Christopher Creek held a memorial for John Matus at the Creekside Restaurant last Friday afternoon. Folks from all over filled the historic building that John built himself. They came from Long Beach, Calif. where John had been a firefighter before he married Olive and came to Rim Country. They came from Tonopah, Ariz. where John’s singing partner and entertainer now lives in retirement. Tucson, Ariz. was represented as well as Casa Grande, Apache Junction, Phoenix, Rye, Tonto Basin, Payson and Star Valley.
After greeting folks you hadn’t seen in years or meeting a few you may have never known, you got the idea John was a part of the lives of not only these 75 in attendance but perhaps thousands of those who had come to Creekside over the decades. Among those represented in attendance were the Pfister, Donovan, Greenleaf, Dryland, Hannum, Gordeau, Holmes, Schantz, Sundra, Latus, Hoedl, Pennington, Liles, Brown, Boeschling, Houser, Shields, Moore, Short and Tidwell families. Deanna, Cookie, and Linda represented the White family with Ray and Roxie Savage also among the attendees. It was good to see Bob and Rita Magness along with Charles and Willene Byrne. Many of those who came had been employed by John and Olive over the years. Olive’s brother, Richard Henry was looking well and Danny Armstrong, Olive’s son, was there.
Back in the President’s Room were the buffet tables where Sheila and her crew put out lunch. In the other corners were the tables where a number of people poured over the photo albums containing thousands of pictures of life in the old restaurant from years back.
John Marksbury was ably providing the background music in the rear dining room where, following lunch, everybody gathered for the telling of stories, both humorous and poignant. Olive sat with a couple from Long Beach and Mrs. Caan told the story of John introducing her to her husband of 48 years. A number of others took to the microphone to share small vignettes of John back in the day.
Dennis Louchart and Lynn came a long way to return to place they spent hundreds of weekends over the years. Dennis was the entertainer off and mostly on for 25 years. He tells of a stint of eight years straight without missing a weekend. Dennis told us that John Matus was part of the show, perhaps like a Jerry Lewis to Dean Martin or Tom Smothers to Dick. He said that parts of the show were choreographed to John and that he had his own music sheets with the words to the songs on them. In the later years those music sheets had to be reprinted in larger type, according to Dennis.
Dennis spent 20 minutes on the microphone sharing many stories of John and their various exploits. All the stories having been told, he then raised his glass and toasted his singing partner as we all drank to John.
Mornings have cooled, but are not yet crisp and the maples are brilliant red. We are just now at the peak of fall’s color show and great time for photographers.
Congratulations to Rhonda Louch on filling her tag in area 3C just on top of the Rim. She got her cow elk. Down in 23, over at the OW ranch, former Creeker, Ray MacDonald filled his tag, as well, with a very large cow, whose liver now resides in my freezer!
Last week’s latest ENSO (El Niño Surface Observations) report tells us that we will have a greater than 40 percent chance for warm, wetter winter weather when El Niño kicks in.
A couple of weeks back, we were whining about the long delays in reopening of the highway. Well, that very Friday morning, the striping was painted and the barricades removed. How nice to have the road back in only a short time!
Once again, a final reminder that tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the CKFD firehouse the Christopher Creek Kids Halloween Costume Party and Hay Wagon Ride will be held. It promises to be pretty spooky!
Last Friday, over in the corner booth, by the door to the President’s Room, a song rose from the voices of six or eight who sat at the piano bar at the Creekside Steakhouse some 20 years ago. It was an a cappella rendition of an old campfire ballad that brings to mind another era both in the history of the song and of its singing here in the Creek. If you close your eyes and look real hard, you can see them all, nearly 50 folks crammed into that tiny bar, John Matus among them and their voices all raised in song: “In the evening, (rah-de-do-da) in the moonlight, (rah-de-do-da), you can hear …” And that’s another week in the Creek.