A Brief History of the Friends of Military Reserve

I discovered the Fort Boise Military Reserve in 1977 during my occasional Boise visits. As the Idaho Conservation League’s first field organizer, I was in Boise every month or so. The Reserve was a virtually unknown retreat into the “outback” less than a mile from the office. During breaks from staff meetings, I had discovered hidden bowers perfect for meditation or a picnic on the grass.

I moved to Boise for good in 1978 to supervise ICL’s growing field-organizing efforts, living in several North End Boise rentals, always close to the foothills. For two years in the early-’80s, I lived half way up Bogus Basin Rd. at the Hawkins ranch, which the city recently purchased with foothills levy funds. While caretaking the 160-acre ranch, I acquired an energetic black Lab, and after we moved back into town, Boomer made sure we walked daily in the foothills, usually the Military Reserve. In fact, it was on one of his walks in 1986 that we discovered the home on the reserve boundary that we bought and have occupied for more than 30 years.

Shortly after we moved into our home on a half-acre adjacent to the reserve, Alice Dieter came calling. Alice and her husband Les, were among the first residents when Aldape Heights was subdivided in the 1950s. Les was among a team of Mountain Bell employees transferred to Boise from Denver in 1955. Alice, a writer for Sam Day’s Intermountain Observer, also was one of Idaho’s first female broadcast journalists. On the Boise Parks Board in the 1960s and ’70s, she helped shape Boise’s park system as it was transformed into a full-fledged city department under director Gordon Bowen. They successfully initiated then-controversial projects like the Greenbelt and thwarted many inappropriate ones. Alice was a force to be reckoned with.

When I welcomed Alice into our living room that afternoon in 1986, she got right down to business. “Gary,” she said, “you and I are going to start the Friends of Military Reserve.” She paused just long enough for me to understand that this was a direction, not a suggestion. “When the North End and the East End begin limiting access to foothills development, access through Military Reserve is not going to be an option,” she explained. Thus, the Friends of Military Reserve was born with Alice Dieter as its first chair. I succeeded her in 1989 and Pam Marcum succeeded me in the early ’90s, followed by Don and Marie Essig as co-chairs.

Alice had been among neighbors of the reserve who had become concerned in the 1970s when developers were seen in the reserve speculating on its development potential. With the help of neighbor Bill Dunlop, the US Dept. of Interior Solicitor for Idaho, the group pressured for a revised patent of the Military Reserve to the city that would revert the reserve back to the United States if threatened by development. The resulting 1981 “recreational and public purposes” patent includes an attached master “plan of development,” which is actually a plan to protect the reserve from development.

In addition to the concern that Mountain Cove Rd. not become a thoroughfare for foothills development, were other forms of encroachment into the reserve—off-road vehicles, decades of trash dumping, shooting and archery practice, paintball games, runoff and erosion from adjacent streets, dumping and other incursions from adjacent properties. Our first official action was to request a new survey of the reserve boundary. The survey revealed several encroachments, not the least of which was the lower portion of our own driveway.

Our neighbors across Santa Paula Ct, who built one of the first homes on the street, recalled the day in 1958 when Joe Aldape plowed his D-9 Caterpillar up the hill to carve out what became the driveway to the home we later bought, unaware of the encroachment. The reserve had only recently been patented to the city and initially was treated pretty much as a wasteland. The boundary’s location was easily overlooked at the time. Gov. Andrus’ dog’s kennel also had to be moved, along with several other encroachments. The largest incursion, 3,220 square feet adjoining the Eaton property along the reserve’s northern boundary, was finally settled with a 2001 boundary-adjustment/property-transfer creating trail and emergency access to the reserve at the end of Claremont Dr.

There were repeated attempts over the years to “upgrade” Mountain Cove Rd. in violation of the original master plan, which specified that “Parking lots and upgraded roads including the three main roads will have a gravel surface.” In 1988, likely responding to pressure from property owners, the city quietly got the BLM to sign off on a plan amendment allowing “the granting a right-of-way to the Ada County Highway District for the Mountain Cove Road and authorizes paving of the road.”

