We met in first grade, and were best friends into high school. You tried to teach me how to carry a tune, a lost cause but you made a good effort. We spent many hours, talking into the night and trying to solve the world's problems, or at least the ones about girls. You helped me study for the exam in our World History class in 1954. Thanks for your help. I meant to tell you before.
Once, you and I constructed long-range peashooters, high tech for the day, making them from three foot long plastic candy canes purchased at Woolworths 5 & 10. We discarded the curved handle and emptied the candy from the very straight 30” tube, the perfect barrel. Our ammunition peas came from the A&P on East State Street. The best experience of that summer-- shooting from the top of the Ferris wheel when the carnival came to town. We were 7th graders who knew everything worth knowing at the time, in 1951, in Montpelier.
Your father, Ken, was my first boss, and your cousin Tommy, my first co-worker. We painted your parents' apartment house on Main Street. We were fifteen, but we were making good money -- $1.25 an hour. The job went well until we let Ken's brand new, orange, forty-foot wooden extension ladder slip off the third story eave and watched in teenaged horror as it splintered in the driveway next to his construction company office. Ken was talking with his bookkeeper when we walked in and we waited a long, long time to relay our news. He was not pleased with us but was more understanding than we deserved and he kept us on for the rest of the summer. He was also patient when you and I broke the window and when we built a fort inside his drying lumber pile. But, not so much when we dug a grave-sized hole in the middle of your parents' lawn. He insisted, harshly I thought, that we immediately fill it back in. His decision seems more reasonable now, looking back those three score years and five or so. We must have been in fourth or fifth grade.
John still makes me laugh. I remember once, many years ago, when I asked John if he had seen a mutual friend recently, he said, “Yes, I saw him in Burlington but he ducked around a corner before I could get off a clear shot.”
John, today is your 75th birthday. I hope that you and Cathy are out there, and well. Thanks for all the music and wit. I'm glad we were friends.