I Lost a Friend Today

I received some sad news today. My widowed brother-in-law called me to say that Tommy Kiser had died. You probably didn’t know Tommy Kiser, so let me tell you something about him. I met Tommy in the first grade and we became best friends. Sadly, not forever. He was an excellent athlete and was also left-handed like I am. My family was so poor (we are talking Depression Poor) that I didn’t have a baseball glove. But Tommy’s dad bought him a new one every year, and Tommy always gave me his old glove so I could play baseball. I was also a scrawny kid and the bullies tended to pick on me. When two or three of them got me down, Tommy always came to the rescue and they ended up with bloody noses just like I had. When guys were picking out players for baseball I was always the last one to be chosen and Tommy picked me because I was his friend.

Tommy was a good kid who got along with adults very well. I remember that he and I took my mom fishing one time and he was so courteous and gentlemanly with my mom, much more so than I was I am ashamed to admit. Also, mom was the only one of us three who caught a fish!

When I was a teen, Tommy and I “double-dated.” And if I didn’t have a girl friend, Tommy would find one for me. When we graduated from high school the Korean War was just around the corner. Tommy and I went off to Appalachian State Teacher’s College. Not that we wanted to be teachers, but it was the cheapest school. Tommy dropped out before the Freshman year ended and the next thing I knew he was in the Army.

But Tommy was shrewd and smart. Every time a new MOS was posted on the board, Tommy applied for it. The Army being what it is, before they could process a new assignment for him, he had two more applications in. Simply put, he volunteered for EVERYTHING, and so he never had a permanent job. His name was always in the paper mill. In the meantime, while the Army paper-pushers were processing all of his applications they put him in charge of the mess hall. If you have never been in the military “mess” is what they call food, and it is an appropriate term. So Tommy as Chief Cook had only to report every morning, check the inventory, order supplies, and he was off the rest of the day to play golf on the military golf course. He spent his entire time in the military like that and never had to go overseas and never saw combat. Was that smart, or what?

After the war Tommy went to work for the U.S. Postal Service and delivered the mail until he retired. The last time I saw him was at our thirty-fifth high-school reunion and he had the same crooked happy smile on his face. I never knew him to be down or depressed. He had married “one” of his high-school sweethearts and they were one of the rare couples who stayed together for fifty-seven years “til death do us part.”

I am going to close this blog now because the screen is becoming blurred. I am sorry you never knew Tommy Kiser. He was a good man, a patriot, a good father and husband, and a true American. He was also my oldest friend and although he has left this earth, he will always be in my heart.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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