The Oregon State Giant Killers and Billy Main – Part II

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In the first post on the story of the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, I related how Billy “Rabbit” Main, who had his sights set on playing college football for the California Golden Bears, ended up instead as an Oregon State Beaver and member of the 1967 OSU Giant Killer Team.

He was a starting wingback from 1967 to 1969 for the Beavs and their beloved coach, Dee Andros – The Great Pumpkin – whose 5’10’ frame carried 310 pounds.

The first blog post highlights Billy’s outstanding football career – not only as a running back, but a pass catcher, blocker, kick-off return specialist and even holder on PATs and field goals.

Rabbit – not just a runner but a pass catcher – one of eight against the Dawgs in 1969….

The prior post also features a tribute Billy wrote for Duane “Thumper” Barton, his football teammate, our shipmate in the Navy ROTC program at OSU and my SAE fraternity brother.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/05/11/tucker-william-billy-main-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

But as I mentioned in the first post, Billy wanted to emphasize the team aspect rather than his own story – a key attribute of the members of that team:

“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward.  I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Enyart, Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”

And if you want to learn more about the Giant Killers, check out the wonderful, comprehensive narrative with great pictures and historical documents developed by OSU alum and long-time friend of Billy Main’s – Jud Blakley.    https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

Jud as Student Body President at OSU

Beaver alums remember these years as part of the rich tradition of Oregon State Football including the Civil War Game with the University of Oregon – it goes back 126 years to 1894.

 

 

 

 

Thebeerchaser also covered this story in May, 2018 at https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/      .

Gone But Not Forgotten

So, we will start by remembering the fifteen players and coaches from the 1967 team – including Coach Andros who passed away in 2003 at the age of 79 – who are deceased but still remembered in the hearts and minds of their teammates – brothers – who defeated two nationally ranked top ten teams (No. 2 – Purdue and No. 1 – USC) and tied the number two team (UCLA) .

“In a four-week period, the Beavers became the only team to ever go undefeated against three top two teams in one season since the inception of the AP Poll, earning the nickname ‘Giant Killers.”

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Oregon_State_Beavers_football_team

Players

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides instilling the commitment to team, Dee Andros also demanded individual accountability. This was a key factor contributing to their success on the gridiron and also why so many of the members of those teams went on to meaningful careers after graduation.

He illustrated this accountability with a narrative entitled “Man in the Glass” which you see below. This was a poem originally entitled “The Guy in the Glass” written by Peter Dale Wimbrow in 1934 – an American composer, radio artist and writer.  The Great Pumpkin’s version is slightly different and reads:

The late Coach Dee Andros (19– 200 “The Man in the Glass”

Billy Main – Part II — After College

As I mentioned above, Billy, did want to focus on himself in this or the previous blog post and I’ve tried to honor that request.  Nevertheless, he is an integral part of the overall story of the Giant Killers.  So I asked GK historical expert and Main’s friend, Blakely, for his advice in structuring the posts. Jud e-mailed me the following:

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member, Dr. Bob Gill, Blakely and Main outside the Angry Beaver in 2018

“Don, the Giant Killers did what they did because they were ‘All for One and One for All.’ They may not have all ‘liked’ each other but they sure as hell all did love each other. And so, no member of that brotherhood will single himself out for acclaim or for attention.

Steve Preece – Fox

The GKs had leaders on both sides of the ball – Preece was alpha leader on offense. Steve will never endorse that.  He will name other guys whose leadership was essential. 

Same on defense –  Lewis, Sandstrom, Easley––each of them will name other guys. Like them, Main will deflect and Main will diminish his role.  Do not buy it.  Tell the story.” 

Jess “Froggie” Lewis – Giant Killer and always to be remembered for “the tackle” of O..J. Simpson

Therefore, read on:

Besides football, Billy was also enrolled in the two-year Navy ROTC program.  I would see Billy in the Navy Armory because both of us were in NROTC.  He was in the two-year program and one-year ahead of me.

After playing Rook football in 1965, he was red-shirted the next year and when his military deferment was eventually continued because of NROTC, it enabled him to play in the 1969 season.  He was then scheduled to report for Navy flight school in the spring of 1970.

Billy said: “Between NROTC, football and regular academics, those were the most intense two years of my life.”  

One benefit of NROTC which he used for both work and leisure for many years afterwards, was getting his pilot’s license at the nearby Albany Airport – the Navy paid all of it.  “I love to fly and I flew for over 25 years – over 2,000 hours logged.” 

The account below of his college experience as a midshipman below is interesting and worth reading, as is the Appendix at the end of this post – a remarkable and entertaining account of the culmination of summer training at the end of his junior year at the Naval Air Station – Pensacola.

“As I look back, 50 years ago to the 1960’s, I can say with total clarity and perspective that the Vietnam War was probably the single factor that most affected my life, the career path I chose, and the quality of life I enjoyed.

My draft board was in Richmond and at that time the Army desperately needed recruits to replenish the pipeline of daily fatalities in Vietnam. I was a sophomore at OSU and was redshirted in 1966 because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon State’s greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.

Bob Grim

Then one day I received my induction notice from the Richmond draft board, and my life changed forever. I had one week to respond, and was expected to report at Ford Ord, CA. at some point. My OSU football career was over. I called my Pop and he suggested I talk to the Navy ROTC. 

The CO there in Corvallis was a Navy Captain named John Hitchcock, who, as fate would have it, was a huge football fan.  In a matter of days, I took the oath and joined the Navy ROTC program, allowing me to graduate in 1970 as an Ensign, subject to (2) summer camps in Los Angeles and later, Florida. I could continue playing football.

After taking the proverbial oath and effectively ducking the Richmond draft board, ROTC classes represented one 3-hour college-credit class a week and it quickly became serious business. I was very impressed with the organization, the structure, and the discipline, which was completely aligned with my experiences in football, from High School through college

Current-day Oregon State NROTC middies drilling

We had drill one day a week for 3 hours, in full uniform. I remember vividly marching with my weapon around Gill Coliseum parking lot adjacent to the football players’ entrance.

I’d finish drill around 3PM, and then go to football practice.   I was one of a few players in ROTC – Tight-end, Nick Rogers, was in the Army ROTC with a similar draft board story, so we were able to commiserate. (Duane Barton and Rus Jordan were also NROTC and played football.)

Eventually, the day when all the 50+ ROTC members at OSU were called in to a meeting room to declare their preference.   My time to declare arrived and my subconscious mind overwhelmed my conscious mind!  Without realizing it, I said, ‘aviation.” To this day, I cannot reconcile how it happened.  For the record, Pop (who served in World War II on the USS Porterfield) was pleased with my choice and I think he was proud as hell of me.

