|My friend, Bob McC. |
April 1960, Fort Devens, Massachusetts. I had just completed Army basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and spent a week's leave at home in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
|Bob (standing behind the kneeling me on the left with his hand on is hip) during a break between classes at Ft. Devens, Mass. 1960|
I arrived at Ft. Devens for schooling in the Army Security Agency. I was eighteen years old, alone and scared.
|Bob (left), me (right) - goofing around during break between classes at Ft. Devens, Mass - 1960|
I don't remember when I met Bob but I quickly became friends with this big guy. Everybody liked Bob but he was my best friend. I felt privileged. We had so many adventures together, memories that I will never forget as long as I am alive.
|Bob (left in back) and me (right n front) - 1960|
During the fifty-four years we've been friends I only saw Bob get mad at me once. That was when we were washing our clothes at a laundromat in the nearby town in Ayre, Mass. We were both pulling out the clothes from the dryer. As we were doing so I put one of Bob's underwear over his head as he was bent over taking more clothes out of the dryer. With his underwear over his head he stood up and looked at me through the leg hole. I was laughing so hard I was choking. Bob pulled the underwear from his head and looked at it and realized that he had on his head. He was so embarrassed and lit into me with a stream of invectives like you never heard. Over the years since then I've often relived that memory with Bob, much to our mutual enjoyment.
|Bob at his single-wide in Delaware - 1978|
I could write a book, a long one about our friendship and all the ups and downs and the adventures. But perhaps the most unique thing about our friendship is that for all the years Bob and I were best friends during our Army days I never had a clue that he was gay nor did he have a clue I was gay. I was friendly with Bob but I was never interested in him THAT way, nor was he interested in me in THAT way.
|Bob and I at the Collonade cafeteria in Philadelphia, PA - 1982 - we both worked in the city and used to meet for lunch once a week|
The revelation that we were both gay was when I came out to everyone in March of 1963. I was out of the Army (discharged in January 1963 as was Bob) by then and living by myself in a small furnished efficiency apartment in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
|Bob and I playing pool at the Double L in Rehoboth before they turned it into a dance bar - 2004|
I had had enough of living a double life and I wrote everyone I knew and told them I was a "homosexual" (the term for gays in those pre-Stonewall days). Bob, who then was living in Norwood, Pennsylvania, immediately dropped what he was doing and appeared at my apartment. He told me he was gay too!
|Me (blurred) and Bob at his double wide at "The Ranch" - Bob had many friends and got a lot of phone calls. When I lived in Pennsylvania I used to call Bob almost every evening - 2006|
He told me he was shocked that I was gay as I was when he told me he was gay. Thus began a new phase of our friendship, which was always close. Bob knew nothing about the gay scene. He wanted to know "where to go."
|Bob on the backyard swing at my home in center city Philadelphia June 1971 - Bob was the toast of Gay Philadelphia - everybody knew and liked him|
I took Bob to his first gay bar. It was the Westbury Bar in Philadelphia, PA. Back then when one gay man introduced another gay man to the gay bar scene, he was called his "Mother." For years I used to tell everyone I was Bob's "Mother", much to our mutual enjoyment.
|Once Bob was out, it didn't take him too long to make friends - here he is with "Bob H." and "Phil" - 1980|
Don't know what the serious discussion was about but I do know these were two hot guys who both Bob and I liked
Once Bob was introduced to the gay scene, it didn't take him too long to "catch on." He quickly made many friends.
|One of Bob's many admirers - The Venture Inn, Philadelphia - Halloween 1980|
Eventually Bob met the love of his life, Jim.
|Bob, Jim and Me - 1986|
Both Bob and I worked in center city Philadelphia for many years. Bob eventually grew tired of the commute and stress of working in the city and left to start a new life in rural Sussex County Delaware. The year was 1976. Bob lived in a shed on his recently purchased tract of twenty-two wooded acres outside Georgetown, Delaware.
|Bob and Jim at their double-wide in later years at "The Ranch"|
|Bob with Ray and one of the many "party" weekends at The Ranch - 1982|
|Bob (far right), Tommy (big boobs) and Howard (far right) - sometimes 1977 - I called Tommy and Howard this morning and gave them the sad news|
I moved to Delaware in November of 2006. The previous few years I had noticed changes in Bob. Mental changes. It seemed to me he wasn't grasping how to access his e-mail on his computer. Every time I would visit him, I would have to explain the simple procedure. But when I visited him again,he had forgotten. Then there were the other "little things." The signs of cognitive disability.
|Jim, Bob and me - later years when the signs began appearing - Bob still smiling though|
A group of us would meet every Wednesday for an "Old Fart's Night Out." Bob would pick the place to meet. I would appear at the designated restaurant. No Bob. No group. Then I would find he was at another restaurant. I used to think I was getting confused until one time another member of our group also showed up at the wrong restaurant.
|Me (far left) and Bart and Bob|
I mentioned to our mutual friends about Bob's "problem." They dismissed it. Thought I was imagining things. But I knew Bob as well and probably better than any of them.
|Bob and me at one of our many restaurant meals together|
The turning point came when I had asked Bob to take a picture of me with my camera. He couldn't understand how to do it, to take a picture with the camera. We were at the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. He almost backed himself right into the canal. That was whenI knew there was a problem.
|Bob and his dog Bonnie|
More "instances" occurred during the coming years. Eventually I called his nephew and told him about his Uncle Bob and maybe he should step in and take control.
|I subject Bob to a "selfie" - 2012|
Bob and his longtime partner (and now spouse) moved into an assisted care facility a couple of years ago. Jim was fine, Bob was not.
|Bob and Jim at Brandywine Assisted Care - 2013|
Jim continued to take care of Bob until even he need help. Last year Bob was moved to a full care facility.
|Me (Wolfman) and Bob (Frankenstein) 1980 at the Philadelphia Gay Center Halloween party on Kater Street|
I remember the last time I visited him. My friend Pat was with me when we signed the visitors' log. The name above the log was Jim's. Pure luck we happened to come in behind Jim.
|"Happy Birthday Bob!" - Philadelphia 1982|
|"Happy Birthday Bob" (at Rigby's - 2009)|
Pat took a few photos of that visit but I won't post them here out of respect for the memory of Bob. But this was the last time I visited Bob. I knew it would be the last time. I don't think he knew who I was. But I think he did know Jim.
|Bob (center) and longtime friends - 1980|
Bob couldn't talk. He grunted. He had lost a lot of weight. I knew this was the last time I would see him.
|Bob with one of his first boyfriends after coming out- visiting me and Bill's apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey - 1965|
This morning I received a comment on my blog posting of yesterday informing me that Bob had passed away yesterday. Even though I expected Bob to die soon, this news has hit me like a ton of bricks. I am a mess right now.
|Me and Bob in Provincetown, Mass - 1974 - my first old time photo|
Over the past few years several very important people in my life have died. Most notably my Mother who passed away September 16th, 2010. At that time I felt part of me died with her. And now today. Another part of me has died. A very big part.