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Chelsea Wittenbaugh My Neighbor, My Second Dad, My Friend October 18, 2013

Just up James Canyon, from that oddly shaped house with the fire-pit in the middle of it, was the castle mailbox my father built at the bottom of our driveway.  As a mountain kid, I had free range of the woods and often wound up at the Howlett's.  I don't remember meeting them, I just remember them being there, like the trees and the river. 

My best friend Missy Rabbit and I would work on Joe's swatch books, taking little samples of cloth and sticking them on to crisp white pages with the descriptions, while Susie would give us scalp massages and fix us lunch. We got paid in cash or candy, I can't quite remember.  

I remember running around and around that fire-pit in the center of the house, making sure not to fall in, playing some game or another with Missy and then finally falling asleep amongst all the pillows, inevitably curled up next to several cats; Joe and Susie tinkering about watering plants or sitting out on the deck.

On the Fourth of July, Missy and I were batter mixers at the Town Hall while Joe was in charge of grilling bacon and sausage. And of course, he led the kazoo band.  My little brother and I would spend hours decorating our bikes to ride in the parade. 

There were spring Easter Eggs hunts at the Howlett's - only that magic bunny knows how many eggs they cooked and dyed and hid for all the Jamestown kids.  Summer afternoons were spent playing Jungle Golf (croquet in the Howlett's yard). When I was mad at my parents and "ran away," it was usually to see Joe and Susie. And they always sent me back home eventually.

I remember Zach and all his travels and adventures. He was always coming from or going to some other country. And the time he taught his Dutch girlfriend Camilla to drive.

When Susie passed, I was on my own adventure in Antarctica. I called the Merc for her memorial celebration and talked to Joe on the phone. On the other end of that phone was the same voice that I remembered from my childhood: inquisitive, gentle and always ready with a joke or two.  

I haven't been up to Jamestown in a while. My own father lives above Ward now, continuing the great line of mud-hut dwellers. It was hard to see the pictures online of all the destruction, familiar faces on the news and the community that had been my village experiencing something so un-grounding. But I wasn't at all surprised at how quickly everyone started to rebuild; how one story after another emerged about neighbors and friends helping each other with supplies. That sense of community, of selfless friendship and the love of living in the mountains is something I think Joe would be so proud of, something he will always be remembered for.

From his jovial personality to the little memories I'll always keep in my heart, I am so fortunate to have had Joe in my life. He was my neighbor, my second dad and my friend. I'm lucky too, to have known and loved Susie and have been so worldly inspired by Zach. 

I'm raising my glass to you tonight, you crazy Howletts! I love you all dearly! 



Dedra S He Played a Mean Kazoo October 15, 2013

He Played a Mean Kazoo


There was a Mountain Man we knew

who’s smile we all remember;

He found the fun in everything

like Santa in December.


He slung some hash and lost some cash

that never got collected.

Yet in every picture you will see

his smile can be detected.


Some days his shoes had little cleats

Sometimes he wore a boa.

You never knew what you would get

Just that he’d never bore ya.


He played a part in all our lives

The stories do abound;

Let’s tell them all and lift a glass

and laugh again all round.


Cuz Joey’s gone, he’s moved along

beyond our sight it’s true

But on the Fourth he’ll be here still

playing a mean kazoo.