NROTC Armory at Oregon State

When we went to Pensacola the next summer, there were 15 midshipman in our aviation cohort. We were then asked by the US Marine Corps Gunny Sergeant, who was our “shepherd” during that training, to declare what division of aviation we preferred – Fixed Wing, Helicopters or Jets.

Fixed-wing preference

Thinking fast, I preferred Fixed Wing (propellers) like the E-2 radar picket planes. Jets, of course were sexy and being a ‘jet jockey’ was appealing. (The later movie “Top Gun” with Tom Cruise brought back many memories of my summer cruise as a Midshipman on the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington)

So, the Gunny says…’How many of you opt for Jet’s?’  9 hands go up enthusiastically.   Next, ‘How many of want Fixed Wing?’  6 more hands go up enthusiastically – mine included.   Finally, ‘How many of you opt for helicopters?’  No hands go up.

(Remember, the Vietnam War was losing a lot of US helicopters on an ongoing basis and horrible stories were circulating about POW pilots being tortured by the Viet Cong.  One of the 15 in our group – Bill Scott – actually flew in Vietnam and he is a good friend to this day.)

Then the Gunny smiled broadly, and said the words I will never forget:  ‘Well, gentlemen, you are all officially going Helicopters, that’s where the action is.’  And my life changed forever.   As we filed out of the room, stunned and disillusioned, the Gunny said…’Welcome to the US Navy, gentlemen!'”

“You will go helicopters. And you will enjoy it!”

After the 1969 football season ended, Billy took a number of courses in upper level economics and graduated with an Econ degree which he said had an impact for the rest of his life.

To fulfill his military obligation for NROTC, he was set to go to Navy Flight School back in Pensacola and prepared to serve six years as a Navy pilot after commissioning.  But the winding down phase of the Viet Nam War in 1970, meant the Navy’s need for pilots was significantly less.  His dream was to fly and when given the option to serve aboard a ship or return to civilian life, he chose the latter and the remainder of his service obligation was waived.

Based on his athletic achievements at OSU, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went to training camp in the fall of 1970.  They wanted him to play running back and wide receiver and he made it to the last cut. 

He then was a member of the taxi squad for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League for two weeks but was never activated – also not enamored with the $12,500 annual salary.   Main also felt that he’d been a football player long enough and retired even before his NFL career got going.

When he returned to Corvallis, reality set in.   He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, but needed a job to eat and pay the rent.   Fortunately, Kenny Ross, the owner of the fabled Beaver Hut – the favorite watering hole of many OSU students and especially athletes (Still operating for take-out orders and growlers) hired him – as a night janitor or “swamper” where he cleaned the Hut between midnight and 4 AM each morning.

Still operating on NW 16th Street in Corvallis

After a while he started bartending and really enjoyed it and thought, “This could be a great business.”   But he didn’t want to work for anybody else, so he returned to his home state. 

Main’s mixologist skills were refined in San Francisco.   He planned a bar in Chico.  The idea was to create the Beaver Hut concept for the students at Cal. State University – Chico.

A Corvallis concept in Chico?

Unfortunately, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union did not want to see another bar in the city and one near the college campus – even one owned by an All-Pac 8 football player and opposed the license.  It was never opened.  Main was not one to give up easily, however and Jud Blakely continues the story:

“Soon enough (1973), he opened his own seafood place in Half Moon Bay named The Shorebird and made a big success of that venture, and was off and running in the world of food…this time with no blockers out front clearing the way.”

This successful venture led to another establishment named The Sandpiper in Chico, which he opened in 1979 and sold in 1986.  Billy then opened his hospitality consulting firm, Bill Main and Associates and Blakely continues the career story:

“Sought after for his advice in the hospitality (ie, food and drink) business, The Rabbit is sought after, too, as an expert witness when the owners of a restaurant—or restaurant chain—get tangled up in a dispute that lands in court where millions of dollars and countless jobs are at stake.  His diagnosis of the issues is highly prized and reflects the impeccable arc of his long career.” 

Consultant and expert witness

And as you might expect based on his upbringing, Billy was also a family man.  He married Nancy in 1992, a registered nurse with a Masters Degree, and while he was managing restaurants and consulting, she was working as a pediatric RN and teaching nursing at the college level.

Jud Blakely with granddaughter, Nylah Rose

Consistent with the previous years you’ve read about, nothing was ever dull or routine in Tucker’s William (Billy) Main’s life and I’ll wind down the story with a final quote from Martin Jud Blakely:

“Billy “The Rabbit” Main – #22 in your program but #1 in being a great and unwavering friend of so many—was the cover boy for Street & Smith’s 1969 West Coast football preview.  He was second-team as a Pac 8 all-star, a record-setter on the field…and then (one remarkable day in 1995 (when he was 44 years old and his wife was 42) they became the parents of triplets (WHAT!)”

Sierra Exif JPEG

Nancy, passed away from cancer in 2010, but they raised a wonderful (and great looking as you can see below) family.   The triplets are now 24 and all are embarked on promising careers.

Jack Main – second from right – on break from Special Forces training with colleagues

His son, Jack, graduated from the US Naval Academy and is now in Special Forces training.  Daughter, Kim, is following in her mom’s footsteps and is scheduled to graduate from Azusa Pacific University in nursing and will be commissioned as a Navy nurse.

And son, Steve, is following his dad’s footsteps while living in San Francisco.  He went to bartending school and now has a great job in a San Francisco restaurant and bar.  Billy stated, “He’s an idea generator and has a passion for process.   He can be a great success in that industry.”

Steve, Kim and Jack Main

And so Beerchaser followers, this ends my characterization of the Billy Main story and the continuing legacy of the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers.  But stay tuned, there are a lot more wonderful stories surrounding this fabled team you can read about in future posts of Thebeerchaser.

Appendix – “Nine Yards and In!”

My first summer camp as an ROTC Midshipman was at UCLA in Los Angeles, the summer of 1967. There were about 60 of us from all over the western US universities. Duane Barton (nickname Thumper) was my OSU football teammate and was also going Naval Aviation.

Thumper – Naval aviation colleague

He was #2 fullback behind Bill Enyart, (Buffalo) and a real character. That 10-week summer in Los Angles was heavily classroom and PT oriented and was intended to fast-track flight school.

Flight School was normally 18 months in Pensacola, but the US was losing pilots in Vietnam so fast that the Naval Aviation ‘new pilot pipeline’ had to be accelerated while still allowing the NROTC guys to stay in school and complete their degrees.

One particular event that summer sticks vividly in my mind. We were assembled on the football practice field and told to ‘pair off’ by weight. We were assembled in a long line, smallest guys first. Then a Gunny went down the line, asked each candidate their weight, and then re-ordered accordingly.

