Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Running Man

Running Man
Taken By: Tom Ash
Running Man taken with Orion ED80mm and Canon 350D Hutech modified.
Processed in Image Plus and PS-CS. Cropped from original M 42 image.
Image located here.

I thought about posting a series of links that would describe this day for me, but instead I will remember a man I once admired. Born on September 11th, he nearly died on September 11th.

On September 11th, 1978, I was sitting in my second level Spanish class, getting ready to wish Mr. Andy Lake a very happy birthday.
I had a terrible crush on Mr. Lake. He was a ruggedly good looking redhead, with a dry but wicked sense of humor. He was disfigured from head to toe, having once suffered third degree burns over most of his body, which made him all that more attractive. Just something about him made all the girls want to mother him, I guess. We were too polite to ask how he got those injuries.
In spite of his burned body and limp - he needed a cane to walk, he was the track coach at our High school. He radiated a quiet joy, crippled as he was, and always in pain, and that had a very profound effect on us.
Although I never came out and told him that I had a crush on him, he knew, and was patient with me and never ridiculed me about it. He became a mentor to my younger brother, taking him in and helping train him to become a record-breaking long jumper and runner. Sports Illustrated even wrote articles about my brother! (He would be mad at me for boasting, but hell, that's what envious sisters do!)
On this birthday, September 11th, 1978, Mr. Lake didn't feel much like celebrating. He was very thoughtful and told us about his 19th birthday.
He celebrated by going to as many bars as he could. There were no such things as designated drivers in those days. You simply took your chances. He took his and nearly lost his life when the small car he was a passenger in ran into the back of a hop truck.
A hop truck is a slowly moving, wide vehicle with large, barbed coils onto which hop vines are removed from their poles and wires and wrapped before taken to the breweries. Hops are one of the chief crops in the Yakima valley, and when sharing the road with a hop truck, you give them a wide berth.
Which is exactly what didn't happen on that September 11th of Mr. Lake's 19th year.
The small vehicle went into all those razor sharp coils, and Andy Lake, not wearing a seat belt, went through the window of the car in flames. The other passengers were killed.
He spent many years recovering from this accident, and always credited God for whatever healing he had.
Not a church man, Andy celebrated his faith by being close to nature, and by being an inspiration to all who knew and loved him. He was not only our Spanish teacher and track coach, but he took us rafting down the Yakima river. He took us fishing.
In those days, he lived in a small bungalow. He always welcomed his students as equals.
He died last year. Here is his obituary:

Andrew Lake
Andrew Lake, 58, of Moxee died Thursday in Yakima.
He was born in Seattle. He taught 19 years at East Valley School District and owned and operated Yakima White Water & Fishing Guide.
Survivors include his parents, Ted and Alta Lake of Leavenworth, Wash.; a brother, Patrick W. Lake of Los Angeles; and three sisters, Katherine L. Lake of Salt Lake City, Mary E. Brandt of East Wenatchee and Lynn A. Meredith of Everett, Wash.
Memorial services will be held at a later date.

Run among the stars, Mr. Lake.


  1. Anonymous2:01 AM

    I am crying as I write this ...I loved him too and knew him from a christian camp as a 15 yr old. Now, part of the 4S club, I have many great letters I have kept and a few photos. Would love to know more and connect with his folks..Monica Manthey, Renton wa

  2. Jewel6:59 AM

    That was lovely, and the comment you left was an unexpected surprise. Thank you for reading. How did you find this?

  3. Anonymous4:34 PM

    I was clearing my life of unneccesary clutter and about to throw away many memory filled letters and pictures while under the guidance of Peter Walsh (Organizational author of It's all too much")and I just really wanted to reconnect with Andy and Googled him. Much to my heartbreak, I found your blog. How does time get away from us and how is it that other people and things clutter our lives or cover up such sweet memories of wonderful people. I am just soo very sad we didn't get to laugh together again!! Also, my Mother (60) was buried on Sept 11 2004, Andy' B day or second B day if you want to call it that and now.....here we are. I really have such wonderful memories of him and letter to share - was there ever a memorial and did you attend? I would love to scan in some letters and post them somewhere his family might appreciate their content.

    Blessings to you

  4. Monica, that was just beautiful. I am so glad you stumbled upon it, and that it brought you comfort. My brother was really devastated by his death, too. I know where you are at. We live in troubled times, and I, like you want to get rid of the clutter in my life. This blog used to be quite cluttered, with widgets and gizmos and weird backgrounds, and now...trying to keep it simple. I sort of made a resolution when the year began to try to live as poorly as possible. I guess it's a kind of uncluttering. I hope you stop by again and visit with me some more. I have met the most interesting and wonderful kinds of people here.

  5. Sorry, I forgot to answer your questions: No, I wasn't able to attend, and neither was my brother, since we live in Pennsylvania, and traveling is a difficulty.
    I think your letters would be a fitting tribute. Please scan them. I wish I'd kept in touch with him. Funny-sad how so many things prevent us from connecting or reconnecting with each other. I have letters my mother wrote my father. They are all mundane and ordinary, with requests to pay the phone bill or the electric bill before the power gets shut off. Things like that.
    If you would like me to, I could post an updated version of this particular posting and update it. Let me know what you think.


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