Gayle Towner Santa @ The Merc October 11, 2013
Today, on the way to school, Dylan was talking about what he wanted for Christmas. Then he mentioned he couldn't wait to tell Santa what he wanted and that, even though Jamestown was messed up, Santa still knew it was there and he would be there at The Merc this year like he always is and he would be able to tell him what he wanted. No matter what ends up happening this year at Christmas time, I truly believe Dylan's right - Santa will be at The Merc (if nothing more than in spirit) to greet everyone. Although "Santa at the Merc" will live on, there will forever be one very special Santa we'll never forget! Thank you Joey for giving our children such wonderful memories!
Ali Owens On the Dance Floor October 4, 2013
I'll never forget a particular night at the Merc in Jamestown.  I don't remember the name of the band that was playing that night, but they were very well-received, and the Merc was full.  At one point in the night, I was standing in the back of the room, near the bar counter, just minding my own business, and all of a sudden, a forceful impact shoved me to the side, nearly knocking me off my feet.  "Out of my way!  I'm going to the dance floor!" shouted a familiar voice.  I turned around to see what on earth was going on, and found Joey, so excited about the music that he was using both his hands to claw though the crowd, tossing people aside left and right and shoving his way up front to the dance floor, the way a starving person might push through a crowd to get the last free steak.  His enthusiasm was so contagious, I couldn't even get mad.  In fact, I admired him for it, because it was so obvious that he truly knew how to live -- how to enjoy every minute to the fullest.  And though I mourn the fact that he is no longer with us, I like to think that somewhere out there, he's being Joey, pushing his way to the front of the dance floor, obstacles be damned, and laughing the whole way, because he's that kind of guy.  I feel so blessed to have known such an amazing human being.  Rest in peace, Joey...we love you.
Justin Klenk Long live the Kazoo Band! October 2, 2013

I loved how Joey would lead the kids (young and old) in his Kazoo Band every Fourth of July for the Jamestown Parade – one of my favorite parts of a long, fun day every year.  It took on more meaning for me - became a bit more special - after Joey went through some pretty serious health challenges.  When the Kazoo Band marched next, I must admit that, in the wake of what Joey had been through, physically, I was caught - a little unexpectedly - when I saw a certain gleam in his eye as our eyes met for just a second, while he was belting it out on that kazoo, and marching like a proud little toddler...  To me, it was the picture of the affirmation of life, to see Joey marching, with that spring in his step after all he had been through (and was still going through), and blowing his kazoo, and then that fresh gleam in his eye caught me, and I half-caught my breath as I realized something new about him, something important I hadn't yet had the chance to see, and probably couldn't quite put into words... it was just his spirit, dancing and rejoicing, appreciating life, wanting to be nowhere else, in this eternal, yet fleeting, moment in the bright sun.  The immediacy of it startled me slightly... the immediacy of certain surprise moments of our lives that change us, just a little.

I used to work for Joey at the Merc, right after I moved into town, in 2004, – which, incidentally, was the very week that the last major flood (or mud slide) happened there, in the wake of the huge Overland Fire, followed by torrential rain (my previous standard of a devastating deluge), and I witnessed the entire town pulling together after the resultant flood waters crashed down into town, causing huge, surprise destruction, and a hell of a mess, including a water conduit filled with rocks, deep mud all down the center of town, and lots of property damage, sweat and tears– but no lost lives.)  I was living in Rich/Noah Kane's place, with Catherine Davis, and suddenly someone rushed to the door and told us what was going on, and to grab whatever we could and come quickly.  I was left with quite an impression after that day and all that I saw.  I met Anne Breiler and several others that day, I now remember, all helping out, and really started to understand the way of life here much better by seeing the manner in which people reacted to a crisis.

Before this present flood came, I had just seen Joey in the grocery store a few weeks before, and he was so friendly and outgoing to my 3-year old daughter Anabelle, who gave him a big smile and flirted with him for a minute in the sweetest way.  (He hadn't seen her since she was 1.)  You know how there's that moment, when you're tired, and your kid's tired, and you're worried they won't respond well to a friend of yours who's a stranger to them and who's starting to say hi... but she delighted in the way he instantly noticed her and walked right up to her, familiarly, as if they might already be friends, and now that I look back on it, it was that guileless approach that kids often have with one another, anticipating nothing but happiness in the immediate future, with no hesitation or pretention... and that moment stayed with me, too;  I'm glad Joey got to meet her, or see her again, for the first time... 

Rest in peace, Joey, til we all catch up to you.  (Your memory won't be resting, though, for a while!!)  And much love, honor and respect to and for a great yet simple man, who meant so much to his family and friends, and who was the heart of his community as much as anyone.

Total Memories: 5
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