ACHD actually began preparing Mountain Cove Rd for paving. I personally confronted the crew manager and explained that the highway district did not have jurisdiction. They left. While the city had been allowed to grant right-of-way to the district, it had not yet done so. Friends of Military Reserve demanded a public hearing, which was held Oct. 30, 1990, where paving the road was overwhelmingly opposed. Yet, a year later, the Ada Planning Association proposed a Mountain Cove Parkway through the reserve. Each time the proposal to pave the road comes up, it has successfully been thwarted. My guess is that, like the proposal for a cross-foothills thoroughfare, it will continue to crop up from time to time unless a clear prohibition laid out in the reserve master plan puts that genie back in the bottle.

Relocation of the archery range out of the reserve was an issue pursued by FMR from its inception until it was finally accomplished a decade later. Initially, the archers had located a site on Hubbard Rd and were working with the county. That site eventually fell through, and the present site in the second retention basin seemed the ideal solution.

1989 Trail Blazer

It took about a decade of persistent effort to end off-road-vehicle abuse in the reserve. Emplacement of rock barriers, improved enforcement and a few high-profile prosecutions of off-roaders eventually did the trick. Part of improved enforcement was educating reserve neighbors about how to to make non-emergency requests to officers familiar with the reserve and its restrictions.

Friends of Military Reserve joined with other citizen groups and federal, state, county, and city agencies to form the Boise Front Coalition, which led to establishment of the multi-agency Ridge-to-Rivers trail system. FoMR members participated in the campaign and negotiations to save Hulls Gulch from residential development, which became Boise’s next foothills reserve.  We also helped draft the city’s first comprehensive Foothills Plan, another years-long collaborative effort of neighborhood, conservation, developer and property-owner interests.

With city leaders’ growing awareness of the value of its reserves as shown by support and implementation of the foothills/open-space levy, the need for the watchdog activities of Friends of Military Reserve seemed to diminish in the late ’90s. It is time to revisit that notion; we are awakening the watchdog lulled asleep by our past successes.

Boise’s first open-space reserve is once again threatened by development. City leaders have recently approved construction of a “world-class bike-skills park” in the Military Reserve. If it became the regional attraction some hope it to be, it would negatively affect neighborhood traffic, public safety and emergency services, as well as the natural, ecological values for which the Reserve was created.

Plans to design and build the bike-skills park in Military Reserve were developed without the open, transparent public involvement promised by the city’s Open Space Reserves plans. The city council approved the bike park development agreement without discussion as an item on its March 13, 2018, consent agenda. That action was in violation of the Boise-City-Code requirement that all park and open-space development agreements be reviewed by the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners whose recommendations are then considered by the City Council. [BCC §13-01-04(G)]

Blindsided by the Council’s action, a group of Military Reserve users and neighbors decided to resuscitate the Friends of Military Reserve. At Council President Lauren McLean’s invitation, she and President pro tempore Elaine Clegg met with 16 of us on May 14, 2018. Ms. McLean acknowledged that they’d screwed up. We asked if—in response to the widespread concerns about the lack of proper public process expressed in comments taken at the April 4th “open house”—a hearing could be held before the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Open-Space Advisory Committee to revisit the decision to build the bike-skills park in the Reserve.

Council President McLean said that it had been a unaminous vote of the council that couldn’t be reconsidered and our only opportunity for public input would be to appeal the staff-issued permits to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Thus, Friends of Military Reserve appealed the improperly authorized Floodplain and Hillside development permits. [CFH18-00051 and CFH18-00052]

We were joined in the appeal by Wildlands Defense and Great Old Broads for Wilderness. The East End Neighborhood Assn. filed a separate appeal. The basic complaint of all the appeals is the lack of the transparent, open public involvement promised in the city’s open-space reserve management plans.

There’s been no study or even discussion of the impact of the decision on traffic, parking, safety or emergency access in the nearby neighborhoods already challenged by the St. Luke’s expansion, construction of the Boise High athletic complex adjacent to Fort Boise, relocation of Hillside Elementary to the Lincoln School on Fort St. Nor has there been any analysis of the spin-off effects of a “world-class” cycling attraction on the natural ecology for which the city’s first open-space reserve was created.

