Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reflections on Friendship

Today's post has nothing to do with genealogy. Today I am writing about two of my buddies.

I got to wondering about my buddy, David Goins, last night as I hadn't heard from him in well over a year. An internet search turned up the reason why, David passed away in April of 2016. Our last contact was probably the preceding February or March. I sent a Christmas card in December.

David was one of my Social Studies students in 5th grade at Nocatee Elementary and played on my Koch's Drugs Little League team. We stayed in touch through David's Senior League years.

A couple of years passed and I was getting heavily involved in the Desoto Little Theatre, while coaching and teaching. [I was much younger then!] One of the theatre members recruited a couple to the group, Jim and Michelle Miller. Jim's brother, Gary, was also interested. As it turned out Gary Miller and David were working at the same place - Dollar Store, maybe.

Gary got into the acting end of theatre, mostly character roles - which fit his personality. He was a character! David wanted no part of acting, but was willing to help with set building and hauling props, if Gary and I were in a play together.

Both of them were baseball fans. David was a Cubs and Red Sox fan; Gary, the Mets and Orioles. Me? Loyal only to the Reds! When I needed an assistant coach, both jumped at the opportunity. David had learned to keep the scorebook while playing for me, so took on that job.

In addition to Little League and the theatre, we spent a good deal of time at the local Pizza Hut, took in a few Spring Training games and Port Charlotte Rangers games. [Texas trained in PC back then.]

The three of us were pretty much inseparable until Gary got married in about 1993. He did another play or two. David stuck with the coaching until he landed a job out of state. I quit coaching in 1993. Acting burn-out set in by 1995.

I saw Gary on occasion, but married life and work were keeping him busy. David lived in Georgia and Tennessee working security jobs. We talked about once a month. I got heavily involved with the family history research, retired in '03 and came back to Indiana in '08.

Phone tag and Christmas cards kept us in contact until Gary passed away in early December of 2012 at 62. [David called to break the news.] We had a running gag with his birthday. For a bout three months every year h was two years older than I was. Drove him nuts!

David and I spoke on the phone about once a month. The last time we talked he was thinking about getting married, so I figured the big event was occupying his time. That never happened. David was only 50.

Two stories really stand out.

During "Look Who's Laughing" [a play about a hot-tempered father (me), who bets his best friend (Gary) that he can hold his temper for a set period of time. Needless to say, everything possible happens to set him off.] Gary's character was warning the gal who played my wife, waving his finger at her. Paulette slapped his hand [not scripted, by the way]. Gary went bug-eyed and totally lost his concentration, before bursting into uncontrollable laughter. We all lost it. Fortunately, it was dress rehearsal.

During a Little League game, one of our more temperamental players got called out on strikes and threw his bat and helmet to the ground. As the ump prepared to eject him, I roared, "Oh no you don't, he's mine! You can only kick him out of the game, I can bench him forever!" [Yelling at umpires was not my thing, so it took awhile for the ump to recover.] David could be a wee-bit hot-headed and this was a prime opportunity. As the kid entered the dugout, David simply said, "Sit." The kid just sat there waiting for the eruption that never came. Best thing David could have done. [The guilty ball player had a complete change of attitude. He became our lead-off batter and turned into one of the best hitters on the team.]

Even though I hadn't seen Gary since a couple of months before I left Florida and David since he had moved to Georgia, there were a lot of memories crammed into the years that we hung out together. Those will stay.

Good-bye guys!

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