Search Me!

Think about it...

Monday, July 27, 2009

HOM: Bob

Lyn & I'd met Bob & Lorena Hoodenpyle while I was at NNC and they'd come down for their son Don's wedding. When we went to our first Spokane gun show we drove the extra sixty miles down to Colfax to visit them. It was the first of many visits. Bob worked for a cropduster at a small airport just outside the town, mixing chemicals, working with the planes, and acting as a general watchman/caretaker/handyman. One of his side benefits was a place to put the trailer they lived in and access to other buildings where he could set up a shop. Bob was a character and I was proud to call him my friend. I probably had more respect and admiration for him than anybody else I've known. He was one of those guys that was good at everything. He'd worked on a ranch, was an excellent gunsmith, an above average mechanic, a capable welder, a jack of all trades: the kind of guy McGuyver would like to have been. He'd been a construction worker (He'd worked on Libby dam) until he got hurt on the job, struck by a piece of falling pipe. The long-term result was a constant headache that bordered on migraine and the attitude that dying might be a little bit better than living. Taking enough painkillers to dull the ache made him groggy so he just lived with it, though when it slipped over into migraine it was a little more than he could handle. He did not let the pain show. He had no tolerance for fakes or fools and sported a different sense of humor. I'm not sure if you could call it dry or droll, but it took a little getting used to. The combination of deadpan expression, razor sharp wit and quiet delivery tended to keep people off balance. He mentioned that sometimes the headaches wore him down to the point that he was tempted to ease his motorcycle across the white line and plant himself in the radiator of one of those highballing, grain-hauling 18-wheelers on 195. When Lorena said she'd miss him, he put his arm around her and said he'd planned on taking her with him . . . Lorena was one of those great wives, full of love and understanding and a friend and mother to everyone, but she wouldn't get on a motorcycle with him again. His boss was self-consciously bald and sported a champion comb-over. Bob remarked to him that when he leaned over and the hair lifted away from his scalp that it looked like a Buick hood opening. I teased Bob about being unable to touch his toes while I had no trouble touching mine. Bob's only comment was "Well, I'M not built like a penguin!" TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)