After this process was completed, I found myself, at 190 lbs, being #59. The biggest guy, at 230, was last. He was a big baby-faced guy from the University of Washington, I think, and a very nice guy named Kyle.

All of the 2-man teams were then paired off in the end zone. The Gunny then instructed us on how to do the ‘battlefield carry’ – meaning, placing a wounded man over your shoulders, cross wise, and carrying him to the medic.

I began to sense a ‘feeling’ among the candidates that resulted in them staring at me…and then I understood…I would be carrying a guy 45 pounds heavier that I was. Now the ‘battlefield carry’ was 100 yards, from one end zone to the other.

My stomach turned, and I felt a bit light-headed with all the candidates looking at me curiously. So, it started, one pair at a time, with everyone yelling and cheering; the emotion was palpable. Finally, my turn came. Being last, I looked down the field, 100 yards away, and saw all my fellow midshipmen lined up anxiously awaiting – watching me carry a guy 100 yards that was much bigger than I was.

Nine Yards and In??

As 1 of 3 college football players of the ’60’s, I can honestly say that we were somewhat of an anomaly and that the other midshipmen were very supportive of us (both) playing football and being in the aviation program.  The adrenaline rush I had was reminiscent of the rush I always had standing in the end zone, waiting for an opening kick-off, in front of a stadium filled with 50,000 people.

So, I threw Kyle over my shoulders, and started the slow jog towards the other end zone. I have never felt more physically challenged, and after 50 yards I was afraid I was going to collapse. I kept readjusting Kyle slightly to balance the weight on my lower body. After 80 yards I started feeling light-headed but kept going, my vision blurring, heart pounding, and breath gasping. The other midshipmen were yelling and cheering me on, but that was just a blur in my mind.

At 90 yards I remember stumbling and Kyle and I went down fairly hard, hitting the turf, my breath gasping. I remember thinking “don’t quit” but realized I was too spent to ever get Kyle back on my shoulders, so I quickly grabbed him by the wrists and dragged him the last 10 yards across the goal line on his back. Then I collapsed to a knee, gasping for breath, with dozens of my fellow midshipman around me.

Gunny – “Gentlemen, what say you about Mr. Main?”

Then the Gunny assembled us all together and informed the group that they had all passed the exercise except me. Technically, I had failed…it was 100 yards, not 90 yards. He then said…’gentlemen, with a your approval, I will ‘pass’ Mr. Main for this component of the exercise….only if you all agree’…there was a huge roar of agreement by the midshipmen, and dozens of guys slapped me on the back as if I had just returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

During my time at Oregon State, during the season, we had a ritual called ‘9 yards and in’ which simulated the red zone game specific circumstances. Needless to say, that term always had special significance to me based on my Navy experience dragging poor Kyle the last 9 yards

Training for the Buddy Carry!

 

Tucker William (Billy) Main – Beerchaser of the Quarter

The 1967 Oregon State Beaver Giant Killer Player Recognition Awardees – “Brothers and Timeless”

Rest in Peace – Duane “Thumper” Barton

After the initial publication I am adding to this post.  I am saddened to report that my fraternity brother and member of the 1967 Beaver Giant Killer Team, Duane “Thumper” Barton, passed away at the age of 73 on May 14th from Alzheimers Disease.

Duane played fullback and his brother, Gary, later played quarterback for the Beavers. They were star multi-sport athletes at Baker High School and both graduated from OSU as did their younger brother, Ronnie.   Duane was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program and flew for the Navy after commissioning and then had a career as a pilot for Alaska Airlines.

Gary and Duane, besides being great athletes, had wonderful voices and were key members of the SAE team that won or placed highly in the annual Inter-fraternity Council Sing for several years.

Duane and Gary – first row – second and third from right at the IFC sing.

Gary stated that memorials for Duane can be made on behalf of the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Our newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Billy Main, was not only a football teammate, but both were enrolled in the aviation division of NROTC and got their private pilot licenses while in college.

Billy (Rabbit) wrote this this tribute to “Thumper” yesterday and it eloquently conveys why Duane was loved by his teammates.

Duane Barton was the back-up fullback to Bill Enyart in 1967 and 1968. He knew Buff well in that they were roommates when the team traveled.

He was physically very different: Enyart was 6’4, 235 Duane was 5’8 and 210. Duane came from Baker, Oregon and was one of the great players from eastern Oregon that were part of that GK team

He was nicknamed “Thumper” ‘…..the provenance of that nickname is unknown

Duane was the purest essence of the spirit and ethos of those teams…TEAM

He was a skilled and proficient runner and blocker, and had Buff gotten injured, we lost very little. Absent Bill Enyart, Duane was a solid replacement in the backfield. Under different circumstances, he would have probably had a more extensive football career. He was loved and respected by all of his teammates.

My real friendship with Thumper was grounded in the US Navy ROTC Flight Program in which we were both enrolled. As I remember, there were the only 3 members of the GK team roster in the Navy at that time. (Rus Jordan was the other.)

Duane and I learned to fly together at the Corvallis airport. We also were in the summer Navy summer camps in Los Angles and Pensacola. We were together on Aircraft Carriers that summer: the USS Randolph and the USS Lexington.

During that summer in Pensacola and when we had a few days leave, Thumper suggested we jump a freight train and see where it was going. He was always pushing to try something new. (I talked him out of it)

USS Lexington (CV-2)

He was a skilled pilot and eventually flew on active duty, followed by a career with Alaska Airines.  Thumper had an outrageous sense of humor and was constantly pinching your ass when you weren’t looking, then laughing like hell.        RIP, Thumper

Gary Barton gave this account of how Duane got his nickname:

“The Thumper nickname came from the Disney movie Bambi.  If you recall there was a cute little cottontail named Thumper living in Bambi’s forest.   Among the burly football jocks at OSU, Duane was like their Thumper, both in size and perhaps even more so in personality.  (However, he also gave one a memorable ‘thump’ when he hit you on the football field….)

******

Some readers might ask, “Why don’t you stick to the bar and brewery reviews on your blog and what’s this Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter?”   The response – pretty easy.   I have loved writing about the history, bartenders, regulars and distinguishing characteristics of each of the 375 watering holes I’ve visited and reviewed since starting Thebeerchaser in August, 2011.

The memories cheer me up during this lockdown and make me yearn for the safe reopening of these establishments.  And all of them deserve and need our patronage and support.  That said, another joy derived from this hobby is telling the story of some remarkable individuals or groups – most of whom I’ve known personally or met through this blog.

Attorney Jack Faust

These former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, besides their memorable stories, have contributed to society through their heroism, athletic achievements, civic work, dedication to their careers or otherwise.   All of them possess either a great sense of humor or noteworthy personal traits that have made them or would make them great Beerchasing companions.

