John's Exhibit

In memory of my friend John Hoffman


I have a museum where I create all the exhibits my mind can hold.
All the people, places and events of my life are there for me to visit.
There are rooms in every direction, all connected by stairs and halls.
Sometimes you find a room by wandering;
Sometimes anything you see, or hear, or smell can take you there at once.

John’s Exhibit is a room in the Hall of Best Friends.
You can reach it from the Boeing Wing, or the Sports Gallery.
(Take a left past the Football display)

At the entrance there are telephones in which you can hear
John and I making our weekly 15 cent football bets.
(The flimsy pretext for 26 years of friendship)
After a few minutes of teams and point spreads all you’d hear
Would be two friends trading personal news and two-bit opinions,
Football pretty much forgotten.

There’s a model of the WWII destroyer “Fanning”.
He was sonar man on her for 4 years, barely past his teens.
You can also see his old brown Ford Fairmont,
And a picture of his stray dog pet from Spokane.
Here are playing cards – for bridge and hearts,
And a cribbage board we used on a Boeing trip to California.

Over in this corner you can sit in a Seattle Opera House seat
And hear the Symphony as we did for over ten years.
Or sit over here on this bench and hear the crowd at a Mariner’s game.
We saw a few of them each year too.
Now get a whiff of zoo animals.
Something we did a few afternoons,
Eating cheese sandwiches and fruit he’d brought along.

Here’s John’s sunshade “cowboy” hat
(Maybe not his best style, but practical),
And here’s a pair of his big, well-worn shoes
(He liked to walk every day and covered lots of ground).
See his crossing guard hat and sign.
(He made lots of friends with those kids too).
I even have his Ranger hat here,
From his days with the Forest Service.

Here’s a stack of articles and pamphlets he collected
On back pain (for both of us); and snoring (for me).
Here’s all his literature, notes and postcards
From Oregon Coast Wellness seminars.
I know those helped him cope.

There’s his old Atari home computer.
We each learned about computers on one.
And there’s his trusty radio,
Still blaring out financial talk shows
(When no Mariners game was on, of course).

Now we come to the portraits.
This one is Nervous John, with forehead wrinkling,
And lips puckering and flattening in thought.
This one is Happy John, my favorite,
Face crinkled, eyes twinkling, and teeth flashing.

I know you have your own exhibits of John.
You have probably been there while I read this.
It’s OK. He should have lots of exhibits and visitors.
He was a good, gentle and caring man.
I’m fortunate that he was my friend.

-Mike Yanega, January 1997

Date of this page: 7 July 2004

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