130. Outer Space Man

I was going to finish telling you the end of the murder mystery today but I can’t because today is my son-in-law Curt’s birthday.  The murder will have to wait till tomorrow!

Curtis Neil Warden (not his real name) landed on earth on January 14, 1953.  In earth years that makes him 58 years old. The location was Omak, Washington. It was the Omakians’ first sighting of an extraterrestrial.



Curt transported to Seattle when he was about 3 years old, went to grade school, then toNathan Hale High School and Shoreline Community College with normal earth people. And then he met Ralph Dodd.

I knew there was something different about Curt when he first started dating my daughter Susy.  I knew from the start I’d better keep a close eye on him.

They knew each other because Curt worked at Ralph Dodd’s farm in Redmond, Washington and most of my daughters rode horses there. Visiting Ralph Dodd’s horse farm was like entering the Twilight Zone, and one of its main characters was Curt Warden.

The farmer, Ralph Dodd, should someday be the subject of a book because that’s what he stepped right out of. He, too, was probably conceived on another planet.  Bowlegged and nearly toothless, he was a heavy drinker, a horse whisperer, a philosopher, a fortune teller, a naturalist, a conservationist, and smart as hell.

Ralph, a lifelong bachelor, took one bath a year whether he needed it or not, but only at the insistence of the girls who rode at the farm. Unbelievably, he was so popular among the people of Redmond that one day they held a parade in his honor.  The girls made him get scrubbed up and he drove his “Candy Gal” red convertible down the streets of a city joyously celebrating him with banners and balloons just like they had good sense. Lots of demented people were wearing T-shirts that read “Who the hell is Ralph Dodd?”

You need to know about Ralph in order to know about my son-in-law.  Ralph was kind of a mentor to Curt and the other young people who worked or rode at the farm.  Curt seemed to be Ralph’s “right hand”, and one could only wonder what distressing habits he was acquiring under Ralph’s tutelage.

Ralph didn’t approve of “hardware stores”, as an example.  No matter what, if something needed fixing, it was to be repaired without intervention from the outside world.  If, say, a saddle needed to be repaired, its “parts” would be harvested from a “retired” saddle. Nails were never purchased.  They were recycled because rusty nails pounded out straight had a long life expectancy on the farm. When a fence needed critical care, it was time to head out and chop down a tree.

At the master’s somewhat bowed knee, Curt acquired a unique and artful kind of inventiveness for fixing things like saddles, space ships, and other modes of transportation.  To this day, this odd skill keeps coming in very handy.  One time, the Warden’s car broke down in Seattle after a Seafair event.  In the back seat, little Neil had a ruptured helium balloon on a string.  Thanks to a temporary repair using the string and a piece of the balloon, the car and the family all made it home safely.

Veterinarians were not frequent visitors to the farm.  Instead, Mother Nature, aided and abetted by Dr. Ralph and his cohorts, was the primary physician in charge of the horses who lived there.

These are some of the horses Curt couldn’t let go of.  Any horses under his care tended to live long and prosper.  When he got his own farm he took Peanuts and Elvis with him to live out their retirement years in peace and comfort. They made it into their mid-thirties.   Hmm. Observing this gave me food for thought.  Space aliens really take good care of old nags. This might someday include aging, broke-down, and deranged prospective mothers-in-law. It was something to consider.

Curt was about 21 years old when he and Susy started dating.  He had purchased a new tractor, mechanical mower and baler and he began taking time off from working at Ralph’s farm to bale hay for farms in Redmond.  At least that what he called it.  Baling hay wasn’t what I called it, though.  I think he was making crop circles.  That may have been how he was communicating with other space aliens cruising around Puget Sound in order to ascertain whether we have too much rain for habitable life.

Susy is the 4th of 7 children in our family, and our house number is 4714. It’s odd that her and Curt’s first date was on 7/4/74.  I mention that because their phone number is 425-747-5174.  Note that the date is embedded in the phone number.  Eerie, isn’t it? I told you. You gotta watch out for these illegal aliens.  We probably can’t pronounce Curt’s real name but I bet there’s some sevens and fours in it.

Just before Curt and Susy were married in 1977, he bought a small house on an acre of land.  Too late, he realized it wasn’t a big enough landing pad, so shortly after, they leased 70 acres, and started a horse boarding stable. To help support it, Curt got a semi-truck and started hauling freight to California.

