Thread: Remembering Dave Gardner

lonomon - 1/28/2009 at 01:55 PM

In rememberance of Dave who would have turned 40 today.


Back at the end of October I received news that my best friend from
childhood had died. I wrote something in the AG when I found out.

We basically grew up together even though we were only a year apart in age.
I knew Dave from when I was 3 or 4. Little bit fuzzy on that now, but that
sounds about right.

We did almost everything together. Summers were great times of exploration
in the surrounding woods and nearby creek. Following abandonded train tracks
to parts unknown. Climbing through the underbelly of trestles. Working our way
through the steel columns and beams as only kids can do. Finding ways across
the creek to find new place to go. Ah the stench of the back water muck and
rotting loam.

I worked for a time at a local gun club on the trap and skeet range. I use to meander
down through the archery course, across a field to a road that led back home. It
was their I made one of the greatest discoveries an early teen can make.
A HUGE discarded cache of porn magazines! Piles of them by the side of the road.
The most graphic stuff you could probably find back in early 80 or so. I ran up
through back yards right to Dave's house. Wasn't another thought in my head.
"He had to SEE this!"

We quickly gathered them up and found a spot under a low bridge to hide them.
Thus began our sex ed. Learned more from those magazines than any course or
sex ed book could ever try to explain. Of course, by the Fall when the heavy rains came,
we lost it all. But it was enough to fuel teenage fantasy for some time.

As we wound through high school in different grades, we had other friends and did
other things, but still wound up hanging out and doing stupid stuff on the weekends.
Then we discovered smoking and beer. I shake my head now at how great we thought
it was to be sitting on abandonded railroad tracks in 20 degree weather, huddled near a
small fire getting loaded. Others soon joined in and then off we'd go, stumbling around
town getting the munchies and smoking cheap cheroots.

Dave was also the catalyst for my being on this site. Sometime, I think it was '78, he
got some toy that you could play 8 tracks in. His first one was the "Grease" sndtrk.
From there the collection grew. We started listening to the radio to find more and
more music. We eventually discovered the blues and hard rock. He was a total
Skynryrd fanatic. Then one day we heard it. "Jessica". It was life altering. It was the
ABB. 'Brothers and Sisters' became THE album of the early 80's for us. Then the revelation
of AFE and EAP. Of course there were other bands but it was done.

As time went on it changed. It was inevitable. Girls.
One in particular for me as she later became my wife. But that was the beginning of the
end. I had slowly moved on. I graduated HS and by summer's end we say less and less.
Off to college I went and in another year he was graduating and off to the army. He grew
distant around me. I had abandonded him supposedly. I'll never know.

Anyway, I made it a point to stay in touch. We wrote at least once a month. Then he
put in for a transfer to Korea. After that, well, it all fell apart as far as I'm concerned.

It was in 1989 he left for the other side of the world and the ABB's "Dreams" box
came out. I sat down and made cassette copies for him and mailed them off.
Knowing the army and overseas, I knew it would take some time. I sent him a letter
saying I sent him "something" and at the same time lamenting the fact I missed a
chance to see the Who that summer or Fall. Forget which. Of course I rec'd a reply
to the letter. Wow.

He basically tore me a new one for going on and on about not being able to do this and
that and being a college boy, blah blah blah. I was stunned. Of course I got out pen and
paper and the war of words was off. A few days later he wrote to apologize. A friend over
there killed himself and really tore him up. Also, he rec'd the tapes. I quickly wrote back
but after that it was silence.

I graduated college and he got out of the army at the same time. He was driving down the
street once day as I was sitting outside. He stopped, yelled get in and off we went. Didn't
say a bloody word to each other for damn near half an hour. But eventually we started talking.
About anything but what should have been said. In the end, at a later time, I said my part and
let it go. He did too. Said he was damn near killing himself over there. But couldn't do it.
He had pictures of him with a loaded gun stuck in his mouth, etc.

Then we discovered guns. we both got pistols and would go to the firing range where the
police would train. Firing at human sillioute(?) targets and the owner would let us do some
of the stress training for the police with sirens, smoke and gunfire. hell of a time.

A year or so later, he grew distant again over stuff and I had enough. I walked away.
Met him years later at a wedding. Of course it was still conversation but friendly. We
emailed a few times but it eventually broke down to sniping and I had enough again.

He eventually started his own private detective business and did stuff for several police
departments. Got married and had a daughter and a stepson.

Over the years, things would get back to me that he said. Never anything nice. I grew
bitter about the whole thing.

Then on Halloween of this past year, my ma called to tell me he was dead.
Apparently having some money problems or something. Whatever it was, he shot
himself behind the right ear. My first thought was it was no surprise. Or so I thought.

I found it somewhat ironic that he died on Oct 29th. The day of Duane Allman's death.

In December, I finally plucked up the courage to see his parents at home. Man I was so
nervous. Didn't think I had the right to be there after all this time. But they welcomed like
they use to and we sat and talked about the old days.

They brought me up to speed on all that he had done in the intervening years. Had spells
of bad luck and health problems. I was surprised to find out he was into woodworking and
saw some his projects that he had done. His dad has no idea why he did it. What with his daughter
being his whole world. He thinks something about his health came up again, with the
combination of money issues and other external pressures and he had enough. The heat
got turned off due to unpaid bills and he sent the family to his in-laws. The next morning
he got up, went to his workshop and that was that.


So, to end this, I just want to say, "Happy Birthday, Dave. Hope you're at peace and see you on
the other side."

I'll raise a glass tonight in a final toast.

Dan


lonomon - 10/29/2009 at 11:12 AM

One year.

I had somewhat of a plan to write out a nice Kerouacian stream
of conscious reminiscing of the past once again dedicated to
Dave's memory or some whacked out notion like that.

Well, just not to be. Too forced.

Anyway, still on a Kerouac moment; I think of Dave Gardner, I even
think of the daughter he left behind, I think of Dave Gardner.


lonomon - 10/29/2010 at 06:22 PM



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