Richard Whitehorn died last week. Following a long slug-fest with cancer. Richard was just a year ahead of me in school and we weren’t close growing up. But I have lots of memories of him.
I don’t know if Richard was a bully or I was just intimidated by him. But he projected a kind of tough guy image. He and his BFF Tommy Crunk were like Butch and Sundance, tooling around town in Whitey’s ’57 Chevy. When the Honda motorcycle craze hit, Crunk and Whitey were among the first to own them. Yes, they were dashing.
One hot summer night during high school, my friends and I pooled our money and gave it to Whitey to buy us the beer we were not quite old enough to purchase ourselves. We also gave him a detailed list of what each of us wanted. He returned with a case of Champagne Velvet. Nasty stuff that was much cheaper. (“You guys had just enough money.”) A really bad guy would have just taken our money. Whitey gave us beer and a little lesson in free enterprise.
As an adult, Richard (I don’t know if anyone still called him Whitey by then) became a crop duster. Hard to imagine a more fitting occupation. Our friend Pam attended Richard’s funeral this past weekend in Kennett.
“It was sad as hell. They had visitation starting at 11:00 and a graveside service at 2:00. The funeral was over, the preacher had just said “amen” and closed the Bible when I heard someone say “here they come” and I wondered, who’s coming? I looked in the direction I heard some noise and here came 3 Pawnee crop dusters in formation, streaming smoke like they were Blue Angels, tree top high right over the funeral tent. Once past the left and right planes peeled off and the middle plane pulled up. I think everyone lost it at that point.”
To which Richard would have growled, “What are you pussies crying about?”