Backstory

The backstory that’s emerging: Joe Scott, grandson of Joe Albertson and head of the family foundation is an avid dirt and mountain biker. He, for instance, leaned on US Sen. Jim Risch to oppose the Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness because it would limit mountain-bike access. If you’ve seen what’s happened in the foothills above the Eagle bike park, which I believe also was funded by the Albertson Foundation, we fear that’s what’s in store for the Military Reserve. We have yet to determine how and by whom MR was chosen as the site. But we know why. They want access through the reserve to the Ridge-to-Rivers trail system. The original plan for the world-class bike park had two down-hill, bike-only thrill trails in the reserve—one down a swale on the face of Eagle Ridge that would have dumped out next to a geothermal well-house, another to the north of the upper Central Ridge Trail. After we raised a stink, those were eliminated; but two more are planned, one in the Freestone drainage above MR that will dump riders onto the Central Ridge Trail (#22); another, above Hulls Gulch. Relocation of the archery range back into the “natural” part of the reserve is on hold as they seek another site. FoMR spent about a decade to get the range moved out in the ’90s, when it was located at the end of the Toll Rd at the eastern corner of the reserve.

We’re still making public records requests to piece together how it all went down, but the city is being very chary about fulfilling them. Most of the documents sought have been denied as attorney-client privilege. The process was conducted behind closed doors. According to Lauren McLean and Elaine Clegg, foothills users surveyed at trailhead entrances to the reserves 1-2 years ago said having a bike skills park was a high priority. We asked to see the surveys and the analysis; first, they were promised, then we’re told to make a PRR to obtain them. The last survey we’ve found, done in 2015 shows nary a word about a bike-skills park. However, when the 2014 Hillside-to-Hollow master plan was developed through a facilitated public involvement process, a bike-skills park was sought and sited at Hillside Park, between the jr. high and the golf course. We’re told that MR was chosen after an exhaustive siting process examining alternatives that included Hillside.

According to Jimmy Hallyburton of the Boise Bicycle Project, he and Dylan Gradhandt of the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League, and SWIMBA began consulting on the project a couple years ago. We have yet to discover if that was a parks and rec process, the foundation’s, or both; it was not an open, transparent one. Clearly, they want a world-class attraction where they can hold regional events comparable to the X-Games at Rhodes Park, which Albertsons also funded. They even had such an event already scheduled for MR this August!

My experience organizing around environmental issues has taught me that often our “successes” have been slowing down a bad process long enough for reality to catch up. My hope is that we can force the city to fix the process by having the proposal sent back to the parks and rec dept to be presented to the parks and rec commission where it will be given a public hearing. There alternatives and impacts on the neighborhood(s) and on the natural ecology for which the reserve was created can be addressed by the proper body. The result will likely be a much better plan after all of the “stakeholders” are properly informed and their concerns heard.

The days when the rich family on the hill called the shots for the whole community should have ended centuries ago. Democracy is a messy process. It works best when community consensus is built through systematic development of informed consent.

Turning Trump: Our Muscovian President

Following up on my posts nearly a year ago about The Muscovian Candidate, here are my recent “musings” on the possibility that Donald Trump is one of the “active measures,” активные мероприятия, cultivated by Russian intelligence agents to subvert US government policy. Much of the information about how Trump has been “played” or, if you prefer, “worked” by Russian agents since the 1980s has been gleaned from Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Harding digs up a lot of evidence that supports the dossier on Donald Trump compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

If you don’t read Collusion, you might want to catch Terry Gross’ NPR interview with Harding: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565654507/journalist-investigating-trump-and-russia-says-full-picture-is-one-of-collusion.

