Tribute to a Friend

For almost all of my adult life, my best friends have always been women, and my wife is my best friend of all time.

But during my mid-twenties, I had a couple of special male friends, too. And one of those was Morgan Dilver.

Morgan was a very dark black man who specialized in making people laugh. I’ll never forget this tale.

A drunk walked up to him on the street one day.  “Are you a Negro?”  (Yes, that’s the word he used.)

Morgan rolled his eyes as only he could do and said, “No, I’m from Mexico.”

The drunk looked at him kind of funny. “I’ve never met anyone from Mexico before.”

Morgan rolled his eyes again. “Well, this is what we look like.”

Morgan was a teacher—or was he a counselor? It’s been a very long time. *sigh* But he also served as the girls’ cheering squad coach at the local high school. And once he demonstrated to me the cheer he would have taught his girls if he’d had a mute cheering squad. Too funny to attempt to describe here.

We used to take an occasional Saturday day trip to Ocean City, Maryland—we drove the sixty miles in his big white car–“The Ghost.” We had the most fun laughing at the reactions of people who stared at him in disbelief when he sat there on the blanket slathering on an overabundance of suntan lotion.

In 1972 I wrote a rock opera which a cast of fifty or sixty people participated in our single performance of. Morgan soloed as John the Baptist. The Bible says this about John’s food and apparel: “John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” Morgan borrowed some sort of camel-colored fur from his mother for the occasion.

Hmm. Maybe not quite biblical, but 100% Morgan.

When my first wife and I were getting married—nine hundred miles from my home in Maryland—Morgan and Bob, another good friend, drove through a snow storm to be groomsmen in the wedding. We weren’t sure how people would react to our having a black participant, but we loved Morgan for who he was. If anyone had an issue with his race, that was their problem.

Morgan won folks over in typical style. Especially my grandmother-in-law to be.

Once I was married, Morgan didn’t play as important a role in my life as he’d done previously, and we lost touch with him completely after moving to Richmond in 1984.

I’m not even sure how or when we found out that he’d died—he wouldn’t have been much over forty if he was even that old—but I still miss him.

Lord, I know he’s keeping You laughing up there in Heaven, and I can hardly wait to catch up on all of the stories I’ve missed or forgotten about.

P.S. I regret not having any pictures of Morgan to include with this post.

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If you have memories of a special friend, won’t you share them with a comment?

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

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Not Just a Fancy Purple Shirt

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(click on thumbnails above to see larger images)

What do you think of my purple shirt? If you like it, join the crowd. I haven’t owned a piece of clothing that has drawn so many positive comments since I dressed in the style of the 1960s and early 1970s and looked at least a tad like a hippie.

This shirt has a story, and it means more to me than just being the most expensive shirt I’ve ever owned. (I still can’t believe I actually paid $40 for it, though.)

My wife and I walk two miles together four days a week, and I walk by myself one additional day when she’s not available. One of my advantages in being retired is I can walk any time.

We prefer walking in the neighborhood because we can give our miniature dachshund a good workout. Those short little legs seem to do well with the two times around the loop that adds up to two miles.

But the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Sometimes it’s too hot or too cold, windy, rainy, or snowy. Other times we just need a change of scenery. So it’s off to the local mall—one mile up the road.

We see quite a variety of stores in our trek around the mall, but one that invariably catches my attention is the Harold Pener Man of Fashion store. If you’re not familiar with it, Man of Fashion is a predominantly black (African/American if you prefer) store. Not only do they have the most interesting clothes on display in the window, they use a small kiosk that’s out in the center of that part of the mall to model additional menswear.

Many months ago I noticed the purple shirt in the window. I made the mistake of falling in love with it. I’d been inside Harold Pener a time or two, so I knew it wouldn’t be cheap.

Nonetheless, after passing it several more times that week and drooling a little more each time, I mentioned it to my wife.

You need to keep one thing in mind. Kathleen is excellent at sticking to the budget we agreed to when we got married. Neither of us believes in buying things we don’t need, but she’s also sometimes too good at asking, “Do you really need that?”

That doesn’t mean she likes to torture me, though, and she’s quite unselfish.

So the next time she walked the mall with me, I pointed the purple shirt out, and she offered to go inside and take a closer look. So far, so good. Better than I’d expected, in fact.

Whoops! They didn’t have that shirt in my size. Not the purple one. They did have the same pattern in three or four other colors, several of which were almost good enough. But almost doesn’t cut it. Not at $40.

While we were looking at the other colors, our enterprising salesperson decided to check the shirt in the window. YES! My size. Medium.

When we reached the register, I smiled and said, “Not right for you folks to have all the good fashion.” While I wouldn’t recommend just any white person saying that, I do get away with a few things at sixty-seven I wouldn’t even have thought to do when I was younger.

Anyhow, we all laughed at my comment, and we had a good conversation.

You know, I”ll bet a number of white men would feel funny going into Harold Pener, but not me. I was a (potentially) paying customer, not simply a fellow of a different race.

I really appreciate the fact I felt so comfortable there, and I always wave when I pass by, whether I see anyone looking or not. I still see things I like in the window, but we can’t afford to have me stray from the budget that way very often.

So I view my purple shirt not just as a fine, favorite piece of clothing, but as a symbol of good race relations.

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger