A few days back I was taking a walk . . . and remembered Louie. I met Louie in Coaldale. We had a lot in common. Lou was in his early 70's and I was in my late 30's. I worked at an arcade Lefty opened for the children and teens. There really was nothing (constructive) for them to do in the area for leisure--I remember a school bus would come through town once a week or so in the evenings just to transport area kids to a skating rink a few towns away for something to do. We had a few video games, a couple pool tables, a vending machine for snacks and a refrigerator in the storage room stocked with iced tea from Guers dairy--25 cents. There was also a table and chairs. I found this Formica top kitchen table and painted it in bright colors with a checker board in the center.
Louie needed to know what was going on around town. I gather he stalked Lefty long before I arrived on the scene. But when Lefty moved on to another location doing what he does, I was frequently visited by Louie at the arcade. Every day. And I thank God. Louie contributed a Mr Coffee. And we used it. Evey day. And we used the checkerboard. Every day. We became close friends. And it rubbed off on some of the local kids too who enjoyed our company. I can't put into words at this moment what that was . . . Maybe two people with nothing between them but time. It was wonderful.
I've had a few of those relationships in my life and I miss them dearly. My Pap. He was partially paralyzed by a stroke at 42. He was a chain smoker and angry. He didn't have many visitors I guess because of those conditions. He was told he wouldn't walk again--He did. He was told if he didn't quick smoking he would surely die--He did . . . at 83. He was an amazing man to me and I loved to sit with him. On a limited government income he managed to save. He arranged and payed for a 25th wedding anniversary party for my parents. And every child grandchild and great grandchild received money at every birthday, anniversary, Christmas and Easter. I loved and admired him.
And Shirley--who cleaned the local laundromat. I developed a relationship with her. I've been in my apartment 17 years. I've used the same laundromat all 17. Shirley was there a long time. She moved away a couple years ago and I lost touch. I would go to her apartment behind the laundry and visit. She would have ring bologna and root beer. And we would play Parcheesi. She so looked forward to that--and so did I. And we would talk. Always talk.
Like the rain these relations slowed me down. They cleansed me of life's big issues for a moment. They were "old people". I think we devalue them.
LOUIE BRIDA died September 18, 2012 at 81. He and Bernice fed me and we watched Penn State football on the weekends.. I was comfortable enough to fall asleep on their living room floor. They celebrated 55 years of marriage. Bernice (Berny) passed January 18, 2018 at 89.--I miss you Louie.
RAYMOND BARTHOLOMEW passed November 29, 1998 at 83 (not from lung cancer)--I miss you Pap.