(Written on the occasion of the unexpected death of a classmate)
I was starting third grade at a new school. My family had moved to a new old house, and the neighborhood kids all went to a different school than the one I was attending. So, I got to be the new kid at home and at school.
Before long, a few kids from school who lived fairly close to our new home became my best friends. One of those kids was Bobby McGuire.
Bobby lived only a few blocks away. He wasn’t an only child, but his step-sister was older and not around. He had a drawer full of sweaters and matching socks.
His home was not like mine in some ways that are a big deal to a little kid. For one thing, they had a fridge in the basement stocked with little bottles of Coke. And, when Sprite was introduced, they had that too. He could have it whenever he wanted. At our house pop was a treat, and was always a store brand.
His family had a color TV, which was also a big deal in the early 60s. And, he had a Columbia Record Club membership, giving him access to all the records he wanted. We’d sit in their family room and watch color TV, or drink Coke while listening to the new Beach Boys or Four Seasons record.
We did outside kid stuff too, like throwing and kicking the football around – once breaking a window. We played baseball, and ran around playing war or spy or whatever.
We spent a lot of time together, along with time spent with our other classmates.
I think it was in junior high school that his family moved to a nice house on the lake. Thanks to my bike, we continued to spend some time together, but not as much. He hosted several boy-girl parties at his house, featuring slow dancing to “Cherish” by The Association. We were learning to be a little less awkward.
Once high school came around we were still friends, but going from a class of 25 to a class of 900 changed things.
I’m writing this because Bobby – Bob, in recent years – passed away over the weekend. We had seen each other a few times over the past ten years. He had a wonderful wife who was a high school classmate, and judging by photographs on Facebook, two wonderful adult kids.
Bob was a truly nice and generous guy. He was congenitally positive and had an explosive sense of humor. Being happy seemed to come naturally to him.
I am very sad that he has died, and saddest for his family. I’m also glad for the memories of Bob, and for the reminder of what a positive influence he was on the younger me. I wish I had told him so.