The Steele dossier is here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984/Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.pdf

Доверительная связь

Vladimir Kryuchkov.jpg

Vladimir Kryuchkov

Gen. Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov was head of foreign-intelligence gathering (1974-1988) and then under Mikhail Gorbachev, KGB chairman (1988–1991). Kryuchkov is credited with expanding Soviet foreign intelligence and bringing greater professionalism to Russian spycraft. He called for better use of special, unofficial and confidential contacts. “These should be acquired chiefly among prominent figures in politics and society, and important representatives of business and science.” These “special, unofficial and confidential contacts,” Доверительная связь, should supply valuable information but also “actively influence” their country’s foreign policy “in a direction of advantage to the USSR.”

Espionage depends on various levels of recruitment: Intelligence-gathering involves not only “agents” but also contacts who can be groomed to provide increasingly more valuable types of information. Over time, the ideal candidates can be cultivated to use their status to move information in the other direction, actively influencing opinion and policy in their own country that is favorable to Russia.

In 1984, Kryuchkov was concerned that, in spite of having expanded the cadre of foreign-intelligence agents four-fold to 12,000, the KGB was having little success in the US. He issued a series of classified memos suggesting creative ways to improve recruitment of “prominent figures in the West” who might be drawn “into some form of collaboration with us, as an agent, or confidential, special or unofficial contact.” He urged wider use of friendly (and more disciplined) intelligence services, like the Czech StBStátní bezpečnost, and East German Stasi, Staatssicherheitsdienst.

Kryuchkov developed a secret personality profile listing qualities case officers should look for: What was the likelihood that the “subject would come to power (occupy the post of president or prime minister)?” “Are pride, arrogance, egoism, ambition or vanity among subject’s natural characteristics?” “Compromising information about subject, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft…and exploitation of his position to enrich himself’” and any other information that would compromise the subject in his country.

Do these character traits seem familiar?

Donald Trump first came to the attention of Soviet agents in the late 1970s when he dated, then married Ivana Marie Zelníčková, a smart, good-looking, 28-year-old Czech skier and model. The StB had been keeping an eye on Ivana since as a teenager she left Zlin, her hometown in Moravia, with her ski instructor, George Syrovatka, with whom she was living when Trump met her in Montreal. In the early ’70s, Syrovatka had arranged Ivana’s marriage to Austrian real estate agent Alfred Winklemayr so she could get a Western passport to leave her homeland.

By the mid-’80s Trump was a sufficiently promising object of study to warrant an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow arranged by Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin ostensibly to explore a joint hotel venture.

Presidential unravelings

 

I was not paying very close attention in the early ’70s to the shenanigans that eventually brought down the Nixon presidency, but recently I’ve been getting that déjà vu feeling. I recall that Watergate was named for the hotel that housed the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which Nixon’s “plumbers” burglarized. How long, I wondered, did it take for that attempt to influence the 1972 presidential election to catch up to Nixon and bring him down.

So, with the help of Mother Jones, I pulled together a timeline of the key events between the Watergate DNC break-in and Nixon’s resignation a little more than two years later:

Watergate Timeline:

Sept. 9, 1971 “Plumbers” Unit burglarizes Ellsberg’s shrink’s office.
June 17, 1972 Five men arrested bugging DNC’s Watergate headquarters
June–Sept., 1972 Washington Post reports various connections
Oct. 10, 1972 FBI establishes Watergate part of massive spying & sabotage by Nixon campaign
Nov. 11, 1972 Nixon reelected by a landslide
Jan. 30, 1973 Former Nixon aides Liddy & McCord + 5 others convicted in Watergate break-in
April 30, 1973 WH staff Haldeman, Ehrlichman, AG Kleindienst resign; counsel Dean, fired
May 18, 1973 Senate Watergate hearings begin, special prosecutor appointed
June-July more & more dirt dug up, revealed
Oct. 20, 1973 Saturday Night Massacre: Nixon fires spec. prosecutor, AG resigns
Nov. ’73–July, ’74 More dirt, Nixon won’t cooperate, Supremes order him to
July 27, 1974 Hs Jud. Comm. passes 1st of 3 articles of impeachment, for obstruction of justice
Aug. 8, 1974 Nixon resigns—2 yrs after DNC break-in, 22 mos. after the election he rigged

I have not made a point-by-point comparison with the current fiasco. The lines between legitimate campaign tactics and criminal intent seem even more blurred these days than in the days of Nixon’s “dirty tricks,” with fewer courageous Republicans willing to challenge the president.

