Remember When: Remembering Ray and Susan

Published 12:48 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

When my late younger brother Bill and I used to come to Aunt Mildred’s in the fall and visit for a week or so, we would spend one day on Trade Street visiting each other’s friends. It was a happy time of sharing and remembering.

Bill and Ray Foster would relive their days of playing baseball together. It continued until Bill died suddenly at Harmon Field one day. By then I was accepted by Ray, and when I was ready to borrow money to finish my house, Ray said “Just bring a shovel and wheelbarrow and tell me how much you want!”

Ray was president of Tryon Federal then, and he said his biggest problem was trying to find enough qualified borrowers (assets) to cover their huge holdings (liabilities). I was glad I could help him out.

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Ray always called me Garland, but I could not get teller Bill Hague to do that. I was Mr. Goodwin to him, and still am when I see him nowadays. I don’t remember Nancy Hayes calling me anything; we just exchanged pleasantries during my visits at her window.

Ray’s wife Louise graced Aunt Mildred’s table at Hardee’s for years. She was such a tiny, fragile-looking little lady but Aunt Mildred said not to be fooled by that. She could be firm when necessary! We all hated to lose her . . .    

I knew that Ray had served in the Navy, so I asked him one day what he did for them. He said with a big grin and rather sheepishly, “Played baseball.” Guess they were both “professional grade,” as the truck commercial says. Though trained as an “aviation ordnanceman,” Bill played for the Cherry Point Flyers during most of his service in the Marine Corps. I thought he had it made, as I chided him about “riding in the red and white bus to games, and eating steaks.” 

When I looked in on Ray at White Oak on a recent Sunday afternoon, Debra and Robin were there. One of them told me as I left that it was only a matter of days; he left us the following evening. I used to have good visits with Ray, then later I’d find him nodding off with the TV tuned to a ball game and punch him awake for more visiting. He would always grin and we’d swap stories. In recent months he was asleep all the time, so I just did not disturb him any more.

Now he has joined Louise where they will never have to part.

Just learned from Jim McCain that Susan Leonard has died, much too young! I remember her very well, even though I have not seen her in years. First, she was dismayed at the colossal mess her young twin girls made on the coffee table in our den during one of our Christmas parties many years ago. Fran tried to soothe her by saying it was not a problem, and it was not: the wooden tabletop came clean with a swipe of a damp sponge.

Alan asked me to tune their old upright piano, so Susan welcomed me into their home and showed me the piano and continued with her kitchen cleanup. The piano had more problems than tuning, so I had to return to put it right on a subsequent visit. There were several broken hammer shanks and missing hammers, so I was there a good while. Susan cheerfully worked in the background and finally came in for a short visit, offering coffee or a drink of water. Even in her work-around-the-house clothes, the movie “Pretty Woman” had nothing on Susan!

Both Ray and Susan leave us with wonderful memories to cherish, a testimony to their way of living.