The first time I met Bus — I didn’t allow myself to call him Bus until I was well over 50 — I made the drive to Lancaster to “meet the parents.” I showed up at the door – a junior in college – with a fuzzy goatee and met the mom.
Promptly at 5pm, mom, Carol, her four siblings and I, gathered around the kitchen table. In walked Bus, sat at the head of the table and commenced to eat Chili… on a plate!… with no onions (he didn’t like onions). That was a first for me.
On a subsequent visit, feeling my oats over dinner, I made a college boy derogatory comment about labor unions. I was abruptly advised that he was a proud member of the pipefitters union. I never brought that subject up again. Surprise! He allowed me to take his daughter’s hand.
One thing sure, when I visited the Hales, there was always a game on the TV… the Reds, the Buckeyes, the Bengals or Browns. I remember him most, sitting… sitting in his big Barcalounger for the games… sitting on a bench outside a shop at the mall… sitting at the head of the table… sitting in the driver’s seat – he loved to drive. In 2006, he took us out in the big Ford on a driving tour of the back roads of Fairfield County, pointing out where he and others grew up, hung out, went to school; and where a drunken uncle or two stumbled their way home. I loved that tour. I felt like after all those years, I knew a little about the man, and that’s what I’ll remember.