The FBI has identified Russian attempts to swing the 2016 US presidential election. The intelligence community has identified several questionable and possibly unconstitutional contacts of members of Trump’s campaign with Russian officials dabbling in US foreign affairs prior to Trump’s being sworn in and possibly conspiring to swing the election itself.

How much did he know, and when did he know it? The kind of obfuscation we’ve been getting from the White House is reminiscent of Nixon’s and his staff’s stonewalling throughout the beginning of his second term, until his resignation nearly two years after his reelection.

The Muscovian Candidate

“When truth is gone, nothing is stable, and no one is safe.”
For several weeks, I’ve been toying with the notion of a wealthy international real estate tycoon coming under the influence of, say, a beautiful eastern-European model, whom he marries. She becomes integral to the magnate’s empire, an expert in the operations of his business…& his mind. As both a child of Stalinist Soviet society and a fashion model, she is familiar with manipulation of appearances and other stimuli to produce a programmed response. She teaches the tycoon well, & he rises to the highest levels of prominence in the land. After they divorce, she remains a trusted, invisible power behind the throne….

Then, recently, I came across this “Slate” article which explores “the psychology of the nationalized lie.” Here are a few excerpts:

“Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool.”

“When falsehood invades the highest offices in the land, it forces the population into a surreal doubleness where there are two sets of memories, two account books, two realities that must be contended with. This chokes those who want to operate through a legal framework, according to the rules, since the rules now apply to a fantasy; a complicated strategic triangulation is always necessary to produce a real result. Opponents have to struggle continually with cognitive dissonance.”

“A regime can work a population so that they don’t object to even the most bald-faced lie. There is no safety in numbers, even vast numbers, if no one speaks up.”

“This gives some idea of the costs that can be incurred when truth is inundated by falsehood. The parallels are useful both for understanding the psychology of the nationalized lie and for glimpsing a worst-case scenario. But the worst-case scenario is exactly that, as we should remember before plunging ourselves into sensationalist panic. Trump seems most interested in kleptocratic plundering, a model of misgovernment very different than the mass murder of Stalinism. On the other hand, it’s hard to precisely calibrate an appropriate sense of disaster when the president-elect’s campaign promises (soft truths, to be sure) include locking up and inciting violence against his opponents, and rounding up and deporting millions of Americans based on national origin or religion. In the barrage of untruths, no one can tell which whoppers Trump plans to make good on. His unreliability is for this reason seen as a plus by his most humane followers, who tell themselves he has lied about the bad parts. It is also one of the things that destabilizes resistance to him—either by the left or the right.”

The mainstream media and a sizable chunk of the general populace have been sucked in by Mr. Trump mind-fucking techniques. I’m glad, finally, to see some analysis of the psycho-social aspects of the Trump phenomenon.

Donald Trump shares several important traits with his ally Vladimir Putin—foremost among them, the deployment of outrageous lies as a political tool. P …
SLATE.COM
Caitlin Gibson has done a Washington Post piece about Trump’s “Gaslighting”: a deliberate attempt to deceive someone into questioning their own perception of reality, i.e., mind-fucking.
The Post’s Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher have published Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. Kranish did an insightful Trump’s backgrounder, “A fierce will to win pushed Donald Trump to the top” & “Trump says he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ The past 30 years show otherwise.” Another Post article examines Trump’s various Russian connections in more detail: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin.
On the advice of my financial advisor, with whom I raised an eyebrow about The Donald’s East European entanglements, I am reading Bill Browder’s Red Notice, which promises to detail how Putin and a few dozen oligarchs control Russia. Browder ran a very successful hedge fund that prospered by investing in the privatization of former Soviet economies. I’m hoping for insight into how Trump may have dealt with that system. Perhaps his tax returns, which rumor says will soon be (Wiki?)leaked, will have clues.

