“O” is for Orville: Story by Tom Andersen

Story by Tom Andersen
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Hi June,
I enjoyed reading in your blog about Richard English. I was so shocked when he died so young, although having some insight into his personal habits, on second thought, it wasn’t such a surprise.

I was a close observer in the 70’s of Richard and Leah’s relationship, the first awareness I had of him. He had a disarming manner, quite by intent..but a great wit, and , I think, a profound intelligence. We were friends, and, mutual old- timey Coastsiders, we shared that, as do you and I…Its a special association, the area having undergone such a transformation from the 1970s, which I fondly look back on as the great years!

Do you recall Horrible Orville (HO)??

My first recollection of “HO” was in 1971. I had recently acquired the “Blue Yonder Coffee Shop” (my name) at the HMB Airposrt, which I bought for $1. Not able to make a living despite- the- only- $15- a- month rent to SM County, I moonlighted as a bartender at the PI (Princeton Inn), having “conned” Ed Tonini, the owner, into believing I knew anything at all about mixing drinks, which I did not. “HO” was a regular, wearing a tank top, and at the slightest encouragement, lifting his arm, and showing off the turtle bite scar near his arm pit. This not getting him the attention he desired, he proceeded to take a bite out of the beer glass, to my chagrin…I informed him he would have to pay for the glass before I served him again…

Much later, Orville got into an honest living doing appliance installation & repair on the Coastside. By this time, I was a couple of years into El Granada Hardware, having started it up in 1976, while still operating Tom’s Market in Montara & Princeton Market & Deli. Orville had become a regular customer, buying brass pipe fittings to hook up the appliances he sold. He spent long sessions standing in front of my brass fitting cabinet, assessing just the right combination of parts. He had a little dog, if I had to guess, a Jack Russell terrier, who was expected to wait in his truck, while HO made his selection. At my checkstand, I observed his pup growing impatient, and leaped out the window of the truck, going across the street to see if Orville was in the post office. Orville, sensing that the dog may have strayed, walked to the door of the store, and called the dog. “Herpes!!! Herpes!!! Where are you??” Of course, anyone within earshot, including myself, was appalled at the word “herpes” being shouted at top volume in “downtown El Granada”. Only Horrible Orville would name his dog after venereal warts…

I liked Orville, he would tell jokes routinely, so hysterically funny, that tears filled my eyes. I wish he had hung around…

Tom Andersen
To read Tom’s story:: “Mavericks Underground”, please click here