Millis, I'm your huckleberry.

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mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Topic Author's Original Post - May 3, 2012 - 07:49pm PT
I looked at Patrick Oliver's attempt to memorialize Kim Miller from 2009.
What a lame response you got. Kim probably deserves more. I didn't know him, and that, I suspect, is why there were so few "cards & letters." Quien sabe? Maybe, just maybe, humility is not the key to being remembered.

I humbly give you another Miller to suck on.

It's Millis Time!

The correspondence which is about to be shared reveals some solid stuff about the old boy, who passed away several years back from bone cancer. It is too poetic, considering the amount of bone and antler he carved for the use of people who did not know him, but relished their pipes and other trinkets, that his fate was what it was. But he would be glad to know his tribe remembers his grin, the pipes, the stories which will be flooding in any time now.

But no BS, okay?

Two letters came to the house shortly before I married Liz, my second wife. We were married mid-November. Her friends showed up in force, they were bikers. Bill and Lauren were there from the Inn (she was just showing, I think), and of course, Jeff Mathis. My climbing partner, Jim Shirley, was my best man. Millis' absence was a huge disappointment. But he explained.

This is not total verbaticity. It is en-shortened, too. This ain't the Bancroft.


First letter

[Page one]

Nov. 2, 1990/Jackson Hole

Mouse-ness:

Preparations are now under way for my departure. I should be blasting off from launch-pad seven on-or-around the 9th of this month (as I couldn't make the wedding if I left on-or-around the 9th of December...could I??) I will head for Bishop for a few days (daze!!) at my friend Matthew Kerwins house. His wife just delivered a preemy....I'm sure he can use the entertainment I can surely provide. He is with his two-year-old daughter. His phone number is--[nope, sorry]--so give me a call there after the eleventh and let me know where and when the bachelor party is, if there is going to be one...ok? [nope, sorry, no party]

It was eight above zero last night, and that was certainly the nippiest this fall so far. Brrr! It takes me until mid-November to get winterized, and yet I love the change so much. God, how do people live in San Diego with the same f*#king weather each and every day??? I mean really!! [The same way they live with philosophers, Dennis. It's just a lot of warm wind and you get used to us.]

The sun has just poked its weary head [sure gets tired sleeping all night, like me] up and over the Gros Ventre Mountains (that's pronounced "Grow Vaunt) and the valley is certainly coming alive. [It's "grow von"--he tried] The incredible herds of deer and elk are on the move, and even though it's hunting season, they are everywhere. The Canada Geese are all on the move and their constant "ker-honk...ker-honk is a reminder that the wintery [sic] death that rolls down from the northern climes is on its way with a certain vengance [sic]. A certain goal. That goal is to make me cold and dreary. I love skiing, and I have become quite good at it, but I am slowly burning out on these long and brutal Wyoming winters. UUUHHH!!!

[Page two]

It was five years ago that I became a celibate, and all-in-all, it has been fine. Lonliness [sic] stalks me like a San Joaquin vulture stalks a dying, road hit dog, but I'm pretty much happy with my lot. I see so many men and women walking together, and at times, I wish I could be like them. But then again, I have my freedom. But then again,
what is freedom if it cannot be shared with someone you love?
And so, Mr. Mouse, I have an abundance of happiness in my heart and soul for you and your mate. Whatever we call love and however we find it, it is certainly a jewel in the garden of decay. An orchid in a patch of road-side weeds. Treasure this love you both have as a wino covets his bottle of Thunderbird. Guard it and defend it. Lest the weeds and winos take it back!!!! You and I know what I am talking about as we have both seen the weeds of despair take over our gardens of love. Be good to that woman or sure enough, the weeds will be coming under the door and the winos will come thru it!!!

I put together a half-ounce of nature's best for the party and the breaking-in of the wedding pipe, so be prepared for the collapse of all your central nervous system and mental processing neurons. Fibers and all...

It is eight o'clock, and Teen Wolf is coming on the tv, so I will leave you with this...be cool and don't drool!!!

Milo

---
Second letter

[Page one]

Nov. 5, 1990

Mouse:

For ten years now, I have asked, begged, pleaded and wished my many California friends would visit me out here in this Rocky Mountain paradise. This Jackson Hole. A place that is what America used to be like. Animals, rivers, mountains and clean air. And for that same amount of time, I have been asked to come out to California for a miriad [hey, I'm sic of these too] of reasons: parties, weddings, funerals and so on, and for the most, I have dropped whatever it was I was doing and taken the drive out there to be with my friends. And yet, in all that time, sone of them have returned the trip out here. Ten years have passed by since I first came here and ten years have passed by without any but two of my friends comout her to see me. [For the record, one was Jeff Mathis, who doesn't post--Jeff, sell a f*#king tool you don't use anymore, busy guy, and get a computer. Join the century.] And so, I'm sorry it is your wedding (why didn't you get married in June???), but I am simply tired and worn out from the many trips out there for all these reasons I have just mentioned.