Rugger, Rafter, Rider and Lawyer, Jay Waldron

I’ve highlighted my former law firm colleagues like Jack Faust and Jay Waldron.

The Godfather – Dwight Jaynes

Then there’s NW media personalities such as Amy Faust and Dwight (The Godfather Jaynes) and SOLV co-directors Jack and Jan McGowan. 

The list also includes military veterans with exemplary service to their country like the late Col. Terry McKinsey (USMC Ret.), Viet Nam era heroes such as Doug Bomarito, Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely and my brother Capt. Rick Williams (USN Ret.).

The late Retired Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey

There’s even the legendary crew of the USS Constitution for their 1798 War Cruise and for you Seinfeld fans, don’t forget the “celebrated” corporate tycoon, Art Vandelay.

Art Vandelay – A Legend in Latex….

Click on the links over the names to see the individual stories noted here or on the tab “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter” right below the blog header above.

2020’s Second Quarter “Honoree”

The newest BOQ has something in common with one of the former – Craig – The Dude – Hanneman.  Both were Pac Eight Football stars for the Oregon State Beavers under legendary coach, Dee Andros.

The Dude – on the right during the Everest climb

The Dude achieved new heights in 2012, when he became the first former NFL or NBA player to successfully scale Mt. Everest.

Since in 1967, freshmen did not play on the varsity, Craig was on the Rook Team while Billy Main was a key figure in the renowned OSU Giant Killers team – one of the most fabled stories in the annals of NCAA Football history.

As an OSU sophomore, I had the thrill of seeing the Beavs beat an OJ Simpson – led USC Team 3 to 0 when the Trojans were rated No. 1 in the nation.

Bye – Bye,  OJ…

But that was only a small part of the overall narrative – notice the moniker is Killers rather than the singular.

The full story can be seen by either reading my blog post in which I paid tribute to that team’s achievements

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or you can read another former OSU alum and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, the aforementioned, Jud Blakely, who put together a wonderful website which would make any sports historian tip his or her hat.

The picture at the left is Blakely receiving his 1967 promotion to Captain and the Bronze Star for valor in Viet Nam from General Garretson, Deputy Commandant of USMC and on the right is Col. Bronars’, Jud’s CO during his first six months in Vietnam..

https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

“Tucker William (Billy)”

Billy Main made his mark at Oregon State through his athletic achievements and his other activities.  He also had a very successful career in the hospitality industry (which started as a “swamper” or night-time janitor at the Beaver Hut – a legendary watering hole for OSU students.)  But how did he get to Corvallis from his roots outside San Francisco in Lafayette, California?

Billy was named after his Uncle Bill who played for the Cal Golden Bears and went to the 1948 Rose Bowl under College Hall of Fame Coach Pappy Waldorf.   His dad also played football for Cal.   Waldorf coached at Cal from 1947 through 1956.

Legendary Coach Pappy Waldorf

The 1946 team of his predecessor went 2 and 7 and Waldorf’s first year, the Golden Bears compiled a 9 and 1 and lost only to USC.  The next two years, his teams went to the Rose Bowl and although losing both times, the turnaround was remarkable.

Memorial Stadium at University of California

He started the tradition of commenting on the game and complimenting the crowd for their support after every home game in the balcony over the northwest gate of the stadium. He continued this tradition through his last home game in 1956.

Billy was an excellent high school athlete playing basketball and football and for the first seventeen years of his life, there was no doubt in his mind that his college home and athletics would be at Berkeley.

“I played basketball like I did football,” Billy told me.  “I was always the first guy to foul out, but they always had me guard the other team’s best player.”

His desire was to go to Cal when he graduated from Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek in 1965, and Jim “Truck” Cullom the Offensive Line Coach recruited him.   Cullom had played football at Cal and remembered Billy’s dad and uncle.

However, the Cal Athletic Dept. advised him to go to junior college first because his grades didn’t meet the standard. (Actually, he met the criteria for an exception, but Cal. messed it up – something they undoubtedly bemoaned from 1967-69.)  His dad told him to look at other college options, so he made a trip up to Pullman to check out Washington State.

Coach Paul Valenti

Fortunately for the Oregon State Beavers:

Main’s basketball coach, Doug Pederson was a friend of Oregon State Basketball Coach, Paul Valenti, that contact got the Beavers in the door.”   (They both played basketball for OSU in 1942)     (The Civil War Rivalry by Kerry Eggers. Page 237.)

Assistant Football Coach Sam Boghosian showed up at one of Billy’s basketball practices.  “I saw this fierce looking guy looking at me practice from across the gym,” Billy said.

A visit in the gym from Assistant OSU Coach Sam Boghosian

Dee Andros had been an Assistant Football Coach at Cal and started his tenure as Head Football Coach at Oregon State in 1965, where he became known as “The Great Pumpkin.” (He was 5’10 and weighed over 300 pounds.)

Boghosian came to the Main’s house to recruit him for the Beavers.  Billy then took a Greyhound Bus up to Corvallis.   “Wayne Valley, a tackle on the team showed me around campus and I really liked it.”

A great read by Kerry Eggers

Another quote from Kerry Eggers, wonderful book The Civil War Rivalry demonstrates the respect and love Andros’ players had for their coach.

(Eggers, an OSU alum, was a columnist in Portland for 45-years, is the author of six books and a five-time winner of the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year Award.  Any OSU or U of O fan should read this book!)

“‘I sat down with the Great Pumpkin, and it was one of those moments,’ recalled Main…..’We chatted about my pop who was on a destroyer in World War II.’  Dee said, ‘Billy we want you to come to Oregon State.  I committed on the spot. The Pumpkin had a special gift.  He inspired us in that it is difficult to define.  It was magic.'”  (Page 237)

Main was red-shirted for the 1966 season – with a November birthday, he was young and they wanted him to use the extra season to “bulk-up” and help the scout team scrimmage against the Varsity during practice.   Billy also explained:

 “I was a sophomore and was red-shirted  because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon States greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.”

Bob Grim – mentor and role model

But the year of the Giant Killers in 1967 has to be the most memorable.  Quarterback Steve Preece and Billy were fraternity brothers and best friends at the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji)  house, but the entire  team was an extremely close knit group.

Fox and Rabbit – Fiji Fraternity house at OSU

According to Preece, “Dee convinced us that we’d only win if we were a group playing as one…Everybody believed it.” (Eggers – The Civil War Rivalry – Page 195)

The option – Preece and Main – frat bros and teammates..

That team attitude was deeply ingrained and made a lifelong impression.   In one of the last e-mails we exchanged for my research for this post.

Ingrained a Team Attitude

Billy wrote:

“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward.  I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”

(Note:  This request is honored if you view my past post about The Giant Killers and will be the case as future posts on Thebeerchaser will continue the story of the Beavers of that era.  That said, this post is primarily about Billy Main and you will understand why as you continue reading.)

