Catching up on remembrances of friends
Published 11:04 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Tributes to my late friends are getting past due and too numerous, so these will be far too brief:
Douglas V. Rippy was my first cousin and grew up in Landrum while I was away. I found him living in Ohio and arranged to visit on my way home to Virginia from a convention in St. Louis. He soon called back to tell me that I’d better get on over there because the Dayton Air Show was that weekend. We met his wife and kids and had a great visit. Little Doug Jr. was a chip off the ol’ block; kid never quit grinning!
Dr. Doug Sr. soon found himself back at Clemson as head of a department, and Fran and I dropped in on them on a scenic drive shortly after we retired here. He and Brenda were working in the yard, so we all took a short iced tea break before resuming. They moved back to Ohio to be near their children, so we never did get to see much of them.
Doug requested that his ashes be strewn on his mother Georgia’s grave up near Candler, so we hosted a breakfast for the Rippy clan while they were here. Doug Jr. still has his father’s happy disposition; in fact, all of them were pretty upbeat during that sad time.
I worked with Rachel Pittman at Farthing & Covington fancy grocery when we were in Tryon High School. She married her “steady,” R. L. Williams, who was the Little Frame Maker for many years. On a visit with Aunt Mildred many years ago, I dialed a wrong number and talked with R. L. for half an hour. You know you’re in a small town when you can do that!
Glenn Morgan, another fellow student at Tryon School, was always sitting in the booth next to the door when I entered TJ’s for breakfast. He always had a comment for me. I began to refer to him as Terry’s security guard, for he was at his post until his terminal illness prevented him. I had hoped to see him one last time at Mack Henson’s benefit BBQ for him, but that was not to be.
Herschel Bailey was one of my breakfast friends at McDonald’s. He told me about his Martin guitar for which he had turned down big money a long time ago. When he mentioned that to a friend, the friend advised him that he had done well, because the instrument was worth three or four times what the man had offered!
I used to see Henry Huntsinger nearly every time I gave blood, and we would compare our blood pressures before moving on to the affairs of the day. I later learned that he saw to the maintenance of Polk County roads for several decades and even served a few terms as a County Commissioner. I learned how to design roads and runways, but had no practical knowledge of grading and keeping them serviceable. I would have asked Henry about that had I known . . . both Willard and Jack Jolley have shared some of their practical experience with roads and runways with me at McDonald’s.
Rolland Bushner was one of Aunt Mildred’s many friends who became our friends when Fran and I moved back here to live in 1988. “Bush” had a distinguished career in the Foreign Service, and had acquired a stable of fine antique cars, specializing in Packards. We both had MGs, Steinway grands and a love of classical music, so we enjoyed many happy hours together over the years.
Once his car club was dining at The Junction before driving on up to Pearson’s Falls. When I saw the route they planned to use, I told Bush I knew a better way to go. He arranged for me to lead the caravan of beautifully restored old cars with my well-worn red MGB/GT.
After being stranded at Brevard after riding up there with Bush in one of his older cars (and being rescued by James Payne), Aunt Mildred always suggested that I offer to drive. Bush would then insist on treating us to dinner, so there was no way ever to get ahead of him in being a gracious and generous companion.
Bush was involved in a traffic accident in which he suffered injuries that left his hearing permanently damaged. We were all saddened that he could no longer enjoy the music he loved so much. I had done some tone and action regulating on his Steinway, but he said after the accident that it sounded very “clangy” to him, and he no longer played it. He also stopped going to concerts.
Bush flew 35 missions as airplane commander on a B-24 bomber in WWII, and then asked to fly the British “Mosquito” fighter. He flew many pathfinder and damage assessment missions in that very nimble airplane. He regularly attended lunch meetings arranged by Ron Mosseller to bring together some airline flight attendants, pilots and engineers for some “hangar flying” sessions. When I e-mailed his invitation to the last one, he replied simply, “Can’t make it.”
I found Bush at Hospice the day after his 91st birthday. I left him smiling; a good, and typical, way to remember him.