Monday, April 08, 2013

Sam Carsley (1941-2013), Sam Will Be Missed.

Sam, age about 12 checking out my cigar box collection

We went to my friend Sam Carsley's funeral Saturday.  
Before the funeral there was a visitation.  Sam's widow Lita, appeared to be holding up very well, considering.  Lita is Filipino and had her own Filipino community of friends, which were showing her support at the funeral.

There were some Barnettes there from  Sam's father's side of the family, one ex-wife, Clair and her daughter, Tracey, who Sam regarded as his own daughter.   Also there were  some other friends and old ex-high school mates, and work related friends.  I think more people shown up than he would have expected.  He would have been surprised, maybe, to him,  frightfully so.

Sam was a recluse.  As he grew older he became more and more reclusive.  He avoided crowds, which included reunions  and family or friends get- togethers.

The last years Sam worked I don't think he had much to do.  He was a leader of his genre of data technology then technology took a leap in another direction and apparently Sam didn't leap with it.  With not much to do at work he called me about every day and we talked for a while.  And after he  was forced into retirement our talks continued every day.  He had a lot on his mind.

Then for some reason, our  talks metamorphosed itself into daily emails.  And then they withered down to birthdays, anniversaries, and person news.   We found it best to avoid political discussions. 

As far as emails goes he used Web-TV.  He did not have a computer.  He did not want one.   He was through with computers.   His refusal  to use computers as a method of communication irritated me to no end.  As a lifetime friend I wanted to share things with him by sending him pictures, videos, and audios.  I couldn't share with my old friend that I wanted  because of his unwilling to change.    I'll get to an apology to him before this is over.

What people stood and said about Sam kindled my memories of him.   I remember in the Clay Homes his mother Hazel or his grandmother Mrs. Baldwin pushed Sam around in a stroller, when my little band of street kids ran around like a bunch war refuge street kids.   I think his mother and grandmother were over protective, which kept him from mingling with his peers, which could be a good thing and could be bad.   I think it worked both ways.  Sam was heavy set then.  I wanted to be heavy like him.  One time I asked him what did he eat to be bigger.  He said, "Mashed potatoes".   I think that was our first communication.

In the Clay Homes we ran in different crowds.  Well, with me  it was a crowd with him it was just him.  Somehow in the first or second grade when he moved to Hedges Street about the same time I moved to Manget Street, both  in South Marietta, and we became close friends.  In about the 3rd grade Sam had a leg operation and another time an eye operation, it was my job to deliver his homework assignments to him and pick up his homework and deliver it to the teacher.  Sam had to wear a patch on one eye to strengthened his other eye.  Until we were in our early 20s, we spent a lot of time in the City Cemetery behind his house studying tombstones.    Mary Phagan's grave was almost directly behind his house and we used  to just sit completely still on a plot wall and watch tourists walk by looking for the famous grave.  We discovered that if we were completely still people would not see us, even if they stood right by us.  Little did I know we were in training to be invisible to the average human. for the rest of our lives.

Once we were not invisible but should have been.  We were on the edge of the cemetery, about where the Clay family is buried  on a high wall overlooking West Atlanta Street.  A vehicle rode by and being high up we could see down on the side of cars as they past.  One car as it went under us we saw a lady's dressed all way up to her waist and the driver had his hand "down there".    She looked up and saw us and she pushed his hand away quickly, which messed up his driving cadence and he swerved almost hitting an on-coming car. 

Sam was very neat and was a compulsive collector.  He collected stamps, coins, cigar boxes, comics, and I many more things....  maybe little insects in glue drops or something too.   He was very organized in everything he undertook. 

His comic collection warped me for a life time.  He gravitated to the E.C.  Publisher's comicbooks wich included science fiction and horror such as THE TALES FROM THE CRYPT.  They also published MAD Comicbook.  They had a big influence on or lives.  

Sam loved off the literature's beaten path.  He loved science fiction, horror, well, the same as his comics - only without the pictures.  He had a very literary warped sense of humor to match what he read, but his words topped the author's.

Once, when he was about a high school senior, he like his peers, took up smoking.  I was over at his and his  mother's apartment studying and he said he was out of cigarettes.   I said I would get in the car and go get him a pack.  He, forever considering every detail,  said, no, his mother would want to know why I left and came back.  We considered different options and then came up with the perfect plan.  He would  loudly say," I am out of notebook paper,  may I borrow some of yours?" 
And, I would loudly say, "Sure!" and then open my note book and say loudly, "Well!  I am out too!  I will go buy some!"   (Sam didn't have a car)
As planned, Sam said loudly, " I am out of notebook paper, may I borrow some of yours?"
And I said, "Sure!"  And I reached in my notebook and handed him a whole pack and told him to take as much as he wanted.  And I went back working my homework.  a few seconds later, I didn't hear any activity and I looked up and he was just glaring at me.
I said something like, "Oh no!" and fell off the couch laughing!" 

I forgot if we came up with another plan or not.

Sam, being  a son of a fallen military man during wartime  gave him a foot in the door to be eligible to take a scholarship test.   This was told by one of the Barnettes:  In 1959 he took some kind of academic national achievement test to see just what kind of scholarship he should get and he scored the highest on that test that had ever been scored at that time.   He could choose any college he wanted.  He chose Georgia Tech.

