O.K. -- before I get into the Portland, Oregon trip and the questions start, let me ‘splain again.
The gold robes are the “uniform” of the 801 Breakfast Club. Our little group was stationed together at Kunsan Air Base in Korea from 1987 to 1988, one of the longest years I’ll never forget. We worked together, ate together, played together, slept together (same or close buildings, not same rooms people!) and most importantly, we supported each other, both professionally and personally. I think I was the first of the group to arrive at Kunsan and soon after arriving I began looking for “something” to do the half Saturdays and Sundays I normally had out of the office so I went to the Officer’s Club for breakfast one Saturday (the Club was only open for breakfast on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). The club was usually pretty empty of any other customers but, the second or third time I went to the Club I was joined by the Priest, Father Dave. He was probably responsible for getting the base’s deputy lawyer, Dave, to join us one following Saturday. Dave probably got the top cop, Wayne, to come along, etc., etc.
Eventually we ended up with the following group who all ended up with nicknames (we won’t be getting into the source of the nicknames here; that’s another story best told over a beer):
Deputy base commander, Duncan Koller – AKA Lighthouse
The top cop, Wayne Purser – AKA Moon
Top Cop’s #1 right hand man, Bob Rusnak – AKA Terminator
The Chaplin, Father Dave Benz – AKA MFP
Personnel Chief, John Kavanagh – AKA Ah-Ranger
Deputy Legal, Dave Rathgeber – AKA PoPo
Commander of our wing’s detachment at Kwang Ju Air Base, Bob Cook – AKA Linenumber
and a rep from Civil Engineering, Intelligence, Supply, Services and a few others who would show up off and on occasionally. We would meet at the Club for breakfast every day the club happened to be open for breakfast. After awhile, just meeting for breakfast didn’t seem to be enough so we had breakfast robes made at a local tailor shop. The robes were bright yellow satin, trimmed in purple, with our nicknames embroidered on the front, a wolf head on the back (because our fighter wing was nicknamed “The Wolf Pack” and wolf heads could be seen on doors, vehicles, trash cans, street signs, etc. all over the base) and the words “Fun Flys When Youre Doing Time” (ignore grammatical/spelling errors; we were in Korea, the land of “not quite right”). We were “required” to report for breakfast by 8:01 AM or be thoroughly chastised by the group (hence the name 801 BC) and we were to be in proper “uniform” – the robe. After a few more weeks passed by, the robe didn’t seem to be enough so we added “wolf puppy feet” (really bear claws) slippers to the breakfast uniform. That not being enough we added a mascot, a stuffed bear named “Animal”, who joined us for almost all the occasions. Duncan was responsible (and still is) for ensuring that Animal attended all the proper functions (plus, he is always a big help in picking up girls at various airport bars, IF anyone had an inclination of doing anything like that, which none of us were, of course). Anyhow, we would report to the Club, drink much coffee (Friday/Saturday nights were usually pretty rough times and we wanted – ne – NEEDED much coffee), order and eat breakfast from the waitresses who were all convinced that we were totally crazy, discuss the happenings of the night before and make plans for the remainder of the day, which usually did not amount to much more than taking a walk around the entire base, attempting to visit the gym, play golf, finish up some work in the office that the previous 60 hours weren’t enough for, etc. We got to be very close and all became good friends.
The members of the 801 BC identified above have done a fairly good job of keeping in touch over the years and have had a number of “reunions”, but the actual number of reunions varies depending on who you ask. In my (poor) memory, I can only think of seven times when we were all in attendance over the past 30+ years, counting this one, but there were times some of the members managed to get together for something or another. But, each time we were ALL together was another memory to cherish. We are already planning our next get-together, but since we’re all getting a lot older a lot faster than expected, we aren’t going to wait very long.
So the “main” reason for this get-together in Portland is to help Duncan & Cheryl celebrate 50 years of marriage and to witness their renewal of vows. Of course there were others in attendance beside the 801 BC to include family members and friends from both sides.
As usual, Cheryl, who has over the years become the cherished mother of our group, set the schedule and made sure that all of us were walking around bowlegged because of overeating. The first day together we had snacks and drinks followed by a HUGE, delicious spaghetti and meat balls dinner (there are enough leftovers for the next six months if anyone is hungry and happens to be in the neighborhood of the Koller’s). As usual, a great time had by all.
The following afternoon we all met at the Koller’s for a lunch of sandwiches and leftover spaghetti then it was nap time. After the nap we all met at the Koller’s daughter’s home (Elisha) for a catered Middle Eastern Dinner. So much food Elisha had to call for reinforcements from the neighbors to help out.
The next day was “The Day” of vow renewal. This was held in the historic Victorian Belle Mansion. This mansion deserves a few words.
It was built in 1885 as a wedding present from David Cole to his new bride, Amanda Laura Boone, great-granddaughter of frontiersman Daniel Boone. Constructed of lumber milled entirely on the property, the original building cost came to $8,000, a large sum in those days.
Cole was a ship captain who later owned a chain of local hardware and lumber stores. The house is said to be one of the first in Portland to have running hot and cold water, central heating, interior electricity, and a windmill-powered water pump.
The house now holds historical artifacts from the 19th and early 20th centuries: antique furniture, old clothing (including Amanda Laura Boone’s wedding dress and slippers), old photographs, lithographs, magazine covers, and much more.
Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the mansion also has its original wood fixtures and houses of the largest displays of Povey stained glass in the world and was said to be the Tiffany's of the NW. Povey glass is known for its round, faceted jewels and the image of a bird in every window.
The Victorian Belle was a private home for the last 100 years and an event facility for approximately the last 20 years. The Koller’s 50th Anniversary Vow Renewal and ceremony was the first of its kind held at the mansion.
After the ceremony the bar was open and dinner was available (like we needed more food).
The next morning we all met at Elisha’s for another delicious brunch and more photos of the 801 BC. Determining that there seemed to be a small portion of our stomachs still untouched by food, we met at a brewery for dinner (yes, and beer). That was the last time we saw most of the group as we all had different travel times for the next two days.
Julieann, In Suk, PoPo and I met one more time for breakfast at the Koller’s on Tuesday morning. The next day we packed and gassed up the rental car and hit the road for McChord Air Force Base Billeting. More to follow. As always, thanks for traveling with us.