Ode to Denny

This week, I found out that one of my childhood friends, Denny L. had died in March. I got a call from him this last year and he invited me to drop by and visit on one of my trips to Tulsa and I failed to do that. In case you read my earlier blog, I am a lot saddened by the loss of a good friend but I feel that I need to write about him and some of the fun times we had. Just a few blogs back I wrote about the Mad Dog. That was Denny's dog I wrote about. But let me digress.

Denny and his older brother Gary lived just up the street from us. I really didn't know too much about Denny because he was a grade ahead of me through the 4th or 5th grade. Momma Lawrence had a Navy Bell by the front door. If she wanted to have Gary Come home she would ring that bell Ding, Ding, Ding. When she wanted Denny to come home she would ring it ding-ding, ding-ding, ding-ding. When she wanted everyone to come or go home she would just ring the crap out of that bell and we would all come or go running.

Denny helped his father clean some wild rabbits they had killed and while cleaning them cut himself. That cut let a rare disease get into his system. He developed Tularemia and by the time they figured out what he had, the bacterial disease had done a lot of kidney damage. he had also had a pretty high fever and he was never recovered fully. He joined me in probably the fifth grade and we were in a lot of trouble always. In fact, it think they tried their best to separate us as much as possible. I'm sure we would have both been in Special Education in middle school. In fact Denny did pursue a Vocational Education Degree in High School. He was into Auto Repair and Welding.

I remember a book report that Denny had to give to the fifth grade class and I laughed so hard that I farted when his version of Linoleum came out "bass ackwards". He and I worked on Linoleum, aluminum and Officer for hours so he could give that book report. I think it was about George Washington Carver and Linoleum was one of the uses he discovered for peanuts. I don't think Denny was embarrassed by his inability to say linoleum but he did laugh at my fart. Some guys will go to great lengths to take the pressure off his buddy.

I also remember the time that we were all out driving in Denny's 54 Chevy Convertible. Several of us were fairly drunk and because of his weak kidneys, Denny was as sober as a judge. Someone shouted at a friend downtown on Douglass Ave and a motorcycle cop riding along in the middle of the traffic pulled us over. Denny asked, "What's the problem Ossifer?" I think we all almost got hauled in that night for that one. The great news was that Denny was not drinking and escaped the real wrath of that cop.

Much to the amazement of all concerned, Denny was the first guy in our group to join the Military. he found a billet in the Navy reserve and joined while we were in High School. he was a year older and for some reason his weak kidneys didn't keep him out. He went off to training before his Senior Year and then the next summer after we graduated. I remember he came home from his second summer with a navy tattoo. back in the day, only sailors sported tats. When a lot of us went on to college, Denny went to work at Beechcraft just down the street. He hated his job but it did give him enough money to live on. Within a year or so, I spent just short of three years in the Army and when I returned home, Denny was married and had a couple of sons. We stayed in touch over the years and he was so proud of making Chief Petty "Ossifer" in the Navy.

Because Denny's Mom and my Mom were friends, I heard the stories of his life every time we got together with Mom. Seems like he went through three wives and a lot of jobs. The unfortunate end was caused by the cigarettes that most of us smoked. About 20 years ago, most of my friends took the warnings seriously and stopped smoking. Unfortunately Denny did not. These past few years he went through the typical smoker's battle of lung cancer, a brain tumor and finally bone cancer of the spine. He passed away this last March.

Denny touched the lives of many of us and I'm sure that a lot of people will be saddened at his passing. I'm not sure of the Navy tradition, but the Artillerymen don't go to heaven or hell, we go to Fiddler's Green where we wait for other Artillerymen to stop by and share a canteen of Muzzle Blast and to tell war stories. Perhaps they have a simular place on a beech somewhere where the grog and stories flow freely. I'll bet they have those native women with bare breasts in their version. Those Navy guys always did tell good stories.


1 comment:

  1. My Grandaddy Ferguson was a Navy ossifer;o)

    This post is a beautiful tribute to your friend, MUD. I hope his family has a way of reading it. I bet his kids would like to hear stories of their dad or grandpa when he was young.