Four guys I have had the pleasure of knowing in my lifetime.
Stan the man came upon me around 1952. Where he came from I do not know he just showed up in my life one day in the summer of 52.
Stan was a short dude and had a large round head. The head sported scraggly light brown hair, puffy cheeks and large round eyes. Stan usually wore less than fashionable clothes and the fit was not always ideal. Stan often looked like he had just been called out sliding into second base.
Stan walked with a noticeable limp and had a crooked arm. When I met him I was told he was called Stan the man, so that is what I called him. “Hey Stan the man, how’s it going?” “OK” was the usual grunt of a reply.
Stan also had a low voice for someone so young and he did not speak a lot but he had a wit that I enjoyed so when he spoke, I listened and usually chuckled in agreement.
Stan and I spent some time together in the summer of 52 doing what adolescents do.
Going to the corner drug store buying a pop and sitting on the floor reading magazines until they threw us out. Going to the school playground to see if anything of interest was going on. Stan used to say “let’s go hang with the cool guys and see if we can piss em off.” Stan knew what was going on and liked to tease it a bit at times.
Stan meant no harm to anyone. His defense for any and all attacks was humor, it worked well for him. In the short time I spent with him I never heard him speak ill of anyone. He was a guy that was just trying to get along in life.
I don’t know for sure but was told he lived with his grandparents. I would hang out with Stan 2 or 3 times a week that summer, whenever he happened to show up. Do not recall all the details but I know we always had fun and did not get into any more trouble than getting kicked out of the magazine section of the drug store.
Stan disappeared from my life after that one summer. No idea what became of him but, I remember him with fondness.
Jumping forward now to 1956 or 57 I came to know One-eyed Carl.
Carl was also a short guy and his defining physical characteristic was an eye that looked off to the left. And he had the nickname One-eyed Carl long before I met him.
I met Carl when I came home and found him standing in the kitchen all spruced up from a clean bath and dressed in my clothes. The wandering eye startled me a bit but I suspect I handled it well. My dad had brought Carl home. He was a homeless man and had a problem with the alcohol. Couldn’t get enough of it. Anyway dad had given Carl a job working for his small construction company, grunt work shoveling sand and so on. As a teenager I was doing the same work. I worked with Carl and grew to know him a bit.
Carl always had a smile or perhaps it was a smirk, not sure, but I took it as a smile.
One memory I have of working with Carl was when another worker was chastising Carl for doing something wrong. Carl kept looking at him and smiling and nodding his head. The chastiser said “Carl, are you looking at me when I talk to you or are you looking at that tree over there?” Pointing in the direction of Carl’s wayward eye’s vision. Carl laughed out loud and said, “Yes sir, I am looking at you.”
I was told that Carl had a rich mother living in the town just west of us but, that was never confirmed.
Carl, like Stan, disappeared after one summer. I liked Carl too.
And now we move forward to the early 60s with Jerry.
Jerry was just one year older than me and we hit it off quite well.
Jerry was a carpenter and I enjoyed carpentry and was trying to build a house. I hired Jerry to work with me in this effort.
Jerry became a good friend of mine and I also worked for him part time in his carpentry work.
Jerry was a good carpenter and also had an eye for design. He had the ability to pick correct colors for decoration and knew what furniture went well with that rug.
Jerry was single and there came a time when he started dating a girl I knew.
After dating her for a bit he told me she wants to get married. He asked me if I thought she was the right girl for him. ????
I did know the girl and told him I thought she was a little wild for him. (stupid? maybe).
Jerry broke up with that girl and went on with life. He bought and remodeled a nice little two bedroom house and seemed to be doing ok.
And then, on a cold and snowy night Jerry went into his garage, plugged the gaps under the doors and around the windows, started his truck and gently sit down in the seat to go to sleep forever.
I really liked Jerry a lot. He was a nice, good man, just not right for the time. His departure gave me grief and sorrow.
Now we are in the 1980s and Dean comes into my life.
Dean was in his late fifties, a good looking man with a full head of almost white hair.
Dean came into my life as a result of cutbacks at our place of employment. He had been working in the accounting department and when they cut back he ended up in my department.
Dean also had a problem with the alcohol but controlled it enough to come to work every day and do his job.
Dean was suffering somewhat from low self-esteem, he had been abruptly forced out of his job, his career. And possibly like many men, his career defined him as a man.
Dean struggled on as best he could. He did have some problems, as the years of alcohol abuse seemed to slow his mind a bit. He was anything but quick witted. But Dean, like others was a decent man, he had just made some bad decisions in life. What caused those decisions is beyond my knowledge and I did not hold him responsible for past mistakes. He always did the job as required and was ok by me.
And then the company had another cut back. This time it went even deeper putting both Dean and me on the street.
I had experienced this before and took it with minimal anger and/or morose. Dean however had never been laid off and took this poorly. Was it personal? Was he a complete failure? Was he washed up? What was his wife to do if he could no longer provide for her?
I talked to Dean during those trying times, once taking him with me on a road trip to Kalamazoo Mi. I had been made aware of a possible money making venture there and thought he could possibly see there was light at the end of the tunnel. Before leaving town I stopped at a 7-11 to get a snack or something for the road, Dean asked for a pack of Marlboro lights, the clerk handed him a pack and said “$2.00.” Dean threw the cigarettes on the counter saying “I’m not paying $2 for a pack of cigarettes.”
We were nearing the halfway point (Lansing, MI) when Dean said I should stop for gas. I had filled up prior to leaving and knew I had enough gas for the round trip. I chuckled and told Dean so. Well on our way back to Saginaw Dean again showed concern with the gas situation, so much so that I finally told him. “Look if we run out of gas I will carry you on my back the rest of the way.” This quieted Dean a bit but I could sense he was worried about it for the rest of the trip.
Since that time I have come to realize that fear expressed by others are real fears and at times words cannot alleviate them. The polite thing to do would have been to stop and fill up the gas tank, I do this now, when riders express such fears.
Dean used to tell me “Sometimes I feel like going out in the cold rain and snow and just lying on the ground letting the weather take me.”
I would tell him that would be a stupid thing to do as it would not solve any problems just create more.
I did not talk to or hear from Dean for a while and then I was told that Dean took his gun downstairs and put a bullet in his head.
I called Deans wife offering my condolences and any help I could provide. She did not know who I was or perhaps why I was calling but thanked me for the call and said. “Good bye.”
I liked Dean too.