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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome To Locke For The 39th Anniversary of My 21st Birthday!

Boating has always been a very important part of my life. Our family spent many wonderful years cruising the Sacramento Delta area. The meandering channels and sloughs made for a perfect place to really get away from it all. During one of our journeys we had the good fortune of being photographed for the cover of the June 1967 issue of Sea Magazine. Here my sisters, Holly and Gayle are poised on the bow seating of our boat we called "Cheers".

Our favorite place to frequent was Al The Wop's in the tiny town of Locke. Locke was a built in 1915 for the Chinese immigrants who were building the railroads. In 1934 Al Adami opened the first non-Chinese business in town and this bar/restaurant has endured as a landmark and total boater's hangout.

When my long anticipated 21st birthday finally came around on July 25, 1971 the party simply had to be at Al's Place as it is also called. This next shot is of the birthday boy and several of his college friends mostly from Santa Clara University as we did a little boating in the afternoon for a warm-up to the dinner celebration in Locke.

So when it came to picking a place for my big 60th celebration it was a no-brainer. I decided to return to the scene of the crime. I called it the 39th anniversary of my 21st birthday party. We could not squeeze boating in this time but the party was none-the-less spectacular. This town is steeped in tradition so I decided to wear my original Al The Wop's shirt which is long out-of-print. It was pretty obvious to everyone in Locke that this was not my first rodeo.

Before I knew it a few of the off duty employees were buying us drinks and making sure we felt at home. Pictured here are Keith, Renee and Apple who were enjoying a relatively quiet Sunday night until our whirlwind arrival. Renee wasted no time in grabbing my special birthday glasses.

As we expected Al The Wop's has not changed. The same down-to-earth friendliness prevails and I felt just as at home as I did in 1971. It is a complete original. The spirit is what brought us here in the first place and it continued to make more memories for us some forty years later. It's not rocket science...Eat, Drink and be Merry although we did some dancing and also had a very cool slide show of my past. Funky is the norm as here as you might be able to tell from their version of a birthday cake complete with a photo of Al's distinctive store front on Main Street, Locke. Honored guests get this personalized roll delivered to their table as the entire place sings "Happy Birthday."

Fortunately, for our sweet tooth cravings my sisters made a much more edible birthday cake in my favorite flavor banana and topped it with cornucopia of toppers. The cake toppers were a trip down memory lane and included my wildly vast array of passions. They even found a tiny 1964 1/2 red convertible Mustang which was my very first car.

The corner of the bar made for a perfect photo opportunity for the group shot. Folklore has it that the place was once a front for a brothel, thus even the bright red front doors make sense. :-)

My celebration was strictly immediate family and spouses. But a huge surprise awaited me in one of the tiny alleys in Locke. Upon our arrival out jumped my dear friends, Mark & Rebecca Ferrell. They traveled all the way from Bishop in the Eastern Sierras just to celebrate with me. They are well known for this kind of kindness. They continue to bless my life as we now celebrate ten years of friendship.

Locke, California is neither a tourist trap nor a ghost town. Only about 75 people live there and just 10 of them are Chinese. Like Al The Wop's the whole town is genuine and unique. It's authentic charm really defies description. If I've peaked your curiosity at all, just go see it for yourself. You won't likely be disappointed.

My biggest thanks possible goes out to everyone who made the 39th of my 21st so very special. And, of course, my enduring gratitude to my parents who not only introduced us to boating, but gave us many years of fun on the waters of The Delta and Lake Tahoe.

1 comment:

  1. Nice story.I'm with you going back to places of great memories is the way to go.......sometimes. Happy Anniversary