In the days when Loch Lomond Resort still ran, seven Prather brothers roamed the mountain, raising hell wherever they went (Those are their words, not mine): Steve, Mike, Gary, Danny, Donny, Timmy, and Darryl. At Mike’s cabin/bar on Prather mountain, I’m chatting with three of them. Danny’s rummaging through the icebox for ice while Steve and I sit at the table and talk about the past. A few minutes later, Mike walks in, takes off his coat, and kicks back in a chair. The cabin’s made entirely of wood from the mountain, milled on-site, and built by the Prathers. Framed pictures of bobcats, cougars, and bears caught in a game camera line one wall, surrounded by old guns hanging from hooks.
“That gun up there was behind the bar in at the resort,” Mike says, leaning back in the chair and pointing to the top right gun. It’s weathered and worn, and I’m certain has stories of its own to tell. “Well,” he pauses, “It’s that one or the one below it.”
Next to me, Steve pulls out his tablet. “You know,” he says, poking at the screen. “I was writing some stuff, too.” He opens a file and begins scrolling through a long, single-spaced document. “You’re welcome to look at it. Basically, it’s like a life story I’m writing for my unborn great-great-grandchildren so that they know who I was. I call it the Best Parts of Life.” He looks closer at the screen and begins quickly reading: “The best parts of life are all the little parts added up. There is no best part of life. Every day you take something to enjoy, and they add up.”
Danny sets four red plastic cups on the table, pours in three fingers of Crown Royal in each, and tops them off with 7-Up. “When do I get them?” he interrupts. “When do I get the best parts?”
“The best parts will eventually get there,” Steve says.
“Well,” Danny says, raising his cup in a toast. “This is the best part right here.” We all raise our cups and have a drink.
“It’s a part of the little parts, you know,” Steve says. Momentarily distracted from reading, he starts to reminisce. “As far as we go, we’ve done everything from logging to guitar playing.”
Mike, caught up in the conversation, chips in. “We worked in the campground store.”
“Yup,” Steve replies. “I tell you what, I’m going to read some to you.” He begins scrolling back and forth on the tablet, trying to find the spot. “Here it is.” He begins reading, quickly rushing through sentences.
“I had to stock shelves with groceries after hand-labeling them with prices, wash the fingerprints off the display cases, and mop those huge floors, which I absolutely hated doing. I had to count back change for the customers. I had to pump gas, and wash windshields, and check oil levels because it was what they called a service station. Comic books were just showing up, and during silent moments I would read the Superman or Batman ones, being very careful not to bend the pages before putting them back into the magazine rack.”
By the time Steve Prather was spending his afternoon reading comics in the store, Loch Lomond Resort was in full swing. It had moved beyond the years of no electricity and having to haul water, and the lodge had more than just indoor plumbing. When it was running at its peak, it had a large front entrance that opened into a vaulted lobby with a hand-hewn timber ceiling. There, a massive fireplace sat; it would take two men to load the six-foot logs that burned in its midst. Chairs stood in the lobby, freshly cut ferns and dogwood blossoms rested in vases on the table. Near the lobby stood the dining room, which offered all kinds of high-quality food, from steaks to fried chicken. At the side of the dining room was a milkshake counter, where anyone could pick up a burger or malted, then take it outside to the flagstone patio and enjoy a lunch overlooking the waving grass in the vernal pond.
Steve’s once again interrupted as the door swings open, and a mountain of a man wedges himself through.
“Hey, Terry,” everyone cheers. “This is Terry Andersen. He’s been around forever,” Danny says, popping up from the table to get him a drink. “We’re telling David here stories about growing up in Loch Lomond.”
“Grandma sold a guy a lot for $500 and wrote it on the back of the placemat,” Mike immediately begins. Terry chips right in, his bass voice rumbling like a muscle car.
“I’ll never forget,” he says, his beard stretching halfway down his chest. “It was 1958. My family was in the campground, and my dad went for a ride. He ended up in the bar at the resort. He came back and said, ‘We just bought a lot. We’re going to build a house up here.”
“Grandma Moody would write up bills of sale for the lots on the back of a placemat,” Danny explains. “We used to have one of the placemats showing the sale.”
“Is she the one with the white Volvo?” I ask. Everyone laughs.
“She let us drive any vehicle they owned,” Danny smiles. “She didn’t care.”
“I think between all of us, we wrecked every car they owned,” Terry says.
“We all started driving around ten,” Steve adds. We had an old pickup. We’d keep it in low gear, so all you had to do was turn the key. It started in gear, you know. Either Mike would run the gas pedal, and I would steer, or vice versa. We’d stand on the seat and drive around the mountain.”
“Steve and I tag-teamed,” Mike says, sipping on his drink. “Neither one of us could see over the windshield. One of us would stand on the seat and steer, and the other would work the pedals. But that white Volvo,” he smiles. “Me and Andy and Terry were driving it to Hobergs, and the steering wheel came off, and I was in the middle. Andy just panicked. He didn’t try to put the brakes on, he just went over the cliff.” Mike belly laughs.
Terry talks between his booming laugh. “He handed me the steering wheel. ‘You drive,’ he said. I gave it back to him and told him, ‘No, you drive.’ Over the cliff we went. I remember looking out and thinking; this is going to be ugly. But it turned out okay. There was a fir tree about six inches thick that stopped us.”
“You should tell David about your motorcycle ride over to Hobergs, when Andy ran into Rose Pezzolo,” Danny pitches in between the laughter. Terry readily agrees, takes a deep breath, and, like a practiced storyteller, begins to talk.
“Rose, she had a blue Cadillac, like a ’56. Now, we were all on a Honda 50, going up to Hoberg’s.” He pauses. “We were going up to check out the girls. We come around the corner, and Andy was going too fast, and we drifted into the other lane. He hit the edge of Rose’s Cadillac and was catapulted up and went up and over.” He cartwheels his hands, showing how both the bike and Andy somersaulted over the yellow Caddy. The room explodes in laughter.
He landed on his feet somehow,” Mike chuckles. “He was running so fast, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Terry continues through the laughter. “I remember when Rose got back to Loch Lomond, she was in there going, ‘Goddamn it, I need a shot.’”
The cabin’s warm, filled with laughter. Outside, the February sun has already sunk behind the mountain, leaving a pale winter twilight. My red plastic cup sits empty on the table, the ice slowly melting.
“You want a refill?” Danny asks, reaching for a can of 7-Up. “I gotta get goin’ soon.”
“Nah, I’m good,” I say. “But before we head out, I’ve got a question.” I grab my phone and turn off the recorder. “So, what are some of the stories you can’t tell on tape?” Everyone laughs.
“Well,” Danny says, leaning forward, a big grin on his face. “Let me tell you one about Tommy Tutone.”
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