Jud Blakely – At Dee Andros’ parents’ gravesite in Oklahoma in 2005

Based on his extensive knowledge of the Giant Killer Team, I asked Jud Blakely to write a few paragraphs about Billy and the team.

Jud first met Main in 2003 when Blakely was considering writing a screen play on the Giant Killers and he used Billy as a resource.  A long-time friendship developed which continues as evidenced by our trip to Corvallis in 2018.

“Okay, so, Bill Main…who entered this world listed as Tucker W. Main…and…you guessed it; the W. stands for “William. Then William made the predictable journey to being ‘Bill’ before it made the slightly less predictable journey to being “Billy”…and Billy Main is how Tucker’s vintage pals know him and address him.

By “vintage pals,” I mean legends in their own right such as Steve Preece, Jon Sandstrom, Mike Foote, Tom Greerty, Jess Lewis, Gary Houser, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Mayes, Mel Easley, and the Rest-In-Peace squad of Bill Enyart, Roger Cantlon, Donnie Summers, John Didion, etc.  Thing is, though, they mostly called him “Rabbit”…and (mostly) they had nicknames, too…

…and so, Preece was “Fox”…Cantlon was “Deer”…Sandstrom was “Grape Eyes”…Bill Enyart was always “Buff” and never “Earthquake,” and on and on.  This was the nature of OSU’s 1967 Giant-Killer football team that caught lightning in a bottle…the fabled and legendary squad on which Billy “Rabbit” Main electrified fans as a star wingback when he was but 18 years old.

(Billy got the name “Rabbit” and Preece got the nicknames “Fox” from their fraternity brother Jeff Wissler.)

Blakely continues about his friendship with Main:

“Bottom line—I’m blessed to be one of Billy Main’s 14 thousand-2 hundred (and 52) friends…

but

I’m estimating here because the count goes up every week.  When it comes to friendship, Billy Main is, like, nearly the size of a South-Pacific atoll that morphed into a nation.  The reason he’s so rich in friends?  It’s as simple as hearing, ‘Hey, I’m thinkin’ about you. ‘How are you?'”

(Note:  I asked my friend of fifty years, Blakely to write a short paragraph or two to use in the posts about Billy.  You will see from this post and the next that’s comparable to asking him to read and summarize a magazine article resulting in him sending a synopsis of Winston Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War.  What he wrote was eloquent and with feeling, but when I kidded him about the length, he responded, “Once I got going, I was too lazy to stop.”)

Janet Williams and Larry and Mariellen Rich in 2019. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in  2019

I was the beneficiary of friendship and living with eleven of the members of the team during the Giant Killer era in the SAE House at OSU.  They included my 1970 classmates, defensive back starters, Larry Rich and Don Whitney.

Other SAE’s footballers during those years were Craig Hanneman, Jim Scheele, Chris Wahle, Clyde Smith, Don Welch, Jim Blackford, Roger Cantlon and Gary and Duane Barton.  They were not only great athletes but outstanding individuals.

Oregon Alpha Chapter of SAE in 1967

Billy’s solid family roots which were a key to his character can be demonstrated by this story on radio broadcasts while he played for OSU.  He told me:

“They didn’t broadcast OSU games in Lafayette, so my Pop and mom drove up I-5 to Etna, California (near Weed) several times each season .  Pops went into the radio station which didn’t carry the games either and asked the manager, ‘Where’s your tower?’  It was up in the Siskiyou Mountains near the Oregon/California border.   They drove up high enough to get the KEX broadcast from Portland and had picnic lunches while they listened to the game.”

At 5′ 11″ and weighing 188 pounds when he was a freshman, Billy was not a big guy compared to his many, if not most of his teammates, but he had a reputation for being a  fierce competitor.  (“I was born in November so was always smaller than my teammates in school which helped shape my attitude.”)

One of Main’s eight catches against the Huskies.

In the Andros Power T Offense, he was a running back and wide receiver who was named to the Coaches’ Second Pac-8 Second Team.  Notwithstanding his size, he was also a skilled blocking back for his fullback Buffalo Bill Enyart. 

A true utility man, Main even was the holder for field goals and extra points for part of the 1968 season.

He became holder, when safety Larry Rich was converted to the kicker after the regular kicker, Mike Haggard was injured. Starting in the Washington game, this newly initiated duo went 5 for 5 in PAT’s in the Beaver victory.

Newly converted holder and kicker, Rich and Mains

Kerry Eggers relates an incident in his book during the 1968 Civil War game with Oregon to show Rabbit’s toughness. The Beavs won that home game 41 to 14 at Parker Stadium.

In the Civil War the year before at Autzen, the Giant Killers, who were nationally ranked, had to make a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Ducks who went into the game with a 2 and 8 record.  Billy Main said of the ’68 game:

“‘We’d remembered what happened (in the Civil War) the year before when we had our heads up our ass and almost lost.   Everybody was ready before the game. You could feel it….’

Fox calling a play

Oregon was poised to “take out” Preece on Oregon State’s patented option play.  Preece had broken a shoulder the previous season, and opponents that year took shots at it.  Early in the game, U of O defensive end, Dennis Gassner cold-cocked him.  Main saw it.

“Billy told me, ‘Run that play again,'” Preece recalled.  “I ran it again and Main goes flying by me and hits (Gassner) so hard I thought he was going to kill him.  He’s standing over him screaming, ‘Don’t touch my quarterback again.”  (Civil War Rivalry – Page 196)

Eggers: Award-winning reporter and author (and OSU alum…)

Given the scenario above, one has to chuckle at Billy’s description of his demeanor in the continuing description of this incident in Kerry Eggers’s book:

“’We had a slight altercation,’ Main acknowledged.  ‘I was uncharacteristically agitated – I was more of a lover than a fighter (emphasis supplied) – and Gassner was pushing because Fox (Preece) has the marginal shoulder. 

It came close to shoving with lots of mouth.  I was ready for a dust-up.  But we were seriously restricted by the Pumpkin’s code of behavior – no fighting, just do your job.”

Main – the portrait of a Lover – not a Fighter….!

So Beerchaser followers, you have the first part of the Tucker W. Main story.  Stay tuned for the next post and the story of Rabbit’s naval service, return to Corvallis and subsequent career and family life.  You can see it at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/05/25/the-oregon-state-giant-killers-and-billy-main-part-ii/

Giant Killer Duane Barton

Beerchasing in Corvallis (and Stanley, Idaho) Part II – Drinking with Kings….

As mentioned in my last post, I am “catching up” on a number of bars and breweries visited during the last few years which never got written up – something which makes sense now when watering holes are closed except, in some cases, for pick-up.

