Remembering Robert Earl, Tom, James and Seth

Published 12:14 am Saturday, October 24, 2015

By Garland O. Goodwin

I went to Tryon School with Robert Earl Ormand, Sr., and found him here when I retired. What I remember best about Robert Earl is that he was always grinning, so he must have been a happy person with a host of friends.

He often let me into the Columbus Baptist Church to service their pianos. I was glad that he accompanied me to the big Baldwin concert grand in their sanctuary once when I had to pull the heavy action to investigate a complaint by Inez Jackson, their pianist. He helped by manning one end while we carefully removed it. I quickly found and corrected the problem, so he was still present to help me put the thing back into the piano. I thanked him, of course, and he acknowledged as though it was all in a day’s work.

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Al Creasy called to tell me that my friend since high school, Tom Moore, had died. I had just asked his daughter Caroline at the Second Wind luncheon about visiting him at Tryon Estates, but I did not manage to get there in time. Why do we seem to be always “too busy” to visit a friend who cannot visit us?

We both owned Steinway “L” grand pianos, and he would always call me to tune his when a pianist friend was coming to visit. Both pianos were about the same age, and both had pinblock problems. They would not hold tune for long, and some strings not at all. He said he was not going to have his repaired, that his heirs could attend to that!

Neither of us ever knew what the other might say, and that was part of the fun of getting together. He once observed to me that Fran and I seemed to have a good marriage. I replied that it was “all her fault.” Pause. “She can get along with anyone. And she has done most of the getting along.” Tom did seem to find that entirely credible . . .

I was visiting Ruth Taylor and her family at White Oak recently when Roger Durham came in to tell Harold that our friend and fellow Lion, James Bodie, had just passed away. When their president, J. J. Powell, died and his wife went back to her home town to live, Harold and James decided it was time to turn in their charter and thus end the Tryon Lions Club’s existence. Harold had begun to invite me to install their officers each year, and James and Mildred were always there. They also invited me to tune their piano. With Lions, it is a family thing.

I have enjoyed seeing Seth Davis around our area for many years, whether playing drums expertly for any occasion or just having breakfast with the gang at McDonald’s. I was always amused by his reading us a joke from his smartphone. I also have enjoyed using the gift card he gave all of us one day recently at McDonald’s. When I thanked him again for it, I remarked that “Hey, this thing WORKS!” In reply he just gave me one of his looks. Seth was a great guy with a heart of gold and we shall surely miss him.

I may not be the “Grim Reaper,” as Karl Kachadoorian has dubbed me, but we are losing members of my generation at an ever-increasing rate. Twenty years ago I would occasionally visit two or three friends in White Oak; now it is 12 or 15, so I have lost count. In nearly every group of people with whom I have something in common, one additional common denominator is our age.

As my wonderful friend “Charlie Boy” Hearon, late of Saluda, wrote in his last book (I have them all), “The Sun’s Gonna Set Pretty Soon.” And it did . . . and it does. For all of us.