Sunday, September 7, 2014

Freedom Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

This was going to be a post about my time on Nantucket when I found this picture last week because it was taken there thirty-nine years ago today - September 7, 1975. I vaguely remembered already blogging about that trip but figured I could find something new to say about it. You can find the original post, That Old Cape Magic, here.

Instead, the obituaries in today's Des Moines Sunday Register brought to mind different memories from that time in 1975.

In August that year I had interviewed for a new job. I had become disenchanted with my position as Director of Public Relations and Alumni Affairs at the Des Moines Osteopathic College. So when the owners of Charlie's Showplace, Larry and Mariam McKeever offered me the position as office manager at their recording studio, Lariam House, I gratefully changed jobs. It was one of my all time favorite places of employment.
Office manager suggests I may have had several underlings to direct; in reality it was pretty much a one-woman office, which was always my preference in jobs. The management had more to do with scheduling recording sessions and talent for commercials as well as seeing to it that reel-to-reel and cassette tapes got dubbed and into the mail on time.

Besides Larry and myself there was one other full time employee - Gary Engard. It was his obituary I read in today's Register. He died at his home in Seattle August 12. He was 76 years old. Funny, I might have said he was younger than me. I always thought he had such a child-like, younger brother, air about him, even though I'm sure I knew he was a bit older.
There will be an open house celebration of his life in Des Moines next Sunday. My immediate reaction to reading that was to make plans to go. But I doubt if there would be anyone there I still know; Larry and Mariam are both deceased and I didn't know Gary's family, only that they lived in Urbandale. I didn't even know his wife was from Des Moines until I read his obit. I assumed he met her after he moved to Seattle.

I learned more about Gary from his obituary than I knew about him from working with him for three years. He wasn't exactly shy he just didn't talk about himself much. Except for his years as a bush pilot in Alaska - I did hear stories about those experiences. And I'll never forget him wearing his mukluks into the office when it was cold and snowy. He told us an Eskimo woman had made them for him.
His were the real deal and he was proud of them.

I did know that he had been a floor director at KRNT (now KCCI) when it was a new TV station. I did not know he and a partner had started the Alaska Television Network. His career in Seattle seems to have followed along the lines of broadcast engineering.

Things I do remember about Gary besides his boyish demeanor - he was always willing to take on any task Larry asked of him even when he doubted his own abilities to fulfill said tasks. He worked nights, weekends, early mornings, whatever it took.
He smoked a pipe.

He bought a new Datsun B210 Hatchback which was not considered a very sexy car at that time. That didn't bother him. He happily bragged about its excellent gas mileage.

He was a friend when you needed one.

I never saw Gary again after I moved back home to SW Iowa in May of '78. I heard that he had moved to Seattle and wondered, "Why there? Why not back to the Alaska he loved so much?"

One other memory I have was of his favorite song - Janis Joplin's rendition of Kris Kristofferson's Me and Bobby McGee. I suppose I had heard the song before but Gary is the one I will always associate with it. We even had a discussion about that line, Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. 

This is my celebration of your life, Gary Engard. May you rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. I had totally lost the link to your blog when I messed my own blog up trying to redo it. Thanks to your comment, I have found you again and saved the link on Bloglovin.