Remember my telling you about having joined the in-crowd by attending a Shier House Party?
Recently, on a dark and rainy night, I was driving over to another world-class Shier House Party. Suddenly we found ourselves following a line of 12 cars that all seemed to be heading in the same direction. They made a left. We made a left. They made a right. We made a right. You get the idea. You could liken it to a Mafia funeral procession.
The last car in the procession was a white Volvo station wagon filled with wholesome occupants. I thought the Volvo had Shier House Party written all over it.
Back in my police officer days, I successfully arrested meth dealers and car thieves by using my highly honed ability to read vehicular body language.
I told my wife, “I bet these guys are going to the Shier House Party, so why don’t we turn off our GPS and just follow the crowd?”
Sure enough; the cars stopped in front of the Shier House Party proving that I still have what it takes to effectively read vehicular body language even if meth and stolen vehicles are not involved.
In addition to enjoying fun food and drink, attending a Shier House Party gives each guest the chance to meet fascinating people. You never know who you are going to meet.
At the last Shier House Party, I ran into Bill Miner who told me the story of his namesake, Bill Miner, the great train robber from the 1800s. My article was titled, Westside Story – Hands Up. Bill Miner is a fascinating guy.
You can imagine how excited I was to be invited back to another Shier House Party. I believe part of the reason I was invited is because I did not pull my old college prank of putting a lampshade belonging to the hostess on my head. This party focussed on three guests who were celebrating their January birthdays and to me that meant cake!
While visiting with Rod and Tim, a couple of regular Shier House Party guys, I noticed a man standing off by himself in the corner near the cake. I thought it would be a no lose proposition if I moseyed over to his location. If the stranger proved to be a bore, then there would be two bores in the corner, but at least I would be near the cake.
After striking up a conversation, he introduced himself as Mr. Cooper. Right off the bat I noticed his clothing seemed to make him look like he was locked in a time warp. He smelled kind of musty too. He was a tall slender white guy wearing an old style dark suit with a thin clip-on tie. He wore dark sunglasses inside the house even though it was pitch black outside. I had the eerie feeling I should know Mr. Cooper, but I could not remember from where or when.
Then the strangest thing happened. Mr. Cooper asked if he could buy the last copy of my new book, titled, Westside Story – WOT. Everyone tells me my book would have been a New York Bestseller if only I would have been blessed with the foresight to have printed more than 25 copies.
When I returned from the trunk of my car with my last book, Mr. Cooper asked me to autograph the book and then paid me in cash. His bills looked old and ragged.
After consuming a good portion of a bottle of 19 Crimes Wine, I was able to relax enough to remember where I had seen Mr. Cooper before. Mr. Cooper turned out to be the infamous D.B. Cooper who was the subject of a 46-year manhunt. He is the world’s most famous airplane high-jacker. Almost a half a century ago on the day before Thanksgiving 1971, he highjacked a plane and flew off into the sky blue yonder with $200,000 cash in marked bills.Dan Cooper AKA D.B. Cooper.
By the time I figured it out, D.B. Cooper had disappeared into the night, once again; this time with my book. I missed out on the D.B. Cooper reward, but his hasty departure did mean more cake for me.
My doorbell is ringing so I have to stop writing now. I think it is the FBI.
David Anderson says
Good one Joe. An incredible, although a bit unbelievable, book mark is that rather dilapidated bill for your book which I’d like to advance purchase should you print more.
Speaking of the FBI, a true story, not to one-up you, necessarily, but just a reason to write something that with your police background you’ll likely appreciate and may indicate that I too once encountered Cooper.
One day, down at the boathouse – our family owned business when my parents were still alive – a fellow nattily dressed in a three-piece suit, also wearing dark sunglasses (but then it was a rare sunny day), stood before me at the counter.
The counter is where we rent boats, sell worms (always demonstrating first that they are indeed alive), maggots (when they are in season), and otherwise transact business with our fishermen clientele.
This guy, in the three-piece suit, was not that and wanted none of the above.
He wanted to know if a certain individual was my mother.
I said, ‘Who’s asking?’
Before he replied he opened the left-hand side of his coat, removed a badge, and showed his FBI credentials.
‘Ok, so you’re not a fisherman,’ I offered, followed by, ‘yes, you have correctly identified my mother. Why?’
As a side note, and somewhat related, if you ever stand at the trailhead leading into Enchanted Valley in the Olympics – where our family would more than once trek into the backcountry – there is a sign with the steps to take (none of which include running) should you see a cougar, and, should a cougar see you.
Step One is to gather up your little ones.
Step Two is to stare down the cougar. “Do not lose eye contact.” (Yeah, that’s gonna happen.)
Back to the FBI Agent who at this point removed his sunglasses (I think for affect), stared me in the eye (unnervingly so – think cougar), and said with no little drama: ‘Your mother has been passing stolen bills.’
Quick-thinking on my part saved my mom I think from going to jail, prison even. My first thought was, ‘Mom, why did you do it? We don’t break even at the boathouse but it’s not like you have to go rob a bank.’
Then the FBI guy broke into my reverie and said ‘We’re not after your mom. I just want to talk to her about who has been doing business down here lately.’
That led to my next thought, also unpleasant. If the FBI didn’t want my mother, then it was another – the real bank robber – who had once stood on the other side of the counter.
John Arbeeny says
Great stories! Not to top either of you but…………….
I owned (still own) a single family home rental property over in the East Side of Tacoma. I had a couple as tenants who were great: paid rent on time and took care of the property. Unfortunately after several years there they split up and the young woman, I’ll call R, who remained in the property was having problems keeping current. I visited the house to speak with her about her situation only to be greeted by a couple of rough looking characters: she was not at home. Yes they were staying at the property but weren’t on the lease and didn’t have the rent due. I started an eviction but before it went very far they all abandoned the property which I rehabbed, rented out shortly thereafter without much thought about it. About 6 months later I got a call from Tacoma police inquiring about a past “tenant” at the property. I initially thought they were asking about R. No, they were talking about one of the two men I had met at the door who weren’t tenants. They gave me a description of the one they were looking for and a name to match…………….Allen Gregory, infamous rapist and murderer who is currently on death row! Apparently he was using my property as a hideout. I can’t imagine how he persuaded R to let him live there or the horrors she may have experienced! Chilling!
Joseph Boyle says
Mr. Anderson & Mr. Arbeeny,
Thank you for your most entertaining true stories. You may have gleaned that my story is a mixture of truth and fiction which might lead you to the opinion that I am doomed to lead a boring life if were not for my imagination.
Vicki Wilson says
My father disappeared in September 1971. He was on the lamb from Minnesota and facing counterfeiting charges. He has not been seen since. Cooper??
Missing persons video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03QLnFvk8Fs
Unsolved Mysteries episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhjSnvlzG0w&t=54s
I thought my stories about bagging groceries for O. J. Simpson, William Shatner, Steve Allen and others was interesting. You folks have me beat. Great stories! Thank you.
Joseph Boyle says
When you were a kid bagging groceries for O.J. Simpson, do you remember packing up any kitchen knives with the rest of O.J.’s groceries?
David Wilson says
I’d like to get a copy of your book although it would probably be a waste of time.