Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First of Two

August has been a tough month for me and my close friends and relatives. On Friday my dear friend Rich Allen passed away after a long struggle with an illness. Rich was one of those guys that you meet through a friend through a friend. Jack Taylor is one of my closest friends and deer hunting partners here in Minneapolis. Moving to the "Cities" at 20 years old and no family or friends near, the Taylor's became my family away from home. Jack and I have been deer hunting together for about 25 years. As we have grown older things have changed where as it is just us 2 that go out together any more. Jack has a cabin on Platte Lake, 10 miles west of Onamia, MN and we decided to hunt around this area. Looking for private land is almost impossible these days however Jack got a tip to call a guy by the name of Rich Allen, who has 160 acres just south of the cabin. A few weeks later Jack had secured a place to hunt with Rich. Showing up at his place the week before, our intent was to set up our stands. Well, 20 years ago Rich's land was farmed and included a cranberry bog. Today about 80% is bog/swamp with about 30 acres of high ground. Although a few guys hunted Rich's land, no one wanted to walk through the swamp to get to the other side. Luckily we had ATV's and Rich was excited to have us make some trails back to other side of his property. We did and wet it was! Jack and I had the whole back 40 to ourselves. We struggled as the trails would only last a few times before water would impede your intent. Rich always thought this was a great show and seemed to look forward to our arrival each year. As we grew to be friends my relationship with Rich grew closer. Deer hunting became our annual reunion, meeting new friends like Steve, Brett, Finn, Charlie, Kevin, Eugene, Zee, and Rich's brother Bobby from Washington. It was also a great time to develop traditions. To assure our continued welcome Jack and I would host a very special steak dinner on the Friday night before hunting opener. Using a marinade of Tabasco sauce, super hot chicken wing sauce, and hot salsa, we treated the steaks before throwing them on the grill. Everyone always looked forward to our Friday night treat. We were always grateful to have a place to hunt and be welcomed. In 2007 Rich built his dream pole shed on the property. Jack and I being capable seasoned electricians wired the entire shed including the lights. Small token for his generosity. Rich's love of his life is Mary. She has asked us if this year we would carry on the deer camp as Rich felt it need to, with a special gesture of scattering his ashes by his stand.

One of the things I enjoy is bringing new technology to people. One year I brought my Ipod and a docking station to deer camp. Rich was so impressed that he just had to have it and insisted I sell it. In the end I complied to his wishes and Rich had tunes! I suppose he felt more comfortable buy my used stuff as he would then have a ready made source for assistance, which I loved to comply. To be honest I still am not sure if he ever really knew how to use it, but I know he sure got a kick out of it.

Rich was an Army Airborne Ranger during the Viet Nam war. Although he never talked very much about his army days, stories about Rich and his army days often were related to us by his friends. He had a tattoo on his arm with a parachute and a pair of boot hanging down. People who knew what this meant also knew the hell he went through. Stories of Rich in small 6 man ranger patrols dropping behind enemy lines to provide forward initial support for the advancing troops and the tremendous difficulties they overcame were things legends are made of. Brett has told me that he made over 200 jumps. He was the guy you wanted on your side if push comes to shove. If you hung around long enough with Rich, you get the sense that he possesses those qualities that few have.

He was the genuine article for sure. One thing that always struck me was how Rich would end our phone conversations by saying "I love you Dave". I have never had a man say this to me before, and the first time it caught me by surprise. It was an indication of how Rich felt about his friends as well his confidence with himself. I will end with a simple Rich, I love you too. Rest in peace my friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank you so very much for speaking at my bro's memorial. Yes, you did have a busy few weeks and glad to see you back at what you do best! Soon, will be waken up to Daylight in the swamp. Looking forward to it. Thank you again from all of us for being the friend you are to Rich. See Ya in November.

Have fun, be safe, the catch is the bonus!

Bobby in Washington.

Love ya Broski.....Miss ya...YESSSSSSS