The Times-Independent

A Page Out of the Book Cliffs

A Page Out of the Book Cliffs

The last two “Pages” have been about a fellow our little town of Thompson called “Seldom Seen” because he reminded us of the character from Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang book.

AJ Rogers

Our guy was only around here for less than a year, but he left an indelible impression on the minds of those of us who got to know him well during that short stint.

When our Seldom Seen left for parts unknown he took his cute and young number four wife, Marianne, with him. He left his number one wife, Mary, here in Thompson. She operated a Texaco gas station for a number of years south of town at the freeway interchange.

She also ran a café there for a few years. None of us here ever met number two or number three of Seldom’s wives, though I expect they were good women, just as numbers one and four were. Mary was an especially good gal, and we were always lucky to have her as part of our community

Seldom Seen spent the one winter of 1980-81 here. A few of us young men had high adventure chasing coyotes in his helicopter and listening to his thoughts on the pros and cons related to the life and times with several wives. He once said it was like a can of worms.

Every time you got one back in the can another was crawling out again. A never-ending hassle. The man was probably what you would call a tactless chauvinist, but he told such tales in a way that made us laugh, whether we should have or not. Seldom seemed mighty exotic to us. None of us locals could ever imagine such a lifestyle.

He had been gone for several months before Mary told us he never did have a pilot license. Whew!

Mary ended up divorcing Seldom and she spent many sleepless nights worrying about retribution from him and his like-minded brethren. However, it was all for naught as nothing ever happened. She and my buddy Glen became close during the following years, spending some good times together.

She eventually had to go stay with her sister in California where she died of cancer at too young an age. Her son J.J. got hold of me from Wyoming a couple years ago. It had been decades and it was nice to catch up. He recently passed away unexpectedly at age 53. You just never know.

Occasionally we heard rumors and stories about the further adventures of Seldom Seen but who knows how true they all were. I did hear from credible sources that Seldom and Marianne had moved up to Wyoming and had a baby together. They said he was making part of his living flying fishermen into some deep canyon in some mountain range where the trout were big, and vicious scrappers.

One time he flew Marianne and the baby into that canyon where she was to set up camp while he went back for the fishermen. Apparently as they were dropping down toward their camp spot, the tail rotor burped, and stopped spinning for a nano-second. Seldom landed, unloaded his family and the camping supplies.

After that he checked out the tail rotor and all the drive linkage but found nothing wrong. He then spent 45 minutes running his helicopter up to high RPM while he held it on the ground testing to see if the problem would reoccur, but all seemed fine.

Seldom finally idled down and hollered to Marianne that he was going to head back to town and have a mechanic check out the ship, so he might be late returning. Marianne watched him lift off, maneuver up through the pines, and begin climbing up to the canyon rim. All of a sudden, the little chopper twitched and dived like the tail rotor had stalled again, then began to recover as things started working. However, it was too little, too late because one landing skid hooked a tree limb, throwing the main rotor into another tree, then the whole works crashed into a jumbled pile of wreckage on the ground.

Poor Marianne saw the whole thing happen as she stood holding her small baby. She was all alone in that desolate canyon 60 miles from the nearest town. She knew, looking at the distant pile-up, that it was useless to go see if Seldom had survived, but of course she did anyway.

There was never a chance that he could have made it, and he hadn’t. There was only one thing to do, and she knew it, so she gathered up a few things; a sleeping bag, some food, a canteen, and so forth. Marianne carried her little baby up out of that canyon and headed in the general direction of town. I never found out how long it took, but they said that after about 40 miles she came upon a ranch and found help.

It was so long to our local Seldom Seen. R.I.P.

Comments are welcome: or 435-259-9543.