It is late, i mean really late for me. i am on a roll. Haven’t been on a roll like this for a long time. Feels good. Maslow’s level of self-actualization is burning the night oil. While rolling, i hit some poems i posted earlier. Then, i stumbled across this one. i am not sure if i sent it to Cy or Walt and i am almost positive it has seen no other eyes until i post this. Cyril Vaughn Fraser, Jr. was a good man. My friend from lord knows how many baseball games and even more one-on-ones in the Castle Heights gym, Mike Dixon, also worked at Dupont, and he immediately waxed eloquent on Mr. Fraser’s reputation at the Old Hickory plant when he learned of my connection. Here are my thoughts when my mother notified me of Mr. Fraser’s passing.
on the passing of Cyril Vaughn Fraser, Jr.
i sit here wondering in the dark of the cool, just north of the border august night
down mexico way about not a thing in particular except the southern lady i call my mother who has been calling me today because she doesn’t trust those infernal phone message machines; won’t have one in her house; she says can’t abide talking to a machine; she says there is too much to worry about without having to worry what people say when they aren’t talking to you but some machine; she says she’s right. i know she’s right on, having two of those damnable machines myself.
my mother, the southern lady who makes fried corn and meat loaf you would kill for and tennessee country ham all the doctors and my wife says you shouldn’t eat along with the biscuits and gravy and butter and jelly and buttermilk damn near everything good, calls early on and damn near wakes me up because daughterwifeme made an end run to disneyland to shake hands with mickey and hear pocahontas rewrite history again where a chicken sandwich costs a sight more than chicken and white bread costs that tastes oh so much better back in fox hollow before it became a housing development before it was named fox hollow and just a farm with a tin roof house and earth covered hill of an root cellar in the back where foxes don’t run now or ran then but then much chickens ranclucked; the old man did run foxes that is in Tennessee, just down the road from where the man used to live that my mother called about:
that man died, she said.
Cyril Vaughn Fraser, Jr. died, she said; read it in the newspaper obituaries, she said.
notjustlikethat as ee cummings would like us to say, like most of us would want it to be, but pretty damn quick by government standards; she told me the services, cremation, all of those attendant necessities that follow death like a disease were pretty much done she said, and being the southern lady and my mother, she told me where the funds in lieu of flowers should be donated
78, she said the paper said in the article in the paper she was sending me. dead.
Cyril Vaughn Fraser, jr.
my first look at culture or what i thought it should be
proper, but dry humor, Mr Fraser, Virginia kind of drawl in the comfortably small house with everything in its place on the quiet neighborhood corner of Jackson’s old plantation called old hickory where i ran around with his boys and was introduced to upper gentility, another world from the limestone rock just below the surface of hill farming middle tennessee just up the road all along the Cumberland demarcated by the white washed fences common on Andrew’s old land.
it did seem cooler there especially when Mr Fraser would invite me to have a “martin” with him, which was a martini poured from a beefeater’s bottle straight from the freezer from whence he and the lady neighbor partook on the front porch one summer late afternoon until she had to ride her Saint Bernard across the street to home and hangover heaven
blue shirt sear sucker suit weejuns gone.
lately, his older boy told me his father had moved across town like our other friend Bivo to higher cotton, which is appropriate for a man with a new wife and all long after his boys and me were amidst all the hellbentforleatherlivingwithoutanet, but not to the edge of those that followed
i remember him smallish precise dapper gentlemanly southern who had a thing for Michigan in the summer, questing for knowledge and appreciating with his· sons as well as the crackle of the love of life i remember
most sad for me; his boys, whom i consider among some of my best friends passing through my times, especially the older boy for Cyril Vaughn Fraser, Jr. was a friend also who could laugh and enjoy youhimusthem without reservation as long as there was a quest for knowledge.
the stars across the border grow dim; the added weight on my shoulder makes me weary thinking someone must carry that love of life and knowledge and gentility on to others
i do see the lights of the city south of the border smiling, and thinking of how i would have liked to have taken Mr Fraser on a tour of this Eden which some ways even makes Michigan in the summer pale a bit.