Buel

A man’s man

Buel may have come from under a rock, I don’t know.  He grew up caddying at the North Birmingham Golf Course and developed golf skills that would make a novice think him Tiger Woods. He garnered excellent hustling skills.  If you wanted to play cards, shuffleboard, arm wrestle, or take him on in an altercation, he was your man, if he couldn’t talk you out of it.

I recall a situation in New Orleans, while residing at an old motor court.  The court was surrounded by privet, offering no vision from the road.  We had three or four painters staying at the same court and afternoons would find them having their toddies, heck their guts full of Schlitz.  One of the newer hands felt a need to establish a pecking order and after Buel tried to calm him down, the guy pulled a knife.  Buel said to him,  “ Please don’t cut me, I am an old man, just whip me.” “ Let Lightning,( a nickname for one of the regulars), hold the knife.”  He handed his knife over and before he knew it Buel had him on the ground and was sitting on his shoulders.  Buel  would lightly slap him on his cheeks and say “ I’m not going to hurt you, just humiliate you.  Now you go in the cabin and go to bed and tomorrow go to Birmingham and get your check”.

You may say , “So what. “  I’ll tell you so what.  Buel slept in the room with the same guy that night.  I asked Buel how he slept and he said “With one eye open.”

Buel  participated in the liberation of France, and told the story of arriving back in Birmingham at Terminal Station and described all of the girls awaiting their arrival.

One day I decided that I might like golf.  I asked Buel to help me find a set of used clubs.  Of course, he knew just the place.  We drove over to Jellies Place on Oxmoor Road.  I bought a set of clubs and Buel said,  “I might as well give you a lesson.” We proceeded to play a round of 3 par, 9 holes.  One hole had a right dogleg.  Buel said,“the trees were too tall to hit over to the right to rest on the fairway.”  He said, “Here is how you do it.” He hit a 9 iron at the large tree and caromed off the right side and came down on the fairway.  I was not so green that I would think he could do it again in a thousand years.

Buel was the most efficient job superintendent I ever encountered. It would seem that nothing was being done and at the next moment the project would be done with no punch list.

Buel spent his later year devoid of cigarettes, and liquor.   He had a unique approach to this drinking in that he would not upgrade his wardrobe as long as he drank so that his family would not suffer from his habit.  He would bum a dollar off several people and send an apprentice to the liquor store.  The men that knew him would loan him $5.00 instead of the $1.00 and he would pay that back first.

Having spent many years of at least a pint a day and heaven know how many cigarettes, he would not go to the Doctor for fear of serious illness showing up.

After quitting cigarettes and also quitting drinking he, much to his wife’s displeasure, developed a love for camping and a compulsion for buying numerous barbecue grills. Go figure. I’ll not ask.  Surely he had a reason.

But that was Buel.

I miss you Buel.

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