Seymour and the Ace of Spades
grego (from summer 78 newsletter)
This is an honest story though I changed the names and will keep the wayward crew a secret.
actually they were malcolm (Seymore) and john cloud ( the Ace).
It was in May 78 and all those implicated herein have since matured so very much and even had children of their own needing precious guidance similar to what I conveyed that long ago evening.
We were cruising back from Pierce, Idaho through the early darkness , about halfway to camp with another 20 miles to go and feeling pretty good. Although not usually one to indulge, I’d dipped lightly into a few pitchers and the ride back had that tranquil dreamlike quality, the engine humming over the pass as we picked our way through a tunnel of light in the dense forest. I felt good about life and these mountains which I was getting to know like the back of my hand after four years working all over them with my nose to the ground as a planter.
It started to rain, a gentle spring rain with the soft drumming on the roof over the steady hum of the motor just adding to the dreamlike quality. I could picture in my mind all those drainages flowing out of the high country of the Bitterroots west of the river where I knew I could walk a good 50 miles northeast to the Montana border and only cross one road, the wild land across the river throbbing away in the spring rain like a watchful creature.
We were cruising along and passed a little waterfall falling by the side of the road and next to it a little FS sign which says “Jazz Creek”. I got off on that and when we stopped the crummy a few feet down the road, I thought my comrades were going back to groove on the thing. I got out thinking it was pretty inane to stand out in the rain looking at a sign, but ready to go along with any inane thing, that being the quality of the moment. When I saw the driver who we shall refer to as the “Ace” pull the tool kit from behind the seat, It finally dawned on me that they were going to swipe the sign.
I stood there alone for a few seconds and told another culprit “Seymour” I thought that was bullshit and took off down the pitch dark road. Seymour called after me and I started running out the road with Seymour running after me but I lost him in the dark, putting a mile between me and the crummy and slowed to a walk to listen to the cool sounds of the rain falling through the trees and the spring swollen river. I felt pretty good because I knew I had them, this time I was dead right, and there was this unlocked nifty dry cabin no more than five miles down the road which I knew they weren’t aware of. I was holding all the cards. After awhile I grew perplexed that the crummy had not appeared, but finally saw them cruising along real slow looking for me hiding in the trees. I swear, they must have thought I was pretty dumb.
They were awful surprised to see me walk into the headlights. Ace snarled at me to cut the shit, stop the moralizing and get back in the crummy. I told Seymour that if he lays his pudgy mitts on me I am gonna slam him, that I think that it is bullshit to steal the sign and that I won’t get back in til it’s put back. He makes a grab for me and I take off down the road like a bat out of hell.
I don’t know where Seymour is from but he held close to my tail for a good half mile and I’ll be damned if that aging wreck of a planter wasn’t gaining on me with the crummy coming up behind us with our shadows drawing together in the glare of the headlights. Knowing I was cooked I went sailing down the bank into the river and to this day do not know what I would have done had not Seymour yelled that he’d given up and wasn’t about to go into the river after me. The comrades in the crummy were pretty heated up by this time and mumblings tumbled out the door about moralizing and laying trips on people. I got extra calm and sugary and said that I wasn’t laying a trip on anybody, was not going to argue, but unless the sign went back up I wasn’t getting into the crummy. I thought it was neat to have a place named Jazz Creek and there would be other worthy types like ourselves who would get as much of a kick out of it as we did. Knowing the FS, it might take two years to get a new sign.
Feeling extra smug about the whole thing I turned to walk down that lonely road. Figuring that they might just leave me, I made a fast pace toward the cabin before I got soaked. Regardless of what happened, they would have to face up to the merciless judgment of their fellow crewmates the next day and that particular kind of morality which flourishes so well in the dank, early hours of the morning.
And I could walk into camp the next day, the sodden, wounded hero.
As I trudged off I heard some pretty intense dialogue coming from the crummy and a little later they turned around to head back to the scene of the crime. After 20 minutes they came back and to my queries, they laughed ( specially our two fair haired Annies and Kris, but not Ace of course) and swore that it was back in its ordained place which it was although a bit crooked.
We got back to camp where true to predictions, the baleful eye of morality cast its glow over the chief culprit, the “Ace” and to this day myself and certain other types have not let an opportunity pass without rubbing it in.
( Geez, what a sanctimonious SOB, no doubt said sign didn’t last another month out there under the public eye and it would have looked great in the crew bus. My belated apologies to both Ace and Seymour, both on this list and knowing exactly who you are. Love ya both. More or less.)