We got a foot of snow in the valley last night, and with winter really being here, I just don't want to face the two-thousand mile trip in an old car. Period!!

I fully know that all my California friends have things in their lives that keep them in their own state, but what a shame that they all see their own little world as the only world to live in. Each time I look out my door and see this marvelous valley, I cannot for the life of me imagine any other place to live in full time. Especially a large city! But then again, I'm not putting any of my friends in some sort of bag of idiots and fools for living where they do, I just can't see why they never get off their lazy butts and take the one day drive out her and visit old Millis?

I have spent the last ten dys in my little carving shop making


[page two]

as many things out of antler and wood as I could before I set out for the wedding. Pipes, belt buckled, cribbage boards, shirt buttons, letter openers and son on, [sic sic sic] and with winter coming on and ski season almost here, the extra cash for winter events will be much appreciated. Not to mention the $$$$ I will save on gas to Cal. and back!

And so, I wish both of you all my heart felt feelings and joy. Love is the true crucible for life, and anyon who has found is truly blessed....

Love from MILLIS...



Dennis had two brothers. I remember Brian, it's my name, too, but don't recall the other's name. His mom was Mrs. Miller. He had a black dog named Spats. He was the wonder dog. Always wondered if Dennis would feed him or appreciate him.

Spats almost came a cropper when Dennis backed his Olds out of the space in JT. His leash was caught in the door, and poor Spats was lucky he wasn't wheeled on. Spats four feet were white, the rest black. Spats.

Dennis' mom put us up on that first trip to JT in winter of 1970. He vas from Wentura. Great iron works, there, back then. We stopped in to view the premises and I got a few "seconds" of large angles. Dennis introduced to us the thing which we never even saw in Merced, the rolled taco. We got tons and pigged out on the road to JT. Then we got hungry again; they're great, but not filling. So much like the rest of Southern California. We went to the local theater, but it was a total rip. We only got to see Little Big Man, A Man Called Horse, and Tell Them Willy Boy Was Here. Fifty cents didn't go far back then. And these were second-run flicks by winter 1970.



The climbing in JT was okay. We froze. But the wine did not. There are stories here and there in these threads. I was thought to be dead in one. Lucky for you guys and girls the gunner was a terrible shot. Spats didn't come back that night. Too much gunfire. If you ever run into a guy named Tom Mocilac, he was the climbing ranger then. He is one righteous man. We climbed some things with Tom, he kept me out of jail. That was a good trade. His seasonal ranger buddy was not so nice and got his ass kicked by a really pissed off Mouse. His VW van lost its windows to his red wine drunk. He knocked my tent down, and I had to throw him in his VW after. He took it out on the windows. This was the night before the ambulance ride into Twenty-nine Palms. [Why in hell don't they change their town's name to 29 Palms and be done with the complaints from poor typists like me?]



I refer to Millis and to Dennis. Before he became known as Dillis Millis, shortly after he put up Positively Fourth Street, I guess, but no one has the answer--Mathis, likely, knows but his memory's crap anyway. So forget about when, just know he was Dennis, then he magically changed his name. Or something.



Send donations to Save the Millis Legend to Mouse, c/o the Tioga Hotel, Merced. Send "cash, check, or money order."

Okay, who's got some dirt on Dillis? Or was he cremated? I never made it to Wyoming, either.

I apologize, Dennis. Even after you pored out yore heat I never bothered.

I expect this guy had more sides to him than a Hex. And he was a genuine "nut" by any definition. But he was clean. And real. Like Wyoming's air.
Stephanie Bergner

Trad climber
Planet Send
May 3, 2012 - 08:03pm PT
I don't know him but I loved reading those letters.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
May 3, 2012 - 08:07pm PT
Mouse ...did you ever see this thread?
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/739225/Waterskiing-Tenaya-Lake-1978

... No doubt, Millis was a funny guy.


Hey Mouse, Bill Nickel just celebrated his big.... six-oh...I saw him & Lauren two weekends ago.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
May 3, 2012 - 08:23pm PT
Here's some dirt on Uncle Milty aka Millis...I was working in Bishop with Bob bartlett building shelving for a toy bussiness..We took a break to update our weekly Who's the biggest dirtbag-loser ever conversation...Of course Millis again won and just as Bob and i were finished voting , who pulls into the parking lot fresh via hi-way 6 and wyoming driving his kennel on wheels suburban , but Millis......Synchronicity...Be cool , don't drool...I was wondering who stole that from me...Millis...RIP
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
May 3, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Millis was one of my best friends. I'm honored to say that. He was many different things to many people. He had a wide range of personalities, but mostly he showed his dirtbag/gross-out/devil-may-care/stoned/funny/fun-loving sides to the world. I saw those as well and could relate several good stories, so here is one of his unique talents that he demonstrated to me one evening after he got off work at the mountainneering store he worked at in Fresno one winter, not sure which winter at the moment...

