My Friend Mike
In 1966, I delivered a new Failing CFD-1 from Enid, Okla., to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. I had to go over the inventory, as no one at Georgia Tech knew one part from another. Before leaving, I applied for the job as driller. Before I got home on the bus, I had a letter offering me a position as a research technician (driller).
About 1967, I was working for the Georgia Institute of Technology in south Georgia. My friend and associate we'll call Mike was my driller's assistant. Mike turned out to be a good friend to our sons, Bess and myself.
Mike taught both of our sons to swim while we were staying in a motel in Adel, Ga. He taught them to dive without holding their nose. He always gave the boys a rough time and they loved it. I guess that's the reason they are such good swimmers today.
When we weren't working, Mike would spend much of his time in our motel room wrestling and cutting up with our sons. Bess would have to send Mike home an hour before bedtime so she could get the boys to settle down.
Our sons had bought a real life-like rubber snake. Once when the maids came to clean our room, Mike was playing with this rubber snake. He'd talk to the snake and say, “You rascal, you'd like to bite me, wouldn't you?” The maids asked, “What kind of snake is that?” Mike said, “It's just an old rubber snake.” The maids said, “We've never seen one of those around here. What do you do with it when you aren't holding it?” Mike said, “We just let it run loose in the room.” The next day and for days after, when the maids came to clean our room, before they would enter, they would ask us, “Where's that snake?” When Mike was there, he would call, “Snake, snake, where's that darn snake?” These maids always were afraid to come in our room after that.
In the evening, when we would go to the motel restaurant to eat, we would go by Mike's room to see if he wanted to go with us. Once we went by his room and he wasn't there, but his motel key was in the door. We could see Mike in the restaurant, so we decided to have some fun - we put the key in Bess' purse and didn't say anything to Mike. We had dinner together and went back to our respective rooms. We got to Mike's room and he discovered his key was missing.
There was a large group of young cheerleaders staying at the motel. I suggested to Mike that maybe one of the cheerleaders took his key. Mike asked every cheerleader he saw if they took his key - of course they had not. Mike told a group of several cheerleaders that he would give $20 to get into his room. One of the cheerleaders asked, “Really?” Mike said “Yes, really.” So the cheerleader went to the motel office and got the manager to open his door. When the manager left, the cheerleader put out her hand to Mike and said, “Give me my $20.” Mike stuttered a little and said, “No, I meant $20 to get my key.” The cheerleader asked, “You're not going to give me my money?” Mike said, “No …” She closed the door, and Mike still couldn't get into his room. Mike had to get the manager to let him in his room again. A few days later when things cooled down a little, we put Mike's key back in his door. To this day, I'm not sure Mike knows where his key went or where it came from.
I left Georgia Tech in 1967 and Mike stayed on. I started my own business in Adel. One weekend, Mike came by to visit on his way back to Alabama for the weekend. He asked Chris (“Piglet”) if he wanted to go home with him. He wanted to go, so Mike loaded Piglet in his truck beside him and whispered to us that he would drive Piglet around the block, knowing Piglet would change his mind when they were out of our sight. Wrong, Piglet was set on going. Mike brought Piglet back and told him, “Not this time, maybe another time.” Piglet started crying and didn't want to get out of the truck. Mike asked Bess' brother, Ervin to get Piglet out of the truck. Ervin said, “You got him in, you get him out.” Mike set Piglet out of the truck and Piglet really started crying. At age four, Piglet was serious about going home with Mike. Mike gave Piglet a dollar, that didn't work; two dollars didn't work. At five dollars, Piglet began to stop crying. Before Mike drove away, several of Piglet's friends asked Piglet if he would give them a dollar. Piglet started handing out dollars - easy come, easy go. Mike knew better than to ask Piglet to go home with him again.
Over the many years, we hadn't seen or heard from Mike. Then about a year ago, after reading my “Porky's Hole Thoughts” articles, Mike called to say he had retired and moved back to Alabama.
I tried to call Mike to get his permission to use his last name in this article, but his number apparently has changed. Perhaps he will read this article and give me a call.
In the last month, two grade school classmates have found my articles on the Internet and gave me a call. Maybe that will be another story.