The fictional town of Cordell, Oregon grew and flourished in the sunset years of the Old West. Throughout the 1900s it came of age from world wars, the depression, prohibition, fire, and waning of the lumber industry.
And Ticket’s Bar has been through all of it; three generations of Ticket barkeeps experiencing the plagues, the booms, the heartaches. Noah, George, and Owen have served the rich, the poor, loggers and lumbermen, dreamers and drifters, politicians and storytellers, revelers and mourners.
When a visiting author wanders to challenge Owen Ticket to a storytelling dual, Owen pours forth tale after insightful, connected tale, wandering across American history and capturing human nature and condition.
Own opens the tap and pours forth pitchers of laughter and tears as he recants stories of trigger-happy card players, Pinkerton Detectives, Paws The Wonder Dog, Stonekicker Bob, Annie Oakley herself, and many colorful locals such as Jimmy The Was Delotti, The Frenchman, Amazing Grace, and Brush Washington.
Wonderfully framed by The Columbia River, Mt. Hood, and the Deschutes River, Owen’s review demonstrates the interconnectedness of the people, the places, and the times of Northcentral Oregon in a hundred-year saga.
Excerpt from Ticket To Oregon
“I’ll call it, Ticket’s and D. B. Cooper.”
“D.B. Cooper,” I mused. “That name sounds familiar somehow.”
Owen nodded. “I suspect so. D. B. Cooper jumped out of a passenger jet somewhere over Oregon or Washington – no one knows -- in 1971. Parachuted out at 10,000 feet with a bag of money. Remember it now?”
“Vaguely, but I don’t recall any details,” I admitted.
“Here’s all you need to know for my story.
D.B. Cooper – probably not his real name – hijacked a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 after takeoff from Portland, claiming to be holding a bomb. His ticket was purchased by a Dan Cooper, but the news media soon dubbed him ‘D. B. Cooper.’ He demanded $200,000, to be delivered in Seattle, in exchange for the passengers. Northwest agreed…
The exchange was made right on the aircraft, and then Cooper commanded the pilot to take off and maintain ten thousand feet. Somewhere along the way, he opened the hatch and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an exhaustive federal manhunt and investigation, he has never been located or positively identified.
It remains the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history…
Most of the ransom money has never been recovered. While most authorities don’t believe Cooper survived the jump, bits of the ransom have surfaced; maybe $20,000. A kid playing in an Oregon stream found two packets of 290 bills, arranged in the same order as given to Cooper.
Obviously, some of that money was passed, unnoticed, in trade or banking. This, even though many folks in all the surrounding states were checking serial numbers on $20 bills. Modern-day-gold-rushers still search the prairie and mountains for that money.
So, of all places, where do you think one of those twenties shows up?”
“Ticket’s!” I exulted.
“We had a young bartender named Vance Wright working for us at the time, certainly on this day.
One afternoon, a vagabond gets off the train and wanders into the bar. He pays for his small order with a twenty. Now Vance, a supporter of the law, strident in his love for America, does what all the newspapers and government agencies had instructed retailers to do: look for Cooper twenties… Dad and I were not so diligent.
Anyway, this guy’s twenty is on the list. Vance freaks out. Calls the sheriff, tells the guy he has to wait here, and calls me at home. I show up and see the fellow trying nonchalantly to exit the environs, defying young Vance’s insistence that he wait for the police.
I figured him instantly as some sort of gypsy. He just had ‘the look.’ Old World, baggy, travel-worn threads, head down, sly, furtive, swarthy, long, black, wavy hair -- the whole package.
I told him that I owned this place and he’d better step back inside until we sorted this thing out. He muttered and attempted to slide away, but I put my hand on his chest and suggested he didn’t want to try any escape. He looked me in the eye for the first time, seemed to weigh his options, and then decided I was probably right.
Back inside, I sat him down at the center table. Soon we have the sheriff and the state police roaring up with sirens blaring. They’d already called the appropriate federal agencies.
Well, I thought, there goes today’s business. I was wrong about that. Once word of the incident got about town, scores of gawkers dropped in for a beer and the ‘doings.’ Only the first arrivals got to see the suspect, though, because the cops soon moved the interrogation up to the second floor.
The whole thing became a tangled mess of confusing details, provided by someone who wasn’t exactly believable. Turns out the guy – I keep saying guy because he kept changing his name throughout the interrogation – wasn’t travelling alone. Gypsies seldom do. He was with a lady, maybe a sister, a girlfriend, a cousin, an aunt. That was unclear also.
Where was she? the authorities wanted to know. He didn’t have any idea, so that triggered a town-wide woman hunt that ended with her being taken into custody in Aisle Three of Burrill’s Hardware Store.”
Owen smirked and started in again. “Separated from her companion for questioning, she spun some tale about finding a wallet on the floor near her seat on the train. Obviously a man’s wallet, stuffed with cash, she was tempted to keep it, but her conscience just wouldn’t allow for that. She tried to find its rightful owner, but the train stopped in Cordell, and she and her companion exited.
Where was the wallet now? Well, she left it on a train seat after relieving it of the cash. She couldn’t find the owner, she claimed, and why should someone else have the money? No real crime here, right?
When the cops checked out the stash she was carrying, two more twenties were on the hit parade. They kept those, along with my twenty, which they did not replace.
So, were these two actually connected to D. B. Cooper? That notion was a dog that wouldn’t hunt. With the meandering lifestyle of these two, it would’ve been an unlikely partnership. The idea just didn’t hang together, even though the feds pressed both of them hard on the possibility. They maintained that they neither knew Cooper or the airplane thing. It seemed to be the only believable thing either said.
So, why did they stop in Cordell? Where were they from, and where were they going? Poor, convoluted, and conflicting answers. The best guess was that they stopped here to pull a scam or two on some small-town rubes. Gypsies work on the theory that sheep don’t fleece themselves…
In any event, the gypsies weren’t looking like the smoking gun pointed to Cooper…
Perhaps the owner of the wallet stayed on the train. By this time, though, the train would’ve reached Portland, so the suspect would’ve disappeared into thin air.
In one of the funnier moments, a state cop came down to the barroom and called up Jimmy The Was and told the pair that Jimmy kept an eye on all shenanigans in Cordell. He and ‘his friends’ were not people these two wanted to encounter.
Everyone in the room laughed but the gypsies, who jumped on the early-evening train, even though it was headed south, the same direction from which they’d arrived.
Cooper was still in the wind, and apparently is to this day.”
About The Author
Ed Frye has been writing all his adult life. Ticket To Oregon is his second novel, following his 2011 autobiographically-based, Fools and Children. Prior to these Ed has authored three textbooks used in colleges and high schools and more than two dozen articles published in numerous educational journals and popular magazines.
Dr. Edward T. Frye is a nationally known writer and speaker. For the last two decades he has worked in 36 states, addressing more than 77,000 program participants.
Prior to this work, Ed served as a school administrator in three Pennsylvania school districts during his 32 years in public education. His career titles include Executive Director, Assistant Superintendent, Coordinator of English and Federal Programs. Dr. Frye has been a part-time professor in two universities. He co-founded and was president of StreetSmart, a company providing sales training to business staff.
Ed is an avid racquetball player and enjoys all things involving water, pools, and lakes. He is a licensed pilot, flying a Cessna Cardinal for years. A long-time dirt track racing enthusiast, Ed treasures his opportunity to drive a Sportsman at a local track.
Dr. Frye holds degrees from Lock Haven University, Temple University, and Penn State. His professional website offers a complete resume, a listing of his publications, photos, and client responses: edfrye.home.comcast.net.