HoJo’s Closes

The Boston Globe recently reported the closing of New England’s last Howard Johnson’s restaurant:

hojobldg4

…and provided a nearly century-long timeline of the rise and fall of the country’s once greatest restaurant chain:

 

In honor of the occasion of the closing of the last Howard Johnson’s in New England, here’s my HoJo’s story:

As the end of my sophomore year in high school approached, I dreaded another summer under the hot Ohio sun, hoeing for seven or eight hours a day. The previous year, a couple of my classmates talked me into joining them working on a truck farm in the muggy Cuyahoga River valley a three-mile bike ride from home. For 50 cents an hour, we toiled alongside a half-dozen Puerto Ricans, who spoke very little English and taught us lots of Spanish seldom uttered in polite company, or in Mexico, I was to learn a few years later.

As summer got underway, some mornings we’d get a brief reprieve from the hoeing; we’d don rubber aprons, grab machetes and cut broccoli or cabbage before the sun transformed the morning dew into the humidity that defied the cooling effect of perspiration for the remainder of the day. Then, it was three or four hours of hoeing until a half-hour break for lunch, which we brought from home and stashed in the walk-in cooler till noon. After lunch, it was back to the hoeing until, some days—maybe—a half-hour before quitting time, we’d get to cool down, bunching and tying in the shade the broccoli we’d cut that morning.

I so disliked farm work that I quit a few weeks before school and went to work for my step-father. He and his brother were manufacturing of some of the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) gear. DACOR (Davison Corp.) was behind schedule rolling out some of its first two-stage underwater breathing regulators. I was promised better pay than from the farm to work at a machine shop in Cleveland the last few weeks of summer. I never got paid, but I learned both that I didn’t have to settle for farm work and how to operate a drill press. My stepfather’s attitude was that I owed him.hojobldg3

When I heard that a new Howard Johnson’s restaurant had opened, also a three-mile ride from home, I decided to apply for a job. I was hired as a prep-boy in the kitchen, where I sliced and measured out portions for sandwiches and various menu items. Howard Johnson pioneered processing and proportioning food in company-operated central commissaries. The prepared foods were then distributed to both company-run as well as franchised restaurants for final preparation.

In the back room where I prepped, there were two, very thick three-ring binders with pages for every single item on the menus, which changed for each day of the week. Each entry in the binder included the ingredients down to the tenth of an ounce, how the dish was to be prepared and presented, including the proper garnish and exact plate or bowl in which it was to be served. Everything was documented to ensure high quality, standardized food and service.

Most of the prepared entrees were frozen and, depending on that day’s menu, heated in a steam table, on the stove or baked in an oven. Short-order items like sandwiches, burgers, fries, steaks, salads and breakfast were, of course, prepared to order. One of the benefits of HJ employment was getting to order during your meal break from that day’s menu, which repeated each week. After a few weeks, you could focus on a few favorites. Mine were the clam chowder, short ribs and Indian pudding.

During the lunchtime rush, I was sent out front to run the cash register. If there was a lull at the register and fountain orders were backing up, I’d help out at the counter. It was a quick study learning the location of each of HoJo’s famous 28 ice cream flavors and how to make them into sodas, shakes, malts, sundaes and splits.hojocone

The Independence Howard Johnson’s was located near the cloverleaf intersection at the beginning of the area’s first freeway, connecting the southern suburbs to downtown Cleveland. Each HoJo’s had a turquoise-capped white cupola atop a bright orange roof so travelers would immediately recognize the restaurant. In 1956 there were some 500 of them, mostly in the eastern US. Ours was visible and accessible to people traveling the Cleveland area in all directions; it became popular quickly.

Apparently, however, the Howard Johnson’s that had hired me was not living up to company standards. While some HoJo’s were franchised, ours was company owned and managed. About two weeks after I’d started, several managers from the Chicago and Boston offices arrived to check things out. There had been complaints. The next day, without notice or explanation, everyone was laid off.

I was, as the saying went, crushed. But before throwing in the hot, damp towel and returning to the farm, I decided to look for a job downtown. The next morning, as I boarded the bus into downtown to look for work, I recalled my only previous experience with Cleveland employment, which hadn’t turned out so well.

