Sunday, December 14, 2008
In Memory of...
So on some days I would just assume not open email or answer the phone or for that matter read the Gazette obituaries (yeah, I’m now at that age where I go there rather quickly.)
As of now I learned all three ways about that irrevocable thing we call--oftentimes only in a whisper--death. And the People’s Republic of Amherst is now ever so diminished by the loss of these three individuals.
From an email I learned of the sudden sad passing of Amherst Call Firefighter David Pollack (the song refrain “Only the good die young” springs to mind--but that would cast a shadow on the other two, who were not exactly young but still full of life the last time I saw them.)
I only met David a few times (the most recent 9/11 ceremony at the Amherst Central Fire Station was the last time) but we obviously shared that core respect for all things American that he was happy to tell me about and encourage me to fight on.
Homer Cowles, the quintessential Yankee Farmer, also passed last week that I was surprised to see in the Gazette. Strangely enough, in addition to forever farmer and long-time service in Town Meeting and a half-tenure as Select man he was also a former call firefighter who worked his way up to Deputy Chief in charge of training the Student and Call force (although retired by the time David Pollack came on board)
I can honestly say in my 15 + years enduring Town Meeting Purgatory, the ONLY person I ever looked forward to walking up to the podium to speak was Homer Cowles who just had that engaging homespun way of telling a story.
And my long-time neighbor--and even longer time commercial landlord--Dick Johnson, a larger than life kind of guy (who always wore a cowboy hat and at well over 6 feet tall let’s just say he stood out in a room) succumbed to cancer.
When I was a teen-ager living in the Amherst Irish enclave of Crow Hill, THE upper crust place to be (that my mother only dreamed about) was Echo Hill Development (built by Dick Johnson and his long-time partner Gerry Gates).
And as part of the attraction they had an indoor swimming pool and outdoor tennis courts that spun off from the housing development and became the stand-alone Hampshire Fitness Center, my main business competitor for the first ten or 15 years of my existence (now of course it is Ponzi scheme idiots like Planet Fitness)
Although he tried to stay below the radar over the past 40 years or so I did hear that in the late 70’s or early 80’s Dick ran for Select Board and lost. No big surprise since that was about the time Amherst started down the road to anti-business zealotry.
Rest in peace my three friends. You will be—and in fact already are--missed.