Signs easy to see in hindsight

By Clyde Davis: local columnist

I was leaving the parking lot of a large hardware chain when I heard the sound of a driver slamming his way through the vehicle’s gears.

The sound reminded me high school and Skip Weil. Pleasant, rotund Skip, our group’s resident gearhead, whose 1967 Chevelle was a patiently crafted and lovingly constructed work of art. No doubt about it, the Chevelle was his long-term project. Perhaps he is still working on it.

Thinking about Skip was not a bad thing, except that it made me think of Sam.

Sam was my best friend from third grade all of the way through high school. There were lots of other folks around — Danny, Toth, Skip, Drew. But ever since third grade, there was Sam. I still don’t understand what happened when he lost it, or when he began to lose it. Might have been earlier than I suspected.

He always was obsessed with stuff — just stuff. Like in high school, he would go on and on about his dad being blue collar and my dad being white collar — as if it mattered. Sam Sr. fixed air conditioning. Clyde Sr. fixed engineering problems. Neither of them gave a fig. So maybe that was a clue we should have all seen coming — the way he obsessed about stuff.

Then he joined the Air Force against his dad’s wishes. That was when we began to separate. I took my scholarship and went to college. He went to Lackland for basic training.

The Air Force didn’t work out. Neither did a stint as a fireman in Oklahoma. He also got married, had kids, got divorced.

But in every case, he told me it was the other party’s fault. Maybe that should have been a clue.

So the last time I heard from Sam, it was shortly after Janice and I had gotten married. He had come over to my parents’ house in western Pennsylvania.

He said he’d been in an institution and was drawing disability for psychiatric illness. He didn’t seem to indicate where, or if, he’d be staying around.

So, I don’t have any idea where he is at, or if he is OK.

I look back and I see that maybe I should have been more aware.
Maybe the clues were there all along and we just didn’t see them. Then again, how can you expect kids to figure that stuff out?

So Sam, it isn’t that I don’t think of you — I just don’t understand what happened when you lost it.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: