I went out last night for a rare time on the town. One of the reasons I drove 50 miles to drink beer was that two of my friends from Maui are in Alaska for a few days and they wanted to go.
|Oktoberfest was held in the third incarnation of the Day Lodge.|
Anyway, I was with a bunch of old folks who have been friends of mine since the early 1960s. We used to party together then, too. I was the youngest of the group last night, just a few heartbeats short of 75, though I admit there were a couple women whose ages I don’t know. Most of the group hovers on one side or the other of 80.
The eldest, Jerry, is looking 90 straight in the eye with the same disbelief that I feel about my age.
Yet, there he was on the dance floor, showing his moves in the waltzes. He joked that his dance partner’s obligation was to keep him from falling. He left the strenuous polkas to the youngsters—the 80-somethings.
|Jerry and Lou|
|Dancers don't hold still.|
Back in the 60s, he was one of my two favorite dance partners at the old Double Musky in Girdwood, where the ski resort town of Alyeska is located. That’s where we were last night—at the resort for Oktoberfest. The Musky, as it’s called, is now a world-famous Cajun restaurant.
Skiing brought us all together at first, but a Polish fellow named Dan Zantek kept us together until we bonded like family. Every Saturday night, polka dancing at the Musky until late at night. We look back upon those days now and wonder if we were somehow blessed, if other people have years in their lives that were magical, and if more than 50 years later, those same people are still your dearest friends.
|The one and only Polka Dan, himself in his 80s.|
There I was, drinking a lager with my “family” (it was Oktoberfest!), eating bratwurst, pan-fried spaetzle, and braised red cabbage. The only thing missing, I thought, was one of Chef Werner’s crisp-crust bread rolls. And some of our friends, either moved away or gone in reality.
|Chris Von Imhof, former manager of Alyeska Ski Resort and his wife Brigitte.|
We stayed much longer than intended. It’s hard to break away from a fun “family” gathering.
We were there for Polka Dan’s set. Soon after he finished for the evening, we watched as another band took the stage. What kind of polka band includes drums, guitars, and a sax, I wondered?
Then, they started to play and darned if they didn’t sound like a polka band:
♫ In Heaven they have no beer,
That’s why we drink it here……♫
And then they stopped. The volume went up into the stratosphere and they started playing …. Well, I don’t know what kind of music to call it. It was enjoyable, but way too loud even for folks who are already hearing-impaired.
|Bruce and Betsey Ficke, developers of the first hotel at Alyeska as well as the first condominiums in Alaska, also located at Alyeska. They are visiting from Maui.|
We hugged, kissed, and said our goodbyes, then headed for the exit. Beside us, the entrance stairs were crowded with young folks coming in to see the new band.
As I descended, I thought, “You youngsters have no idea what you missed….. Either tonight or 50 years ago.”
|John, expert photographer and still a Girdwood resident.|
|Chris in his hat.|
|The Day Lodge is located right at the bottom of the mountain so we can see only a portion of it.|
|Food is part of Oktoberfest.|
|And beer, of course.|
|Even more beer outside in tents.|
|Chris and Brigitte's grandson eating chocolate cake.|
|So is grandpa.|
|A couple in traditional dress.|
|Daddy dancing with his son.|
|Chris and Brigitte dancing with their granddaughter.|
|Bruce and Betsey kicking up their heels.|
|A whirling dervish I was trying to get in focus....|
|Because polka music makes you happy.|
|There she goes again.|
|And some not-so-typical dress.|