I was asked to write a tribute to Dave. A tribute sounds too much like a “Hail Ceaser” approach to Dave’s life. I leave it to the obituaries and other writers to fill in the facts …
I was asked to write a tribute to Dave. A tribute sounds too much like a “Hail Ceaser” approach to Dave’s life. I leave it to the obituaries and other writers to fill in the facts and I will stick with my personal recollections of the man.
First of all, he was a big guy, somewhat lumbering in his walk, and always amused by my hurry to get somewhere when we were together. I would turn to remark on something only to find him a step or two behind with a grin on his face. Forever the observer, a trait that suited his chosen life as a reporter, he didn’t miss much of what the world had to offer at his leisurely pace. Some might say he was a little untidy in appearance, but it was only a disguise to mask his ability to engage without being engaging. With a pipe in his mouth to add to the appearance, he could pass as one of those older reporters in a Turner Classics movie.
Baseball was one of his passions, especially the Mets. He and his mom would seldom miss a televised game. He put up with my allegiance to the Phillies on a trip to Shea Stadium. Fortunately, the Mets won—otherwise, our ride home might have been subdued. Speaking of that game, it must have been 90 degrees in the shade. Dave had suggested we take my car as his air conditioner didn’t work. Perspiration dripping off our faces and our clothes wet, we finally made it back to Barryville. He looked down at my dashboard, turned and grinned at me. I had forgotten to turn on the air conditioner on one of the hottest days of the summer... From then on, he would check my dashboard before starting on a trip.
His love for baseball was only exceeded by his love for Cooperstown. We made many trips there, once during a snowstorm when I succumbed to his weather prediction rather than put off the trip. We made it.
Dave loved to stroll into the many baseball souvenir shops that aligned Cooperstown’s main street. He would pour over the many autographed baseballs and baseball cards. Like the kid in a candy shop, he couldn’t make up his mind. He didn’t mind dropping a hundred or two for a treasured keepsake. Our visits to the Hall of Fame were more of an afterthought for him.
Our day trips to historic sites extended from Annapolis to Ticonderoga. He was always game for any of my suggestions. Once, we even followed the historic Sullivan Trail from Easton, PA to Newtown Battlefield near Elmira. It was here where General Sullivan defeated the British and their Iroquois allies, led by Joseph Brant. So much for the boring history—it was an excuse for the trip.
Anyone who rode with Dave knew his fondness for big cigars: an after-dinner Havana was his delight. He would light up and pull on the cigar till the tip glowed. I would roll down my window and let the aroma drift away. He bought them through a mail-order advertisement that guaranteed freshness. The Havanas were from the Dominican Republic or some such place. He didn’t mind. They were the genuine thing as far as he was concerned.
One of the highlights on our trips was dinnertime. He was an adept trencherman, always ready to try new places and dishes. His favorite spots included the Alpine House in Honesdale and the Fairfield Inn near Gettysburg. He liked raw oysters as well as his mom’s beef rolls, German style. His love of food included wine. He tried to make a connoisseur out of me, but I never got beyond table red or white. Once a year, Dave, his mom, Priscilla, and I enjoyed a New Year’s dinner at an area restaurant; he would insist on going in spite of the weather. I had to convince him to wait a week so we could enjoy dinner and drink or two to toast fellowship and the new year.
He was fond of talking about his father’s former business as the first TV shop in Barryville, the garage that once was his auto shop. Dave picked up his fondness for electronic gadgets from him. He always had the latest camera accessory with him and his pictures added texture to his reporting.
One of last times I saw him was in his role as the lock tender at Sullivan County’s D&H Canal Museum near Wurtsboro. He came equipped with bib overalls, checked shirt and his ever-present smile, right out of the pages of history.
I have a souvenir picture of Dave and me taken at the Gettysburg Museum. Abraham Lincoln is seated in a chair with me on the far right. Dave is on his immediate right with that fixed grin on his face, as if he heard Lincoln tell a funny story. I see that picture everyday and, for me, Dave will always be here.
Enjoy that cigar and glass of wine Dave, and say hello to mom for me.
John claims a slight recollection of the Upper Delaware; having passed through Port Jervis on his way to upstate New York. He and Dave have known each other for 40 years, much to the chagrin of each. “Couldn’t seem to break it off,” John says.