Remembering Jay, Richard and Virginia

Published 9:22 pm Thursday, February 26, 2015

 I met Jay Tirre when he came to Polk County Historical Association meetings, offering to help. He brought in his wife Lois as well, and she organized our bookcase and catalogued the contents. Jay was such a friendly cuss that I found it hard to believe that he was a retired full colonel from the Army. My limited experience with the “Old RA Colonels,” who came over to the Air Force, was that they were usually pretty crusty.
Jay had flown airplanes as part of his duties, so we had things to talk about right away. Some years passed with my seeing him rarely, but always with friendly banter. Then he began to appear weekly with two clergymen at TJ’s Café for breakfast, where the remnant of “the Girls” group had moved. The friendly banter continued; all of us welcomed Jay and enjoyed his company.
Jay was balding, with little hair on top but a healthy fringe. I brought him a photo of a similar head with a tattooed lawn mower trimming the fringe. I would always look for the tattoo when he removed his cap to eat. Never did see one.
Now Dr. Darryl Maxwell is filling in as interim pastor over near Charlotte, Jay has gone to his reward, so Dr. Jim MacPherson no longer attends either. Our group has also dwindled to Art and Caroline Brown, her sister Emily sometimes, and Fran and me, mostly due to the passing of our friends. Time moves right along, whether you are having fun or not.
Richard Cannon was also a friend from PCHA, having served as our curator for many years. He had retired from a long career in law enforcement. He owned an older Cadillac, which he kept in immaculate condition. He would park it near the museum (then in the Depot), often having lunch at Elmo’s (and no parallel parking near high curbs).  Elmo’s bar was famous for its hamburgers, but Richard said their fried bologna (actually he said “baloney”) sandwiches were the best!

He and Janet lived high up on Hogback Rd., so we did not visit them very often. There were many cannon models in the house, as one might expect. He had a scanner radio on all the time, also as one might expect. For instance, he knew when I was taken to St. Luke’s with carbon monoxide poisoning, so he called me the next day to see how I was doing.


He was concerned about the firearms in the museum collection, as he said they were a tempting target for a break-in. He had them appraised and the board agreed to let him purchase them.


The late Dr. Austin Woody brought in his little black doctor’s bag and donated it to the museum. He said that he always told inquisitive kids that he brought babies in it to expectant mothers. Richard was concerned with the “controlled” drugs it contained, so he removed them before the bag went on display.
Virginia Jones anchored the “women’s table” on the other side of McDonald’s until her recent passing. All the ladies gather ’round that table, but some of the men will sit there, too. It is something like the early churches—the ladies all came in and sat on one side of the aisle, while the men stayed out under the trees until the singing stopped, then came in and sat on the other side to hear the sermon. A few wives do sit on our side with their men, though.


McDonald’s owner Dave Hunt and manager Todd Hudson attended Virginia’s funeral along with most of the McDonald’s morning patrons. She was well-liked and respected. We sorely miss her already.