Bob Varnum

People used to sit outside on their porches on lawn chairs. Part of this custom allowed for friendly encounters and conversations to occur as a result of random meetings from people passing nearby.

Our next door neighbors were a family of three, dad and mom and one teenage son, Kenny. Kenny was a kind guy but, being five years older than me, our relationship was basically exchanging the occasional friendly “Hey”. Kenny was a great basketball player and he practiced on a hoop his dad had built on the back side of their shed. This was a gathering place from Kenny’s buddies and one of those was a guy named Bob. When the games were over, Bob would often stop and chat with my dad while he was sitting on the lawn chair. I would listen intently because Bob was kind of a role model. Unlike some of the tougher sort at Knoch High School he seemed to live the kind of Ozzie and Harriet life I preferred. He was proof it could be done. There were successful good guys.

One night of Bob’s senior year, while returning from a date and trying to get home before the under 18 driving curfew, he attempted to beat a train at the notorious Picklegate Railroad Crossing down by the Armco steel mill. Tragically, he died in the accident. The memorial in our yearbook claimed: “Heaven took their favorites early”, presumably so they could be enjoyed up there. One of my favorites was taken from me and there was a hole in my heart. I thought that such a good guy was much more needed down here.