Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Red Solo Cup

This morning I read that the developer of the red Solo cup, Robert Hulseman, had died.

The cup was first produced in the 1970's and is known to generations of students as the cup of choice for keggers. It's also the preferred growing container for cannabis.

I took the photograph at the top of this post in 2009 at the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. My partner's dad had passed away a few months earlier. We all knew him as Chub and we dearly missed him, his simple approach to life, and his cheeky humor.

Now, the family was gathered at the headwaters to perform a simple ritual that we once discussed with Chub: we were going to send a few ounces of his ashes down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Maybe ocean currents would carry him to Greenland where he served in the military.

Needless to say we did not ask permission, as it would have been denied. We realized we needed a discreet way to introduce the ashes to the water without catching the attention of park rangers.

We found a red Solo cup in the trunk of our car. It smelled vaguely of stale wine, which would have reduced Chub to giggles had he been there in person. The oldest grandson introduced the contents of the cup to the Mississippi.

Afterwards there was a scene of pure joy. Half the family jumped into the river. The grandchildren gurgled with delight.
I've learned so much from Chub. He lived just a few blocks from us for most of the last decade of his life. As I was self-employed and flexible with my time, I usually took him to his many medical appointments, a task I gladly accepted. As we drove to the hospital or clinic, we chatted and chatted. If I was uptight about something, he was the best listener, and would have me giggling and feeling good by the time we arrived at the medical facility.
He saw the humanity in everyone, and it was his mission to create smiles. Unsurprisingly, patients tend to look grumpy. But with Chub, faces would light up when he headed towards a clinic receptionist, or when a nurse came to take him to an examination room. He knew how to be a little cheeky without crossing the line, and the staff loved him for that.

I often think of Chub as I attend my daily radiation therapy sessions.

Chub at the wedding of his daughter. The hula dancer changed back into her outfit so we could take this photo.
Note: There's more pictures of Chub at


  1. Thanks for the memories! I think I'll have a little cry now... ;)

    1. Yes, his spirit lives on in us.

    2. Crap, I miss him! Thanks for the giggles and the cry.....

    3. I'm grateful we can remember him with giggles. I miss him.