I grew up as some of you did watching westerns on television. Roy Rogers was my all time hero, and the story of George Armstrong Custer was my favorite story. I had a story book about Custer's Last Stand that I read over and over again. I would go into my fantasy world and picture every detail of the famous battle.The actual site in Montana is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you can be there as the sun is setting. Eerie is the best word to describe the feelings that creep over your body as you stand on top of the wind blown hill and look down at the actual battlefield.Your mind turns back the clock and you are suddenly there in the middle of the battle.You can hear the sounds of the horses, the wailing of the soldiers and Indians as they lay wounded or dying on the ground, and you can sense the utters desperation and hopelessness of Custer as he realized what a drastic and fatal error that he had made.It is just like re-living history.
Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear with the sound of a mighty Hi-yo Silver, away. Woops, that is the wrong scenario. How about return with me now to the thrilling days of 1987 and the sound of "911,hi, I am surrounded by a war party of Indians."The scene?Spokane,Washington at a downtown hotel.It was early in the morning, about 1:00 A.M.I was working the night shift out of audit division. Woops,wrong story again. That was Dragnet.Anyway,the call came from one of the guests rooms. It was the usual guest complaint about loud noises coming out of room 212.I said I would take care of it . I checked the register to see who was staying in the room. There were supposed to be only two people registered in the room. I called the room, and was greeted by a drunken voice. I could hear way more than two people in the background . I informed the intoxicated voice that I had received a complaint about noise coming from that room.I then asked how many people were in the room, and I was told "only me and a friend".It sounded like the story of a police officer asking a drunk driver how many drinks had they had. Of course, the answer is always" just a couple of drinks,occifer".
There was only one thing to do, and that was to check it out in person. I traveled up to the second floor, and even away down the hallway I could hear banging,yelling, and profanity spewing out of room 212. I knocked on the door using my best Clint Eastwood knock.Yep, I was a bad man intent on restoring peace to the West and bringing justice to those who questioned my badge, my hotel badge,that is.The door opened, and I was greeted by cussing and the stink of open beer containers throughout the room. There were not two guests in the room, but there were about twenty to thirty very intoxicated young men and women. All of them were Native Americans.
I told them that they would have to vacate the hotel at once, or I would call the troops, I mean the police, and I mean right now. Well, the yelling and cussing began, but I stood firm, convinced that right made might and, I would be protected by the very honor that my badge stood for. My hotel badge, that is. After all, what greater authority is there than a Best Western badge?
One by one the occupants began to leave the room. The stench was unbearable. I went back down to the front desk,smugly assuming that law and order once again ruled the West. Yep, there was a new sheriff in town,and his name would strike fear in anyone who dared to question his rule. He would be forever known in Western Lore as the Cedar Street Kid."Well, someone had a different idea.
As one of the young men from room 212 came down to the desk, he started yelling that I was a racist, and that I hated Indians. I refuted his suggestion and told him that my Grandmother had indeed been a member of the Cherokee Nation, and that I resented his remark about being prejudiced against Indians. He yelled some more at me and told me his uncle was an attorney and I would be sorry because he would sue me and the hotel for everything we had.I was let down. This was a bad thing for Western Lore, I mean, what kind of story would Custer be if Sitting Bull had sued Custer instead of fighting it out at The Little Big Horn?
I told him to get the heck out now, and he left. Once again, law and order prevailed.Right?Wrong.About fifteen minutes after he left, I walked outside in the cool night air to regain my composure and to strut my stuff.(just kidding).I first saw the shadows creeping around the south side of the building. My senses now fully alert, I turned my eyes northward and saw more shadows circling the building. East, West, it was the same. It was then that I realized that they were circling the wagons, so to speak, I was surrounded and cut off from the lobby door. Well, I was not going to go down with out a fight, I,like Custer, would make my last stand, and would take as many with me as I could. Maybe they would write books about me someday. Maybe there wold be a battlefield named after me. The battle of the Best Western would be forever a part of Western history, and I, THE CEDAR STREET KID, would be the star.
So, I stood with arms folded, braced to withstand arrows or bullets, or--.So, I did what any brave soldier would do. I yelled for help.My desk clerk who was coming on shift had arrived via the basement parking garage elevator, and I could see him standing with open mouth staring at what must have been an unbelievable sight,the head auditor standing in the front parking lot, arms crossed,surrounded by about thirty Braves."Chuck, I yelled, call 911 now.NOW'.I screamed.Well, just like in the movies, right in the nick of time,the cavalry came riding in on their horses. Well, almost. About five Spokane police cars came racing in,lights flashing,guns blazing,ok, I made the gun part up.Yes, I was safe. I watched with amusement as the officers chased the Braves down the middle of the street. I almost expected to see them get out their ropes and start lassoing them.Finally they rounded all of them up, and hauled them away.
Yes, once again the guys in white hats won. Someday you will probably read the story of the Cedar Street Kid's Last Stand to your grandchildren.