R.I.P. RICHIE REYNOLDS
My hometown Montgomery, NY may be best known internationally as the home of the bickering Teutals on American Chopper, but those of us who grew up there know better. Montgomery is known for Edgar and Liz Ayres, Pibble Badalucco, Danny Shafer, Big Red, Earl Monroe, Big Ick, Eddie G-13, Shorty Reynolds,a whole bunch of Dobbers, Doobers, Bummers, and Deweys, and.....the soul of the village- Richie Reynolds. It is upon his passing I write this.
My first memory of Rich was in the 50's, outside my grandfather's garage on Boyd St. We were all playing and Rich wandered by. Being kids we were at worst mean to him and at best ignored him. Rich was different. Kids are scared of different. I have no idea what malady Rich had. In our ignorant, non-enlightened parlance we called him "retarded". In any case Rich functioned on a different level than the rest of us, and would for his entire life.
Richie Reynolds was a fixture in Montgomery. A thumb and forefinger cocked and pointed in greeting. A giant toothy grin or a brow furrowed in concern about people he hadn't laid eyes on in decades. "Hey Rich." you'd say. "Hey, how about that fire last night?" he'd start. Then it would be how's the family? (all by name). Eventually he'd drift off, shake your hand and be on his way. It is a testament to Montgomery and it's inhabitants that the entire village looked after Rich. Old timers as well as recent residents, treated Richie as the goodwill ambassador he was. Sure there's storys of Leroy sending him to Snyder's market for a bucket of steam and other such tauntings over the years, but it was beneign ribbing. Charlie Snyder would just tell Rich he was all out of steam and send him down to Howard's to see if he had any.
Last night Bird, Ginnie and I attended his wake. The entire town, complete with Fireman honor guard, cops and mayor showed up. Bird told me how in the 70's, he and John Burgess stopped work one day to buy Rich shoes. I'm sure there's hundreds more incidents of people looking out for Rich. Rich was 59 years old and not in the best of health. But his passing was a big shock and surprise to all. It's hard to imagine Montgomery without him. Wherever his spirit lights there will be a helluva nice fire and plenty of buckets of steam. Rest in Peace Rich.