Have you ever known someone who kept popping up in your life over a period of years without anything in common or ever actually becoming really close friends? I think this is an example of such a thing and I believe it’s a first for me and it took place many years ago so don’t expect exact dates. I have to check my calendar to know what day tomorrow is. I can’t even place an exact date on our first meeting. Hey it was a long time ago somewhere back around 1960 to 61. As I recall I had not had very much experience closing “Norm’s Standard Station” in old B.H.by myself so it had to be in that time frame. My best guess would be late 1961 as I do recall the model car Ted was driving- 1962 Ford Convertible (models were released in Sept. of the reseeding year back then) and it was pretty new. A stranger rolled into town in a flashy new car and asked about a full service for his car and it was approaching the designated time to roll up the streets and closing time. “Sure, drive right onto the rack” was my response or something close to that. A new customer, more business and the last hour or so of my shift – Great. Those late hours in “downtown B.H.” were most often pretty boring as I recall. I think “old Norn” would have closed earlier if he’d been paying me much. I’m sure not complaining about Norm, he was a fine fellow and treated me well but he was struggling- but I digress (something I do very well especially as the tendency accelerates as the years accumulate). The customer was friendly but not very talkative I noted so I got to work on the “service job.” An oil change, filter and a grease job- grease job, a bygone era – and top off the tank. As I was going around the underneath of the car, of special interest because it was pretty new and the customer not a regular, I accidently bumped the inner rear fender with the grease gun. An unexpected sound was emitted and followed by another sound. It sounded like hitting the side of a steel barrel of water or some liquid. Now this was a strange thing and being maybe a tad strange young lad I thought- That ain’t right, I glanced over at the customer who was watching VERY closely what I was doing. He just sort of nodded his head indicting “no big deal.” I continued with the “service”, took the customer’s money for the work and he backed it off the rack (the customer could do that in those days- if they wanted). Later as I closed up I kept thinking “what on earth would make that sound in a fender.” I also noticed the new convertible had air shocks/load levelers on it- pretty exotic at the time in old B.H. Well Ted became a regular customer. Usually late in the evening but we sort of got comfortable with each other. Sometime later, not nearly long enough for regular B.H. customers to need their cars serviced again, Ted returned and needed a full service for his pretty new convertible. I noticed the mileage as I was making out the service sticker- lots of miles since it’s last servie. I was careful to NOT bump the inner fender this time especially because Ted was standing there watching. Frankly I don’t recall where Ted and his family lived in B.H. but I do recall it wasn’t the kind of house you expected to see a new convertible sitting at. Once I was going by and saw him out in the yard and honked my horn and waved but kept going on by. Somehow that was the correct thing to do as after that if he went by the station late in the evening and I was the only one there he’d stop and just BS a while. During one of those BS sessions he asked me why I didn’t question him about bumping the inner fender and the strange sound it made. I sort of smiled and said I figured it wasn’t any of my business. That was again the correct response because he told me his folks lived close to the Jack Daniels distillery and there was some kind of deal in place but that was as much info as he volunteered. Sometime later he stopped and just filled up is tank and told he was moving to Alton. He said folks seem kind of nosey in B.H. I probably just smirked and agreed. So life went on as usual. A year or so later I was going out with a girl who lived very close to the Blocks drive-in that was where the car guys hung out. The street name keeps sliding through my mind but too fast for me to catch it. On one of my visits to her house I noticed a familiar Ford Convertible sitting next door and asked her if she knew her neighbors. “Nope not at all” she said but she did remember about when they had moved in and it fit with Ted leaving B.H. I didn’t go next door and knock or anything. I didn’t think it would be appreciated by him or my date. Usually when I went to see the girl Ted’s car wasn’t there but after some weeks it was there again. I sort of paused when I got out and sure enough Ted stepped out of his front door and came over to B.S. a while. I was glad to visit a while but my date was waiting at her door. I don’t remember if I stopped dating the girl or if Ted moved first but that phase of our friendship passed.
A fairly long period transpired and I was going to work at “The Western.” Leroy Bodecker the foreman was taking some of the new guys through the machine shop and I bet you already know who was standing there operating a drill press. Yep Ted, he just waved a hand so I kept going – new job and all that you know. It wasn’t long and we met up during shift change. We had a chance to visit a while and he said he was quitting the job because the schedule didn’t work out with his other job and just winked. I was a little disappointed but I understood. After that a lot of time passed, a few years for sure. My brother had just gotten out of the hospital in Alton and we were visiting. He was telling me about a strange roommate he had while there. He said the weird thing that started it all out was when he told the roommate he had live in B.H. and they had introduced each other by name. My brother said that his roommate didn’t say much more about his having lived in B.H. right then. Later on the roommate asked him if he’d like a Pizza and beer. Well sure after eating hospital food for a couple of days who wouldn’t? My brother said the guy just reached over and dialed a phone number and had a brief conversation and hung up. He said it’ll be just a little while. Now my brother wasn’t restrained much by rules but he said he just knew the guy was pulling his leg about the Pizza and beer. About 30 minutes later an Alton City cop showed up and handed the roommate a Pizza box and a brown paper bag and walked out. Yep Pizza and a six pack. While they were eating and drinking the roommate asked my brother if he was related to a Roger Waggener from B.H.? Yep folks Old Ted told my brother he was checking out the next day but asked him to say “Hey” to me from my old friend Ted. Ted wouldn’t tell my brother anything else and wouldn’t answer any questions at all. When he asked me I just said “Oh thanks its good hearing from Ted after all these years.” My brother HATED not knowing about everything.