Bob asked the doctor to remove the tube. There was time for the family to gather around him and say goodbye. He lasted about 20 minutes.
My across the street neighbor was a good friend of my husband to be. When I married my second husband, Bob attended the wedding. They had a bantering type of friendship. Bob Hurd called my Bob Willings, cheap. My Bob was across the street in the Hurd house, looking for a type of screw or washer. My neighbor had jars and jars of them.. Both houses were piled high with parts and machines...all needing just one repair to get them running again. The repair projects were on-going.
The first time I was in my fiance's house, the kitchen table was piled high with car parts. The first time I was in my neighbor's house, his kitchen table was also piled high...with groceries and stuff.
Some people just stand out by virtue of their personality. They earn the respect of others. Bob Hurd was one of those. His name was really Donald Robert...initials are dr. ...so He was teased as "Dr. Hurd". He was one of the smartest persons I ever met. I once told him that He was way underpaid for the experimental engineering He did for a living. He did not have an engineering degree.. He instinctively knew how machines worked and what was needed to make them work better, faster or more efficient. Bob repaired things for me and for any one that needed help. He could repair his car, tractor, lawn mower, outboard motor. All those machines are mysteries to me.
While tinkering on this project or that one, my neighbor told me stories of the people who live on the circle. He spoke of Milford as it was when He was a boy. He spoke of pets long deceased, fields now with houses on them. Life in the depression, building his house with his own two hands. I heard of his boyhood adventures...cutting a path through the woods full of poison ivy. sneaking cigarettes that his mother always knew He had. I learned that I own the fence in my backyard. My father in law had it put in. Bob watched him do it. I thought it belonged to my neighbor across the fence.
I learned of the quarrel with a neighbor over chickens getting loose and eating the neighbor's garden. The sneaky dog who crept up behind you and bit you on the heels. Bob cured him by smacking him with a board. His own dog would hear Bob's car driving down the street. The dog would come to the door before Bob drove into the driveway. Bob decided to test to see if this was true. He turned off the motor to coast into the driveway . By turning off the engine, He had lost power steering. He nearly drove into the porch. I heard of tall trees that Bob climbed and looked into birds nests, three stories about the ground. ...stories of helping his brother Jim on St. Croix...stories concerning his skill with a gun and at times, using them.
My husband did not last long. He died the same summer We were married. There was so much to do, so much undone. I drove into the driveway on Park Circle and saw that my lawn had been cut. Bob knew I had a lot to do. He brought his lawn tractor over and cut my grass. In the winter, there was Bob with a snow blower...guiding it down the street to clear every one's sidewalk. I wasn't special. Bob helped everyone. He explained that since He got the snow blower up and running, He might just as well continue down the sidewalk.
My neighbor always had a garden. I have one, too. We became gardening buddies. I treasure memories of discussions of how our tomatoes are growing, the continuing squirrel problem...and especially the art and science of making good mulch. He saw an ad in a gardening magazine for a tumble barrel to make mulch. If We each bought one, there would only be one delivery charge. We each bought a tumble barrel. When they came, they were in kit form. Bob put both of them together. I know that he enjoyed putting things together. From then on, it was MULCH WARS. Who could make a batch of mulch in the shortest period of time? Bob always won. His mulch looked dark brown and of a good consistency. Mine was still grass and leaves. Bob would cut the neighbor's lawns and rake up the grass clippings. I learned that my neighbor would put his clippings through a shredder to break them down faster. It made beautiful mulch. He would grow vegetables and flowers just to give them away. When at his house, I would be handed a flower or a pepper. He would insist that I try a pear warm from the sun and just picked off the tree.
Bob loved to go to Ocean State Job Lot. That store sells off batches of all sorts of things. If you don't buy what you see and want today, you won't get it. It will be sold out tomorrow. Most of the items were cheap. Bob would buy several of a good find. He'd give the extras away to people who He thought would like it. I am the recipient of a bulb planter, hand pruner and rake...and lots of jams and jellies.
Bob had a little red Nissan truck. If you needed anything moved, Bob would be there. I had inherited a run down house in Orange that was filled with junk. In order to renovate the house, the contents had to be removed. Bob was there, helping me clear out the house. There was a scaffold in the yard that my husband had used when He put new siding on the house. It belonged to my neighbor. We packed it up and returned it to his yard on Park Circle. I grew very respectful of the way Bob Hurd tied things down in the truck. He must have used some scientific theory about shifting objects. It took him a half hour to tie the truck down for the move back to Milford. Nothing moved. He did an amazing job of tying down. Bob knew about knots.
