Island Dinner Party

The Clark family sometimes forgets that they have invited people for dinner so hilarious things end up happening

By Warren Miller

The 16-foot inflatable/hard foam dinghy from Mike and Nancy Domaille’s  wonderful West Bay Son Ship gently bumped the dock on Crane Island and Laurie and I were off on another adventure.

I had just told Mike and Nancy that my autobiography was about finished, as we were transferring to Doug Rosenberg’s eight-passenger golf cart driven by another favorite neighbor, Jim Johansson.

Our destination was Dick and Nancy Clark’s newest cabin on Crane Island that displays the largest collection of antique farm and logging tools in the living room of a private home I’ve ever visit. Dick enjoys picking up a 1903 vacuum cleaner and asking his guests what they think it is and, of course, it is never what they think it is. Vacuum cleaners have changed.

The Clark family sometimes forgets that they have invited people for dinner so hilarious things end up happening. This happened the first time they invited us to dinner in 1993. We were building our cabin at the time and didn’t have water so we asked if we could come early and take a shower and Laurie would bring the dinner. After our showers, we waited and waited, and finally started cooking the salmon that Laurie had brought. This was about the time Dick and Nancy showed up, finally remembering that they had invited us.

This time they remembered that we were going to show up. When we arrived the dinner party was already in full swing on the porch of their house that overlooks Wasp Passage.

A half-dozen grandchildren under 12 were busy driving golf balls off the Clarks’ front porch trying to reach the water, when a grandmother from Minneapolis who brought her violin to the party delivered several lively tunes. It was then that we discovered she had played in the Minneapolis symphony and her last name was Schunaman. Her father-in-law was the founder of June Scunaman’s Department Store in Minneapolis that was the single largest sponsor of my ski films in all the years I showed them.

Dick Clark, our host, has probably bought 75 percent of his antique possessions from the Goodwill and some of them are top-of-the-line items. He delights in wearing sweaters with holes in the elbows and drives a 1953 International Harvester pickup truck on Crane Island.

When they’re a bargain, Dick and Nancy stock up on chairs from Goodwill for their porch. They had some lumber left over from when they built their house and had somebody make picnic tables.

Where else but on an island with 64 pieces of property could such a diverse group congregate and have a such a great time? There was no conversation about what anybody did for a living, whose condominium in Palm Springs was the biggest, but just a general relaxing and an old-fashioned good time with a minimum of wine, beer, Diet Pepsi and a maximum of freshly caught Dungeness crab.

The Johanssons had their grandchildren with them that were born and raised in Parumph, Nevada. Nancy’s son Keith was there with two of his children and he has become quite a talented videographer of wakeboarding and water skiing. The floor show progressed when Keith got out his guitar and played some more contemporary music.

The Clarks were asking all the guests to tell a story, but I’m so tired of my own stories, having spent the last five years writing them all down for my memoir that I was happy everyone else stepped and made the evening so entertaining.

With our “water-born pickup truck”, a 26-foot Shamrock in the boat hospital in Anacortes, we depended upon Jim Johansen to deliver us across the passage to our home dock in the dark. What a wonderful neighborhood with wonderful neighbors who help each other out at the drop of a hat or a drop of a dinner/potluck invitation.

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