I only just found out today, that an old friend had died nearly 6 mos. ago.
I'm gonna miss that old black man from Arkansas. Mr Woods grew up in Arkansas during the civil rights movement. He didnt like being called African American, because he was after all, from a small farm in Arkansas. You just had to know the guy. He and I worked closely together for more than 10 years. I was introduced to him by his first name, George. I made a bet with him more than 10 years ago, while looking for some material on a job site. I couldnt find it and he swore it was out there. He asked how much I would bet, I told him if he found it, I'd call him Mr. Woods, rather than by his first name, if he didnt, he could call me, nearly 20 years his junior, "Sir". Well, he found it. I've called him Mr. Woods for over 10 years, and no one has ever really known why.
We worked under "less than ideal conditions". We were steel workers, iron workers. We saw a man die on site, and others seriously injured. We always looked out for each other, and saved each other from some very "tight" circumstances. I have held him up when he couldnt stand, as his heart condition got worse. And you know, he always said, "dont tell nobody". Just keep workin.
While working out of town, another one of our guys picked a girl up at a bar. When they went out to the car, some guy got in behind them. It was a set up and our guy was gonna get rolled. Mr Woods wasnt a big man, and me at 5' 10" and 200 lbs, I looked like I was twice his size. But he saw what was going on, and pulled the stranger out of the car physically, saved our little buddy's skin that night. Mr Woods didnt care about the size difference or the odds. We just took care of each other.
His southern draw was thick at best, and I sometimes served as a translator for him. Though I'm told he spoke clear as a bell when he was drunk...
One of my favorite stories, was the time we were all out of town on a job, and his wife sold the house while we were gone. He went home and "there was some white family" livin in his house! So by the time the cops showed up and they got everything straightened out, they realized that he was "the George" his wife was talking about and had left a number for him to call. Well, they had also had a little pitbull then, and as he was ready to go, (he had seen the dog in the back yard) he asked if he could walk through to the back of the house and get his dog. Turns out the dog was sold with the house... He and Evelyn were married 30 years, she passed a couple years ago.
Even though Mr Woods was known to say, "Never trust whitee" or "dont trust that white man in that trailer", when ever I asked him to do anything, it was always "Yes sir Mr capt boss man". I had to remind him once I was white, he said "you aint like that though", still dont know what that means...
If you could just accept the man the way he was, there was never a true-er friend.
I'm gonna miss that old black man from Arkansas.
"I've seen a few men go The Road of the Righteous
And just a few have traveled This Old Lonely Path"
Of course there are loaded guns in the house. I have a loaded fire extinguisher too I hope I never have to use.