Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mr. Whitehead

After retiring from the Air Force, I finally found a job with the Fla.

Dept. of Environmental Regulation. The only opening was for an

Administrative Assistant. That was OK, it was a job and an entry into the

field I was interested in. I shared an office with the Solid Waste Specialist,

who among other things, worked with Forestry and issued burning permits.

One day, after I had been there for several weeks, a secretary came

rushing in looking for my “roomie”, who was out of town. She said that a

caller had just complained that Mr. Whitehead was burning in his pit again. I

said that I would handle it and the secretary told me where the burning site

was—about ½ mile away.

I zipped over there in a state marked car and when I drove up was met

by what turned out to be an old acquaintance, Howard Whitehead. We

immediately recognized each other and shook hands. Howard, had a large

construction company and before clean air regulations came into play, burned

some debris behind his office. This time it had been a mistake and he said he

immediately had it put out. We then began to talk about the “good old days”.

Howard was a crusty old Florida Cracker, and when I was in high

school, used to talk to him about football, when I was visiting his house. He

had a pretty daughter, that was a cheer leader. I never dated her because I

had seen her “deck” one of our tackles, with a single right cross, but we did

sometimes hang out in the same groups.

Back at the office, my boss Phil, had returned. He was an tough ex-

marine and the best boss I ever had. When the secretary told him where I

had gone—he went ballistic. Told her to call the police and tell them to get

to Howard's place immediately. Then he dashed out the door.

During my twenty odd years absence from Fort Myers, I hadn't kept up

with Mr. Whitehead, but Phil had. Seems he had shot a man, (not prosecuted,

a matter of honor); beat up a man and was fined $200, said that was a fair

price and beat him up again leaving the courthouse; had a beef with the city

not paying a bill, so he dumped a full load of cement down a manhole in the

middle of town. There apparently were some other tales that made Mr

Whitehead something of a legend. You might say he had a little temper.

(That was another reason I didn't date his daughter)

Anyway, Phil came roaring up to Mr. Whiteheads office, screeching

tires while braking, and followed closely by, not one, but two police cars,

with flashing lights and screaming sirens, only to find Howard and I sitting

on the front steps, telling jokes. I was in no danger. Later, Phil said he would

never worry about me again. He didn't. and we got along famously.

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