Mark: apocryphal stories

This is the last post I have for now of stories with or about Mark.  More will likely come back to me over time.  These stories are stories I did not personally observe but were recounted to me in some detail, either by Mark or others.

Mark and some of his friends put a sheep in our High School, for which Mark was expelled for a few days.  My Mom referenced this when I was expelled for putting a photocopy of Rich Miller’s butt on the podium of my calculus teacher as something she didn’t want to have to go through again.

Most of the student governments before me (I was student body president my senior year) had various keys to the high school, allowing them to explore the air vents and tunnels that ran under the high school.  We gained access to some temporarily, but Mark and Danny both explored the tunnels under the school extensively.

Mark played football and wrestled a couple of seasons, but also ran track.  He qualified for state most years.  He told me about one race at state track that was particularly memorable.  He had qualified for the final in whatever it was he was running (typically sprints, as that was his strength), but forgot or wasn’t clear as to when the final race was going to happen.  He left to get dinner.  Just as he got back to the stadium where the races were being held, he heard his name being called as they were waiting for him to hold the final race.  He rushed to get ready and had a full stomach, but made it to the starting point in time to race.  With no warmup and a full stomach, he took second.  That’s how fast he was.

Apparently he was always fast.  My Mom recounted an incident that happened when we lived in Porterville (I was 1 year-old when we moved to Mountain Green, where I grew up).  My Mom had just finished giving Mark a bath when he disappeared.  Apparently he had seen the mail person deliver the mail.  He ran, lightning fast, out of the house and down the long drive way, naked (apparently this starts young), to the mailbox to retrieve the mail.  My Mom couldn’t keep up with him he was so fast.

Mark: staying at the Liston’s

Mark and I worked in the cherry orchard (mentioned previously) owned and run by my Uncle Al when we were young.  Harvesting cherries is pretty demanding.  Sweet cherries have to be picked by hand because they need the stem to stay fresh.  And they need to be harvested early in the morning to maintain their moisture.  We’d get up around 5:00 am, get dressed, eat, and head out to the orchard where we’d work all morning, wrapping up around noon.  We’d have our haul for the day weighed and get paid by the pounds of cherries we picked.  Pie cherry harvesting is different.  It relies on tractors and follows a different schedule – 10:00 pm to 10:00 am.  Mark and I worked out there from when we were about 6 until we were about 16.

A couple of things we did were very memorable.  We would stay at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Pleasant View (driving out every morning would have been crazy from where my parents’ lived, almost 45 minutes away).  Since their kids (my cousins) had all grown up and moved out, though some still helped with the harvest, we largely had the basement of the house to ourselves.  We typically tried to sleep during the day during the pie cherry harvest, but during the sweet cherry harvest we’d have most of the afternoon to blow.  We’d often play Uno.  We amassed massive Uno decks numbering in the hundreds and would play marathon Uno games lasting hours.  We’d also ride our bikes down to a local convenience store where we’d buy treats.  A favorite during the hot Utah summers was Icees.  However, we couldn’t spend all of our money as it was also the money we would use to purchase our ‘school clothes’ for the upcoming school year.

I put together a little Google Map with some of the prominent locations:

Mark: late night canasta

One thing my family loves to do when we get together is play Canasta.  We have our own version with our own rules.

We used to play Canasta with our friends when we were teenagers as well.  We often had Mitch Johnson and one or two other friends over for late night games of Canasta up in the attic.  I recall one game that had run long into the night.  At some point, Mark accused Mitch of cheating and proceeded to pull a dozen or so cards from various places Mitch had hidden them.  Mitch was caught.  We laughed and he was duly punished by taking away points or Mark wrestling him until he cried (which actually happened at times, despite Mitch being much bigger than Mark, Mark was incredibly strong).  Eventually we got too tired to play any more.  Mitch left (he lived just up the street) and Mark got up with him.  That’s when I found Mark’s stash of cards – he must have had hundreds of cards hidden.  Lucky for us, despite having all those cards, he wasn’t very good at cheating.  I don’t think he won!

Mark: on the soccer field

We were close enough in age that Mark and I did get to play on the same soccer teams, though not all the time (Mark played other sports too; I was a soccer-only guy).  I played goalkeeper from about under-12 through high school.  Mark was a blazing fast forward.  Sadly, I don’t have many photos of us together on the field.  The only photo I could find was this really terrible photo from my high school yearbook:

I indicated where Mark and I am. I was a sophomore; Mark was a senior. (click for full size)

Mark didn’t get a lot of play time because, as I mentioned before, he wasn’t particularly good with ball control.  But he was lightning fast.  He and Mitch Johnson, who is standing on the back row in the photo, were reserve players brought in for very specific reasons.  Mitch was a giant.  If the other team had someone who was playing too aggressively, hitting our players, Mitch would get sent on and proceed to run their player over.  That would end the aggression.  And if the other team was playing an offsides trap, Mark would get sent on.  His speed would unsettle them as he could outrun pretty much anyone on the field.  It wasn’t what you’d call “elegant” soccer, but it was pretty effective.  Basically we’d just kick long balls past the defense and watch Mark outrun everyone to get to the ball.  I recall seeing him blow past defenders who had 20 and 30 foot head starts on him to get the ball.  He wasn’t very effective at scoring, but it forced the other team’s defense to reconsider their tactics.

Mark: water skiing

I mentioned in an earlier story that Mark was very athletic.  I’ll write more about that as well.  However, his athleticism wasn’t always highly coordinated.  He could run like a gazelle, but that didn’t necessarily translate into amazing coordination.  And, at times, he relied too heavily on his speed and strength rather than on finesse.  Water skiing was a good example.  My family would vacation at Lake Powell when I was growing up (those living in Utah still do so).  The first few times we went down to Lake Powell were with the Carruths, who taught both Mark and I how to water ski.  That would have been when I was about 10 or so.  My Dad, sold on the idea of Lake Powell, eventually bought a small ski boat and purchased a share in a houseboat, so we could go on our own.

It was a couple years after Mark and I learned to water ski, when I was about 12, that I learned to slalom (i.e., ski on one ski).  I picked it up rather quickly.  I probably tried three or four times on different days before I managed to get up.  And, here’s the rub, I managed to do it before Mark.  That, of course, was unacceptable.  I think I picked it up around 1:00 pm.  I skied around a bit, then decided I was done and would practice more the next day.  Mark was not willing to let me learn to slalom before he did, so we spent the next three hours or so out in the main channel at Lake Powell while Mark tried and tried to get up.  I don’t know how he had the strength to try that many times, but he did.  Even so, he still didn’t get up that day and finally had to call it quits.  He did, however, get up the next day.

Did I mention we’re competitive?  Another good example – I vowed to get my Eagle Scout as early as possible so I wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to drive.  I got it at 13.  Mark was awarded his Eagle Scout the same day, at 15.  He vowed I wouldn’t get mine before he got his.  He even insisted that he be handed his actual Eagle Scout Award before I was handed mine. ;)

Nah, we weren’t competitive!