Harry was born up some holler, or out some ridge, in an adjoining county. I know that because that particular county isn’t known for its flat land. Like most kids then, he was a farm boy. When he reached adulthood, I believe he did a stint in the army. That would have been about the time of the Korean War. After that, he drove school bus, owned a small dairy farm, was a politically appointed bureaucrat at a surprisingly high level (for a country boy), ran some other businesses for a few years and then took some time out to run the campaigns of some state politicians. Along the way, he married, had a couple kids, got divorced and remarried. His body was in constant motion, but his mouth was super-sonic. If Harry was around, you heard him.
Harry was many things over the years, but above all, he was a REPUBLICAN (not surprising, since his county of birth was then known as a Republican hotbed). He was no “Rockefeller Republican” either, a term coined in “honor” of Nelson Rockefeller in the 60’s, before the term “RINO” came into being. No sir, he was an Abraham Lincoln/Teddy Roosevelt/Dwight Eisenhower/Ronald Reagan-type Republican. You might even say that he was a Republican’s Republican. And, he would make that clear within minutes of meeting him, if he judged that you were a political brother. His conversation style was that of a local historian, political commentator, gossip, story-teller and hyper-active stand-up comic all rolled into one. He talked so fast that he nearly ran out of breathe and laughed joyously at his own jokes. If anyone could be called a “colorful character,” it was Harry. And his language was a bit colorful, too, despite him being a regular church-goer.
I first met Harry when he learned that I sold firewood to his neighbor. I sold him an occasional load of wood after that, but mostly, he liked to come over to the sawmill and buy all the slabs he could haul on his pickup for $5. Like most folks, Harry appreciated a good deal. If I wasn’t in the middle of doing something else, I’d even help him load up, not to get rid of him faster, but for the entertainment. He was ALWAYS interesting, and some of his tales seemed more than a little on the tall side. One day after a particularly “interesting’ story, I looked him in the eye and asked, “Harry, has anyone ever told you that you’re just plumb full of sh_t?” In utter silence, a look of disbelief and deep hurt came over his face and stayed for a couple seconds, then, he laughed like a hyena and proceeded to tell a taller tale than he’d just finished.
I quit running the sawmill when I went to work at the factory, so it got to where I saw little of Harry. Eventually, I heard that he’d died. Sometime later, his quiet, sweet little widow came to our church for a couple years. We enjoyed her company for her own sake, but we also shared stories of Harry. Once, when I commented on what a quiet person she was, she quipped that it was a result of not getting a word in edgewise for 35 years! Eventually, she moved in with her stepson, in another state. We traded cards for a while, but eventually they quit coming, so I figured she either passed away herself, or was no longer able to respond. And so, I lost my last connection with Harry.
Harry would be ashamed if he could see what the leadership has done to the party of Lincoln. I’m no longer a member myself, having left the party when they thought RINO John McCain was a worthy presidential candidate. The change in this country might even leave poor Harry speechless, but not for long, I’d wager. I’ve always liked colorful characters; they make life interesting. Sometimes, I miss ol’ Harry; there was no-one else quite like him, THAT’S for sure! May he rest in peace. © 2013-