He'd learned to vomit at will without having to tickle is throat or anything! He usually despised the rich uppity-ups who drove around in their fancy, expensive cars and dressed in formal attire and dined at expensive restaurants, so one evening he drove me in his VW van to his "favorite" restaurant. There, he mixed up a pint or so of colorful food whose base was cottage cheese but there were some carrots, red and green peppers, a veritable Picasso of colors in semi-liquid form. He downed the mixture, chewing where necessary. Then we walk to the front door of the restaurant where valets would bring the fancy cars to the departing guests. He chose a younger man whom he thought might be trying to impress a date with all of this materialism. As the valet held the door for the date and the man got behind the driver's seat, Millis staggered and groaned his way toward the fancy car, holding his stomach, as if he had a horrible case of food-poisoning. Leaning on the hood of the car as if needing its support, he then puked his mixture all over the hood of the car to the wide-eyed horror of both the man and his date. He blew chow a second time on another part of the hood of the car and then staggered off into anonymity like the coyote that he was!

Millis holding his nuts while Charlie Porter looks on.
Millis holding his nuts while Charlie Porter looks on.
Credit: BooDawg

Other sides of Millis included his golden heart and generousity: He gave me one of his bone pipes and out of the BLUE, on Christmas while I was living in Hawaii, came a bone letter-opener with a bone holder. I have those still and will try to find them tonite and post pix of them soon. I probably have some letters from him as well, but that's a different search...

During the years when he'd organize climbers' reunions, he always call me in Hawaii and personally invite me. Sadly, I could come to any of them.

When he contract melanoma (not bone cancer, tho it may have gone to his bones eventually) people did fund-raisers for him and I always gave generously. Since my mom had died of melanoma, I felt a special connection to Millis during that time. Later, he left his cabin and moved into greater care facilities. Once I called the hospital and asked to speak to him and there was a long, ominous pause; then I was referred to another woman; she asked me who I was and what was my relationship to him. I told her the truth, and she told me in very compassion words that he'd passed onward.

I was somber for days, even weeks. Fortunately, it's my memory of him alive, oh-so-alive! that remains with me, plus his generosity and the friendship that we shared.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
May 3, 2012 - 10:09pm PT
Wow mouse, thanks for that. And you too Boodawg.

He sounds like some climbers I knew as a pup as well. So many are tired or re-tired now.

I can so relate to the part about people being into your company when you make the journey, but they won't make the journey to you.
Been there done that.

What a character. Great letters!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Topic Author's Reply - May 3, 2012 - 10:15pm PT
So, Nita, neata ya to point that Tenaya Lake lark out. The whole bleeping thread. In faaact, go there now.

I bet you get awfully tired of the Nita this that the other thing pokes. So sorry. They really are. Lame, I mean. We oughta lay off. Won't happen again. :)

Noobody was stoned or anythin like it in the posting of this evening's edition of the Taco Trib.-Edit

Are we off the air....Good. You think those goof balls would realize a troll when their hearing one. This is gonna...WTF?!

Hello, my gosh, I'm trying to digest my dinner, OFF the air, thanks, when I gotta reaad about what I'm trying to EAT and oh funky Millis feeds me with more shinola.

The Vulgarian tribe from the Gunks were some of his favorite targets, and he was a mercilouse mime. Get him to tell you about the time Cowboy Larry made the mistake of opening a spray can of yellow paint he used to i.d. hardware while it was sitting on the tail gate of his old station wagon. He slammed the can with the pick and it exploded all over me--Larry's primary target, but got his gear, too. Larry somehow avoided the goo, and I chased him around the gas station, where I asked for a rag and some white gas. I'm sure Dennis could tell it twice as well as I, and for longer. He was there, along with Mathis. As it ever was.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
May 3, 2012 - 11:08pm PT
an off topic question....
Mouse, Do you have a picture of Cowboy Larry?...Was he the redhead ,that always wore a cowboy hat, and had a dog- named D-O-G ?...




mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2012 - 12:07am PT
We love Larry. He was my best man, first weeding. One of my most cherished climbing partners.
Jim Shirley, the Boss of Box Canyon, was my other climbing partner/best man. Is that not weird, wild, whacky?
Jim, not at all, total Boy Scout. Laarry, on the other hand, was whacky and wild, but never wore the cowboy hat to bed, Chrissie wouldn't stand for it; he never wore it in church, he rarely went to church; and we wouldn't say "Not the hat" every time he wanted to climb wiht it on. So, no, he didn't ALWAYS wear his hat.