It was, like most summer jobs in northeastern Ohio, hot and sweaty work that didn’t pay well. I was 13 years old. Somebody had told me that if I went down to Municipal Stadium in the morning before a Cleveland Indians game I could get a job hawking soda to fans.

I hooked the steel coin changer from my paper route to my belt with enough money in it to make change after paying for my first case of orange drink from the stadium vendor. I strapped the halter for the case of orange drink around my neck and shoulders, trudged out into the hot, crowded stadium, and up the steps, shouting above the crowd noise, “Hey, orange drink here! Cold, refreshing orange drink.”

After selling a case, I’d go buy another, and so forth, trying not to get stuck with any extras at the end of the game. By then, I had a pretty heavy bag of coins, but wasn’t feeling all that confident of making it across downtown to the bus stop back to Independence with my meager but hard-earned proceeds intact. It was a tough neighborhood, and I was definitely not from around there. I made it to the bus and home without incident, but it was not an experience I wanted to repeat.

So, the day after my HoJo’s layoff, recalling the trip downtown for the ill-fated stadium job a couple years earlier, I hopped on that same bus for the 12-mile ride to seek my fortunes in Cleveland again. I answered several walk-in ads in that morning’s Plain Dealer and asked for work at the book stores and stamp-and-coin shops I would visit on my occasional forays into Cleveland and any other store I passed that looked like they might need help. The best I could come up with was selling encyclopedias door-to-door, on commission. That, to my mind was pretty much equivalent to hoeing, with less certain results.

I was exhausted and defeated when I walked in the door at home that evening. My mother greeted me, listened patiently to my tale of woe, then said, “A lady from Howard Johnson’s called, and asked you to call her at her hotel when you got home,” and handed me the number.

It was one of the head honchos from Chicago. When I told her who I was, she asked, “Have you ever cooked breakfast?”

I guessed that she meant in a restaurant. I said, a bit hesitantly, “Well, I make breakfast for the family sometimes.”

Would you like to cook breakfast at the restaurant?” she asked. “Mr. Yanke (one of the other managers who’d come in to straighten things out) wants you to come in at 6:30 in the morning. He’ll get you started. The lunch cook comes on at 10:00, and he’ll help out while he sets up.”

I was willing to do almost anything to avoid hoeing or selling door-to-door, and I did like to cook—even though I’d never cooked for more than a few family members. So I agreed. I showed up at 6:30 the next morning. The next couple of weeks are a blur. Mr. Yanke and the lunch cook, who also had survived the layoff, were good and patient teachers.

The system that Howard Johnson pioneered, I realized years later, was an important part of my success. The organization of the kitchen, its equipment, the layout of the whole building was all planned to work together. The procedures I was taught those first few days, those fat binders—there was little room left for failure if I paid attention.

Short-order cooking, which is basically what HoJo’s was, can be intense at busy times. Being well prepared, with enough of everything you need in the right places within reach, keeps one calm, cool and collected when the crowds come. It didn’t take long before I could handle the breakfast shift on my own. I’d help the cook set up the kitchen for the lunch rush and continue helping in the kitchen if needed, then go out front to help at the counter and register. By the end of the summer, I was cooking in the mornings & handling the register, fountain and counter in the afternoons, and totalling the register receipts before heading home.

In those days, you had to be 16 and have working papers to be employed for eight hours a day doing anything other than farm work. I would be 16 in October. So, whenever asked about my papers, I’d stall with whatever excuse came to mind. It was not exactly convenient to get to the school offices that closed at 4:00, where the working papers were issued when I didn’t get off work until 3:30, and it was a long, uphill bike ride. I hoped that I’d become a good enough employee that they wouldn’t care if I was 15. After awhile they quit pestering me to get my working papers.

That summer I learned enough about cooking and the restaurant business to over the years get several jobs cooking and catering and 20 years later to actually open my own restaurant at Onion Valley, California, 9,250 feet above sea level in the Sierra Nevada. But that’s another story.

