Thursday, April 16, 2009

Henry The Hawaiian

I just read in The Herald obits that Henry Young has moved on to the Great Bar in the Sky......

I can't remember if I have already bored you with this story......

Failing memory can be a good thing, sometimes.

We have a Book Club in Cachagua: "The Upper Carmel Valley Light Reading and General Soporific Society".

We even have bookplates.

My friend and fellow member of the Club, Peyton and I are often guilty of picking up a book and reading on for a couple of hundred pages before the plot seems to be way to familiar. Damn it....I already read this thing!

Michael Ondaatje, in his wonderful book "Divisadero"....opines that it is not the first reading that counts. It is the second, and possibly the third........


When I first moved to the Peninsula in 1975.....Ted and Bert of Sardine Factory fame were the king bees of Restaurant Land in Monterey. I even worked for them for ten days.....the most brutal, stupid and meaningless work days of my life.....and I have worked some seriously brutal, stupid and meaningless jobs. Killing and plucking ducks, for example.

Bert and Ted had a half dozen restaurants that were all humming along.....and they owned (and still do) almost all of Cannery Row, and a lot of Carmel.

Sardine Factory. Some place on Wharf II with a hatch built underneath the floor to facilitate transfer of seabourne items under cover of darkness. A terrible place in San Simeon. And Willy Lum's.

Willy was an affable Chinese/Filipino guy who was a standin for Bert and Ted. The restaurant was an embarrassing knock-off of Trader Vic's, all Bert and Ted had a great bar. The Charthouse now occupies the old Willy Lum space....and, God love them, Bert and Ted have been pulling serious rent from the Charthouse for twenty-five years.

The fact that the Charthouse could survive 25 years on Cannery Row paying crazy rent is proof positive that America will never again be a world power. Didn't salad bars and cocktail waitresses in mini-skirts go out with cocaine in the 80's?


Willy Lum's only salvation was Willy....and Henry the Hawaiian. Henry worked the door....well, gangplank...and tended some bar.

Henry was the prototypical Hawaiian.....large and in charge, dark, very friendly and kind and generous....but not someone any sane person would ever want to fuck with.

Henry's presence guaranteed safety for hot chicks...way back before Tom P. invented date rape. Henry was a bar Zen master. He knew who to let slide....who to hammer....when to walk away.

Willie Lum's went away and became the Charthouse. Henry worked here and there, but Bert and Ted didn't have a Henry kind of place after Willie Lum's. All the folks he had taken care of, took care of Henry.

Henry did a little of this and a little of that.....he had a safety net. Henry was a beloved man in a town with very few beloved men.

I lost track of Henry....there are some Running Iron stories.....but he continued to work with kids and raise money for scholarships for kids in his brother's name....

I have a lot of Henry stories....and I hope this post will generate Henry stories from some of his friends.....

Twenty-seven years partners and I were indiscreet in many ways and wound up having to lie down in the road....Flight Road.... with long-haired Sheriffs in Grateful Dead T-shirts pointing guns at our heads. In the rain.

My son Conall was born two days after this fun time.....His mom came upon us stalwart business people stretched out in the rain on the asphalt while nine months pregnant...after just having done 17 loads of catering wash at the laundromat at Safeway.

And having brought everything to and fro in a Dodge Omni. If there is a catering Hall of Fame....Jane is in it, right by the front door.

As one can imagine....there were a lot of court appearances after these festivities.

One day, as I sat in the back waiting my turn......I saw Henry the Hawaiian come in to Court and take most of a pew up front.

For those of you who don't spend a lot of time in court.....

The way it works is that those people with money, juice and lawyers get to go first. Henry was one of the first calls from the bailiff.

Henry meanwhile had somehow stuffed himself into an actual coat, button down shirt and tie. The sports coat he was wearing was testament to American ingenuity and manufacturing skills.....Henry looked like a giant Hawaiian sausage stuffed into a camel hair weenie.

And....his lawyer was a no-show when the bailiff called the cases.

"Henry Young!"

"Uh....Yes, Your Honor....."

"Where is your attorney....Mr. Antonsich?"

"Uh.....I heard he is in Mexico, Your Honor........"

Grrrrr. The judge was Terry Duncan....the most reasonable and most tri-lingual of all judges....but still.

"Dammit. Mr. Young are you ready to procede on these charges? You have been charged with "Cruelty to Animals" under Section blah blah blah blah....

"Oh, yes. Your Honor, I just want to tell my story. I think there has been a mistake....."

A bunch of legal stuff went on while Judge Duncan tried to get things done in a proper manner.

"Tell us your version of the events, Mr. Young."

"Well.... I work for my friend Danny. I tend bar and collect money for him sometimes. (ed note: Danny was a Carmel High star quarterback who ran a bar down on Washington Street in early sports bar).

Danny sent me to pick up some money from this guy who had owed him a lot of money for a while."

Danny told me.....if he doesn't pay, shoot his dog."

So, Your Honor....I went to this guy's house and asked him for Danny's money. The guy was all 'fahgeddaboutit, have a beer". So I had a couple of beers with him and watched the game."

Then I told him: 'Hey, Danny needs his money. You don't pay.....I gotta shoot your dog. This guy had this big Great Dane dog."

The guy says 'fahgeddaboutit, have a beer......'"

So....I have another beer and we watch the game....

Eventually I tell the guy: "Look I gotta have the money or I gotta shoot your dog....."

The guy says; 'You ain't gonna shoot my dog....sit down and have another beer....."

So, Your Honor......I shot the dog."

But it wasn't was a 9mm right through the head. He never felt nothin'.......I don't understand all this cruelty stuff. It was bang-bang, down and done."

I love dogs, Your Honor.......he never felt a thing!"

Judge Duncan put his head down on the bench......for a long time.

"Mr. Young.....I will take this matter under advisement. The Court will notify you of it's decision........"

Next case......"

Our world is so much the poorer for the passing of Henry......


Blogger kathy said...

"Divisadero" - good isn't it?

No Henry stories though.

8:54 AM  

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