Leaving On A Sunday Morning
Yesterday I took down the sign on Dr. Joel Fleshman's office and brought it inside to dry out before it's rejuvenation, NORTH WESTERN MINING CO. The quarter inch plywood surface is beginning to delaminate into tan ribbon candy. The back structural frame is solid. Years and weather have consumed most of the white paint and black lettering so that it is more like a sign of suggestion than a statement, edges softened like memory. Marianne Ojurovich and her husband Joe own the historic building used in the show Northern Exposure, and they allowed the crew to use the building through years of filming. Now it is Cicely's, a gift store that is set up in the barely altered set interior of what was once Dr. Joel Fleshman's office. Yes, the dismal paint and torn wall paper in dreary sand tone is still there, the same depressing blinds rattle the front door when it is opened or closed...and it is absolutely beautiful to any Northern Exposure (N.E.) fan; and with the snow melting and summer coming the fans and tourists will come back --by the bus load.
As is my nature, or the nature of this journey, I wanted to get beyond the peeling paint and old stories now accurately know by only a few concerning the N.E. years. Within days of my arrivial I volunteer to redo the famous mining company sign and paint the facade of Fleshman's office. The weather slows and stalls the paintbrush with rain then snow and back again as the days begin to get warmer. Quickly Marianne becomes a good friend and we cluck away hours and through days. I sit at Marylyn's desk(the one used in the show) and flip through years of filming photographs taken outside these windows, in these streets and I am thrilled to have this passage, this invitation to share the N.E. years although my arrivial is late; a dozen years since the cameras stopped. Marianne makes tea for us in what was the exam room and taps the play button on the compact disc player. The opening theme for N.E. hums its drum beat and harmonica out to our delighted ears. Boom Ba Ba Boom Ba BA. Stacks of N.E. t-shirts and shining moose coffee cups underscore where we are. Across the street and to the left the camel is still walking through the palms (as on the camel cigarette pack). "People say to me,'oh man, I bet you just about hate that soundtrack from N.E. by now?' And I tell them straight out that I love it, I loved N.E.... this store is my way of keeping contact with those that loved the show too,"beams Marianne through morning sunshine blinking off her glasses at me. I can ask Marianne anything about N.E. and she never tire of my desire to travel back. Joe and Mariannee's son Steve was in nearly 50 shows as an extra and she becomes even more illuminated as if back lit when she tells me about the eposodes he was in. She is a sweetly proud mother.
No longer will I just watch reruns as a spectator when I leave here and so many are to thank. Just as I am now known here, the town shares its secrets and backstreets with me. Though I have no idea where I'll call home after the walk, this town, 'Our Town', already has a large place in my heart that will use its gravity on these feet.
Constant filming, a crew and sea of cast and support crashing in and out of Roslyn weekly frayed more than a few nerves understandably. Not everyone here grins when asked about the years when the series was being filmed here so I listen silently often and I'm allowed to understand the frustrations of not being able to get your mail because they are filming The Running Of The Bulls, or a chainsaw is asked to keep quiet with a few twenties so a scene can make a deadline. I am sure with a half dozen years of fulltime filming in a very cozy town 'the moose' could get old no matter how endearing he is.