A Stitch in Time: Pendleton, Oregon…

Grateful Blog Day 104: I woke up in Pendleton, Oregon the other morning, the town made famous by its annual rodeo and the woolen mills by the same name. It was a little disorienting since I’d been camping in the desert for several days and had seen or spoken with virtually no one. And suddenly there I was, waking up in a motel with the train roaring by and a complimentary breakfast. I skipped it. I drove around downtown 5 or 6 times. It doesn’t take long and after a few trips around the downtown blocks you’ve seen it all—5 or 6 times. I grabbed coffee and headed back to the motel to pack when I noticed the Pendleton Woolen Mills store. I was wearing my favorite Pendleton wool/down vest. It’s probably the most comfortable and most versatile piece of clothing I own. Its part vest, part coat, part pillow and part seat cushion. Half the time I come in the house and keep it on for another hour; it’s THAT comfortable and frankly, why be cold while the house is still heating up?

So I wandered in and the store was dead at that hour; just me and the sales clerk. She noticed my vest and we talked a minute or 2. Mostly I told her how much I loved it but it was in pretty sorry shape due to a torn pocket and exactly five different tears—the last 2 coming courtesy of some barbed wire I got tangled with a few hundred miles ago a few days earlier. She said ‘Take off the vest, let me see’. I didn’t really think about it, I just did. She saw the damage, said ‘a whip-stitch wouldn’t be pretty but it’d do the trick’ and I nodded ‘uh huh’ as if I had a clue what a ‘whip-stitch’ was. Then she said ‘do you have 15 minutes?’ Yeah sure. ‘Great!’ It what seemed like 5 seconds, she had a drawer open and a handful of spools of thread and various needles on the table and began sewing. We talked a little bit longer but I could see it’d be easier if I just left her alone so I did.

It’s weird, the whole time I had that feeling you get when someone chooses to take over and you let them—like getting a massage. At first there’s an unfamiliarity to negotiate, then some odd warm and prickly feeling in the back of your neck and then the general feeling of well-being when someone unselfishly gives of themselves. I’m pretty sure it’s not in the employee handbook for sales clerks to offer to sew customer’s Pendleton garments right there and then—I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to fix them at all. And I’m quite certain there job is to sell you anther one. Believe me, I looked. No luck.   

So 15 minutes later she was done. Her sewing was efficient (mind you I’m no expert) and she said it was far from perfect but I begged to differ. I walked into the store with my favorite torn vest on, smelling of campfire smoke, and she literally just took it upon herself to fix it. I didn’t catch her name but I want to write the company a letter to tell them how Grateful I was she was working that morning, and how Grateful they should be to have her be the face of their company when she’s behind the counter. Like I said, I’m a big fan of the vest, but now I’m a bigger fan of the company and the fine ladies (and men) who work there. When summer hits before long it’ll get put in the back of the closet but when I pull it out next fall, it’ll be good as new…

About Dan Weber

Award Winning songwriter Dan Weber has been described as “The Classic Mid-Life Overnight Sensation” after bursting onto the festival scene in 2010 to a standing ovation at the Sisters Folk Festival for his engaging set in the Dave Carter songwriting contest. Since then he’s toured extensively across the country becoming a rare 3 time finalist in the legendary Kerrville ‘New Folk’ competition, had 2 top finishes in the Woody Guthrie songwriting contest and in 2015 won the prestigious Winfield, Kansas ‘NewSong’ contest for Oh Woody, his anthemic tribute to Woody Guthrie, that rose to #2 on the Folk charts in 2015. An ex-Park Ranger, Eagle Scout, Altar boy and lifelong ‘Deadhead’, he left his hometown of Rochester, NY in 1989 in a beat-up primer grey ‘78 Pontiac Trans-Am with ‘a guy named Joe’ he’d met in a bar the night before, and never looked back. Living first in Seattle during the ‘grunge era’, then off the grid in a sheepherder’s trailer in Utah’s remote Canyonlands National Park, Weber eventually moved back north to Portland, OR, and settled in a 1948 Kaiser shipyard worker’s house in Vancouver, VA. Along the way he picked up stories and hitchhikers and eventually, picked up a guitar and began writing songs. Weber began performing later in life at age 40 but being a gifted storyteller, he quickly won over audiences with his natural charisma, upbeat performances, authentic songwriting, and off-the-cuff hilarious stories from the many roads he’s traveled. None other than legendary Folk troubadour Ramblin’ Jack Elliott said “I love Dan’s songs and he tells really good stories.” His songs have been described as “Guthrie-esque and reminiscent of early John Prine” and “A rare combination of wit, emotion and Harry Chapin-esque imagery” and the UK’s Maverick Magazine said: “4 Stars: The touch of a true Master Craftsman songwriter.” There’s also been recognition from DJ’s: “Hank and Jesus is easily the best folk song I heard last year” and The Victory Review wrote “Weber's writing is as strong as any in the Contemporary Folk community. Goodbye to Dad is one of the best original tunes that I have heard in a long time.” After the success of 2015’s release of What I’m Lookin’ For, a 14 song CD of classic Folk and Americana that climbed to #6 on the charts and included Oh Woody as well as the breakout hit (I Deal with) Crazy ALL Day, an everyman’s anthem and crowd sing-a-long favorite, Weber is currently working on his first live recording and new material for an upcoming CD. If his phenomenal growth in such a short period of time is any indication, it promises to be his best work yet.
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2 Responses to A Stitch in Time: Pendleton, Oregon…

  1. Toni says:

    I stumbled across your blog when I googled Dan Weber, who is a completely different individual than the one you wrote about. I read the blog entry anyway (on neighbors), liked it a lot, read another … Now I’ll be checking out your music. You are wonderful with words. It’s a gift. But you know that. 🙂 Still, we like to hear it don’t we? So there you go.

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