Well Judy Keplinger got after me the other day because I hadn’t written in a little bio for our reunion and I told her that I didn’t think that I had anything in my life that had been that earth shattering to write about. I can’t tell you what her comment to me was but as I remember it had something to do with bovine excrement. (sorry Judy) Anyway I just read Chuck Wittebort’s bio, and I do agree that it is classic, and it got me to thinking about some early experiences that I remember about Richland, and they also include some of my extended family. You all.
I beat Chuck to the tricites by 5 years, as I arrived in Pasco around October,1943. As I was born in February of that same year, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little short on details of that momentous occasion. Moving forward, I’ll tell you a story that by today’s standards would have probably landed my mother in jail for not only what happened with me but her response to it. She told me she almost fainted when she received a phone call from a woman that she didn’t even know, asking her if she would like to come and join her and her son in some cookies and milk. I was 6 years old at the time and ten blocks from home. My mother came and met the lady and got me. (My mother and this lady become lifelong friends and she ultimately became my Godmother) To solve this little problem, my mother bought a large dog collar (body type), tied a fifty foot rope on it and tied me to a telephone pole in the common area out in front of out house on Stevens. My exploring days were over. Looking back on that though, brings to mind just how different Richland was from everywhere else in the country. It was like the whole town was one big family and we looked out not only for each other but each others kids.
Some short memories about some specific people. I have known Beth Perderson for virtually all of my life. Her dad and mine were good friends and we would go out to their house from time to time. I think she was my first girlfriend, because I remember singing a love song to her on her front porch. (abba dabba dabba-it had the word love in there somewhere so it had to be a love song) I remember one other time Beth and I were out riding horses, (it should be noted that Beth was a much better rider than I was) We were galloping along a fence line and unknown to me the horse knew where the barn was. When we got to the end of the fence the horse turned left and I went right, right on my face in the dirt. She came back and was laughing her self to death. Didn’t ask if I was hurt due to the laughing part. Of course you can’t be macho if you cry in front of a girl so back on the horse and to the barn. My neck was killing me. Hurt for three months after that.
When I lived on Judson and Mary Mike lived on Goethals there was a common area where we played with Doug Teats, and a bunch of kids in the neighborhood. Looking back on it, it looked like a bunch of big old boys playing with a doll, because Mary Mike was such a little tyke.
When I was in grade school at Jason Lee, I had two girl friends that were also best friends. Leslee Nelson and Judy Williams. Kind of like a Doublemint commercial.
Chuck mentioned in his bio about the fog trucks for mosquitoes. I was doing that one night and ran smack dab into the front of a car creeping through that same fog in the same space I was occupying. Anyway I ended up on the hood of this guys car, looking at him through the front window. When the surprise went away he asked if I was ok and I said that I was. Then he said, “Well that’s good, now get your little ass off of my car.” I don’t remember but I swear he was laughing like crazy when he drove away.
Ok, enough of this dribble. My life for the most part has been fairly simple. Worked for Boeing for about 6 years in the early 60’s. Owned my own truck and drove over the road for about 10 years, then got into construction management on the nukes for about 20+ years. Managed a sand and gravel trucking company for four years before retiring in 2009. All during this time I always made time to stay involved with music. I have recorded two albums in Nashville and made about 5 trips to New Zealand where I was warmly greeted in 2000 when I went down to do some singing and have been invited back a few times since.
I am so looking forward to this reunion. I made the comment at our 40th reunion that I considered all of you my extended family. I meant it then and I mean it today.
William “Lane” Johnson
Member of “The Classic Class of 1961