|John "Savage" Thompson|
Born : March 18, 1950
Passed: August 9, 2020
Well…, he always said, “They’ll never take me alive”…, and there is no chance of it now. He passed away of natural causes on August 9, 2020. I thought 2020 was cruel and depraved and sadistic after the fire and all…, not to mention climate change…, COVID-19…, financial Armagedon.., and the political three ring circus running non-stop through this country…, yeah…, “clowns to the left of me…, jokers to the right…, stuck in the middle”… wish you were still here to help pilot me through this quagmire.
Whoever is calling the shots now days got this one completely wrong. Not that it could not have happened at other times back down the road on some pretty wild rides. And I was along on a few of them. Did you notice the missing ring finger on his left hand on the photo above? Yeah…, I was along on that ride.
Happy Hour at The Clearwater Club is over…, we pile into his Mazda pickup with three of wildest of the wild women…, it was a bit crowded and that caused a wide turn and little detour up over the wrong side of the road curb…, that a cop happened to witness and thought he ought to investigate. It was just two blocks to his parents house…, and we beat the cop there and Savage headed into Mom’s house…, thee Wild Woman…, who would spend the rest of her life with him .., stepped up and told the cop that it was her that piloted the Mazda up over wrong side of the curb and pulled into John Thompson’s Mom’s driveway. OK.., this cop is a bit more Andy than he is Barney …, and says, “Look I am sure I saw John Thompson exit this vehicle and run towards the house…, “ and Jeannie says.., “No, no.., it was me.., “ .., and Mom arrives on the scene…, and Andy departs the scene grinning and shaking his head.
HOME FREE !!! Thunder Storm brewing…, and The Great Escape executed…. Somewhere near Zan’s Beach on the way to Weippe…, it cut loose …., and so did the traction on the Mazda…, and it didn’t seem like too bad a deal to be upright and perched atop a boulder battling the Clearwater River. Seemed like a secure position at the moment…. , and nobody was injured…, so Savage was in the bed of the little truck gettting a suitcase…., and I thought it would be a good idea to get the bottle of R&R from under the seat in the cab. I was about half way inside the cab on my stomach reaching under the seat when the little truck cut loose from the boulder. It kind of catapulted me over the top of the rolling pickup on down into the river and I remember being on my hands and knees in the water and making a wild scramble to get out of the way of the little pickup rolling my way. When I made it back up to the highway there was Savage…, with a missing finger. A couple of friends from up on The Hill made a timely entrance and got us all to the hospital.
That wasn’t the first time we exchanged pleasantries between us in a hospital…, but I do believe it was the last. The first was after the Blue Mountain Rock Festival at the University of Idaho in Moscow. Yeah…, it must have been The Russians…, witnessing Savage taking a little nap during the festivities…, delivered a swift kick to the jaw. The next day I stopped in at the hospital to listen to him talk through a wired shut mouth. The other time it was he who took me to the hospital to get a split lip stitched up. And well he should have…, he was the one who took us to the biker gang, Highwaymen’s Club House in Lewiston…, and by the time we left there…, with four of us in an old Dodge Power Wagon…, our driver decided to do a burn out from the stop sign before turning right on Snake River Avenue. It took us by surprise and the momentum pushed that driver nearly out the door that was not properly secured…, hanging onto the steering wheel with one hand to keep from landing out on the street does not allow you to straighten out the turn…, and we crashed right into the rock wall. We all kind of went our separate ways…, but managed to find our way back to Savage’s house in Clarkston, WA…., without my 10x Beaver Stetson cowboy hat I might add. I didn’t think things were that bad…, the bleeding had pretty much stopped and we had opened up a new bottle of 100 proof Wild Turkey…, and after a few shots I let them take me to the hospital…, where my mustache got shaved for the only time in the last 40 some years.