 

So, it is sad that HoJo’s is about gone. Many restaurant chains and franchises today essentially operate on quality-control, supply and distribution models similar to those HoJo’s pioneered. Looking back through the timeline provided by the Boston Globe, it seems that, like many ideas of early 20th-century entrepreneurs, HoJo’s got eaten up up in the merger-and-acquisition fervor of the 1980s.

 

Aging in Place: It Takes a Village

Aging in Place: It Takes a Village

“Aging in Place” I doubt the phrase has been been focus-grouped; it sounds geological, staid. However, as the advanced warning systems of Old Age begin to register, it’s what most of us say we want. Rather than senior living communities, old age homes, or assisted living, we want to live in our own place.

The warning signs for me came about a decade ago. I was in my mid-60s. My mother, who is 18 years older than I, was beginning to show signs of dementia. She also began to experience a series of health crises resulting in hospitalizations, followed by rehab before returning home to her apartment. Mom is relatively secure financially; she has excellent health insurance, a modest retirement account and has paid off her mortgage.

Especially after a couple nursing home stays for post-hospitalization rehab, Mom was adamant about wanting to stay in her own place. Even the four-star-hotel-like assisted living complex where we dined when I visited during her rehab stays turned her off. However, she had given little thought to what kind of supports she would need to be able to continue to live on her own.

Hospitalizations seemed to exacerbate the dementia. It became clear that Mom was no longer able to manage her own affairs and that she had made few preparation for transferring those responsibilities. The family rallied, as did Mom after her last hospital stay. She refused offers from me and my siblings to have her move in with one of us.

So, we became quick studies in elder care. I found Jim Comer’s When Roles Reverse: a Guide to Parenting Your Parents particularly helpful. We hired a caregiver to come in a couple hours a day to fix Mom’s meals, make sure she gets her meds, get her to appointments, shop, etc. We got her a medical alert system and installed a couple online cameras in her apartment that we can check from our own computers at any time. Her living will and Do Not Resuscitate orders are in order.

After each crisis, we increased caregiver hours, made safety adjustments to the apartment, etc. Following her last hospitalization, which she barely survived a couple years ago, we signed her up with a hospice Navigator program; next crisis, instead of going to the hospital, hospice care is initiated.

The experience with Mom opened my eyes to how much help I will need, sooner or later, as I continue to live way beyond my statistical life expectancy. I do not want my kids burdened with trying to figure out what to do with Dad when Dad can’t do for himself.

For years, I’ve nurtured a fantasy of growing old in an “intentional” community. Since the 1960s, I’ve also experienced a wide range of communal living situations. For a while my fantasy envisioned the dozen homes in our cozy, double-cul-de-sac neighborhood in the Boise foothills. Then, those homes started going on the market at prices way out of the range of my vision.

In my elder-care research I learned of the Village movement, which started in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood at the turn of the century. The Village concept appeals to me because it attempts to achieve many of the goals of an intentional community without the need for members to move into a commune. Lack of geographic proximity is overcome and many of the inherent difficulties of “living in community” are avoided through communication and organization of resources.

When I returned to Boise from one of my trips to Ohio to visit Mom, I told Diane Ronayne, my wife, about the Village concept. That was in 2012. The rest is history, which you may read here. It is four years later; Boise at Home, Boise’s “Village,” is off and running thanks largely to Diane and Boise elder-law attorney Susan Graham.

This week, Natalie Galucia, director of the national Village to Village Network is in Boise to address the 2016 summit on Elder Abuse and Exploitation. The topic: Aging in Place: Safely, Securely and Independently.

If you’d like to meet Natalie, there’s a public reception for her Monday, June 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Riverside Hotel, co-sponsored by JAVA (Justice Alliance for Vulnerable Adults) and Boise at Home. The summit conference is Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the BSU SUB. Ms. Galucia is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at 9:20 a.m. A panel (including Diane Ronayne) will follow, responding to Natalie’s remarks. Other speakers will address: resources for aging in place, home safety, senior living decisions, communicating across generations about life transitions and red flags of abuse/exploitation.

Oh, and let’s come up with something less staid than Aging in “Place.”