Just sent a condolence message to Phil's family. Thinking about Phil took me back to the night we met.
It was late at night and my pal Dave and I had been having an evening of it in Fergus. What did that look like? It looked like young hooligans gone wild. Tossed out of every drinking establishment in town, bloodied but determinedly unbowed. The town cops were closing in.
Back in the day, having the town cops actually catch up with you didn't necessarily mean you'd be facing charges. It did mean you were most likely in for a good thrashing that was intended to give you the message that you should take your assholery over to Elora instead. Or maybe Guelph or Elmira.
It was all fun and games till my 340 Dart ran out of gas. Oh-oh!
What-ever are we gonna do? Stand beside the car and listen to the sirens get louder?
Dave had a plan. His brother-in-law worked the night shift at the Moore's printing plant just a few blocks away. He'd be good for gas money!
We borrowed a couple of children's bicycles from an open garage door a couple houses away and high-tailed it to Moore's, pedalling those wee bikes as hard as we could. I remember wheelying my CCM Mustang past the guardhouse at the plant gate. The resident security guard abandoned his post and took off after us in hot pursuit.
Phil was found. Although unaccustomed to being accosted by drunken hooligans halfway through his midnight shift, he obligingly opened his wallet and forked over enough cash to get us safely out of town.
Our paths crossed from time to time, most recently when me and the Farm Manager were seated with him at a wedding a couple of years ago. He was the same quiet, unassuming, and gentle soul I'd first met forty years before.
He'd had more than his share of hard luck and bad breaks, but there wasn't a hint of bitterness in the guy. That's worth at least as much as fame and fortune.
Godspeed, Phil. Sorry you had to leave us so soon.