Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Monday, May 26, 2014

What's a "Baggar"?

            The term “Baggar” may pop up in comments on my posts.  It’s an esoteric term that refers exclusively to six college buddies.  No one really knows the source of the word, or “non-word,” but the label “Baggar” somehow stuck to us.  The six of us were roommates at different times during our stints at San Jose State College (now S. J. State “University.”) 

Four of the six Baggars in the early '60s.

Top - Roger Koskela, Joe Medal
Bottom - Ralph, Dwight Klassen

            The photo above was taken when I moved into the “Baggar” apartment.  Two former roommates had graduated and moved on.  I was the new guy and had much to learn about the prevailing language, culture, and pranks of this group of guys.  We had known each other for years prior to college, but somehow the mixtures of personalities during college created what evidently defined “Baggar.”

One of our wives took this photo many years later,
but years prior to our recent adventure.
            This past week - more than a half-century after those great college days - five of the six former roommates got together to pick up where we left off many decades ago.  It was a time for fishing on Lake Tahoe, golf, the retelling of old stories and wondering what happened to old girlfriends. 

            We have maintained contact through the years and some of us have cruised to foreign lands together with our wives, but to get all six guys together in one spot was rare.  Thanks to Bob Rodde we had a beautiful house on the Old Greenwood golf course in Truckee and a scheduled boat and fishing guide for a calm day on beautiful Lake Tahoe.  Joe Medal was the only one of the six who couldn’t make the trip, but for the rest of us, it was a memorable treat.

            After an exhilarating discussion that lasted late into the night and reminded me of the philosophical debates we had in college, we were up at 3 or 4 A.M. (can’t remember exactly) and ready to catch a fish or maybe hook old Fredo Corleone, who is said to be floating in the depths, well preserved by the cold Lake Tahoe waters.

Left to right - Klassen, Koskela, Rodde, Higgins, Horton
           Fishing did not turn out to be exactly as any of us imagined.  The weather leading up to our day of fishing was somewhat tenuous, but, despite the possibility of an incoming storm, the consensus of the group, including the boat captain, was a “go.”

            Then the storm hit.  The water got rough, the wind blew the rain sideways, but we certainly didn’t expect sleet and snow.  I’ve done a lot of fishing in my life, including halibut fishing in Alaska and pulling a shark in tail-first in the Monterey Bay, but I don’t remember ever fishing in the snow. 

            Pulling a fish up from 400 feet with frozen hands, along with sleet and snow, made standing on the rocking deck somewhat treacherous. But that made our fishing trip even more fun, in my opinion.  No one threw up and we all caught beautiful fish.

            The next day was for golf, but I had to leave for the Bay Area and missed it.  Evidently the snow was only scheduled for our morning on the water.  From what I’ve heard, the golfing went well.  No snow.  (Correction - Since posting this, Rog Koskela told me that they had a hail storm on the golf course.)

            I don’t have the space here to provide a profile of the six “Baggars,” but we are an eclectic group, despite the commonality we all share.   All six of us have post-graduate degrees and credentials, including Bob’s MBA from Harvard and Jerry’s Doctorate, so it makes one wonder why this group would be found fishing in the dark during a snowstorm while riding the only bobbing boat on the entire lake.  An intelligent man would stop at Safeway and buy a fish, but there’s no fun in that. 


  1. Great story telling, Baggar! What you missed was a golf experience that included golf in a HAIL storm! So we had fishing in the snow and putting in hail. A memorable Baggar experience. O, you also missed the best Mex food ever at the Haqcienda in Tahoe City :)

    1. I didn't realize you guys had a hail storm on the golf course. That fits with the total experience. I'm sorry I missed those last couple of days, including the Mexican food. I would have much preferred hail to attending a wedding, but Gayle was involved and the thing went on for three days. We got home last night.

      Also, I didn't know the correct spelling of "baggar," but I went through the article and changed bagger to baggar. That does make an important distinction. I can't picture any of us bagging groceries. Eating groceries, yes, but bagging, not likely.

      I couldn't find a photo of you pulling in a fish, but I can confirm that you did.

    2. I think the term originated with Dwight's sister, Joyce. She had obviously heard the term among her genre of friends, but I have no idea what it means. The first time I heard it was in an expression from her like, "O pot, you are a Baggar if there ever were one!" And the rest, they say, is...

    3. Life is full of mysteries, like the origin of baggar. For example, I know what a cob web is, but what's a "cob?"

  2. Hey, Rufus! What the Cob's happenin' you old Baggar?
    See ya later, BYE! Benk'

    1. Hey, Benk, you old baggar. Good to hear from a trumpet player who is as old as I am and still making music.
      - Rufus

  3. Great story!! And I have memories of all of you on Glenn's deck at Discovery Bay, some playing music with me on the keyboard and Dick Goodwin on the drums. What a handsome group of guys, grey beards and all!!!!

    1. Thanks Norma. Those were the days, for sure. Great parties, great friends, and always great food when Hank is cooking.

      Speaking of Dick Goodwin . . . I have some fishing stories when Dick and Glen went on a quest to make all our fellow fishermen toss their cookies overboard during rough seas. They would pick a hapless fisherman who was starting to turn green, and approach him with a squid or small fish in their mouth. That was usually enough to trigger the response they wanted. It even worked on me once.
      I miss those days.

  4. I would not have qualified as a "baggar" as I did not own a narrow tie in my youth! And, I was too young for your generation of "baggars"!