You may ask what the title of this blog means? You see my mind works in strange ways. Things pop into my brain and I can’t seem to shake them off. That phrase was the parting salutation from an old friend who left this planet for better things Labor Day, September 4th, 1973.
David Neil Ripley was that friend. David went to the same church I did, while we did not do a whole lot together before he served in the Navy as a CBEE after he got out in 1968, we became very close. Dave would have probably made a career of the Nave but got pneumonia and almost died, that left him with a disability and early out.
So, what probably prompted me to think about him was his younger brother Tim passed away on January 15th. Ever since reading that Tim had died, Dave has been on my mind.
Dave was three years older than me, born during the very end of WWII. If he had lived, he would be sixty four now and probably retired or getting ready to. Dave’s life came to an end when a woman driving a car ran through Dave and three other motorcycles on a road in Wisconsin. She killed Dave and one other rider, two more recieved very serious injuries and the rest of the cyclists were injured also. The accident happened in full daylight with the sun on the woman’s back. It should not have happened but then if Dave had not died there, with his luck, it was most likely to happen earlier than old age anyway.
Dave stood up for me at my wedding to Lynette.
but way before that, we spent many hours together. First time I saw Dave after he got out of the service was at Nick’s Burger King in the “West End” of Duluth. That area is now called Linclon Park but in 1968, it was just The West End.
Nick’s was a hang-out, drive-in. They tried to cater to families and many families did dine there but after 7:00pm, it was the West end of the “Run”. Local young people would gather there and talk, fight and cause trouble other ways. I will go into more about that in a future post but this is about Dave.
Anyway, I first saw Dave when he parked his 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner way back in the parking lot so it would not get door dings, he walked over to Wayne and I who were talking and started joining in. Wayne had not met Dave before but he too had just got out of a hitch in the Navy so they had a lot in common. Before the night was over some jerk goes way out of his way to back into Dave’s Roadrunner! Dave was not a big guy but I thought he was going to bust that guy (who was a bit drunk) up. We got him calmed down and even though it was probably only a fender bender (bumper and rear quarter) Dave decided it was junk!.
I did not know how long he had that Roadrunner but I think he ordered it while he was in the sevice and had not owned it or driven it more than a few thousand miles.
It was only about three months after he got the Roadrunner back he went looking for a new car. I went with him to Plaza Dodge where he fell for a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger with a 340 four barrel, four speed on the floor. It was bright orange with a white tail “bumble bee” racing stripe.
The above car is actually bright red whild Dave’s was Hemi Orange.
Dave got the car on a Friday, I went with him (I was off school or skipped) to “break it in!” We picked it up at Plaza Dodge, drove to Two Harbors Minnesota, about thirty miles away – over and over again till we got 500 miles on the Swinger. Then we “opened it up!” That little Dodge was quick and fun. Flash foward to Saturday afternoon, Dave throws a party to celebrate getting his new wheels! By later that evening Dave decideds to “impress” a girl that showed up at the party. He takes her for ride along the Skyline Parkway (winding road along the edge of the hill overlooking Duluth) and show her that the Dodge Swinger can fly! Well it could till it landed in a tree top twenty feet below the Parkway!
Dave took that set-back in stride, I guess it was because he did the deed himself, but he never got mad about it like when the drunk backed into the Roadrunner. Dave was very even-tempered for the most part.
The Dart went to the body shop and Dave had great times with that car after he got it back. Dave never kept a car much more than a year and in the Spring of 1970, the Dart was just over a year old when Dave decided to trade it in on a 1970 Dodge Charger. It was a Friday again and he signed the papers that afternoon but could not take delivery till Monday. He and I decided to cruise out to West Duluth (now Spirit Valley) and check out some AMC cars in the showroom out there. We left the AMC dealer about 8:00pm, it was very dark and the streets were wet, there were snow banks along Ramsey where we were driving about 30 mph when all of a sudden “What the heck!, Wham!” A big object was run over and we were sliding along on top of what ever it was. We stopped against a snow bank. The floor of the car was buckled up and my feet were higher than they should be, the door was hard to get open with the snow bank close but I and Dave got out to see what happened.
As we looked under the car, it was a Chevrolet Stove Bolt Six and transmission we had run over. Greasy black against the wet street we never saw it till it went under the Dart. While we were surveying the damage a beat up pick-up truck slowed near us and when he saw what happened – high-tailed it outo of there, we did not see the license as the tail gate was down covering it. We guessed he lost the motor but did not want it anymore. Funny thing was, it was not Dave’s car anymore! Dave had signed it over to Plaza Dodge, their car was Totaled!
This was before cell phones but there was a phone booth about a half a block away, I went and called the police (911 was not around then either) and told the desk sergent that we had just run over a motor laying in the road. He asked what I was drinking? I convinced him I was not drunk and they sent a patrol and wrecker. About the time they got there, a reporter from the local newspaper happened by, the first question he asked was “how did the motor fall out of your car?” Dave said something like we were changing the oil and the jacks fell! – the reporter was no smarter than they are now and did not get the sarcasim.
Anyway, Dave settled down a few years later, never married, got a good job driving heavy equipment (CBEE training) for the City of Duluth and then a needless accident took his life.
I miss Dave, his laugh, his smile, his great outlook on life even though life handed him some real suffering. The last time I talked to him before he died he stopped by the house (I was married then) and had a problem with his latest Dodge, a 1972 Dodge Charger with a 318 two bbl. – I said he settle down didn’t I! Anyway, that car was only a few months old and it had been in the shop for warranty work six times, they changed a bunch of stuff and nothing fixed the problem. It would run fine most of the time but under some accelerations it would back-fire like a barking dragon. I pulled the distributor cap – tried to twist the rotor and it did not spring back like it should – problem found in five minutes – broken springs (or missing) from the fly-weights in the distributor. I pulled an old distributor off the shelf and took the springs out – put them in Dave’s distributor. Dave left and that was the last time I remember seeing him, as he backed down the driveway he called out his signature phrase “The World Ends on Wednesday! Later that week he did call to tell me the verbal smack down he gave the shop foreman at the dealership. That was about two months before he died, we didn’t spend as much time together after I got married and I regret that.
Dave, I know you were a Believer so I will have to wait till my world ends to see you again – your world ended on a Sunday in September. Thanks for the memories Dave!