Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 4, 2016

Marking the Anniversary with Steve, Ward and Ozzie

I had an early-morning business meeting yesterday at Ishmael’s, my favorite coffee shop. After my my meeting, I looked around at the place. Mostly the usual crowd of hangers-on nursing cups of regular coffee, maybe one or two cappuccinos. Ishmael’s is a place for purists. They don’t possess a whipped cream dispenser and, no, you can’t get an iced drink there. If you want something sugary and frothy, don’t even ask. Head across the street to that other place. Adriano, the barista (don’t call him Ishmael!) gets testy and might shout something like, “Non è vero Italiano!” in a way that’ll make you take up drinking plain water.

I noticed two guys I’d never seen in Ishmael’s at a table by the front window. They seemed somehow familiar. They had that relaxed, nowhere-I-need-to-be look of retirees with nothing to do but while away a morning talking about how their portfolios were doing or maybe about the latest craziness from the election. They looked like professionals, maybe accountants: nicely dressed, wearing ties.

It hit me like a hot skillet dropping on a new kitchen floor: They were Ward Cleaver and Steve Douglas! I hadn’t seen either of them in over five years, since we were all laid off from our respective jobs at different companies in the same week.

Longtime Under Western Skies readers will recall my many encounters with them. Once a regular fixture on my morning commutes — Steve at the wheel of his ’61 Impala and Ward in that ’62 Fury — they’d often come to mind and I’d wonder how they were doing.

They’re doing fine, as it turns out. Steve, still the jittery, anxious paterfamilias, only now concerned with the hijinks of multiple grandchildren (all boys, natch), the three sons (or was it four?) having all been fruitful and multiplied.

Ward, calm and sanguine as ever, said June was doing well. Oldest son, Wally and Eddie Haskell, after a lifetime of bickering with each other, running their very successful car repair business, had both sold out and retired. Theodore (“The Beaver” to the rest of us) Ward told me, was in Colorado, where he ran a big marijuana processing operation, capitalizing on the state’s legalization of the, um, herb.

“That’s right,” Steve put in. “He and the Chipster have teamed up, and they’re planning a similar operation in California, assuming the legalization measure passes here in the election next week.”

Holy cow, I thought, Beaver Cleaver and Chip Douglas, pot entrepreneurs. What a world.

I told Steve and Ward an interesting coincidence about seeing them. The very next day was the 7th anniversary of the morning I’d encountered them both at the intersection of El Segundo and Aviation and they mentioned Chip and the Beav’s latest blog posts. I drove on to work and decided I’d start one, too. Under Western Skies was launched that day.

“You remember that?” Steve asked. “That’s uncanny.”

I explained that I marked every anniversary of the years I’d been writing Under Western Skies.

“Quite impressive that you’ve stuck to it,” Ward added. “Theodore tried it for a while, moved on to Twitter, I have no idea what he’s up to online now … he’s so easily distracted. Always something new. Now it’s marijuana as a business.” He shook his head. “June and I don’t know what to make of the boy.”

At that moment I caught sight of another familiar figure, standing at the ATM outside the window.

“Hey, look, guys. It’s Ozzie, Ozzie Nelson. There at the ATM. What a coincidence, seeing all three of you.”

“Oh. He stops there every morning on his way to his golf game,” Ward said. “For a long time we assumed he was getting cash to bet with. We finally figured out he’s depositing what he won from the day before. That guy doesn’t mess around on the links. He’ll sandbag you for sixteen holes and then clean you out with side bets on 17 and 18.”

“I made the mistake of playing with him once,” Steve added. “I had to borrow enough money to tip the parking valet.”

I watched Ozzie, big smile on his face, get in that big Chrysler convertible of his, the golf clubs, as always, poking up from the rear seat. I said good-bye to Ward and Steve, told them I hoped I’d see ’em again soon and asked them to send my regards to all the boys.

Always a pleasure to catch up with old friends.

Today marks the 7th anniversary of Under Western Skies. I’ve had a great time writing about the American West, travels in North and South America, Europe and Asia, language and literature, music and whatever else comes to mind. I thank all of you for traveling along with me, whether you’ve recently started visiting here or have been with me since the blog’s inception in 2009. Thanks for the many likes, comments and shares, too. Having you along is the best part.

Thanks, as always, to The Counselor, tireless (and relentless) editor of all 549 blog posts, muse and travel partner. Long may we roam.

Oobop shebam.

© Brad Nixon 2016

Steve, Ward and Ozzie appeared in numerous UWS blog posts. You can find the earlier episodes under “Steve, Ward and Ozzie” in Categories in the right-hand column.

For readers unfamiliar with them, Steve Douglas, Ward Cleaver and Ozzie Nelson were the fathers of households in three iconic television sitcoms of the 1950s and ’60s: “My Three Sons,” “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” respectively. Their sons (no daughters!) — Chip Douglas, Theodore (the Beaver) and Wally Cleaver, and Rick and Dave Nelson — were the archetypal American kids of their eras. The names of the programs link to Wikipedia listings for more info.

If you’re curious about that very first UWS post, an extremely brief one that launched the more than half million words I’ve written since, go here to “The Blog is Born.”


  1. Congratulations, and keep on writing! I look forward to the continuing worldwide journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, 7 years already! Congrats! 😄


    • Thank you. Fun flies when you have the time. Something like that.


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