The last post was Part I of two trips to Corvallis.    The most recent in 2018, in which I talked about our trip to the Oregon State vs Washington State game and a visit to the outstanding sports bar – The Angry Beaver Grill.  We met with former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who got us fifty-yard line seats. The link to that post is https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/15/beerchasing-in-corvallis-part-1/

One year earlier, in October of 2017, I was the overnight guest of Brian and Nancy King at their Corvallis residence.   During the day and one-half I was there, Brian and I hit several watering holes and in the evening, Nancy joined us briefly at Block 15 Brewery and Tap Room south of town and then we had dinner at Squirrels Tavern and in the evening, a nightcap at Caves Bier and Kitchen .

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Brian and I also hit the following establishments:

Cloud and Kelly’s,  The Peacock

Those of you who follow my blog know that in my twenty-five years at the Schwabe Williamson firm and prior to that, six years at the Oregon State Bar, although not a lawyer, I loved working with them in my legal management role.

And my general affinity for the lawyer personality was characterized by Robert Elfers, a lawyer himself and my mentor/boss for over twenty of those years in both organizations, as a “pressing need for ongoing psycho-therapy…”

Thebeerchaser and “Brain” on 2017 visit

I have many wonderful attorney friends both at Schwabe and all over the country, but Brian (Brain) King, an environmental lawyer from the time he passed the Bar in -1980, until his 2016 retirement, is one of my favorites.  He epitomizes why I hold most lawyers in such high esteem.

He has also been on a number of Portland Beerchasing expeditions including the memorable Mummy’s (along with Schwabe colleague, Margaret Hoffmann and Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar (with lawyers, Carson Bowler, Brien Flannigan and Cheryl Rath).  This also occurred in 2016.

Before social distancing – in 2016 at Billy Rays. Brian is holding the can of Tecate…

Before talking about the Corvallis saloons, I need to tell you why I make the assertion above.  Brian has a wonderful dry sense of humor and notwithstanding the accolades he garnered in his professional career as both corporate counsel at Boise Cascade, the Bogle and Gates firm and then at Schwabe, he does not take himself too seriously.

He was a skilled advocate and extremely knowledgeable in his specialties, but also an attorney held in high esteem by not only his firm colleagues, but those who were on the opposing side of the legal issues in question.

Thebeerchaser at the Rod & Gun

Now I also may be biased because he was a primary factor in the motivation to start this blog when I retired in 2011.  I’ll write another post to finish the Corvallis visits, because I feel compelled to offer this background.

Based on his own experience, Brian insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.

The Sawtooths on the edge of Stanley city limits.

When he served as corporate counsel in Idaho, he spent time in Stanley at the foot of the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains and told me, “You need to stop at the Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon and say hello to the owner and notable musician, Casanova Jack. You can find the bar at 44 Ace of Diamonds Street in downtown Stanley.”

The musician had a reputation throughout the West having at one time played with Marty Robbins and his band.   Jack’s bar also has a colorful history:

“Tall Mary, at 6-foot-4, ran the Rod and Gun Club with Casanova Jack, and a French woman served whiskey and great hot sandwiches all night long at the Kasino Club. (That’s just a block away and also on Ace of Diamonds Street.)  ”  (“Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide”)

While visiting Stanley years ago, Brian even took the stage and was lead vocal on “Blue Suede Shoes” with Jack.

So while staying at Stanley on the road trip, I spent hours at the bar on Karaoke Night.   I made sure to ask if Casanova Jack was in and my conversation with the female manager went like this:

Beerchaser:   “One of my colleagues made me promise that I would say hello to Casanova Jack.  Is he in tonight?”

Manager“No.  And for your information, Casanova Jack died in 1990.”

Beerchaser:  “I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure that he lived a colorful and active life.”

Manager:   “Not really.  He was a raving a-hole….”

My wife and I returned to the bar on a road trip in 2016.  The bar is now owned by Jack’s brother, Johnny Ray and his wife of thirty-eight years, Eve.

The personable Johnny Ray on our 2016 trip

Johnny Ray played the bass guitar and sang in Jack’s group and spent a good amount of time filling me in on his story and that of the bar.

For Johnny Ray’s interesting version of the bar’s history, check out this link: https://www.facebook.com/155766471164/posts/casanova-jack-ran-the-rod-gun-club-from-1971-until-his-untimely-passing-in-1990-/10154619946136165/

After the notable experience at both the Rod and Gun and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon, I decided that visiting bars and breweries would be a fantastic retirement hobby which led to commencement of Thebeerchaser in 2011.  More about Brian and his wife in the next post.

Cloud and Kelly’s 

See narrative below re. the women at the left side of the bar…….

This spacious bar downtown has an interesting story as evidenced by this excerpt from a Corvallis Gazette Times article dated June 30, 2017 entitled, “Tiki Bar Stirs Up Cocktail of Accusations”:  (Pardon the length but the story is compelling)

“The Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen — until recently, the location was Cloud & Kelly’s Public House, an Irish pub — will close Sunday and reopen Sunday night as an extension of the Downward Dog, an adjacent bar that Davidson owns.  Hapuna Kahuna started its short run on June 22.

Davidson said that residents of Polynesian ancestry, including those with the Oregon State University Asian and Pacific Cultural Center, complained about a combination of factors such as the use of a Hawaiian name, traditional iconography displayed in a cartoonish way, and how plastic leis were handed off to customers.  Some Hawaiians and other Polynesians liked the Tiki-themed bar and didn’t want him to change it, Davidson said.

Culturally inappropriate?

A local Facebook forum also had numerous comments about the situation, including questions of whether it was appropriate for chefs to cook ethnic food that wasn’t from their ancestry, such as a Korean chef running a sushi joint, since the cuisine is Japanese; discussion on the origins of Tiki ‘culture’ as an inauthentic fantasy mashup of tropical influences, and how there are Tiki bars in Hawaii; and comments on the evolution of Hawaiian cuisine to include items from numerous cultures, including those of Asian and Western countries.

The Tiki bar also made more financial sense than Cloud & Kelly’s, Davidson said, as the price of Irish cheddar, heavy creams, butters and lamb was rising. There also are rather obvious limitations to Irish cuisine, he added.

‘It all came down to the cost. … I know it had a good reputation but I felt I was at a crossroads and I was willing to try something new,’ he added.”

Now, since I don’t know the entire story in detail, I will refrain from making comments other than the cultural appropriation issues laid out above seem to pale considering the global health and economic issues we’re now facing.  And the story didn’t end there as set forth in two additional local news stories.