The same skill was demonstrated when I bought my own truck. My grandson, Chris was moving from Milford to Raleigh North Carolina. Chris had taken all He could in his own car, but there was a lot of his possessions still at my house. I decided to drive the load to Raleigh. I am bringing boxes out of the house. From across the street, comes my neighbor. I am packing all wrong. Bob takes over. He does the most amazing job of packing and tying. His son, Bob, also helps. The entire six foot bed of my truck is filled with boxes, including a double bed mattress and box spring. Over the top, Bob ties a tarpaulin. Everything is right. Nothing shifts. I make the trip without use of my rear view mirror as the load covers the rear view window. Bob turned tying down into an art form.
There is a kitchen at New Haven Friend's Meeting. The knives there, are very dull. It is frustrating to prepare food in that kitchen because the knives don't cut. I ask Bob if He would sharpen the knives. I remember my neighbor saying that He was particular about sharp knives . He hated to see anyone using a knife on a plate. Of course He would sharpen the knives. I brought them over to his house. We started out in the basement. Bob pressed the knives to a series of grinders...finer and finer. We ended up in the attic where the knives were polished on a wheel with jewelers rouge. When He was finished, I had the sharpest and prettiest knives! This project was accompanied by stories of the knife He bought His mother when He was little, how handy the knife in his pocket is, and a story of a knife He made. Later, He sharpened some of my knives and gave me a whetting stone ...accompanied by a lesson on how to use it. I keep my knives sharp and think of Bob.
One activity that was a life long interest of my neighbor ,was fishing. He watched the water temperature, drove to the bridge on Buckingham and checked to see if the other fisherman were catching anything. I wanted to learn to fish, too. His son, Bob and I took fishing lessons together. I learned about the different type of rods and reels, what the laws were, need for a license in fresh water and how to tie the filament on. Then the time for fishing came. Would I like to fish with him? yes of course I would. We went to the bridge. Bob handed me his extra rod and reel. I cast. The line went up and over the power lines overhead. I was a lousy fisherman. Bob caught a little snapper. It had a parasite attached to its gills. Disgusting. Bob pulled the parasite off and put the fish in his bucket. The little fish was bleeding. I felt sorry for it. A girlfriend comes by and stops to talk. At the base of the bridge, a beautiful blue crab is basking in the shallows. Another fisherman and his son, climb down the bank and scoop up the crab. Carol knows what they are about to do. She scolds them, telling them that they are not hungry. Leave the crab alone. The two men ignore us. They leave. Carol is still ranting about ecology and nature. Bob rolls his eyes. He eats things that He has shot or trapped or caught on a fishing line. Later, Bob teaches me to bread and to fry snapper blues.
Bob's constant companion was a little black cat. When it died, He got another little black cat named Magic. Magic was a kitten born into the Erwin's house...a household on the corner. Magic spent his kitten hood in a box upstairs with his litter mates. Tina Erwin kept the light on for them. Magic developed a fear of the dark. Magic was Bob's "dog". He followed Bob around the neighborhood like a loyal puppy. When Bob came to my house, Magic came too. Magic wanted to explore my house, but my dog, Rascal, wouldn't let him. From that time on, Rascal barked at Magic. I was at Bob's door one day with Rascal on a leash. True to form, Magic was at Bob's heels. Rascal thought I was going into the house, so she started for the door. Both Bob and I warned Rascal that the house was Magic's territory. Magic took a swat at Rascal's nose. Rascal got the message.
When Bob went into the hospital, all the neighbor's wanted to do something to help, to say thank you for Bob's help and friendship toward others. Spencer Hoyt replaced the broken pane of glass in the storm door. Charlie and Neil helped Bob into my truck. Tina Rourke came to the house at least three times a day to feed Magic, change his litter box, let him in and out. Tina cleaned Bob's floors and counter tops. She put things away, as best she could discover his storage system. We expected Bob to come home from the hospital. Neil came back and cleared the leaves from Bob's lawn. The people at Maxines asked every day how Bob was faring. Bill Hunt, too ill himself to come out, called me several times to learn how Bob was doing.
Jesus said,"In my house, are many mansions." There is a new mansion in heaven with a beautiful garden. Cats and dogs play on the lawn. There are boats for boating, fishing poles for fishing, and all projects are finished.