SEQUIM — Hal Gaskell, a father, songwriter, traveler, tree planter and musician identified to many as Howly Slim, died Easter Sunday on the dwelling of his pal Sally Wikstrom.
His daughter and son, Viola and Hank Gaskell, had been with him, as had been his beloved canine Mele and his pricey pal Carol Long.
The trigger was most cancers, Viola stated; Gaskell was 73.
Howly Slim was a lean, tan, bearded man with a Martin guitar and a hat he put out for ideas.
At pubs, cafes, artwork galleries, group festivals, senior facilities and farmers markets throughout the Olympic Peninsula,
he performed the songs of Marty Robbins, Sam Cooke and Pete Seeger — and he provided his
personal compositions about life and love.
“He wrote hundreds of songs, and had tremendous respect for the talented musicians he played with in Port Townsend and Sequim,” Viola, a journalist, wrote in a tribute to her father.
These artists embrace Sandy Summers of Sequim, Jon Parry of Port Townsend and the bassist often called Raindance Kid.
Last November, when Slim’s sickness was worsening, his pal Sonny Flores urged him to come back to his recording studio in Port Townsend.
“I wanted to get his music down. It’s so original,” Flores stated.
“His writing style was like he was speaking to a friend. He wrote about real-life stuff,” together with a girl he liked and missed, and a reminiscence of touring in Mexico. A cowboy troubadour, “Howly really sang the truth,” Flores added.
Flores additionally remembered watching Slim play guitar and sing in all types of settings, no music sheet in entrance of him, “all from memory.”
Viola famous that her father contributed plenty of unique songs to Tidepools, Peninsula College’s arts journal. His tune “Boomerang” gained first place within the songwriting class in 2016; within the music class, “Chicken Hawk” positioned second the next 12 months. In 2019 he took dwelling first and second together with his tracks “Fake News” and “Sweet Memory.”
In February 2014, Slim and his pal Tim Wheeler of Sequim helped put collectively the Pete Seeger Hootenanny, a sing-along in honor of the musician and activist who had died, at age 94, the earlier month.
The occasion was held on the Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall in Agnew, not removed from the place Slim lived on the time.
Born in Los Angeles, Slim later moved to Sacramento, Calif., after which, after graduating highschool in 1966, to the Olympic Peninsula. He discovered work within the woods: planting timber throughout Oregon, Idaho and Washington state, and a few years later began his personal enterprise.
“Hal called sliding down clearcut mountain edges with seedlings in his belt and a pick in his hand ‘a labor of love,’” Viola stated, “and took great pride in the work he did reforesting the land.”
She added that her dad made pals for all times within the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
These included Port Townsend writer Finn Wilcox, planters Kevin Ames and Jim Tordoff, and a man who known as himself Pineapple. As Hal Gaskell, Slim later wrote a brief story about Pineapple for the anthology “Working the Woods, Working the Sea.”
During his tree-planting period, Slim gave a girl named Julianne Sutton a job, and inside a 12 months they had been residing in a “driftwood shack on the beach” simply exterior Port Townsend, Viola remembers her father saying.
“They got cinnamon rolls every morning at the old cafe so they could warm up and use the bathrooms. Five years later they moved to Maui,” the place they raised Viola and Hank, till Slim moved again to the Peninsula in 2004.
Wheeler, who used to take walks with Slim and Wikstrom alongside the Dungeness River, remembers him as a mild soul.
“He had very humane political views,” Wheeler stated. Slim earned a meager livelihood from his music — “he lived from one gig to the next” — so he knew hardship.
He was all the time beneficiant together with his music, each Wheeler and artist Jeff Tocher of Port Angeles recalled.
“Howly just would put a smile on your face, whether he was singing a song or shooting the breeze,” stated Tocher, who as supervisor of the Landing Art Gallery in Port Angeles introduced Slim in to play on Second Saturday artwork walks.
“He dedicated his life to writing songs and entertaining people. I remember one slow evening, asking him if it was tough to play without a crowd,” Tocher added.
He remembers Slim answering: “I made a couple new friends tonight and the fried chicken is delicious. I will play as long as you wish.”
Viola added that folks on the Peninsula would possibly bear in mind her dad enjoying his music “in a button-up shirt, subdued cowboy or Hawaiian style,” at locations like Salty Girls in Sequim or on the Sequim Lavender Weekend.
“I will always remember him,” she stated, “on the beach in Hawai’i, coaching my brother into a professional surfing career, or pretending I had superhuman strength as I pushed him into the shorebreak at Hamoa, our favorite beach.”
Viola stated her household plans an intimate celebration of her dad’s life at their dwelling in Hana, Maui within the coming weeks, and one other gathering in Agnew or Port Townsend in June or July. She’d like each to be musical.
Anyone who desires to be contacted concerning the celebration of life, as soon as the date and place are set, is requested to e mail [email protected]
Her father’s legacy, Viola stated, is within the evergreens he planted, his one-of-a-kind chuckle and the songs he wrote and sang.
Flores agreed. In one of many tracks Slim recorded final fall, he sings about freedom.
“Last night time I dreamt I did fly
Up over mountains and rivers …
Last night time I dreamt I did fly
Up over boundaries and borders
Way on up previous the sky
Way on up previous the sky.”
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz may be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz @peninsuladailynews.com.