I’d planned to stop by the hospital last week to visit an old friend. More an old friend of my fathers, since he was 85 and a lifelong (until Dad died in ‘94) friend of his. They'd grown up a stones throw over the hill from one another.


 I’d planned to stop by the hospital last week to visit an old friend. More an old friend of my fathers, since he was 85 and a lifelong (until Dad died in ‘94) friend of his. They'd grown up a stones throw over the hill from one another.
 One of the things they had as a common bond besides being neighbors in this rural farming area was automobiles. Both spending a lifetime working on them. More a kinda avocation, not to make living. Just because they “lived” ‘em. Growing up when cars themselves were still kinda “new”? Young guys all seemed intent on takin’ ‘em apart and puttin’ 'em back together. This didn’t require too many tools, just ingenuity. Cars were mechanical, with simple “electrics” and no electronics.
 Tellin’ stories about the cars was part and parcel with working on ‘em. Dad used to tell the story (doin' a passin’ imitation of Jesse’s high-pitched story tellin’ voice) of the time he stopped by on a cold winter day. He’d spotted Jesse out by a fence post rubbin’ his hands together rapidly doin’ something?
 On calling out, “Hey Jesse! What the heck are ya doin’ there?” Jesse replied, “ Why, I’m lappin’ the valves for this ole automobile”. Takes expensive, complicated machinery to do that nowadays. He was doing it by hand with some rubbing compound and a level fence post top!
 Another time, back when Cadillac first brought out their front-wheel drive, Dad asked him how he liked that fancy front-wheel drive car? Jesse replied, “Why..., it’s alright I guess, but ya gotta watch the durn thing in snow. It’ll crawl right off in the woods with ya!”. The stories go on, but that’s not why I’m writing?
 I mentioned I was gonna stop by the hospital. I’d seen in the paper that he’d been admitted. Having seen him a week or so earlier at the dedication of the new pavilion for the little Pine Mill Church picnic grove, I knew he wasn’t feeling well. While the outdoor services were held, he’d remained in his truck.
 Afterwards, when the music started I went to see if he wanted to come closer to the music? As we spoke, he observed that his health wasn’t so good, his body was letting him down. I said, “Aw, Jesse, yer gonna live to be a hundred”. He replied softly, “Naw, I don’t think so.” Grinnin’ he added, “I don’t think I’ll make the year.”
 So as I sat in the diner thinking I wasn’t dressed too well to visit the hospital, a fella stopped to ask if I’d heard about Jesse? I said yeah, he’s in the hospital. But this acquaintance said no..., he’s down at the funeral home.
 I forgot about my state of dress. Shortly after 7pm I was in line at the funeral home. During the long wait in line, I thought about the old gentleman lying alone inside, surrounded by friends and family. Having spent his lifetime living near “crooked creek” in the little area known as Pine Mill, I thought about how his life had affected others.
 He’d been what some folks might call “poor” most of his life? Never did much to draw attention or get his name in the papers. Yet I felt my world was somehow diminished by his passing? Slowly, as I inched forward in that long line I began to realize how he’d added to this old world.
 Married young, he and Grace (his wife, Not the “Grace” that shows up in this column occasionally) started having a family. When he departed this world last week, counting kids, grandkids and great grandkids, he’d left behind 99 (!) descendants.
 How many men living today leave such a legacy behind?
 From such humble beginnings in a small, country homestead. There came a host of active church members, community leaders, folks who served our country in the military. A family that grew to just about be a community of their own! One filled with love and history and laughter.
 Maybe the headline I’ve used here is wrong? The little world we occupy is perhaps not so much diminished, as enlarged by the life of this old gentleman. Memories and stories about him will live on through the scores of family members (not to mention friends) who knew him down though the years.
 As I passed by and said my farewells, I said I wished Dad were there to say goodbye. Then it occurred to me, those two were probably just saying “Hello” again!
 I Don’t Know About You..., I don’t expect to leave this world improved as much as Jesse J. Young has. See ya, Jesse!
Cal Teeple, founder of the Observational Cogitation Consortium is often found three stools down. Where he may be ignored, accosted or contacted. Also At: wayneindependent.com/cal.