When he was going to Georgia Tech he, of all people got a 56 Chevrolet convertible.  His Barnette side of the family were good friends with the Andersons of Anderson Motor Company and the Barnettes talked to  the owner, James T. Anderson,  of Anderson Motor Company and he picked out the car personally for Sam.   I'm telling this for what followed.  The car was in perfect condition.  After he bought it we went out one evening drinking beer and checking out the car.  Somehow or another we ended up on a dirt road in Paulding County. It was a dirt one land country cattle road or something.  Same was telling me what he learned at Tech about Einstein's Theory or Relativity.  He said the very basic simplest explanation is say you are on a bus, standing in the aisle and the bus is going  about 40 mile mph.  If you jump up in the air you would land on the spot of the bus you jumped from because you are traveling the same speed as the bus.  However, if the bus stopped while you were in the air you would probably fly in mid air towards the front of the bus.  After a few beers it made us foolish enough to put the theory to a test.  We planned to take off at a high speed on the dirt road and throw a beer can high in the air and at the same time suddenly stop.  The beer should land in front of the car.  We did, we got up to a good speed, and said NOW!  And I flung the beer high straight up while Sam immediately put on the brakes. 
WHUMP!!!  The beer can landed on the hood and put a nasty looking mark on the pretty shining surface.

Another one of Sam's Georgia Tech experiments was one time we went to Allatoona Dam to fly paper airplanes off the top.   He didn't trust my sloppy way of folding the paper to make the planes and did the folding himself, which was very neat and exact.   From what he learned in class he had figured out what would happen:  We through the paper airplanes off the non-lake side aiming at the Etowah River.  Each plane did not fall long until the up wind would catch it and carry the plane high up in the sky.  The ones that did not go too much to the side would fall gently back into the same updraft and up again it went.  There was a continuously west wind coming down the valley over the river until he ran into the damn.  With high ridges on both sides  the wind had no place to go but up.  When we left there were some planes still flying, falling, getting caught in the updraft and going up again, repeating it over and over, maybe for eternity. 

One time a prominent  invited Sam and his mother, and probably the Barnettes  over for Thanksgiving.   They lived on a farm on the edge of the base of Little Kennesaw Mountain, which of course the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in the Civil War, in June 1864, was in the area.  It came out during dinner conversation that their son Tommy had a great Civil War relic collection.  It also came out that Same had a pretty good collection too.  Tommy  carried Sam to his room to show him his relics.  Sam was impressed, they had a nice talk about the Civil War.  Back at school, soon after, Sam walked up to Tommy to continue their Civil War discussion.  Tommy told him to step into the boys bathroom with him.  They went in and Tommy told Sam, "You fat son-of-a-bitch!  I don't want to be seen with you!"   That hurt Sam's feeling very much. 

He inspired me to take up running and other past times.   We both avoided organized sports like the plague.

Sam was an inspiration to me in many ways.  Sam was also a perfectionist.  Unfortunately, he did not inspire me to be one of those;  

At the funeral service a black lady with a bright red dress went up to speak.  Before she got up I saw that she and Sam's stepdaughter Tracey greeted each other, like they knew each other.   I think she worked with Sam.   Sam talked her into going back to school to take computer training.  She did, and she was failing.  Sam spent hours tutoring her and even went  to class and took with her and took notes.  To make a long story short, she passed with playing colors, all because of Sam.  He told her if he died before she did he wanted her at his funeral wearing a bright red dress.  Sam had an appreciation for the feminine beauty - and he was right, she looked beautiful in the red dress.

I remember one time as preteens we were out on Halloween night with eggs in our hand.  We wanted to do what teenagers were suppose to do,  cause some vandalism or mischief.  Then we lived in my parents new house on Richard Street.   The bad part about two preteens out to do something destructive on Halloween night was not new with me, remember, I grew up with Jimmy Pat Presley also.  We were old hands at it.  But with Sam, it was awkward.  He just wanted to do something mild to make the Halloween statement.   On Howard Street when I go by that way I still see the house and am reminded.  It is a dark brown shingled house with a big picture window which looks out of place.  Then we saw that window and it looked like a big target.  We both threw our eggs at it.  As they were hitting and splattering the family looked up from watching TV.  They had such innocent  surprised looks on their faces we started running.   We ran until we were out of breath.  I think that was the only havoc Sam  ever wielded .

 I  was wrong in wanting Sam to change to use a computer for communicating.  Sam was uniquely Sam.   Several people at the service spoke of Sam's generosity    By keeping his living expense low and humble he was able to contribute very much money to help make this a better world.  He contributed to several orphanages and to  organizations to help the unfortunate children's medical needs.  One was a cleft Palate organization, to help with operations.   

Our friend Van Calloway died some years ago.  Van died a single and alone man.  Every  so often, Sam put flowers on graves of people that meant something to him.  At Kennesaw Memorial he put flowers on his mother's grave and his uncles, aunts, and cousins.  At the Marietta City Cemetery he put flowers on Van Calloway's grave.   He bought such a good quality of artificial flowers when he replaced the flowers they still looked new.  With Van's old flowers he put on The Lady in Black's sister's high angel marker.

The last time I talked to Sam he mentioned that in high school in phys ed he and Bobby Whitmyer were always the last ones to be chosen to be on a team.  It didn't matter if it was softball, basketball, dodgeball, or what they were the last.  He and Bobby were always standing there unpicked.  Ironically Sam and Bob were probably the most intelligent ones on the field or court at the time.   Bob Whitmyer wrote a very nice on-line comment about Sam's passing.

With Sam gone there will be some changes.  Van or the Lady in Black's sister probably will not receive flowers, or the Barnettes.  And there might be changes in the income of some orphanage organizations and hospitals.   Lita will have her own priorities.  Time moves on.


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