomore year, Danny was a freshman.  We soon discovered that he had a temper and we could get his goat at will.  To counter our subterfuge Jones, Fella, Mr. (our name for him)  appointed Dave, DRUM MAJOR!!! Dave took his job and everything else much too seriously and soon got slaunchwise with Danny and me; because he often was seated next to the trombone section, he gave Danny an especially hard time.  He often made life miserable on band trips especially on the bus where there was very little supervision, if any.  Danny took a lot of guff from this bully and came close to throwing punches.
So here's the story.  There was a big production of THE MUSIC MAN in Visalia.  The call went out for trombones and trumpets from every county high school.  The finale had trumpets and trombones marching down  the aisleways of the auditorium to the stage playing "76 Trombones.  ( Now Danny got a great big grin and glint in his eye when he told me about this the Monday or Tuesday after it happened, and he had the same look when he retold the story some 50 years later.)  It seems to Danny's incredible luck that the trombones marched behind the trumpets and going down the path just in front of Danny was Dave.  Danny's words were the same both times he related the story.  " I never played a note.  I just got as close as I  could to Dave and kept ramming my slide into his backside with every step."  There was a lot of marching in place and Foster just had to take it.  Poetic justice was served.
So as I was throwing feed to my chickens and peacocks, feeding and petting my foster cats, I remembered Dave's name.  I had everything else as sharp as the first time Danny told it, just couldn't remember the villain.  I started to smile, then grin and chuckle cause I can just see Danny strutting down that aisle whanging away at Dave with his slide.  I can see him in the band room stretched out on his chair blowing for all he is worth and the tune is either "76 Trombones" or "Victory at Sea".

And that is where my brother's grin comes from!!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Others Remember

We are still finding people who do not know that Dan is dead.

It is so hard to say that. I don't like to think that he is. He is just gone and somehow that thought lets me believe somewhere that he will be back.

But I will always have my memories. No one can take them from me.

And so do all of his friends.

The following is from Dan's childhood friend, Ward T. Ward was one of the ones that just found out about Dan. Through his tears, he wrote me this:

Bikes.  Growing up we were always on our bikes and we went everywhere.  It's  interesting  that Danny's last bike was like the bikes we grew up on.  Three speed Sturmey Archer "Mary Poppins" style bikes.  Danny's was red.  I had a black "Indian".  School, music lessons,(Hannigan's of course), Boy Scout meetings, baseball practice, swimming pool we were all expected to get  there on our bikes unless it involved being after dark or it was raining.  A flat tire was like being grounded.

I don't know where the idea came from, but Danny and I would drop the front wheel off one of our bikes and then bolt the front fork over the back wheel of  the other bike and, presto!! - an articulated tandem.  We rode all over town like that.  I don't think the idea was too popular with the folks.

There was nothing quite like the carefree freedom we had and the independence bestowed on us via our bikes.
We grew up in a wonderful town at a wonderful time. We were allowed everywhere (well, almost everywhere) And we were watched by everyone in town. We felt so very safe. 
Thank you, Ward. He is alive with our memories.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

At the Feet of Hemingway

Dan loved the writer's conference that is held every year in Idaho. Bill would (at first) sneak him in and later got him tickets. Dan just absorbed all of the intellectual discussions and thoughts. He was in "hog heaven".
He tried to go every year but couldn't always get out of the truck schedule.

So when Bill was in Idaho this last week, he took the remaining remains of Dan to the site of the writer's conference. There is a memorial to Hemingway there and some grassy areas that Dan loved.

On the memorial is written:

Best of all, he loved the fall.
The leaves yellow on cottonwoods
Leaves floating on trout streams
and above the hills
The high blue windless skies
…Now he will be part of them forever.

He lies there now. 
At the feet of Hemingway.