dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Here’s to Our Horizontal Heroes

October 19th, 2018 by dk

We have among us some heroes who you may not recognize. They haven’t accomplished extraordinary things. Rather, they have taken their work to extraordinary lengths. They found what they do best. And they just kept on doing it. I think of them as horizontal heroes.

Minalee Saks and two others started Birth to Three 40 years ago. The organization has grown and adapted, but its mission has never wavered. It equips and connects young parents. Many of those young parents are now grandparents, but their monthly potlucks have continued.

Saks continues to carry the flame for the organization, renamed Parenting Now! It takes a measure of courage to honor the original vision, while also responding faithfully to changes the culture demands.

Parenting has changed a lot since 1978, and it hasn’t changed at all. Saks embraces and embodies both truths. Culture — especially locally — benefits from that complexity.

The same year Saks started connecting parents, Jacqui Willey bought a restaurant. If you’ve never had breakfast at the Glenwood, you’re not yet a true resident. Willey’s restaurants win awards from patrons and food critics, but don’t be distracted by the accolades — because she isn’t.

She shows up for work every day. She still books most large parties herself. She tests new recipes. Many regular patrons know her by sight — she’s on the floor that often. She has remodeled each of her locations multiple times. She’s pioneered take-out alternatives to get families through busy weeks on a budget.

She has adapted to modern demands, without losing sight of her original intent to feed people. Her consistency gives her customers comforts they often don’t know they need. It takes courage to sort necessary changes from passing trends. There wasn’t much demand for a tofu scramble in 1978.

Willey may not do this better than others, but she’s done it longer. Running a restaurant for forty years deserves recognition.

Whenever somebody just keeps going, it’s hard to imagine they’ll ever stop. Expressing our gratitude for their consistency too often waits for a funeral. Chez Ray Sewell’s friends decided to disrupt that habit. They invited Sewell to a “pre-wake” in his honor last weekend at the W.O.W. Hall.

Eulogies were given. Music was played. It had everything you’d expect, except the sadness and the casket. Sewell was seated — not yet horizontal, but already a hero. He enjoyed the show, along with everyone else.

Sewell has fed musicians and vaudeville performers backstage for decades. He toured with the Grateful Dead, ensuring that none of the Grateful went unfed. He has lived at the intersection of cooking and performing. Plans are already underway for Chez Ray’s second annual pre-wake.

Sewell has always been a showman, but the show won’t always go on. You know about horizontal heroes that I don’t. They don’t usually call attention to themselves. We should do that for them. Horizontal heroes give society its stalwart stability. We should thank them for doing the usual so unusually.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at Kahle owns a small advertising agency. The Glenwood has been one of his clients.

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.