Friday, June 16, 2017

A Man I'll Never Forget

You know that thing we call the "public personality"? That is, the best side of ourselves that we present to the world. We often joke about this, especially when our real self is something quite different. Bill Cosby might be an example of that, or countless others that seemed like somebody nice, when underneath it all, they were nothing like that. Irvin Snodgrass, seemed to have a public personality that was too nice to be believed...and let me tell you, I waited over 40 years to see a crack in that persona and never saw it. He had that special knack of greeting me with "Edward!" (emphasis on ward) like he hadn't seen me in years and that greeting lasted a lifetime. He was truly one of the few people I've ever met that didn't have a mean bone in his body. 
He was the personality at Snodgrass Hardware, at the art shows, at sporting events. If there was a gift he truly, deeply had, it was the gift of making friends of strangers. Wherever we went, he had stories and somebody that was glad to hear them. 

He was that thing that is so hard to find these days, an old Florida boy. From the story about going up into the cave at the head of the spring at Rock Springs as a teenager, catching alligators, to being the pitcher for the senior fast-pitch league. I'd have to say that my love of adventure had to come from trying to keep up with this guy. The strange thing is that most of what I remember comes from his middle life, and he had more adventures than most of us before that time. If you knew him, you knew he liked to drive and that there was always going to be a shortcut, and you would end up somewhere in the dark, or soon after. The only thing that could make him stop somewhere on a trip was a big game on TV. Of course that big game could have been the national Little League Championships, but if there wasn't a sports event on the TV, exploring in the car needed doing.

Most of us have Irvin to thank for our love of fishing. He didn't collect rods and reels, lures, and tons of fishing stuff, he'd just borrow somebody else's and go out and catch fish. For Irv, fishing meant get in the boat, find a good spot and get out of the boat. He brought up 2 generations of kids that have no fear of the water, and as the guy that married into this clan, I had to go against my natural born fear of what was in the water where I couldn't see it.
I can still remember being 19 years old and standing in Redfish pass, side by side with what seemed like dozens of fishermen hauling in snook after snook. Irvin said to me, "You'd better remember this day, because you'll never see another like it." He was right, and I can also remember taking my lumps because I was the only one there afraid of sticking my hand in the bucket with the live shrimp....even Pam was making fun of me. You had to grow a thick skin quick with this family.

Yes, you needed a thick skin, because quite early in your membership to the family, you learned about Irv's love of hiding your food. Not just any food, but the thing you wanted most, maybe a hamburger, maybe a dessert, but if you looked away at the wrong time, it would disappear. There wasn't a kid in the family that didn't know to say, "I didn't want that food anyway" no matter how hungry they were.  Nope, trips and family get-togethers were never boring and we now have 2 generations of kids that hide food and put hot sauce on each other's wings.

I would love to get in a time machine and go back and see Irvin with his friends in high school and college and see some of the stories he told me about from his youth. Even if half of them were true, it would be enough.

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