Alvin & Rose Moss
"Oldies but Goodies" by Joni Stewart

Tucked back into their New York City apartment as of this printing, visiting seniors Alvin and Rose Moss were on a mission last week. The life-long Manhattanites had traveled to see their great-grandchildren, Ariel and Daniel. [Two terrific Prairie City children who, incidentally, are mine.]

In the 11 years that I have known Rose and Alvin [affectionately known as "Gigi" and "Biggy"], they have enjoyed trips to Austria, Barbados, the British Isles, Canada, China, France, Hawaii, Madeira, Mexico, Portugal and Switzerland. But the two had never before visited a rural American city. They had told us when we moved out of New York and back to Oregon they would go 'wherever' to see the kids. Our relocation to Grant County surely tested that declaration of these urbanites.

You'd be hard pressed to find two more intrepid 80+ year-olds anywhere. Days before arriving in John Day, they had taken the 141-mile Hell's Canyon jet boat excursion. This voyage was on the heels of running the Salmon river with 2 and 3 class whitewater.

Rose is a lady with a capital L; always fastidiously dressed and coiffed, she somehow maintained that style during the rafting. "When the ride was over and the group was piling out, everyone came up to touch my clothes. I was the only one who ran the river and didn't get my rear wet," she recounts. Alvin, a savvy, retired public relations and advertising executive, expects the unexpected from his war bride of 53 years. "That's my Rosie," he chuckles.

O.K., so they can take on the Salmon and Snake Rivers. But could they handle a cabin in the Oregon wilds? A cabin with an outhouse? Time would tell.

They were pleasantly surprised with the cabin's condition, generously upgrading it to a chalet home. With the hot dogs and marshmallows toasted, it was time to take in the view. Seeing Rose sitting very quietly, I asked if she was comfortable. "I'm enjoying the woods here a lot more than I thought I would," she sighed. Meanwhile the kids took Alvin down to the creek to wash up. "They wanted me to jump across the creek," he said, adding "they're like mountain goats."

While cleaning up, I noticed both of them heading toward the outhouse. I held my breath; not because I had to, but because I never thought they would be willing to heed the call of nature in such a classic manner. It was a first for them, and I was impressed. They truly exemplified the adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans."

They said they had a wonderful time here, our "Gigi" and "Biggy." Days were long and unhurried. Talk was light and the world at-large abandoned. Our experiences were like a page out of city mouse meets country mouse. The true value of seeing how the other half lives is best received when we arrive back home. Glad to have been, but happy to be back.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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