Remembering Don, Chuck, Earl and Evelyn

Published 11:17am Monday, February 28, 2011

I mentioned our loss of my long-term friend Donald Arledge in my Christmas column.

We went through Tryon School together. He was one of the few guys who had a car when we got to high school, which meant he could have many girl friends.

To my knowledge, he chose only one. Actually, I think his winning smile and personality trounced the little Oldsmobile coupe as the attractant.

The common denominator for Don and me was airplanes. Did we ever love airplanes!

We both made all sorts of models of them, and flew them from Harmon Field and even the school ground. Don graduated to radio controlled models and I later designed and flew real airplanes.

We would compare notes in his drug store when I visited Tryon; he always wished he could make more time to build and fly his models.

My wife Fran attended nearly all of the history classes that the late Chuck Ross taught at the local ICC. I felt that I knew Col. Ross from her regular reports of what happened in his classes. He had a devoted following, for his classes never failed to “make,” even when repeated.

He always taught in terms of the personalities and realities involved. A battlefield commander himself, he was able to involve his students in the intricacies of the wars that determined the course of our history.

He invited class participation, so there were always lively discussions that Chuck usually kept on track.

When he related that Desoto had been exploring Our Area when for no known reason he suddenly went to Florida, Fran put her hand up and said, “Surf’s up!” To which Chuck replied with mock exasperation, “Well, what can we expect from someone who wears jeans to class!” (Remember hippies?)

Another solid citizen of our county was Earl Foy. When I saw him in a store a week before he died unexpectedly, I commented that it was the first time I had seen him without his wife, Ruth.

He told me where she was and we parted for the last time. When I later saw Ruth in the same store, I told her it was the first time I had seen her without Earl. I say this because to me they were a truly devoted couple; she confirmed that they always did things together.

I took a picture of Earl at a party where he was picking up empty two-liter drink bottles to put them in the trash. He turned one up to drain the last drop into his mouth, and I recorded that moment for posterity.

I carried the photo in my car for weeks without seeing the Foys, but I took it to Ruth at the visitation. She says someone in their family has framed it!

When I was giving blood regularly (my meds now prevent me) at Holy Cross, either Dot McCall or Evelyn Chapman would escort me to the table for juice and cookies afterward.

I am about twice as big as either of them, but I always enjoyed being pampered by such wonderful ladies.

I never noticed any ill effects from the loss of that pint of blood, but I have wondered whether they could have kept me from falling! As I wrote in my tribute to Dot McCall, this struck me as a role reversal: the little old lady was helping the Boy Scout to cross the street!

Demus and Evelyn were among the first to welcome us back to Polk County when we retired. They were the kind of folks that everyone misses when they leave us.

They both essentially left us long ago, but we take comfort in thinking that now they are together again where we may one day join them.

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