Saturday, May 24, 2008

Harvey West Was Simple

I never realized it at the time. But when you are five or six and the guy down the street is pretty much at your level, you don’t think too much about it. Years later, Mom said, “You know, Harvey was simple.”

These days, the Challenged Agencies would want my head on a platter for even suggesting my old pal was other than, well, challenged in some way. Mentally challenged? Developmentally challenged? Something challenged?

No, Harvey was simple. “Marked by or showing unaffected simplicity and lack of guile,” says one dictionary. That he was. “Free from vanity or conceit,” says another.

That’s a challenge? I’d say it’s a virtue he was blessed with, one more of us should have. With Harvey West, what you saw was what you got; while others might be two-faced, he had only one, and it generally seemed to be smiling.

Not an ounce of vanity, not a bit of conceit. He was one of the few adults in those days who spent time with me. Perhaps we saw each other as peers.

Was he mentally challenged? Not in the least. Not a whole lot challenged him; he just went from one day to the next in his own way. I have known a great many people in the decades following and, of those, there are lots I’ve had to be wary of; duplicity taints the very blood in their veins. But not simple Harvey.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we all run into a Harvey West in our lives. We had a fellow we called Simple John. John delivered newspapers for decades and I believe there was a story on him the the local newspaper, as he never did anything else to earn his living. He would tip his hat to ladies, a form of politeness which has now become a mildewed gesture pushed back into the ancient archives of tradition. He would say ''hello'' to us kids and just the idea of an adult seemingly lowering himself to our level was nice.

There was another old fellow named Sammy, a black man and he was small in stature and big in heart andhe would occasionally have movie tickets which hewould give to kids.

There were others, one guy named Jackson who would play blues at the main entrance of the Town Fair under the No Solliciting sign. His guitar never had all six strings and he had more strings on his axe than teeth in his mouth and the only words he uttered, besides singing were, ''Thank you''.

It is really something for a kid to have a pal of an adult and kids do not care about anything which society baptizes as ''a bit funny'', the ycare about being able to communicate with an adult who speaks their language.

Hey Tom, had a coffee with your brother yesterday. He is getting serious about going online ... as soon as he has enough wood for next year...


May 25, 2008 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have noticed that my 90 year old dad has advanced to the "simple" life you describe. He loves talking to the kids and will say "hi" to any little cherub that smiles in his direction.

I keep an eye on him since an occasional adult will misinterpret his soft charm as a predator "come on" and dad (who's memory is failing) doesn't understand the parental response.

Oh well, payback for all those rides to "practice" and stuff.

I can't help but think that this "bubble of protection" is denying our children the gifts that we took for granted. Gifts like Sammy, John, and Jackson (even Tex, and the pencil guy with the wagon in front of The Boston Store).

May 25, 2008 10:31 AM  

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