He’s been trucking ever since.  He drives big 18 wheelers across the mountains delivering provisions to the planets in Eastern Washington where no man has gone before. And whenever the trucks break down, he just gets out some string and tattered balloons and he’s on his way again in a jiffy.  It just isn’t normal.

Another weird thing about him is his spectacular kindness to mothers and mothers-in-law. To everybody, actually.  No wonder adoring dogs and horses fall all over him.

Curtis Neil Warden, or whatever his name is, may come from another planet, but whatever we do, we must keep him here.

Happy Birthday, Curt!

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10 Responses to 130. Outer Space Man

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    As far as I’m concerned, Susy knows how to pick ’em. She got the ‘King of Mr. Nice Guys!’ And not only does he know how to fix cars and trucks, this Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t let car salesmen pull the wool over his eyes! I saw this for a fact when I needed to purchase a new, used car. Oh my goodness. Curt was the best. No onl
    y did he spend time on his precious days off trapsing from car lot to car lot, finding a perfect vehicle for me, he ‘translated’ what was really going on with the car salesmen schemes. He was cool as a cucumber, wouldn’t budge an inch where it was important, and transacted a really good deal for me. Gratitude is not the word for his kind nature.
    Happy Birthday, Curt!
    BTW What ever happened to the horse boarding business and your little house with the acre?

  2. all relative says:

    To my dearest mother-in-law. I wonder if you even know half of the joy and kindness you bring to others. I know you were concerned when this alien started dating your beautiful daughter Susy. I was not sure how I would really fit in if Susy and I began to get serious. But a few nights falling asleep on your couch and snoring while we were all watching TV and not being thrown out except having Susy keep waking me saying I was making to much noise changed all of that. I think you still have the same couch and I am getting a little sleepy just thinking about it. So I feel fortunate to be an alien otherwise how could I have met Gene and Pat Ford who are in-laws out of this world. Since this alien has met Susy and transported into the Ford family, this alien is permanently grounded. Back to my first sentence about Pat, it seems everyone who comes in contact with her wants to be transported into her family and I know why first hand. I am proud to say Pat Ford was sent from heaven and is my mother-in-law. NanuNanu

  3. susy says:

    Hello family and friends
    I did pick a good man for a husband. Horses and dogs do fall all over him. And he is very good at fixing broken things too. To answer Linda’s question… we boarded 10 to 15 horses in Duvall for about 5 years while helping Ralph Dodd with his 80 acre farm in Redmond too. Ralph boarded horses, bred quarter horses with his two stallions Joe and Fella and had a big string of horses we rented out to the public by the hour. I remember every one of those ponies on the rental string Boots (with 4 white stockings of course), Julie, Tawny, Trojan, Able Lady, and her chubby daughter Gaucha, Rusty, Coco, Slim (who was really really fat!), Blondi, Dubby, Midi, Cookie and her son Dumpy (who bucked me off more than a few times), old Buck and many more. We also kept busy buying and selling horses and training the young colts and fillies too. Happy Birthday Curt!!

  4. Gail Trevathan says:

    Pat, you are right about Curt being from outer space. He is an angel sent from God. I think he has been my Guardian Angel in some very difficult situations and I will forever be greatful. Even though he is my “little” brother, he is the one that has always watched out for me. Through the good times and the bad, he has always been there and never once complained. I love him more than he will ever know. Ralph’s was like a mystical place where children and adults could go to see a man who loved people and animals work his magic. Ralph impacted so many lives in such a wonderful way. Many of us are still friends after more than 50 years. Ralph’s brought Curt and Susy together and in doing so two families became one. What a blessing.
    Happy Birthday Curt. I love you. God truly blessed me when he made you my “little” brother.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Happy birthday to my dad the alien! Now that I think about it, he has always been superhumanly kind, supportive, generous, thoughtful, and funny. I remember that day when he fixed the car with those weird odds and ends, and many other times when he fixed cars that belonged to our family, to friends, or even to strangers! He is a magical genius who is always willing to take the time to help others! The alien theory might also help explain how he always somehow manages to remember all sorts of details about each of our family members’ likes and dislikes and would make sure to get our favorite cereal, deodorant, brand of milk, etc. (And he still does that!) I am always amazed by how he keeps track of so many little details about each of us and is so thoughtful about them!

