Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28th

February 28th, 1973: Dad went back for more treatment today. He says it makes him short of breath and tired. The nurse said it would do this. Barney Roodhouse came down tonight and sat with dad for awhile. And tomorrow, Paul Beckenholt is taking dad to Quincy for his third treatment. Yup. I guess dad's got a few friends.

February 28th, 2013: People had been, and were, stepping up to help. Friends of dad. Friends of mom and dad. Dad's friends in particular, were probably able to keep the mood lighter than if mom were along all the time. It would serve that purpose. And to allow mom to continue to be the homemaker she was. Keep a routine, cook, and look after me.

Dad had said the cobalt treatments made him short of breath. I would think the cancer would have, too. Warren Zevon, a musician I admired, noted that it was shortness of breath that tipped him off something was wrong. He was right. And he lasted a little over a year after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Byron "Barney" Roodhouse was one of about a half dozen really close friends of dad. Paul Beckenholt as well. Barney had done a little bit of everything. I'm not sure what he was doing at the time. He had a teaching certificate. When I was really little,  he managed a news agency that was two doors north of the hardware store.

The northwest side of the square evolved in the 60's. But early on, the businesses went like this, from the alley north. Pittsfield Hardware, McGann's grocery store, the news agency, Brant's bookstore, Floyd's Jewelry, Kientzel's Shoe store, Town & Country, and Carl Cunningham's plumbing and heating. Dad bought the grocery store space, and Brant's bought the news agency space. Both to expand their businesses, in the early to mid-60's.

Mr. Beckenholt had a daughter, Sally, who was a lot older than me. Maybe 10 years. It didn't keep me from having a crush on her. If dad took his coffee break at the news agency where Sally worked, I was always eager to tag along.

Eventually, the coffee breaks moved to The Bowl, on the southeast side of the square. It was a restaurant-lounge, and bowling alley. The guys called it the eight o' clock coffee bunch. Dad would go there, after opening the store at 7 a.m., once Peachy got to work. John Blake owned The Bowl. Most of the regulars were Blake, dad, Roodhouse, Beckenholt, Ed Pease, Albert "Bud" Schimmel, Elmo James, and Ivan Knapp. These guys were friends and jokesters.. Not mean-spirited, but borderline ornery. Usually, one of the gang was the victim of the others. Dad used to say, "If you're gonna dish it out. You have to be able to take it."

Ed Pease operated State Farm Insurance. Beckenholt worked at G&W Furniture. Schimmel was an attorney. James had a heating and plumbing business. Knapp had a construction firm. A few had nicknames. Roodhouse was "sewer bass Barney" because he loved to fish. Elmo James was "Crisco." I don't know the origin of that one. Knapp looked like Col. Sanders, of chicken fame. He was... "Col. Sanders."

I'm sure it hurt the guys to see one of the group in a bad way. They may have joked, but any one of these guys would have given the shirt off their back to help the one in trouble, when the chips were down.

Beckenholt, Pease, Roodhouse, and I believe, Schimmel, would wind up being four of the six of dad's pallbearers.

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