1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

Friend; one who is personally well known
by oneself and for whom one has warm
regard or affection; intimate.

 Dan Duff 09

" Friend; a person who knows everything about you and still likes you." Dr. Charles O. Young.

I canít remember the first time I saw him, but I do remember the first time I was aware of his presence in my life. I was sitting in class and in strolled this kid who quietly took a desk in the back of the room. He apologized for being late for class and informed the teacher that his alarm had failed to go off. This occurred three days in a row and on the third day I made it a point to get aquatinted with this new kid. I found that he lived on my way home from school. I also learned that his mother had taken a position at the federal womenís prison and her shift did not end until after our morning classes started at school. I then decided to take it upon myself to go by and awaken the new kid and make sure he was not late for school. It turned out as I stopped by one morning that my new friend asked me to make him something to eat. I had never thought of that before. I had always awakened to having my breakfast awaiting me and then felt very guilty that I had been dragging this new found friend off to school hungry every day. So I would leave the house a little early, go to my friends, put "Under the Double Eagle" on the record player and cook him eggs and toast. He never said so, but Iíll bet there were mornings when he would have loved to throw me, record player and the eggs out the window.

My friend was a little bigger than most of the kids our age and for some including me, he was a lot bigger. It was soon established that he was the bully of the school. Now before you get your knickers in a wad let me explain. As long as my friend went to our school there was never a bully there. Every once in a while some new kid or some braggart would try to assume that position, but if they did they would get a visit from my friend and would be asked to go a round or two of back alley fist-o-cuffs. I cannot ever remember one ever taking the position, so I guess my friend did his job well.

He was a good athlete and had one of the most promising careers of any kid around those parts, but fate intervened and when fate was done the career was over even before it had a chance to grow. From then on it was just trying to raise a family and make a living like so many of us had to do.

His reputation as a fighter was well know around the county where we grew up. It started after a basketball game with a neighboring high school. One of the players from the visiting team had called my friend a son of a stray female dog during the game. The player must have had a small reputation of his own because after the game my friend looked him up and told him in no uncertain terms that in no way would he have his mother spoken of in those terms. When the smoke cleared the visiting player had to make a dental appointment and my friend spent a few years trying to live down the incident only to be called out from time to time to prove to some guy who needed, as some in the old west would do when they heard of a fast gun, to see if my friend was as good as the stories that were going around. Lucky for my friend he was whisked off to college before there was serious trouble and between his new wife and trying to learn something he grew into a good man.

We went our own way after high school and from time to time we would hook up. It always seemed like we just talked yesterday. But time got away from us both and we became parents and grand parents. Life hit us from every direction and somehow we survived this long.

His doctors say they have found a bad thing inside of him. I am sure that he will take on this opponent just like he has in the past and will fight with all his might and with whatever is necessary to ward off this thing that has invaded him. I find myself standing on the sidelines as I did so many years ago and watch knowing there is nothing I can do. I cannot fight with him or for him. I pray that he wins this time too. I pray that he beats this terrible thing down until it cannot get up again.

If a man has one person whom he can call a friend he can consider himself rich. I can say without reservation that David B. Shields is my friend and for that I consider myself wealthy.