Hey…, they weren’t all bat shit crazy adventures…, but when he bought the raft…, I went right down and bought a Stearns life vest…, and still have it. But I never bought a parachute when he bought the hang glider…, and I never went along on any of those rides. And I am glad that he had provided wet suits that spring day when we rafted the Irish Railroad Rapids of the North Fork of the Clearwater River. As we scouted the rapids I told his drop dead gorgeous sister Ellen…, that she should position herself with her 35mm camera right below a big flat rock where the main channel was hitting hard…, I told her we would probably end up right on top of it. Well…, we did slide right up there…, held steady for a moment…, and slide right back into the main channel…, and hit it with a little more force than I was prepared for. It threw me right out of the raft…, but I managed to grab the life line on the raft with my free hand…, and kept my beer upright with the other hand. Knowing the priorities…, Rob Christopherson saved my beer first…, then dragged me back into the raft. And ever foxy Ellen has the pictures to prove it. Speaking of Ellen,,., reminds me of the Marshall Tucker Band concert in Pullman, WA that Savage secured tickets for me and her…, thank you brother…, many thanks indeed. I just could not seem to secure a date with her on my own.
And another big thank you for coming all the way up to Weippe…, tracking me down and taking me to Troy, OR…, for The River Bottom Stomp. Yeah…, when Credence Clearwater Revival broke up…, John Fogerty found the most isolated place that I have ever been…, and settled in. But every year they held a little get together in Troy…, there were even Hollywood stunt men there doing flaming dives off the bridge over the Grand Ronde River and rockin’ all night. I was never a CCR fan prior to that…, but I have been a Fogerty fan ever since.
I am not sure that I had really met “Savage”…, and never could figure out how he acquired that handle…, he was a lot more fun lovin’ and full of laughs and good humor than anything else… but on the night of The Weippe Rodeo…, I got a little ahead of myself and had to take a little nap…, and a gal that I had admonished a few days before for waking me up on a work night and not performing as she should have…, woke me up again with intentions of making things right. Well…, as we we headed for my bedroom.., we found it occupied by Savage and another female figure. And not many weeks later after I knew him better he caught up with me at The Logger’s Lodge…, I was eating a cheeseburger…, in paradise…, and he says that he was just over at my place and the cops were there…, asking questions. Well…, I knew that there was some stuff there that I didn’t want discovered.., so I went to a friends house to spend the night. We had to work the next day so I head to my place to suit up and build a lunch about four in he morning…, when I hear the gravel crunching of a slow moving vehicle outside…, I peek out the window to see a F-ing cop car! Well…, I have had some panic attacks in my day…, but if that isn’t the Oscar winner…, I don’t know what is. I am sure you have all had to double flush a toilet…, and waiting for the bowl to fill back up can seem a little slow…, but when you are expecting the front door to be busted open by jack booted thugs…, time can literally stand still. Well…, that door didn’t get busted down…, and my heart held up…, but some other stuff went needlessly down the drain. Found out later that the boys living downstairs were the suspects…, they had robbed the local store for food…, my friend Jack Smith wrote a song about it…, “Weippe Hamburgers Don’t Turn Me On.”
One night up in Weippe we were in the apartment of my cousin and her friend…, they had managed to ditch us…, can’t imagine why… but they hadn’t locked the door to their apartment…, and there we were…, Savage pulls out his 380 Walther and aims it at the door knob…, I am thinking he is bluffing…, I should have known better. Well…, no more damage than that Belgein made Walther 380 made to that cheap door knob…, he graduated to a Smith & Wesson Model 59 with a 15 round clip soon after.
Probably a good thing that he didn’t have it when he and another guy got back from a logging gig in AK. Yeah…, they had a bit of cash and hit Tacoma where some guys were brewing a concoction they called Mescaline…, that tested out to be LSD. Well…, they did take him alive that night…, and when his partner made it back to Weippe and told the story…, I volunteered to drive back to Tacoma to help bail him out. I didn’t have the money to bail him out…, his partner did…,but when they told him that if he waited until until he appeared in court on Monday he would be release with a $25 fine instead of a $250 bail. His partner opted for the $25 option…, I wish I would have had the money partner…, you would have come home with us.
RIP brother…, nah…, raise a little hell…, a lot of hell…, it will make it easier for me to track you down…, and you won’t have any trouble recognizing me…, I will be the guy in the cowboy hat with the orange Stearns life jacket on..., lookin' for another ride!!!
Well..., I am sure he had his boots on..., Whites I am sure...,