Spirits of friends and kin


Last updated 4/5/2022 at Noon

Jim Anderson

Chief Lalooska.

Being on the brink of the latter part of living has left me at times with massive regrets that I’ve done some of the dumb things I shouldn’t have (“sins” in some people’s opinions), and passed up others I should have acted on…

But one of the biggest surprises I’ve received as my life here on this, our “home away from home” passes on, is how close I am to those (in Australian terminology) who were once my chums.

When I worked with OMSI back in the 1960s, one of my most pleasurable responsibilities was loading up the 26-passenger Ford bus, “Space Cruiser,” and taking a bunch of kids and parents to the Portland railroad station, putting them on a train for Woodland, Washington, then taking the bus to Woodland, meeting the train, loading up my passengers again and then heading for Chief Lalooska’s longhouse in Aerial, Washington.

Once there, my dear old friend Lalooska (who was an honorary member of all the PNW Nations), would thrill everyone with clan ancestor stories of the Northwest Native peoples.

He would enter the longhouse in complete darkness, dressed in a Northwest Indian chief’s blanket, holding a beautiful drum that he’d carved, upon which he’d begin to beat and sing a beautiful Bellakoola welcome song.

The audience would sit spellbound listening to his rich baritone voice. Then his brother, Smitty, would enter the longhouse dressed in a shaman’s outfit and with his rattle, dance around the dead campfire, which would, after the proper connotation, suddenly spring to life. What a beginning!

Then, for over an hour we would sit spellbound as Lalooska shared story after story about the Northwest Peoples’ way of life and customs.

Well, my new family of those wonderful times, my wife, Harriet, and two little sons got to be very close to Lalooska and his family, consisting of his mom, dad, brother, and sister, Patty. We spent almost every holiday together, dining together, playing games, and sharing tales of each other’s life and customs.

I tell you this to help explain an incident I had recently: As I was sitting with a wonderful lifelong pal telling tales of my life-and-times with OMSI, Chief Lalooska, and his family, suddenly tears began to flow — as they are as I share this with you this moment. Not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy, because my dear old pal Lalooska is right here with me. His spirit is right next to me; I can feel him.

I’ll share this one event in our wonderful time together that will provide a small picture of joy we shared:

Lalooska had a more-than-average love of his Great Men of the Mountains, Sasquatch. One night after a wonderful evening of eating and playing Native people’s games, he got into sharing the good and bad times he has had with his Great Men of the Mountains.

He spotted my lack of enthusiasm in his appreciation of these mysterious beings, and immediately ran to the front door of his home, yanked the door open, and shouted up to the hillside above the house, which was covered with hundreds of old cedar stumps: “Oh, Great Men of the Mountains, please...don’t listen to this foolish boy! I believe in you! Please don’t come down and pull my house posts over — again!”

Then he closed the door, turned to me and said, “You watch birds, don’t you?” I said of course, and he quickly added, “You’ve heard them singing?” I responded, again, of course. Then he added, “You’ve heard birds singing at night...?” I said, “Sure.”

Then he got right into my face and wagging his finger under my nose, he said, quietly, “Those are not birds,” and whispered, “Those are the Great Men of The Mountains, and that’s the way they communicate.”

About that time my baby son, Dean, started to fuss, so I put him in the backpack Harriet and I just purchased and went for a walk to the top of the stump-covered hill and sat down on one of the stumps to view Cougar Reservoir in the moonlight.

As I was sitting there enjoying the view, suddenly I heard birds chirping behind me. The hair went straight up on the back of my neck and I scooted down the hill, back to Lalooska’s house. And when I got to the front door it opened, and there was my dear friend, grinning at me, and he said, “You heard them, didn’t you?”

So, dear ones, when you reach time for the nature of this life to be overcome by the nature of death, be ready for the spirits of friends and kin who will be there to meet-and-greet you when you come over to “the other side.”


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