He made it to the New Year.
Jimmy Nokes died Saturday, January 1, 2022. This is fitting because this year nor the world will never be quite be the same without Jimmy Nokes.
i didn’t really know him until high school. i knew who he was. i played Little League baseball on his father’s Noke’s Sporting Goods team. He was on the team. But it was a long time ago.
i have a dim recollection of my father making a comment that flew over my head about Nokes, out way too late for a grade schooler, running away from some trouble through the hole in our backyard fence, not realizing the top strand of the wire fence was still intact and taking a knockdown whack. Nokes later told me how he was amazed my father laughed, sent him on his way, and didn’t report his foray to Mister Nokes.
i saw Nokes a lot at his father’s store up at the top of East Main where i bought everything related to sports: my Rawlings infield glove i wore from Little League until it was so worn (and comfortable) it fell off my hand in one of my last high school games, my Nellie Fox 32″ inch bat with the thick handle.
Then, in high school, Nokes and my best friend Henry Harding began to hang around together. The three of us began to spend some time together. It grew.
After high school, Nokes (heck, i don’t remember every calling him “Jim” or “Jimmy”), Fox (nee Charles) Dedman, Henry, and i began to play golf, redneck style, at Hunter’s Point Golf Course when it opened as the first public course in Lebanon.
The par 5 fifth hole (i think) ran across the back of the course, bounded by a barbed wire fence separating the course from a cow pasture. There was a small pond, a water hazard in front of the tee box that required the drive to travel about 75 yards to clear. Every time we played from the beginning until one day several months down the road, Nokes would top his drive into the hazard.
Then one day, he got to the tee, took a mighty swing and sliced the ball over the pond. Nokes was jubilant at getting over the pond. But his drive was a hard, low slice. As his immediate celebration subsided, he watched his drive hit a fence post and recoil into the damnable pond.
The four of us and a couple of others (Eddie Callis i remember as joining us) would go out to Nokes’ house on Old Hickory Lake, mostly on Saturday nights. We played penny ante pokers for hours. Crazy stuff, like Mexican Sweat and those games that had about forty wild cards. i will have to ask Henry about the names of the games. i forgot. Nokes always claimed i was the big winner because one night i won the last silly game for probably five dollars.
And then i left. We didn’t really keep in touch, even though we met at a couple of Lebanon High School Class of ’62 reunions, notably the 50th. Then, we really got back together through email, my columns, and my posts.
Nokes read of my wife falling in love with Vidalia onions during my last operational tour on USS Yosemite homeported in Mayport (Jacksonville), Florida. Living south of Atlanta, Nokes sent a crate of Vidalia onions to us in the Southwest corner.
In another post or column, i mentioned how proud i was to be an adopted member of the LHS ’62 class but wished i had an annual in order to associate photos and names of class members. Nokes sent me his annual.
Gregarious. Full of life. Laughing. Boisterous. Caring. Nokes.
They don’t make many like Jimmy Nokes.
i will miss him.
Much of this is contained in an earlier post: https://jimjewell.com/a-pocket-of-resistance/dark-side-of-three/#comments
Rest in Peace, my friend.