    Curt and Susy both made childhood magically fun for us kids. When Gretchen, Neil, and I were little, Curt played all sorts of games with us. We played so many games of “Red Light, Green Light” and “Mother May I?” with him in the front yard! And lots of NES, Oregon Trail, Carmen San Diego, Uno, foosball, air hockey, tetherball, badminton, and so many others. One of our favorite games was playing soccer in the hallway, because we had this great long and narrow hallway with two small doorways on the ends as goals. It was perfect, except for the fact that we kept breaking the hallway light when we kicked the ball up in the air! Susy was always trying to ban that problematic game, but Curt would sometimes relax the rules and of course we would break the light again, but it was so exciting and fun! Curt drove us on so many fun camping trips when we were growing up and camping in the trailer. Even on the vacation when it poured rain and we played Yahtzee in the trailer for days, we had a blast.

    I was only 8 when we moved to Bellevue, but in hindsight, I am pretty sure that my horse ranch loving parents moved there because it was a good place to raise kids, with good schools that were nearby instead of an hour-long bus ride away, safe neighborhoods and streets, tons of other kids living on our block, etc. It was a great place to grow up, and we got such a good education at the International School! I am amazed at my parents’ sacrifice in moving to the suburbs instead of living out in the country, though, since I know they love the country and having horses and lots of animals. I hope they get to move to a ranch of their own again soon with horses, goats, chickens, and whatever other gaggle of animals they can think up—including dogs, of course! Happy birthday, Curt! Thank you for being the best dad we kids could ever wish for! We are so lucky to have you as our dad!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Oh yeah, and my sisters pointed out last night that my birthday has three 7s in it. Another sign? I think so!

  7. Eunice (Kleppe) Becker says:

    Dear Pat, By way of introduction I am Arlin, Ed, Mavis, Nelda and Minnard’s “other cousin” on their Mom’s side of the family. On my way to somewhere else I discovered your delightful web site and thought I’d drop by and say hello! Isn’t this technology stuff great? eb

  8. Frank Carlson says:

    A great read. I too sure enjoyed the times at Dodds farm (late 60’s). Curt was always a good friend to Ralph and a solid guy to all of us who hung out there. I am not positive but I believe the horse he is sitting on (right picture) might be the gray that got really messed up emotionally by a prior owner. Very fearful and panicky and quite dangerous to ride for both horse and rider. Curt acquired it and took on the task of helping it recover. He took his time and when he was eventually able to ride it, would just walk and walk and walk on that horse, very patient, and always calm in his interaction with it. It took a long time but the horse got its trust back and was calm and content. Just one of the lucky horses, apparently.

  9. Darcy Carlson says:

    Very Cute Man and what a beautiful family. For the readers: I too grew up with Curt on Dodd’s farm. I’ve also had the pleasure of running into Curt and Suzie over the years through agility with the dogs and the friendship of our kids (Neil and Courtney Altaras).

    Suzie, you forgot about Thunder (my favorite!) and Appie (not so much).

    Anyway, Happy Birthday Curt. Seems needless to say to a man who’s life is clearly so full of love.
    Your old friend,

  10. Kelly Anderson Huenefeld says:

    Oh I don’t know where to begin. A person doesn’t really ever forget Ralph Dodd. Or any of those fun and amazing friends of his that worked for him. I was a frequent rider at the ranch. My favorite as was all my friends favorite was Boo Boo. And when I would ride, I would ride all day long. First it was 2.00 an hour and 10.00 for the day. I would bring my lunch. Eat lunch on the driveway sitting on a flat bed. After a few times they said why don’t you try riding with a bareback pad and before too long I would only ride bareback. The funnest memories of my entire life were there. And Colt 45, Dubbie, Jet, Boots, and the cutting horse Cookie. Dubbie would do you in half way back to the barn. I got wise and could “hang on” after a little practice. Oh my word! I have been wondering how to get in touch with the gang to find out more about Boo Boo.
    I know have two horses and keep them at my home. My daughters did not end up loving riding like I did. So I give pony walks but have little or no trails connecting anymore since develpment. (My maiden name is Kelly Anderson) Had a sister Kari who would come with. My mom was Kay. We lived in Bellevue. Came out to ride as much as we could. If anyone wants to get in touch with me I am on facebook.

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