The Septuagenarian Speaks – published July 17, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News
This past year has been pretty good for this old septuagenarian. (Okay, I get it. “Old septuagenarian” is redundant). I’ve gone through the usual stuff that septuagenarians go through, and survived okay, so far. The medical people make it their mission to torture you in every way imaginable. They jam a hose with a mini-camera up your urethra to look at your bladder and your prostate (not you, ladies, as to the prostate, but you have other stuff for them to examine). By the way, ladies, did you know that the average male urethra is about 7 to 8 inches long, and the average female urethra is only about 1 ½ inches long? Old guys rule!! While they were gleefully probing and moving the hose-camera thing around inside my body, the medical people wanted me to look at the real-time video on the screen next to me. My prostate looked as big as Mount Shasta, but Doctor Bui, bless his heart, said, “No cancer. See you next year.” I’m happy there was no cancer, but realistically, when it comes to prostate cancer, when you reach a certain age, it’s almost irrelevant. The question becomes who will live longer, you or your prostate?
Then there was the root canal. I come from a family of medical professionals (not including myself). So, I appreciate their dedication and years of training and study. But, damn! A root canal and a cystoscopy both in the same week? These bastards were attacking my body from all directions.
I digressed again as usual, sorry. My subject for today is The Old Boston Shaft. While sitting in the dentist office waiting-room last Thursday, contemplating the pros and cons of root canals, I sat next to a man and woman who looked familiar, but I didn’t immediately place them. The dental assistant came out and announced, “Mary,” and I then realized who I was sitting next to. Erich and Mary Giessler. I talked to Erich for a while before my name was announced, and we discussed and mourned the demise of the Old Boston Shaft.
Erich and Mary successfully operated the Boston Shaft for years, coming out of retirement to do so. Before that, they successfully operated the Corner Club in Montague. Now, sadly, the Corner Club is vacant, rotting away, and the Boston Shaft is gone, soon to be … (hold your breath) … another gas station
I recall when the Boston Shaft was built. It was next door to a Jerry’s restaurant (now Black Bear Diner). The Goucher family, who owned the Jerry’s Restaurant chain, announced that they wanted the Boston Shaft to be a monument to memorialize their appreciation of the community support of their restaurants. They successfully accomplished that. It was a unique and beautiful building, and it provided Yreka people with something they didn’t have before: a good restaurant, bar, and a place to dance, all in one location.
There were some memorable moments at the Boston Shaft. I specifically remember one, about forty years ago. A western movie, “Standing Tall,” was being filmed almost entirely in Siskiyou County. The cast included some famous performers. There was Robert Forster, whose acting career has spanned some fifty years. There was Chuck Connors, of “The Rifleman” fame, and Will Sampson, a Native American painter, actor, and rodeo performer, best known for his portrayal of the apparent deaf and mute Chief Bromden in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It was Halloween night, and everyone was in costume. Another cast member, Linda Evans, was there too, drop-dead beautiful. She was well-known at the time for her role as Audra Barkley in the TV series, “The Big Valley,” and later in the TV series, “Dynasty.”
Yreka’s own Ron Lillard’s unmatchable rodeo-auctioneer voice was heard in the background during many of the movie’s scenes. A dance scene was filmed on the third floor of the “Gillis Mansion,” on the corner of Oregon and Yama streets. Many locals were recruited as extras for that scene.
The “Standing Tall” cast members, including Linda Evans, were at the Boston Shaft that night. I swear on a thousand bibles that I actually danced with her, but my wife says, “In your dreams.” Well, sometimes I do have pretty good dreams.