Toni Dendurent Gates Autobiography

Toni Leigh Dendurent, born May 7, 1962

When we were children, our parents always took the long six hour trip over the Cascade Mountains to Aunt Waleta's house for Christmas Eve. We usually spent three or four days there, but even if we could only manage one day, we still made the journey. Uncle Bill would bring his family up from Oregon as well and, along with Aunt Waleta's gang and Grandma Pauline and Grandpa Thompson, we had a great Christmas Eve that always ended with a game of Shanghai Rummy after the opening of presents and dinner and pumpkin pie. Later we would leave late on Christmas Eve so we could spend Christmas Day at home with my mother's side of the family. Uncle Bill would leave for Portland with Aunt Carol, Kim, and Kari at the same time. We would travel together for a short while until separating at a junction in front of a guardhouse at Hanford Nuclear Station. Now we were all avid skiers (in fact, Uncle Bill was on the Ski Patrol at Mt. Hood), and winter was always looked forward to in all our households. Well, Uncle Bill and Dad would get out of the cars and do a snow dance among the sage and sand to the delight of all of the kids. I think Aunt Carol and Mom thought it was pretty hilarious too. We never knew what the guards thought of it. Invariably, we always had a good amount of snowfall in the Cascades because of their snow dance. This was always the highlight of the trip for Rocky and I. Afterwards, they would get in their cars after we all got hugs and kisses from everyone.

Uncle Bill and dad died over 10 years ago. We still have good snowfalls in the Cascades. I am sure that it is because Uncle Bill and Dad are still doing their snow dance for us every Christmas Eve.

Scott and I met when we were teenagers in the 80's. The disco was hot back then and that is where we met. He walked in with his best friend, all confident and cocky. He bet his best friend that he could get any girl in the place to dance with him. The friend picked me out of the crowd to be the one that Scott couldn't get. Almost 20 years later we still like to dance together. We live within 10 miles of our parents and siblings. We both work for Cosco and have two beautiful children who find it hard to conceive of us young or stupid enough to like disco music.

Nicole is our eldest and the athletic one. She is the only female wrestler on her team. She has pinned her share of competitors during her three-year-long wrestling career at Stahl Junior High. Nicole is also on the honor roll there. Over three years ago she was awarded her black belt in Tae Kwon Do and aspires to be the youngest female master in Tae Kwon Do in Washington. She collects anything to do with wolves and has several perfume bottles. When she grows up she wants to be a pop music singer.

Alex is a football player and likes defense. He has two pet lizards, two French lops that he calls flops, and a calico cat. He loves to watch old movies about World War II, fictional and biographical. He loves to read about it also. He also will collect anything about airplanes. When he grows up he wants tro be an airline pilot.

Toni Gates, December 1999.