Downward Dog still has a campus location

The downtown Downward Dog, Cloud Davidson converted, closed in late 2018.   What is a sad commentary is David’son’s understandable sentiments in the November 24, 2018 article:

“I’m OK with letting it go, but I’ll always have an ill feeling about how it happened…I took a big risk doing Cloud & Kelly’s and it took off like a rocket ship,” Davidson said…..From the middle to the right to the left, I couldn’t do anything right…..It’s beyond rhyme or reason. But it all just blew up in my face,”

Morgan Orr

We wish Davidson, who appears to have done everything he could to assuage the objections, the best as a small business owner, since he still owns the Downward Dog location near the OSU campus.

The good news is that Morgan Orr who was his right-hand person for years, is now the owner of The Brass Monkey: A Public House, which is operating out of Davidson’s former downtown space.  The campus DD is still open for takeout and the BMPH is temporarily closed during the lockdown.  Both have received great social media reviews.

Brian and I hit the former Cloud and Kelly’s in the early afternoon on a weekday and one of only two other customers was the dark-haired woman you see sitting at the left end of the bar in the photo above.   She evidently listened to us telling some stories and laughing and then went into the bathroom.  We had finished our beers and were ready to leave when she came out carrying a small paper bag. Walking boldly up to me with a big smile she said,  “You deserve a present,” placed the package in front of me and walked out.

“Calm down and lower your voice, Beerchaser!”

Well, inside the bag were four marijuana gummy bears in the original package.   I was astonished and started to say  in a loud voice, “Hey Brian, those are ……..,” whereupon Brian in his best lawyerly voice said softly, “Lower your voice, Don and let’s split.”  

Even though marijuana edibles are legal in Oregon, I harkened back to my NROTC days at OSU when even inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke was probably enough to lose my scholarship …..Brian, as usual, was giving good advice.  The package hit the next garbage can on the way to our car.

Block 15 Brewery

Having opened their initial brewpub in downtown Corvallis in 2008, Block 15 Brewery and Taproom is south of town in a very attractive building with a beautiful view of Mary’s Peak.   They also opened a European-style pub—Caves Bier & Kitchen downtown which we hit later that evening after dinner.

Two of my favorite Oregon beers are Astoria’s Buoy Brewing IPA and Block 15’s Sticky Hand Ale. (Both with fairly high ABV at 7.5 and 8.1 respectively)

A great IPA and my opinion was not influenced by the glass!

Block 15 is known for its “barrel-aged rarities and one of the Northwest’s most extensive wild & sour programs.”  According to an 8/29/19 Oregonian article

….Block 15 remains fresh and innovative with ten years of brewing under its belt….From its well-known Sticky Hands Ale to a near-perfect pilsner, Block 15 has few holes in its game.”

An impressive tap list of creative brews

Although we did not eat there, the social media reviews on the food are very good, as exemplified by this recent 1/7/20 Trip Advisor review:

Great beer and perhaps the best sandwich I’ve ever had!   Every summer Block 15 has a sandwich called the ZATS – zucchini, avocado, tomato and sauce, on a french roll. I love this sandwich, and along with one of their hoppier beers I’m as close to heaven as I’m ever likely to get.  Also, their hamburger may be the best ever, as well. ….. ‘Nuff said.”

Note:  I’m happy to report that all three of the establishments covered above – Block 15, the Downward Dog and the Brass Monkey are continuing to offer safe options where you can still support them through takeout or home delivery.

Well Beerchasers, stay tuned for the third and final installment of Corvallis Beerchasing and some final comments on my wonderful hosts – the Kings.

Cheers (Image created by Pam Williams)

 

 

Beerchasing in Corvallis – Part 1

As I stated in my last post on Thebeerchaser blog, with all Oregon and Washington watering holes closed except for takeout, I ‘m going to “catch up” on some great bars and breweries that I visited in the  last few years, but just didn’t write up because of my formidable Beerchasing agenda……

And what better place to start then two trips to Corvallis, Oregon – home of my undergraduate alma mater – Oregon State University.  The next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter will also be introduced to Beerchaser followers in the following post and is part of an OSU legend.

Ariel view of the Memorial Union and the Quad

As a precursor, I can state that OSU was a wonderful place to live and learn for four years.  Although some refer to OSU as simply an aggie school, it has nationally recognized programs in Ocean Sciences, Engineering and Forestry. 

It was also one of the first colleges in the country to initiate a Fermentation Science degree in 1996, which still ranks among the best in the country – certainly dear to the heart of Thebeerchaser.  It comprises about 50% of the students who are pursuing a degree in Food Science and Technology.

West Coast IPA has been one of the fastest growing styles of craft beer and “the hop that launched this revolution was an Oregon-grown variety called Cascade, developed at Oregon State University by the USDA hop breeding program.”

Fermentation Science at OSU

The two Beerchaser posts on Corvallis will be on ventures back to my undergrad stomping grounds:

In October, 2018:  I accompanied my fraternity brother and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and his friend, Dr. Bob Gill when we drove down to see the Beavers play the Washington State Cougars.

If you click on the link above you will also see the compelling story of my friend of 50 + years, Jud, ranging from his time – albeit abbreviated – as OSU Student Body President, to his heroic service during the Viet Nam War and beyond.

Dr. Bob Gill, Jud Blakely and Billy Main

Thanks to the generosity of former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who played running back on that fabled 1967 team, we also had 50-yard line complimentary tickets and attended a reception for alumni in which new Coach Jonathan Smith appeared about an hour before the game for a ten-minute inspirational briefing.

Coach Smith inspiring the alums right before the game with WSU

Indeed, Billy Main epitomized that Giant Killer football team which is one of the great sports stories – not only in Oregon, but in American college football lore.   For those who want to know more about that legendary team check out my own post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or for the most comprehensive and impressive chronology and documentation, check out the aforementioned, Jud Blakely’s website.  It is a labor of love by this OSU alum and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent of sports websites:  https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

I knew Billy as a fellow NROTC midshipman – one class ahead of mine.  His college football and subsequent professional career in the hospitality industry are stories that deserve to be told and are inspiring as you will learn in the next post.

On the first trip back – also in October one year earlier – I was privileged to be the overnight guests of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.

Brian was an environmental litigator in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.  Nancy King – also a lawyer – after her career in private practice – served as a professor at both Willamette University College of Law and in the Oregon State School of Business.

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office. In the second post on Corvallis, you will learn more about Brian’s notable legal career and why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.  Nancy also retired in 2016 although she taught during the summer at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2017.

Why Would One Go to College in Corvallis?

NROTC Class of 1970 at OSU

Not to belabor the point, but Corvallis is not only a wonderful community, but an ideal college town.  Now perhaps, I was slightly parochial in 1966, but as a recipient of the NROTC scholarship, I had the option to attend any of the fifty or so US universities that offered that program (and to which I could get admitted which, of course, narrowed the list quite a bit….) 

