Remembering Al and Bob

Published 9:36 am Thursday, July 23, 2009

So I mention that we have a nice sign that says so. Al Rolla was our neighbor who led us in keeping our little community beautiful, especially the landscaping around our sign. We happily forked over our ten bucks to him for the purpose, and never worried about getting our money&squo;s worth, as we kept re-electing him at our annual neighborhood breakfast.One morning we heard a &dquo;whump&dquo; in our front yard, and discovered that high winds had broken a large limb off one of our oaks. No other damage, but we were concerned, as we thought we had removed all the trees and limbs that might threaten us. Then I heard (and felt!) a much bigger &dquo;WHUMP!&dquo; and looked out in time to see an entire tree land on Al&squo;s little pickup truck as he was driving by. I was happy to see him stepping out of the cab as I ran to the truck.The main trunk had struck the front door post and bounced onto the hood. We all felt that the timing was miraculous, as a hit on the cab roof probably would have been fatal to Al. As it was, he was not injured and the truck suffered only minor damage, repaired quickly. He was soon whizzing by again on his regular rush to morning meetings.Al was always friendly and we enjoyed his gentle leadership of the work parties on our entrance. Some had opinions, but I never did. I have no landscape design talent, so I am happy just to spread mulch or clip overgrown shrubbery, and I did whatever Al said to do. From what I hear, Al inspired a lot of other people and committees to go wherever he led; he was that kind of trusted friend.My friend and his, Jay Tirre, said that when Al finally got to see the stained glass windows he designed for his church fully installed and flooding the little chapel with their beautifully colored light, he said through tears of joy, &dquo;Oh boy! They work!&dquo; I met Bob Worsnop at a Kiwanis meeting at Brannon&squo;s right after I retired. I don&squo;t know why I was there; I was probably their guest speaker. Anyway, Bob had a model of the B-25 Mitchell bomber and talked a bit about the Wright Brothers. Obviously my kind of guy, so I sought to learn more about him.Bob was part of the crew of a B-25 during WWII; &dquo;top turret gunner,&dquo; he said. There was a B-25 over my house almost any hour of the day then, so I developed a great love for that bird as a boy. I knew that the &dquo;crew chief&dquo; or &dquo;flight engineer&dquo; operated the top turret in combat, but he was also a fully qualified airplane and engine mechanic. Automatic great respect for Bob.A few years later, I served with Bob on the Courthouse Restoration Committee. He was our Treasurer, and while other non-profits were lamenting the erosion of their funds, every time he gave his report, we had more money than before (minus expenditures, of course). We all appreciated that, and the contributors should, too.I usually sat right across the table from Bob, and Chairman John Clarke often had to call for order as the banter between Bob and me got out of hand. I always enjoyed any time spent with (or near) Bob. Bob was a poster boy for the &dquo;Greatest Generation,&dquo; a unique blend of the character traits that define a truly great American. They had to bring in more and more chairs as the auditorium began to overflow at memorial services for both of these men, so it is obvious that many share my appreciation for them.I like to think that everyone wants to leave the world a better place for their having been here. Al and Bob both earned well their election to the Second Wind Hall of Fame, one of many recognitions of their worth to our community. It is a distinction shared by their widows, Bea and Nancy. Some things seem to run in families.

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