James Krenov’s Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods here in Fort Bragg, California, has an almost 30-year tradition of Friday evening get-togethers known as Elephants. The weekly gathering of students, faculty, staff, families thereof, friends, neighbors, former students, community members, local artisans and a couple of local toolmakers got its name, as I understand the history, from the Carlsburg beer-like product known as Elephant Beer. Carlsburg’s Elephant Beer has an alcohol content of 7.2% so the perennially impoverished student body chose it to get the “most bang for their beer buying buck.” The school week invariably ended, therefore, with something along the lines of, “Let’s go for Elephants” and the moniker stuck. The gathering takes place next door to the FWW shop/classroom — alcohol being illegal on school grounds — in the backyard of Pacific Textile Arts, with their gracious permission — and includes volleyball, scintillating conversation, and an amazing array of pot-luck dishes.
This post is really about the bottle opener that’s attached to one of the picnic tables. Needless to say, it gets a lot of use. A LOT of Use. Do the math: there are 23 students, five or six instructors and the multitude of local families and hangers-on mentioned above (pretty much) all of whom drink beer from bottles. Most of those bottles are of the must-use-opener type (this is a classy bunch). I figure two or three beers each times thirty or so drinkers times 52 Fridays times almost 30 years and my respect for that opener soars.
So next time you’re in our lovely neck of the woods on a Friday around beer-o’clock, come on by. Bring something yummy to share, your best conversational skills and, of course, a beer or two that need an opener.
See you Friday!