He did wear it the time he climbed the first part of Church Bowl Terrace upside down. No biggie, normally, but he wore Super Guides, too.

There is only the one photo of him in the Old Camp 4 Photo thread. About two years ago I shipped off to my daughter some hella old snaps of my first sentence, my first marriage--Judge Flossie Lobo presiding. I'll see if she help arrange for some to be posted.
In the photos are Larry in color, along with Julie, Jeff Mathis' sister, maid of honor. Crappy weeding, great celebration in Camp 4. On our honeymoon--to Oxnard--we spent the first night in the Murietta Motel in South Merced on Motel Drive. For once the van wasn't parked down by the river. It was a memorable night for me, I can't speak for the bride, Dolores. But we did get to see a world-famous interview with a world-famous tv host specializing in occult powers who asked silly questions of a world-famous couple who were in a big bed surrounded by reporters. Way cool. The date was, I forget, some time in the fall, some time in 1971. Selective memory. What a gift.

Yep. Larry had red hair and beard, generally. Then he shaved it. The beard. Don't remember the dog, but it sounds like his spelling.

He had a rat, named Missy Rat. Or Missie Rat. I loved her, too.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
May 4, 2012 - 06:38am PT
Great thread...but missing some photos! I never met the man, but by all accounts he certainly was the kind we all like to know and befriend. Thanks for the thread.
mastadon

Trad climber
crack addict
May 4, 2012 - 07:09am PT

Miss you brother-see you on the other side soon enough.....

mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Topic Author's Reply - May 9, 2012 - 04:26pm PT
So Cowboy has the first lead, up to the top of the layback/lieback on La Cosita, the world's most splendid edge. Millis' turn, I'm belaying him so he can be said to have lead/led the climb, a tick, in other words.

Halfway up, just clipped into a piece of pro, Millis is starting to move again, when down hurtles Cowboy, "falling" on a shortened rope, causing Millis to react in a manner calculated to make the blood run cold. He grabbed Larry's arm, then his belt, and held on, shaking him while dangling from him. I'm just belaying, WTF. They separated, finally, Larry retreating to his anchor and Millis to the ground. Clash of the titanic half-wit and the master of self control. Larry was allowed to live after the climb. *

Millis really thought I would believe him when he told me about the European who fell on the West Crack on Tahquitz, catching a thumb in a crack on the way down and ripping it off. Not only did he size blokes up for what they could do for him, which is a commendable dirtbag habit, but he sized them up for how much BS he could feed them.

Mastadon's photo shows Millis' wheels turning. "Run away!"

His "shit jokes" were legendary.


*I seriously doubt exchanging the cowboy hat for "da Brim" would have helped Cowboy Larry's deportment in the slightest. It may have aggravated it!
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
May 12, 2012 - 11:27pm PT
Here are some samples of Millis' handiwork:

Pipe, letter opener, and its holder, all made from deer or elk antler.

Credit: BooDawg

Credit: BooDawg
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Topic Author's Reply - May 13, 2012 - 12:21pm PT
Thank you to you both at the same time to the Mastadon and to Bood for the photos of our weird smokepipehavenicetime buddy. I never got the pipe he talked of giving us on our weeding, nor the "Wyomwild" he wrote about. But I am having a bowl in token of deer Dennis the Deer Menace.
Firstchair

Mountain climber
Bellingham,Wa
Jan 7, 2013 - 01:46pm PT
I am so sorry to see Millis is gone.
I met him when i was ten (late 70's) he would Come into my moms arts and craft store in Mammoth, and sell his Antlers, etc... Millis would come in from a climb in Yosemite, and tell me all About it, and show me how to hang by my fingertips on the door jambs around the
Store. I also learned a couple of magic tricks,how to talk like Donald Duck.
Everytime i talk "duck talk" my kids get a good laugh and i think of Millis. He gave me the climbing bug and i am passing all of these things to my boys.
R.I.P. Big Brother
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jan 7, 2013 - 01:59pm PT
Was that store called eye sierra...? RJ
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Jan 7, 2013 - 02:06pm PT

Was that store called eye sierra...? RJ

That's what I was wondering, too!

?
Firstchair

Mountain climber
Bellingham,Wa
Jan 7, 2013 - 02:06pm PT
Yes, Eye Sierra Handcrafts. Wow good memory, we closed up and moved
To Washington in 1980.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 7, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
Seriously thinking we need an ST Duck Talk Choir--
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dEj3lVSbHM
for Birthdays & Stuff.
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jan 7, 2013 - 02:30pm PT
If i remember correctly Dennis worked there in 75 and the store was on mainstreet up on the left...RJ
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