Being a Jet Set Indian

by Jim Northrup

Fond du Lac Follies jetted to the left coast for the weekend. I broke my no flying vow because the trip to California was necessary. I was going out to meet a long time friend and fellow Marine Walter Rosales. I was there to spend some time with him and his family.

I first met Walter when he joined India Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines in An Hoa, South Vietnam in April of 1966. We both survived our time in the bush. I came home and got out, Walter still had time on his enlistment and later went back to Vietnam for a second tour with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines. He survived that tour also.

We didn't see each other for over 20 years until one day when we met at the Wall in Washington, D.C.
We shook hands and talked about our time in the war. We also talked about life after the war including our families. Walter and I stayed in touch by telephone. On one occasion he helped out my son Jim who found himself stuck in California. On another occasion Patricia and I were in San Diego and I called Walter. We got together and had a good visit. Some years later Walter and his son Dean came to Sawyer for a visit. Since they were desert Indians I took them to the lake for a canoe ride. I paddled Walter around for a while and then Dean wanted to try paddling a canoe. He learned how quickly a canoe can tip over.

Patricia went to San Diego for a conference and she and Walter traded wild rice for grapefruit.

Last year Walter called and said his son Dean died unexpectedly.

A few weeks ago Walter's daughter. April called and invited me for the memorial ceremony they were going to have for Dean. I quickly agreed and immediately forgot about my no flying vow.

I drove to the Duluth airport for the early morning flight to Minneapolis. My E-ticket said I had four ups and four downs. The ticket said I would go from Duluth to Minneapolis to Los Angeles to Palm Springs where a car and driver would meet me for the road trip to my final destination of Indio, California.

In addition to my normal fear of flying I was unsure if my name was on the government's no-fly list. I showed my picture ID and E-ticket to the TSA person. She said, Hi Jim, I was in Rick Smith's class when you came to UMD for a reading of your poetry. I felt better already and went through the screening process. I got on the airplane and had a boring flight to Minneapolis. Actually the rest of the flights were boring too. When I got to Palm Springs there was a driver holding a sign that said Jim Northrup. I felt the desert heat right away. The radio said it was going to be 112 degrees.

Walter came to the Fantasy Springs casino and hotel and we visited. Shortly after that we went to his daughter's house for some southwest cuisine. I met her family and Walter's dog Max. After visiting Walter took me to the hotel and we agreed to meet for breakfast. Before I went in Walter told me there are two kinds of Indians in California, there are the 7-11 Indians and the Casino Indians, the dot Indians and the ponytail Indians.

We ate breakfast and Walter took me on a tour. We went up a curvy mountain road, it might be called Palms to Pine Highway. There must have been 20 S curves on that road. Walter said that road was used in the movie It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, World. I was wishing I had my Corvette for that road. It was a lot cooler up there. We enjoyed the wind as we shot the breeze.

That evening we went to the ceremony held at the Cabazon graveyard. They do things a little different than the Anishianaabe but the thoughts and feelings were the same. We ate at a feast and I listened to the singers and joined in the dancing. It was all gourds, no drums at all. I met the Chairman of the Cabazon people and thanked them for what they did for Indian gambling.

I am glad I was able to be there for my friend. I know he would have done the same for me. Marines are like that especially those who have shared combat time.

I sure was glad to get back to the cool air of Northern Minnesota. I had parked the Corvette at my son's house. Matthew and Jackie said they heard the car whimpering because no one was driving it.

Mii iw


The views expressed in this column belong to the writer alone, they are not meant to represent this newspaper or anyone else. Comments and bingo packs can be sent to FdL Follies, PO Box 16, Sawyer, MN 55780 email : mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.