Groundhog Day has passed and with it another birthday for one of the more amazing people who still carries a breath. Monk Carden keeps on keeping on, an inspiration to us all. On Groundhog Day, Carden celebrated his 95th birthday. What a guy, and what a legendary Pendleton figure.
Carden can tell a story that takes you to the scene some 90 years back.
He makes no big deal about his age, yet you know most importantly he's proud of his Round-Up roots and the town his family helped develop from the very beginning during the late 1880s.
Carden, in my estimation, is the oldest living Pendleton High Buckaroo! I don't have to go out on too long a limb on that assumption.
He loved being an athlete at PHS during the mid-1920s. Carden was a starting end on the 1926 and 1927 football teams under legendary coach Bob Quinn on a pair of 3-5 teams that featured outstanding players like halfbacks Francis Sullivan and Hank Halverson and fullback Gib Jones. Carden played alongside the likes of Red Young, Marion Alberts, John Mcphail, Bill Laing, John Moyer, Bob Cronin and the great Mark Temple.
Carden remembers even the smell of the leather helmets and the moleskin as if it were just last week..
He recalls the cinder fields where grass was absent. The bloody nose that just kept running and you kept playing.
The fellowship of playing with your pals and winning and losing was important but not life or death.
Carden tells of fellow classmates who had fun, yet most likely could play today because they were just plain tough.
Oh, to go back and feel the atmosphere of the '20s teenager's and understand what Carden has lived through.
Carden also participated in basketball and track and field for Coach Quinn. Eventually, he went to Fresno State where he continued as a student-athlete for the Bulldogs.
After a year there he came back to Eastern Oregon Normal in La Grande where he played once again for Bob Quinn, who by then earned a job as a college mentor where he lasted for nearly 50 years.
He played with the Hodgen boys, plus many of his former PHS buddies during the late '20s and early '30s.
Carden and his lifelong friend George Moens are enshrined in the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame.
Carden spent years on the Portland Rose Festival Board and quite a few-years away from his home, but it seemed Pendleton kept calling him home.
Monk Carden, may you live another 95 years and keep your golf partners at the Country Club honest. Above all, keep me in line ... you really know I need it.