Four Strong Winds: A Euology of Carl Dennis Hogue

When my kids were young, I always believed it was important to have adults around who were very close to the family, but were not family.  I liked the perspective such relationships add to the family dynamic.  I came to that opinion because of my own memory of my first adult friend, Carl Dennis Hogue.

Years before I was born, Carl Hogue got into an argument with my dad, on an archaeological dig in the northwestern US.  My father took off his green felt fedora, and placed in on a fence post while voices of the two men escalated.  Finally, Hogue drew a revolver from his side holster, turned to the fence post and blasted holes in my father’s hat until he was out of bullets.  The argument had ended in laughter and gun smoke.

Hogue  had been one of my father’s first archaeology students at Idaho State University in the 1950’s.  He had been one of the crew when Dad became the first Archaeologist for the highway department.

My father continued to wear that hat for many years to come.

About a decade later, Carl Hogue joined my father’s Archaeological field crew in Hells Canyon, on the Snake River which borders eastern Oregon and western Idaho.  By this time my father had four children, and I, the youngest, was 2 years old.  The man we had come to simply call “Hogue” was at his best.  Tall, tan, muscular, handsome and dangerously charismatic, Hogue’s charms had not met their match in the extreme environs of Hells Canyon.  Seldom was he lacking for companionship of the fairer sex in the hot summers on the Snake River.  These became the times he would always remember as his best.

On one occasion, my father remembers a woman playing guitar at a campfire in Hells Canyon, singing the song “Four Strong Winds” beautifully to the gathered group, while looking directly at Hogue, who unabashedly returned the gaze. For two summers my father and his field crew excavated in Hells Canyon.  My family then moved to southern California, then Las Vegas.

When I was ten years old, Hogue became a long-term guest at our home in Goodsprings, Nevada.   I soon came to understand that he was one of my father’s best friends, along with Tom Hearn and Bob Crabtree.  All three were former students in one way or another of my father, and all four men had worked together on various digs.

Only about 13 years younger than my father, Hogue was very different.  My dad, a college professor, had always attracted young women.  But he was always a husband and father, and I saw many advances roll off his back with a smile.  Hogue, on the other hand, was never a married man, and had no children.  In Hogue I first realized what a pleasure it would be to attract the affections of women.  Carl was tall, lean and muscular.  Many was the woman who swooned for him as he flashed a broad smile from his tan face, his wavy red-brown hair setting off his eyes which my sister Suzy described as “so blue you could see the sparks fly out.”  He lived in a separate quarters on our property, but his efforts to be discreet when he had female companionship were lost to his friend’s precocious youngest son.

Hogue was a man’s man.  He could fix anything.  He helped rebuild the family home in Goodsprings in 1974.  In his spare time, he built me 3 mini bikes, and taught me how they worked.  He taught me to ride a motorcycle, and he taught my brother Louis and me how to shoot.  I remember him scratching out a diagram of how to line up the sights of a rifle, and where to sight the target, on a limestone slate in the desert.  A light went on, and I became expert, and would venture to say I am an extraordinary shot to this day.  For my 10th birthday, Hogue gave me a small hunting knife.  I took it with me on many overnight hikes with my brother Louis.  I keep it close still.

But more than anything else, I remember learning from Hogue that it was some kind of pleasure to get up from my chair to give it to a lady, or reach for the door in front of a woman.  His girlfriends came and went, but never seemed to be angry.  I saw the privilege of having been born unapologetically masculine, and I wanted to be a bit like Hogue.

In 1975, Hogue decided it was time for him to move on.  He packed up all of his belongings in his yellow vintage pickup truck, and got ready to go.  I was losing one of my best friends.  I waited by his truck for him, sad.  I pulled out my knife and scratched “Hogue” in the fender.  Before he climbed in and drove away, he spoke words of comfort and promise of the life I had ahead.  I later learned he did the same with my brother Louis.  I would miss him.

A year or so later my family stopped in a small town in Idaho to see Hogue.  He was living with an attractive woman, fixing everything.  We went to breakfast.  I was glad to see him.  It was the last time I ever did.  A decade or so later, my father would lose contact with Hogue, as did everyone else.  When friends reached out to him, he disappeared further.  We knew he had moved toward the north Country, but we knew not where.  He had no family we knew of.  To the dismay of his old good friends, he soon made it clear he wanted no contact at all, and completely disappeared.

I was saddened and confused by this, but the impact of Hogue’s disappearance on me must have paled in comparison to the effect it had on his old friends, especially my father.  Inquiries returned nothing, except that he wanted no contact with anyone, and nobody knew where he was.  I am sure my father wished he could talk to his old friend, wished he would change his mind.  He never did.

Of my father’s three best friends from that era, Bob Crabtree passed away first in the late 1980’s.  He had been close to dad in his later years and lived in Las Vegas.  Tom Hearn remained in contact too, in Seattle, until he passed away in 2011.  Of Carl Hogue, we heard nothing, until last week.  That was when Hogue’s body was found in the place he had disappeared to, all those years ago.  The toughest part of hearing of Hogue’s death was learning that he had died living a hermits existence back in Hells Canyon.

I know of no grave of Carl Dennis Hogue, no funeral, no family left to comfort one another, no friends who know each other.  But I remember him well.  He was a big and positive influence on a young boy in 1974.  So if there be no audience to sit before me as I say these words, then I write them for whomever should inquire, and read.  Here to Hogue I pay my last respects.

The four friends who worked with others on the early Archaeological digs in the American Northwest were as independent as the four winds, seldom all encountered at once, stormy when they were.  I know my father never thought his younger friends would have been outlived by him, the last of those four strong winds.

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~ by jonathanwarren on May 15, 2012.

4 Responses to “Four Strong Winds: A Euology of Carl Dennis Hogue”

  1. Jon,

    Zen teachings state that there are 3 types of life. That which has no beginning and no end, the immortal. That which has a beginning and and end, the mortal. The last is that which has a beginning and no end, this is the life of the teacher. As long as you, Louis, or I are influenced by the things he said and did, and as long as you, Louis or I express those influences in our influences on others, and they again to the next generation, Carl Hogue shall live on. He shall be that of the third life.

    — Nelz

  2. sounds like movie. You were lucky to have met him.

  3. What an evocative and respectful tribute to your friend. I am sorry for your loss, but at least he lives on through your memories and the examples you set.
    –Cindy

  4. Jon,
    I remember Carl well. He always had a smile for me and sometimes a small gift prduced from his pocket (once it was a guinea pig!) He was very handsome and he sang beautifully too. When I was very young in Hell’s Canyon I thought he was “the bees knees.” Apparently the feelings were mutual, as Mom and Dad always said I was the apple of his eye. His hair was blonde and his smile was dazzling, but his twinkly, blue eyes were unforgetable. The last time I saw him was at Mom’s place at WSU, I had my family with me and he seemed as taken with me and my family as ever. That was the special gift of Carl, he made you feel really special and loved while you were with him. I am sorry he felt the need to live away from people in Hell’s Canyon. It is sad that he took his life affirming gifts and went away. I will always remember those twinkly, blues eyes…

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