College recruitment and selection is a lot different these days (maybe not going forward) but I only visited OSU, loved the campus and also the opportunity to pledge the SAE fraternity.

Oregon State SAE House at 29th and Harrison

Corvallis has a population of 59,000 – 85 miles south of Portland, it was founded in 1845 and has the motto “Enhancing Community Livability.”   (We earnestly tried to live up to this standard while we were students….)

In doing some research for this post, I did find one interesting statistic (and perspective) from a real estate blog: (https://www.estately.com/blog/2016/06/15-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-corvallis-oregon/

“Corvallis has the lowest percentage of children of any of the 20 largest cities in Oregon. This is great news for those of you don’t enjoy the sounds of screaming children while dining out, seeing a movie, riding public transport, meditating in the park, or playing video games at an arcade. On the other hand, if you have small children the city might feel a little devoid of other youngsters.”

Now during my college years (1966-70), there were no breweries and just a few notable bars – classics if you will including the SAE’s favorite – Price’s Tavern.  Also Don’s Den and The Peacock Bar and Grill.   The Peacock and it’s iconic rooftop pavilion – “The Top of the Cock” – is the only one surviving to this day.

Corvallis now offers a great variety of bars – including nine sports bars, breweries , distilleries and even a meadery to suit just about anyone’s preference.   In fact, the Corvallis Visitors’ Bureau offers a brochure entitled the Mid-Valley-Sip Trip listing seventeen establishments – all within the City limits.

On my two trips, I hit the following:

2018:  The Angry Beaver

2017:  Block 15 Brewing, Caves, Squirrels, Cloud and Kelly’s, Flat Tail Brewing and The Peacock

What you Should Know about Bob Gill

The trip to Corvallis was the first time I met Dr. Bob Gill – who attended and played football at both OSU and then Portland State after starring at Jefferson High School his senior season in 1953.   He was selected for the Shrine All-Star game and got a scholarship to OSU.

All-star Quarterback

He was a successful Portland dentist for many years.  But like many of Jud’s friends (other than Thebeerchaser), Bob also has an outstanding Oregon legacy as both an athlete and in the annals of athletics for the State of Oregon.

Click on the link to read his full bio when he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame  in 2019 along with two former Beaver Basketball players from the ’80’s Mark Radford and Ray Blume.

Among his achievements to garner this honor:

  • Bob’s research led to the publication of “It’s in Their Blood,” a history and legacies of 53 Oregon football coaches.
  • As a historian, Bob successfully nominated Tommy Prothro, Neil Lomax and Ad Rutschman into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. For 14 years, he presented the “Walk of Champions” award to champion high school coaches.

  • In 1998, Bob Gill provided the early leadership to return the North-South All-Star Football Game to Portland establishing the Les Schwab Bowl.
  • In 2010, Bob offered to write the story of Oregon and NFL legend, Mel Renfro. After 5 years of research and writing, he authored the biography “Mel Renfro: Forever A Cowboy.”

And from spending a day with him, I can also state that he an amazingly humble and classy gentleman.

When we got to Corvallis, we had lunch at the Angry Beaver Grill where we met Billy and were also joined by Giant Killer Quarterback, Steve Preece and his wife, Karen.

After college, Steve played in the NFL for nine seasons – as a defensive back and his last year, in 1977, he started for the Seattle Seahawks.  After football, he has been a successful Portland commercial real estate broker and developer and is a member of the Beavers’ radio broadcasting crew.

From left – Billy Main, Jud Blakely, Don Williams, Karen Preece, Steve Preece, Dr. Bob Gill

The Angry Beaver Grill is a bastion of Oregon State sports history, co-owned by former Beaver football running back Randy Holmes (#31) who averaged 3.7 yards per carry during his four years at OSU.  Randy was a great host to our group and is a wonderful story teller.

Holmes – an expert in the kitchen

He was also known for catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Beav quarterback, Ed Singler to make the score 28-14 against Fresno State in the 1981 season.   The Beavers after being behind 28 to 0 in the first half, won 31 to 28 and ended a 14 game losing streak.

According to Wikipedia, “With the win, Oregon State had set the record for the biggest comeback (28 points) in major college football history at that time.”

And the Angry Beaver is a great venue – especially on game day although according to the OSU student newspaper – The Barometer – it was the best live music venue in Corvallis in 2020.

The Angry Beaver Reuben

For lunch we had burgers and their outstanding Reuben sandwich, but Randy made his mark for years as a chef and according to a 2/2/18 story in the Corvallis Gazette Times

“………..resurrected a bit of Corvallis’ culinary history with the Angry Beaver, which opened in January 2018. For more than a decade, Holmes was the chef at The Gables, which was known as Corvallis’ premier restaurant for years before it closed.

‘I literally made the croutons and chicken bisque soup every day,’ Holmes said. Angry Beaver chef Mike Adams also worked at the Gables.  Naturally, that signature chicken bisque soup with croutons is featured on the menu, as is a prime rib with Danish whipped potatoes special on Friday nights, and that also was a Gables’ staple.” 

Retired Coach Jimmy Anderson

After lunch, Jud wanted to stop by former OSU Head Basketball Coach, Jimmy Anderson’s (from 1989-95) house.   Jimmy was coach of the freshman basketball team in 1961 and Jud got cut in the final round of tryouts.

They ended up playing together on the Truax Oilers AAU team and have maintained a friendship since.  (Of course, Jud told Jimmy he made the wrong decision by cutting him.)

The Beavs on their way to the locker room before the game.

Then we moved on to Reser Stadium for the early evening game.   However, Billy insisted that we be his guests at the Alumni Reception – and it was in the beautiful quarters above the north endzone.   Bob, Jud and I joined about 150 people and soon realized that they were all former OSU athletes and their guests.

And among them were a number of former Pac (8-10-12) all stars and a both current and former pro-athletes – which made me feel a little out-of-place although my size when compared to most of them meant that my presence was not conspicuous.

Scott Barnes OSU AD

We heard the great talk by Coach Jon Smith and then affable OSU Athletic Director, Scott Barnes, closed the affair and understandably started making the rounds shaking hands with those who attended.  He stuck out his hand to me and said, “Thanks for coming back.”   Given the presence of all the other athletes, I almost could not resist responding to his greeting with “Don Williams, SAE Intramural Basketball 1966 – 70.”

Well, although it was a pretty good game for three quarters, Oregon State lost 56 – 37. In retrospect, sitting there in a crowded stadium on a lovely fall night even when your team loses, seems like a wonderful future scenario.

Go Beavs!!

And although the Angry Beaver Grill is now closed during the pandemic, when bars and restaurants reopen, be sure to stop in and say “hello” to Randy and his friendly and effective staff.   You will enjoy the great atmosphere, the good tap list and the great food.