Wednesday, April 08, 2015


A close childhood friend of mine died yesterday.  It was a shock.  He was, when last seen in New York, a robust man who would insist that I go to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central with him and eat that heavy New England clam chowder that was almost indigestible.  He ate it with gusto while my order would be cole slaw and the more soupy Manhattan clam chowder.

His family moved near mine when he was in the seventh grade and he was almost immediately my best friend.  His entire family became a bedrock for me, as with no siblings in a small place my adolescence and my father could not house me well.  Touch football in the street was a ritual for all in the neighborhood.  I almost lived with his family at times other than meals.

My friend, the oldest of their tribe, was with me almost all of the time for a couple of years and we went camping together at their then lot, soon cabin, in Wildwood, a preserve on a lake in nearby North Carolina.  Who picked us up and dropped us off I have no idea.  We talked and talked about our thoughts and dreams, our childhood predicaments, and nothing touching on the present, and we made foil wrapped steak, carrots, and potatoes the Boy Scout way in a campfire.

As we got older our pathways diverged somewhat and we drifted apart a bit, although we remained completely tied together through his family.  In the 80's, our business contacts and travels brought us close together at times, in both New York and Denver, and the follow ups were mostly completely welcome and reaffirming.  We were especially great friends at Jazzfest in New Orleans almost each year in the '80's and 90's, which was an unexpected priority for both of us. He would meet up with me there, and at times with my parents on the balcony of the then Noble Arms where they always stayed, room 7, and they tremendously enjoyed his company.  We would sit on that balcony waiting for my predictably late friend as he walked down the street near Royal happily whistling loudly to himself but for all to hear.

Those were wonderful times for the most part, reinvigorating that childhood friendship.  In the year 2001 and 2002, maybe not precise, we met up in our hometown, with my younger child and his children at the time at their family house.  Once they all went sledding in their steep front yard. My good friend was a bit taciturn and preoccupied at times, maybe due to his then new assumed patrician role, but with their hospitality, first his wonderful senior mother, my friends his siblings, and the extended family, it was completely welcoming. As always it felt like a second home. Another time on a summer visit we all played card games as a group late into the night and his children were a joy, as was my one there.

That's it.  My friend lived in his world out west and I lived in mine here in New York.  We both discontinued our relationships with major companies at about the same time in the mid-2000's, and as far as can be known here he continued to be able to have a good lifestyle with his assets and his aspirational deal making.

Now he has just died.  No reasons yet but a guess from a brother suggests maybe lifestyle wear out. That is troubling.



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