Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Was it worth the trouble?

Wick's World


September 21, 2017

Dressed in my coolest 50th high school reunion outfit, I saddled up to the makeshift bar at the Sheraton ballroom and asked, “What do you have for N.A.?”

The makeshift barmaid replied with, “What do you want to drink?”

I repeated, “What do you have for N.A. — non-alcoholic beer?"

She replied, “Oh, we don’t have any of that here. You’ll have to go out to the hotel bar.”

That’s when I erupted like Mt. St. Helens. In the first place, this wasn’t even my 50th high school reunion. I was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the reunion belonged to my wife.

“You get some N.A. in here right now. It’s time us former drinkers get some respect!”

Either out of fear or respect, a high quality N.A. beer appeared at the makeshift bar in a matter of moments. I thanked her with a generous tip and acted like a decent human the rest of the evening.

My 50th high school reunion happened three years prior in the quaint little village of Chamberlain, South Dakota. I had little desire to go until later when I saw a photo of our class in the local newspaper, The Chamberlain Sun. I still recognized each classmate once I peeled the 50-year veneer from the aging faces. Surprisingly, they all looked pretty good. Back in 1964, if our teacher went around the classroom and asked, “What do all of you think you will look like in 50 years?” we would have replied in unison, “Old!”

Maybe The Chamberlain Sun has a Photoshop expert, or maybe our class drank Fountain of Youth Water while the rest of Chamberlain High School drank my favorite beverage, Colt 45 beer. All I’m saying is my class of 1964 not only looked good, the ones who showed up for the reunion were the students I really would have liked to see.

The fact still remains, I didn’t go. I apologize to my former best friends, the twins, Dana and Diane Douville. Also, I apologize to other once-upon-a-time best friends, Daryl Isburg and Ronnie Steckleberg. I apologize to the rest of the returnees in the photo of the class of 1964 for my non-appearance.

A couple of years after our 1964 class reunion, I was back in Chamberlain taking a break from fishing. I stopped by the local bar/restaurant called The Busted Nut. From the size of their servings, it should have been named “The Busted Gut.”

This unknown guy walks up to my table and interrupted my mountainous plate of chicken wings and french fries with, “Are you Gary Fisher?”

“Who’s asking?” was my instantaneous response.

There are two things you need to understand about my abruptness to strangers calling me Gary Fisher. For the past 50-plus years, I have only answered to Wick Fisher. Also, if someone came up to me in my former hometown of Chamberlain, South Dakota, and asked if I was Gary Fisher, it quite possibly preordained trouble.

Another aversion to using my birth name is this. I only used the name Gary Fisher during my 30-odd years in my capacity as varying government officials. Using Gary Fisher served me quite well. When my land line telephone (the one before caller ID) rang at home, my friends and acquaintances always asked for Wick. If someone asked for Gary Fisher, I knew it was a call about work.

This generally released an abrupt response of the variety, “Why are you calling me after hours?”

Technically, I almost always was on call 24/7, but I did my best to keep this small fact hidden from the public.

Meanwhile, back at The Busted Nut, Ronnie Steckleberg answered my curt, “Who’s asking?” with, “It’s me. Ronnie Steckleberg.”

I jumped up and hugged him. He was the nicest guy in our class. Our simultaneous response to each other, “I wouldn’t have recognized you in 50 years!” So much for Photoshopping.

Ronnie and I would have readily recognized each other had I bothered to show up for the class reunion three years prior. But was it worth the trouble?

The makeshift bartender was sure to say, “N.A.? You have to get that at the bar.”

I would reply, “You get some N.A. in here right now. It’s time us former drinkers get some respect!”


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