As part of our mission here at Why Daddy Drinks to revel in the humorous lunacy that is fatherhood, and to promote the drinking of quality beverages, we bring you our erratically scheduled segment highlighting something that should be in your glass. This is The Drink Of The Weekend.
I grew up in a town called Puyallup, Wash. Like a lot of burgs in the great state of Washington, Puyallup was named after an Indian tribe or leader. Seattle took its name from a local tribal leader, Chief Sealth. Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla. Those are just a few of the Washington state cities and towns that bear the names (or, the English approximations) of the region’s many indigenous peoples.
Also, if you are trying to figure out how to say “Puyallup”, just give up. Unless you are from the area, you won’t be able to say it correctly.
Being from Puyallup also means I lived near Tacoma, Wash., another town named after an Indian tribe. Back in the day, there were only a handful of things for which Tacoma was known. Those included:
–The “Tacoma Aroma”, which was attributed to a number of things, including the smell of the products coming from a huge local paper pulp mill.
–The Steve Miller Band’s No. 1 hit from 1976, “Rock’n Me”. (I went from Phoenix, Arizona/All the way to Tacoma). And now, you have that earworm stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
–Noted 1970s serial killer Ted Bundy, who was from Tacoma and went to the city’s Wilson High School.
Again, growing up in a region that, at the time, was viewed by the rest of the country as a wilderness backwater that might as well have been in Alaska, we took pride in anything that brought us some kind of national attention. And few things brought us more attention than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, aka, “Galloping Gertie”.
Few bridges have the reputation of, or are as famous as Galloping Gertie. And it’s not hard to see why. Built between 1938 and 1940 to span an area of Puget Sound between North Tacoma and Gig Harbor, the Narrows was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge when the first car went across it on July 1, 1940. And it was also the world’s third-longest suspension bridge when, barely four months later on Nov. 7, 1940, it collapsed into the water 195-feet below.
Almost from the minute the Narrows Bridge opened to traffic, it was a hazard to anyone who ventured across it. High winds that blasted through the Narrows caused the bridge to sway, turning what should have been an easy drive into something more like a roller coaster ride. It was really quite the sight. And for a brief while, going across the bridge was something that fun-seekers would do for a thrill back when America’s entering of World War II was still more than a year away.
Eventually, the combination of the Tacoma Narrows’ winds and the way the Narrows Bridge was constructed came together in one great confluence of danger. On Nov. 7, 1940, the winds blew, and the bridge started to twist, turn and corkscrew like a jump rope in the hands of two wild kids. People who were driving across the bridge got so scared they abandoned their vehicles and ran as fast as they could to whichever side they were closest. Someone actually got a hold of a motion picture camera and started shooting the scene as the bridge whipped harder and harder until it tore itself apart and plunged into the cold depths of Puget Sound.
And the legend of Galloping Gertie was born. You’ve probably seen the famous film of the bridge falling apart. Incredibly, the only fatality from the collapse was a dog.
The Narrows Bridge was rebuilt in 1950 and has had no wind-aided problems since. The bridge remains a Big Deal in Tacoma, and a few years back, some guys in town used the bridge’s name for a brewery they were starting. And now, the beers of Narrows Brewing Co. are known throughout the area. And one of their beers is called Galloping Gertie Golden Ale.
I picked up some of Galloping Gertie this past summer when my family and I were on our annual trip up to my old stomping grounds and stuck it in what is the MVP of our house’s appliances, my garage beer fridge. I left it in there until a couple of weekends ago when, as I was reaching for something cold, I saw the 22-oz. bottle of Galloping Gertie and its 5.2% ABV. And nothing else would do.
That’s because the life that I lead is kind of like Galloping Gertie swinging wildly in the winds of the Tacoma Narrows. With two young daughters, Maddo, who is almost 8, and six-year-old Little Sis, and all the activities that come with them, my life is rarely one of simply going from Point A to Point B and getting things done with out any sidetracks.
If it’s not a soccer practice within an hour after school ends, it’s a piano lesson on a Friday night.
If it isn’t a school project that takes over the dinner table for most of three weeks, it’s a concoction that the girls have made out of an old cardboard box, three rolls of Scotch tape and who know how many hundreds of Q-Tips.
If it isn’t the girls brawling over a toy that they haven’t even thought about for at least six months, yet which is now the center of their known universe, it’s one of them shouting “STOP IT” at window-breaking volume.
If it’s not sitting down with you dinner only to immediately get inundated with eleventy bazillion pleas/requests/demands for something to drink/more tater tots/a napkin/something else to drink, it’s getting in the truck and listening to the 23-minute version of Boston’s most-awesomenest of awesome songs, “More Than A Feeling”.
And why does “More Than A Feeling” last 23 minutes? Because it takes that long to get through the song after you pause and restart it innumerable times due to your kids interrupting it to ask you if they can have burritos for dinner, remind you that you owe them a buck for them (finally) cleaning their bedroom, or telling you some completely out of context tale about how a kid in pre-school two years ago liked to bring applesauce in his lunch.
Yeah, almost nothing I do these days is easy, nor do I get it done in a straight line. The road is always full of twists, turns, dips and rises. Sometimes, I’m barely able to keep my wheels on the pavement and feel like I’m headed off a bridge at any moment. A bridge that is swinging all over the place.
Luckily, the golden ale of Galloping Gertie is there to help me get across.
(The Drink Of The Weekend is supposed to be a weekly feature here at Why Daddy Drinks. However, because of the Galloping Gertie nature of my life, it’s publication has been VERY erratic over the last few months. I hope to get back on at least a semi-regular course with this feature. We’ll see…)