eaten at the Ding Ho Chinese restaurant in Yakima,
but I have fond memories of it from my childhood. We’ll get back to the Ding
I did have dinner and cocktails with Mary
Hemmingway and her entourage once at a neighbor’s house in Troutdale,
Oregon. It was so memorable I had forgotten
all about it ‘till I started this column. I believe it was the first time I had
eaten artichokes with a vodka chaser. My people are not artichoke folk. But I
watching the news a few month’s back and came across a piece about Ernest
Hemmingway’s birthday. Sitting in a bar in Key West were at least fifty guys
with white beards looking like Papa himself in his classic “Old Man and the
Sea” look, the handsome man and fine fisherman.
Some newsperson interviewed one of the fake Hemmingway’s, who said that his
life time goal was to fish all the waters of the Florida
Gulf and Cuba
as the Old Man had done. Obviously these Hemmingway’s have hero issues with
Papa, but better him than Hitler.
I know what
you’re thinking: is there a point to this?
Bear with me we will get back to the Ding Ho.
When I was a kid we lived in a G.I. housing
development just outside Offutt Air force Base in Nebraska,
where my father “The Chief” was assigned for four long years. I guess as a
career move for a professional soldier during the Cuban missile crisis, this
was the place to be, except if any missiles had actually been fired. His advice to me: “Don’t sweat it, you’ll be
playing football one minute and vaporized the next”. Ok, Dad I feel much better now.
had a month’s leave every year and we would pile into the Oldsmobile with the
dog for a trip to Yakima, where my mother’s
family lived. The trips were epic, and I think we all enjoyed them at some
gypsy level. Even our nasty dog Hans seemed to get his wiener dog groove on. I will never know what the relatives thought
of our G.I. lifestyle, but they were wonderful hosts and Yakima
was a very special destination. There was trout fishing everywhere!
is not about me or Earnest or the Chief, though. It’s about a kid and fisherman
that grew up in Yakima and changed
the landscape of American literature forever. Raymond Carver.
In his book “Were I’m calling from,” Carver describes
a trip down 16th Ave. past the Chinese restaurant (Ding Ho )to fish
in a creek behind the airport he called Birch Creek. Actually it was called Bachelors
Creek, and that is where I started trout fishing on those vacations from Omaha.
It wasn’t much of a piece of water but it was connected to a fish hatchery so
there were always a few huge brood trout that cruised just under the surface
like a trout mirage.
I remember the first time I read Ray’s story
“, Nobody Said Anything,” and realized that I had been on that same journey to
go fishing when I was a kid.
if you’re a product of public education as I am you may not be all that
familiar with the world of American letters. Trust me Ray Carver is worth the
Ray Carver is the most important artist
to ever come out of Yakima, but is
there a Ray Carver Boulevard?
Park? Ray Carver festival? No and
no and no.
maybe we should a have a Raymond Carver night where we celebrate his life and
work. For the venue, the Ding Ho would be perfect. Hold the artichokes.